July 13, 2023

I do like a well-made sheepsfoot!

I’m conscious that this is strange opening for a blog post so I’ll add some context via the photograph below.

A few sheepsfeet

A sheepsfoot’ knife is one with a blade that has a straight edge, a blunt top edge, and curves to the cutting edge1 rather than having a sharp point.

I’ve found it useful to carry a pocket knife for years now and prefer one that’s large enough to clip inside the pocket of my jeans. I find them useful tools for a multitude of tasks — including opening packaging, preparing food, cutting and trimming paper. Occasionally I have noted people can have a strong reaction to finding that someone carries a knife and that they might be concerned or anxious about the reasons. Over the last few years, the UK has had a significant problem with knife crime, especially among young people. The UK also has very strong restriction on carrying knives. As a consequence carrying a knife also carries negative connotations.

For that reason I prefer to avoid knives that look too stabby’ and aggressively pointed. A sheepsfoot knife is ideal because it was designed specifically for cutting in circumstances where it’s important to avoid stabbing — first-aid, sailing, and (yes) trimming a sheep’s feet.

I am someone who can over-obsess on the details of objects I buy and really like using goods that are made by craftspeople. The knives in the photograph above are my personal favourites from the ones I have used over the last few years. From top to bottom:

  1. Jens Ansø Monte Carlo: Jens Ansø makes production and custom knives in Denmark. This knife is my personal favourite for daily use, particularly as it complies with UK knife laws (non-locking blade less that is less then 3” in length). The body scales’ are Zirconium that has a lovely patina, it opens one-handed and the clip is very secure.

  2. Jens Ansø Astra: This is a clever little utility knife where the blade is modular and can be replaced or changed for other styles, even including a small fork or screwdriver. This is a fixed-blade knife so it doesn’t get carried outside the house.

  3. Benchmade Proper: This is a lovely simple so-called gentleman’s pocket knife; small, simple and elegant. Essentially a modern version of a very old design. The main downside for me is there’s no clip so it has to rattle around in a pocket.

  4. Jens Ansø Sheepsfoot: Another Jens Ansø knife. The Sheepsfoot is a new knife to celebrate Ansø’s first knife design when he was an industrial design student. I love the simple minimalism of this fixed blade design.

  5. Chris Reeve Small Sebenza: This design is a something of a legend.

One more below. A tiny (fits in the fob pocket of a pair of jeans) Andre De Villiers Butcher Bone knife that is maybe not quite a sheepsfoot knife but a similar design.

Andre de Villiers Pocket Knife

  1. My top tip for keeping a sharp edge on a pocket knife is to use a strop.↩︎


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