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  1. #1
    Join Date
    21st February 04
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    "Bloodgrooves and nicks"

    I was just looking through "So You're Going to Wear the Kilt", the section about dirks and sgian dhus. He ends the section with:

    "The blades of most skean dhus have, like the dirk, longitudinal blood grooves and nicked backs which are supposed to be fish scalers. This is a bit silly. The dirk is a stabbing weapon, so blood grooves are functional, but they are quite out of place on a utility knife. And anyone who knows how to scale a fish knows that the implement to use is a teaspoon."

    This is a bit silly indeed. The filework on the back is called "jimping", and is to provide the thumb with a bit of traction while manipulating the blade. As for "bloodgrooves", the proper term is "fuller," and they are to stiffen and lighten the blade. They have nothing to do with blood.

    I'm sure several people here know this, but thereare probably also some who don't, or never thought about it.
    An uair a théid an gobhainn air bhathal 'se is feàrr a bhi réidh ris.
    (When the smith gets wildly excited, 'tis best to agree with him.)

    Kiltio Ergo Sum.
    I Kilt, therefore I am. -McClef

  2. #2
    Join Date
    22nd January 06
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    Maple Ridge, BC, Canada
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    I kind of fall into the latter category. I've thought about it, but I truly did not know. Thanks for the info!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    27th September 04
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    Amelia County, Virginia, USA
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    Quote, Nick:

    "The blades of most skean dhus have, like the dirk, longitudinal blood grooves and nicked backs which are supposed to be fish scalers. This is a bit silly. The dirk is a stabbing weapon, so blood grooves are functional, but they are quite out of place on a utility knife. And anyone who knows how to scale a fish knows that the implement to use is a teaspoon."

    I just turned 63 years of age and I have been fishing ever since I was around 6 years old, and I have never heard of this. Our saltwater season for Croakers and spot will be here in another month or so. I will definitely have to give the teaspoon thing a try. I see that you are from Minn. Perhaps this is a midwest thing. I have fished in Va, the Carolinas and New England and have never seen it. Maybe you have taught me something new. I can tell you of a method of scaling that I saw and used many years ago. It involved nailing the old style coke bottle caps to a stick and using it to scale your catch.
    Last edited by Jerry; 1st March 06 at 05:19 AM.
    "A day spent in the fields and woods, or on the water should not count as a day off our allotted number upon this earth."
    Jerry, Kilted Old Fart.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    2nd October 04
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    Page/Lake Powell, Arizona USA
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    Hmmm, somewhere in the dusty recesses of my besotted brain I remember some Sgt telling me the blood gutters - as he called them - were to keep the knife/bayonet from being held into the enemy's body by suction...letting the Marine withdraw the weapon and poke it in again as necessary....

    Hey, I believed most anything back then...

    Ron
    Ol' Macdonald himself, a proud son of Skye and Cape Breton Island
    Lifetime Member STA. Two time winner of Utilikiltarian of the Month.
    "I'll have a kilt please, a nice hand sewn tartan, 16 ounce Strome. Oh, and a sporran on the side, with a strap please."

  5. #5
    Join Date
    23rd January 04
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    Raleigh, NC, USA
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    My understanding from a historical point-of-view is that the sgian dubh was a weapon designed to stick other people with and the dirk was a tool designed to eat with and to prepare food with. Of course, any blade will do if one needs to defend one's body, honor, land, family, prize pig, single malt, etc. Dirk blades are light and thin like culinary blades. In battle you could easily snap it on your enemy's weapon, other gear, wrist bones, etc. While the sgian is rather tough for its size. It might be short, but it is long enough to do fatal damage. Not a good offensive weapon, but a great defensive weapon.

    The groove does indeed lighten and strengthen the blade, AND it allows for faster removal from the enemy's body or the freshly killed elk, pig, sheep, etc. in meal preparation. The groove makes a gap allowing air to enter so a vacuum doesn't hold the blade in. From a pure physics point-of-view, this is a stretch; however, that was the intention when this feature was implemented countless years ago.

    -ian
    Last edited by macwilkin; 1st March 06 at 08:42 AM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    3rd November 05
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    Marquette, Michigan
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    This is also what I had heard from young on, that the blood groove was to make it easier to take the weapon out of the body. Combat blades often have them, including most bayonets, so I figure there must be a functional reason for them.

    Thanks for answering the questino regarding the "saw back" on the sgian dubh. They didn't really look like you could use it to saw anything, but my fingers flinch when they go beyond the cross guard. Something to keep in mind, although, putting your thumb on the blade seems like a bad practice to me, esp. if you own any double edged blades. I could see myself forgetting that I'm using my boot dagger rather than my sgian dubh.

    Thanks for the enlightenment, Nick!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    5th September 05
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    Chicago
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    The "thumb ridges" seem like a feature that appears on the knives that I have that are considered skinning knives. Gerber seems to have particularly used this feature. (If you have an older Gerber from back when they were of somewhar better quality then you are fortunate.) I assume that it's to provide a surface with some grip to place the thumb on when you have a bit of slop (blood, fat...) to contend with while you are dressing a carcass.

    In culinary, placing the thumb or the index finger on the back of the blade one of the grips that they teach you...very functional for different types of work.

    Best

    AA

  8. #8
    Join Date
    14th September 04
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    London England
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    All too often the uses of various 'implements' become confused, so the knife that might be used when in action is also used for day to day activities: otherwise the all too often over-armed highlander would have fallen over under the sheer weight of cutlery-dags and the like.

    Think of the claybeg in the main [usually right] hand, and the dirk carried in the left along with the targe. Whilst the black knife-skean dhu is a last hidden reserve: albeit now oft carried in the sock.

    As for the bayonet, extracting it is the least of the problems: in any event it is mainly a psychological weapon-as it is oddly comforting to have it sticking out in front when moving forward. At the same time the morale effect upon the enemy is quite amazing, and very few will hang about when they get that close. Even when they are your own soldiers, and you have given the order-it is quite alarming to see the bayonets of a rifle company come down from the high port to the on gard position.

    The grooves on a bayonet are there to add strength.

    James

  9. #9
    Join Date
    27th January 05
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    Jefferson, Georgia, USA
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    There is a phrase in the linked article below that expresses why this is still a point of contention...
    http://www.agrussell.com/knife_infor...od_groove.html

    "on a smaller blade the effects are not as easily seen or felt"

    Many of us have used "small" blades for work of various types, but very few of us really "use" a claymore or long sword to do much except look good so we would not be able to truly judge the benefits or effects of the fuller.

    On a side note...While going thru baynoet training, we were told that if the bayonet ever became stuck in an opponent, don't stand there yanking on it trying to get it out...pull the freaking trigger and let the discharge kick the blade loose. Ahhhhhh, the poetry of the Drill Instructor

  10. #10
    Join Date
    24th July 05
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    Narberth, PA
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    What a great name for a band- The Bloodgrooves. Sorry just stuck in my mind and had to share.

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