Designing a Blade with CAD Software

japanese knifeWith the advent of computer assisted design software even knife design is moving into the 21st century.  For thousands of years humans have crafted blades out of everything from stones to steel.  Much of this was done based on the look and feel of the blade.  Depending on the materials used, the shape of the blade needed to be very specific to ensure that it would last. Now CAD software allows for the design of knife blades in 3 dimensions before they’re ever forged.

Blade Software Delivers High Performance Blades

One of the most difficult things about knife making is knowing what shape to make the blade in order to take full advantage of the strength of the steel.  While many knives may look alike, the alloys that make up the blade are often very different from one another.

A perfect example of this is the difference between European or “Western” knives and Japanese or “Eastern” style knives.  Let’s take a quick look into the differences between the two.

Japanese knives rely upon extremely strong but often brittle steel.  The blades are very thin and often as sharp as a razor.  They are extremely useful for fast, accurate cutting.  However this high performance comes at the cost of durability.  Since the steel is so hard it sometimes chips or even cracks if used improperly.  For instance you wouldn’t want to use an extremely sharp Japanese chef’s knife to bone a chicken.  The dense bone materials could nick the blade.

And because the steel is so hard, they are difficult to repair.  You must also be relatively careful when handling these knives.  Even dropping it into the sink can cause the metal to crack.  But when used on the right types of foods, these knives allow a chef to move at incredible speeds.

Western knives on the other hand are made with comparably softer steel alloys.  The reason for this is mostly for durability.  While the angle of the blade isn’t as steep as a Japanese knife, they are still extremely sharp.  They also have the added flexibility of being able to cut a large variety of foods.  Even boning a chicken is fine with a German chef’s knife.

The Angle Is the Key

The bevel angle is the key to the puzzle.  Getting the angle just right so that the blade is durable yet still sharp requires testing.  Before software this had to be done by trial and error.  Now we can analyze the strength properties of the blade before it has even been forged.  We can see that small changes in the thickness along the length of the blade can have a significant impact on the life expectancy and performance of the knife.

For this reason it is important that a quality sharpener is used.   The best knife sharpener ( should have an adjustable angle selector.  This enables you to choose the angle at which you wish to sharpen the blade.  This ensures that the integrity of the blade is maintained as the bevel angle remains the same as the factory angle.

With advanced software tools we’re able to predetermine the exact bevel angle to accentuate the strength of the steel used in the blade.  Every small detail makes a difference.

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