Can a Pocketknife Cut Through Bone?

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Pocketknives date back to the early Bronze Ages, approximately 400-500 BC, but it seems not that long ago that a pocketknife was a rite of passage for most young boys. What is this tool truly capable of, though? Whether you are a hunter or simply wondering how to be prepared if you find yourself in need of food, its important to understand a pocketknife and its capabilities. 

Can a pocketknife cut through bone? Technically, some pocket knives can cut through bone. But, in most situations, it is not the best tool for the job. If you have a sharp blade that is long enough and sturdy enough, the pocketknife can cut through bone. But, cutting bone with a pocketknife doesn’t result in a clean-cut, and the process will be slow.

Sometimes, however, there are situations where a pocketknife may be what you have to use to cut bones. If you are concerned about transporting larger knives or a hiker concerned about carrying extra weight, a pocketknife can do the job.

How to Choose a Pocketknife That Could Cut Through Bone

At first blush, you might think a pocketknife’s construction would be good for cutting through bones. You might think if your pocketknife is sharp, it would be perfect for cutting bone. 

Sharpness isn’t the key factor when cutting through hard materials, though. Here are the four factors that affect the ability to cut through hard objects, like bone:

  • Cross-section of the blade
  • Length of the blade
  • Curve of the blade
  • Your cutting technique

Pocketknives are perfect for cutting through skin and tissue, but most people used fixed knives or min-saws to cut through bones. This is because they are thicker and heavier, allowing them to have more force behind them. Secondly, since pocketknives are always two pieces, they are not as stable as a fixed blade knife and could collapse under great force.

Criteria For Pocketknives That Cut Through Bones

Knives are like most things in life. You have personal preferences and prejudices to its feel, its function, and who makes it. So, what if you had to have a pocketknife that would cut through bones? Here are some of the criteria you should use.

  • Stability allows you to have force in different directions while cutting without breaking or moving.
  • Sharpness makes the task of cutting through bone easier and faster.
  • Length dictates what type and thicknesses of bones can be cut.
  • Comfort of the handle encourages a safe and strong grip while cutting.

Anatomy Of A Pocketknife

There is much more to a pocketknife than you think. A pocketknife is a folding knife with one or more blades that can fit inside the handle but still fit in a normal-sized pants pocket. Some people call these a “jackknife”. Blades come in a variety of sizes, shapes, models, and handle materials. 

Pocketknives are versatile tools, and some of their uses range from opening an envelope and cutting twine to performing an emergency tracheotomy. Maybe some slice a piece of fruit or even serve as a self-defense tool when needed. When you take a look at all the choices, what makes a pocketknife different than most other knives? 

Here’s why the pocketknife is a bit unique from other knives.


The handle is exactly what the name infers. The handle has a special meaning because being the part that you grip and secure the knife, it also houses and secures the blades. The handle is also where many companies differentiate their products by materials such as bone or ivory, but also may include designs, artwork, or indented features such as carvings.


When selecting a quality pocketknife, the blade should be the main consideration. It is the actual cutting component that needs to be as sharp as possible. Knife aficionados refer to the sharp portion of the blade as the “edge.” Key factors affecting the blade’s effectiveness are the material it is made of, overall length, and ability to stay sharp.


The tang is one of the most critical parts of a pocketknife if you need it to cut bone. It differentiates whether the blade piece extends into the handle or simply attaches at the pivot point. A tang can be one solid piece with the two handle pieces pinned on to the blade, one on each side. This is a full, a one-piece tang and is the most solid.

Other types of tangs are a “push” tang meaning a partial tang that is pushed into and secured to the handle with epoxy. A “rat” tang narrows as you travel down the tang. Finally, a tang that is smaller than the length of the handle is known as an “encapsulated” tang.


Many consider the spine as a pocketknife’s backbone because it is the thickest and heaviest component of a knife. The spine’s main function is to support a blade’s cutting action. Look for maximum width and thickness, which determines a knife’s ability to withstand pressure in sideways and downward movements.


Bolsters are named for exactly what they do. They strengthen and support the cutting blade in several areas. These include the handle to blade junction and “rear” or “butt” section. The bolsters are another key consideration when cutting bone because they protect and secure the handle where heavy impacts need reinforcement. 


The swedge’s has a funny name but an important function. It begins at the blade point and fades away towards the rear of the blade. A “cut” swedge is located at the start of the point and finishes in the plunge.


The flipper guard protects the user when the knife is open. It is a protrusion in the base of the backend of the blade, which is mostly used as a pressure tab to flip the knife open. 

Other common elements of some pocketknives are a spring which exerts pressure to keep the knife closed, opened, or assist in getting the knife to full length. Serrations are added to some pocketknives for great grip and stability or making an initial cut in thick materials. Another gripping feature is called “jimping” which refers to machine cuts or “cross-hatched” configurations.

Some of the decorative and unique features to some pocketknives are pommels (ornamental globular mass on the back) and “swage” which is a decorative or functional edge of the opposing side of a pocketknife’s blade cutting edge.

There Are Many Choices Of Pocketknives

Choices. Choices. Choices. Perhaps the popularity of pocketknives is that there is one for almost every cutting purpose. Here are the main and most common categories of folding knives.

Lock Blade

This is the most common type of pocketknife. Easy to open and control, they use an internal mechanism for opening the blade after you partially open it via the nail mark. When at full extension the blade locks into place for stability and safety.

Fixed Blade

Without debate, fixed blade knives are the strongest knives rated by the EDC. Unlike traditional “spring-assisted” knives, a fixed blade knife is made from a full tang.


These are probably the most popular pocket knives due to their versatility. The name describes the function as this category of pocket knives has more than one blade or tool. Popularized by the Swiss Army Knife, multi-tool knives do everything from basic cutting to driving screws to prepare leather products. 

Pocket Knives: Handy for Most Jobs Around Camp

There is no doubt that receiving your first pocketknife is a milestone in every young child’s life. Today’s choices are mind-boggling. Whether cutting bones, opening envelopes or simply cutting twine, understanding the factors in choosing your pocketknife is critical for owning a knife of a lifetime.

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