Blade Shape

Blade Shape: The Wharncliffe Blade

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8 min read
Kizer Mini Critical Micarta Black - blade closeup - Wharncliffe EDC

If you're a knife enthusiast, you know that blade shapes are much more than just aesthetics. They affect how a knife performs in different tasks and situations. Today, we delve into the world of a blade shape that has its roots in British nobility and is renowned for its versatility – the Wharncliffe blade.

History and Origin of Wharncliffe Blade

The Wharncliffe blade traces its roots back to the early 19th century, to a British nobleman named James Archibald Stuart-Wortley-Mackenzie, the First Lord of Wharncliffe. The story goes that during a dinner conversation about cutlery innovation, Lord Wharncliffe and his relative Archdeacon Corbett came up with the concept of a new knife pattern. The design was later produced and presented to Joseph Rodgers & Son, a key player in the Sheffield cutlery industry at the time, and thus, the Wharncliffe blade was born, named after the Lord himself.

While it’s tempting to pinpoint the Wharncliffe blade’s origin to this moment, it’s worth noting that similar straight-edged blades were in use even before the 11th century, such as the Viking Seax. However, the modern interpretation of the Wharncliffe blade, as we know it today, truly took shape in the 1820s and 1830s.

Key Characteristics of Wharncliffe Blade

The Wharncliffe blade is easily identifiable by its unique shape. The blade features a straight, full flat-ground cutting edge, while the spine of the blade tapers gradually from the handle towards the point. The result is a thick and strong blade with a tip lower than the center. This gives the Wharncliffe blade a shearing cutting power, making it perfect for tasks that require precise, controlled cuts.

Over time, the standard definition of a Wharncliffe blade broadened to include any blade with a straight edge tapering towards a point. Nevertheless, the quintessence of the Wharncliffe blade remains its straight cutting edge and gradually tapering spine.

Benefits of Wharncliffe Blade for EDC (Everyday Carry)

A Wharncliffe blade offers several significant advantages as an EDC knife:

  • Versatility: The straight-edge design of the Wharncliffe blade makes it an excellent tool for a wide range of tasks, from opening packages to detailed carving work.
  • Control: The downward-pointing tip provides excellent control for precision cutting tasks.
  • Durability: The Wharncliffe blade’s robust design makes it highly durable and suitable for heavy-duty tasks.
  • Ease of Maintenance: The straight edge is relatively easy to sharpen, even for beginners.

Disadvantages of Wharncliffe Blade for EDC

Despite its many strengths, the Wharncliffe blade isn’t without its drawbacks:

  • Limited Puncture Capability: The design of the Wharncliffe blade makes it less suitable for tasks that require a strong piercing point.
  • Maintenance: While the straight edge is easy to sharpen, maintaining the tip can be a bit challenging.
  • Cost: Wharncliffe blades, especially those made from high-quality materials, can be more expensive than their counterparts.

Comparison with Related Blade Shapes

The Wharncliffe blade often gets confused with the sheepsfoot and the lambsfoot blades due to their similar straight-edge designs. However, each has its distinct characteristics:

  • Sheepsfoot: Unlike the Wharncliffe’s gradually tapering spine, the sheepsfoot blade has a spine that remains parallel to the edge before abruptly curving down to meet the edge, resulting in a lack of a sharp point.
  • Lambsfoot: The lambsfoot blade features a spine and edge that begin tapering towards each other from the handle, resulting in a point somewhere between a sheepsfoot and a Wharncliffe.

Expert and User Opinions

Experts and users alike appreciate the Wharncliffe blade for its versatility and unique cutting power. Michael Janich, a respected figure in the knife community, is known for advocating the use of Wharncliffe blades for tactical and self-defense purposes. He praises the Wharncliffe’s cutting ability and control, which he believes outperform many other blade shapes.

Many users, especially those in the EDC community, appreciate the Wharncliffe blade for its utility and ease of maintenance. They highlight its effectiveness in everyday tasks such as opening packages, cutting cords, and even food preparation.

Kizer Mini Critical Micarta - Wharncliffe Blade


The Wharncliffe blade is more than just a unique design. It’s a versatile and effective tool that excels in many everyday tasks. While it may not be the best choice for tasks requiring a sharp piercing point, its straight edge and durable design make it an excellent option for those seeking a reliable and easy-to-maintain EDC knife. Whether you’re a knife enthusiast or a casual user, the Wharncliffe blade is definitely worth considering.