The sheepsfoot style blade is a less than common choice, and it seems that the greatest reason for that, is sex appeal. (Not my words, this is what the interweb tells me) The sheepsfoot has a big ol’ belly and a smooth curved tip. It’s excellent for everyday casual use, but if you dig a little deeper, you’ll certainly find further benefits to this style of blade.
Who Was it Originally Made For?
The sheepsfoot got its name from herdsmen who originally weld this type of blade for the purpose of, you guessed it, tending to the hooves of their sheep. The lack of pointy tip meant there wasn’t a risk of accidentally stabbing the sheep’s foot, and thank goodness for that!
I read about a rumor which stated that sailors were originally given these types of blades for extended marine excursions. They were awkwardly short and void of a harmful point so that when the sailors got into their barrels of rum and reveled in the surplus of testosterone on board, they couldn’t do all that much drunken damage.
A more respectful and less fun rumor points out that this type of blade was used because there was no such thing as steel-toed boots at the time. Dropping a knife due to choppy waters and having it stab directly through your canvas shoe, was probably an unwelcome occurrence.
Is the Sheepsfoot Only For Pocket Knives?
Not at all! You’ll commonly find a sheepsfoot-style blade in the kitchen! The santoku knife sports the sheepsfoot style, it’s a blend of German and Japanese style kitchen knives. Its curved top edge allows for smooth and unhindered up and down chopping.
The blade is also wider, which is perfect for easy scooping into your skillet. This style of blade is preferred by many professionals.
Are There Benefits to a Sheepsfoot?
Most certainly! They’re very practical for everyday use and excellent for carving marshmallow spears. There’s ample leverage with the blades, and they’ll get that rough-and-tumble cutting job done. If you’ve got a bedstone, it’ll sharpen it up perfectly.
There’s much less risk of accidentally stabbing yourself or someone else. The tip isn’t really good for anything but not cutting. This blade is practical for emergency tasks. Say an EMT had to cut away a piece of clothing on a patient.
The belly of the blade would successfully achieve that, and there would be no risk of accidentally slicing their skin in the process.
On Reddit, a user cleverly stated their preference this way: “start fishing from an inflatable raft instead of a kayak and you’ll get it.”
What About Downsides?
Like I mentioned before, the main con to the sheepsfoot is its sex appeal or the vibe of the knife. This is the knife of the UPS guy, the blade chosen by Uncle Ernie, who for some reason won’t eat any green food. But it’s also the blade of choice of a father with a newborn baby, who doesn’t want to take any risks with his everyday carry.
It’s not ideal for cutting food or doing any piercing of any kind, so it might not be the best choice if you’re going on a camping trip where a knife will be used for many purposes.
Where Can I Get One?
After much debate, it’s been determined that Spyderco offers one of the best sheepsfoot options. But don’t forget to check in antique stores, too! This is an old fashioned style blade, and there are probably some treasures waiting to be found.
What is a sheepsfoot knife used for?
Originally for tending to sheep’s feet! But today it can be used in any number of ways, as long as it’s not piercing. The tip of the blade does not allow for that.
Are sheepsfoot knives easy to sharpen?
Due to their straight edge, any sharping tool can be used on it. As long as it’s maintained straightness and doesn’t have too many nicks, it should be sharpened just fine.
Where can I buy a sheepsfoot knife?
Due to their slightly outdated shape, they’re most commonly found in antique stores. But Blade HQ is an excellent resource for exploring a great variety of blades, including sheepsfoot.