Yakut knife is a traditional ethnic knife of the indigenous people of Siberia and Far East Russia. While it is a piece of ethnic art, history and tradition, its amazing functional characteristics make it a perfect bush craft tool. Its unique concave/convex geometry sets it apart from every other knife. Most likely, the Yakut knife’s geometry is inherited from the Paleolithic bone knives of the Siberian natives. One anthropological theory suggests that the Yakut nomads, who possessed the skill of forging steel, adopted the unique geometry of their knives from the Evenks indigenous people of Siberia. The Evenks, the cousins of the North American natives, could not forge steel, and used animal bones instead. Hence, the theory suggests that the Yakut knife’s geometry is derived from the concave/convex geometry of bone knives.
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If you believe in God’s wisdom then you would probably agree that there is a good reason why the good Creator made bones of every living creature in the shape that they are. Modern day biomedical and mechanical engineers study bones because of their fascinating structural geometry. Engineers perform many mechanical tests, such as strength and torque tests, and they have found that bone has the ability to adapt to a changing load environment over time and can also recover from extreme pressures, thanks to its concave/convex geometry.
Similarly, the most noticeable feature of the Yakut knife – the extreme fuller on one side of the blade makes the knife concave on one side. The other side sharpened in a form of a lens or an arch, making it convex. Hence, the geometrical shape of the blade is inherently more durable and stronger than anything that does not have that curve. The arch shape formed by the fuller makes the Siberian Yakut blade significantly stronger than a conventional knife. Combine this with the fact that it is forged from high carbon content steel, and you get a blade that is practically indestructible by forces that a human limb could produce. This characteristic alone in a survival scenario could mean a great deal.
One side sharpening. SHARPEN ONLY THE FLAT SIDE OF THE BLADE!
The other important characteristic of the Yakut blade is that it is easier to keep sharp in the field environment. Firstly, you save 50% of the effort because you only sharpen the concave (flat) side. Secondly, when sharpening, you don’t have to try to hit the same angle, over and over, like with the conventional knife. You lay the Siberian blade flat on the fuller side, and sharpen the entire side, by sliding away from the edge, thus hitting the same angle all the time. And if your knife is forged form a high carbon content steel, that edge you create, will be held a lot longer than anything made of Chinese stainless steel. One of the most common criticism from people who sceptical about Yakut blade performance comes from complete lack of understanding of the sharpening process. Folks very often say, well the cutting edge is so thin that if I sharpen my knife often, soon I will not have my edge left. This is completely false! You don’t sharpen the Yakut like you would your ordinary conventional blade. You sharpen ONE SIDE ONLY! By laying it flat on your sharpening stone. Eventually (after many years of use) the fuller get less deep, but your cutting edge always remains of the same size and you never run out of the cutting edge. In essence you end up with a razor thin cutting edge with a strength of a knife.
The Yakut knife’s place of origin – Russia’s Siberia is the coldest inhabited place on Earth. The knife’s unique geometry that provides its rugged characteristic is driven by the requirement to use the tool in the coldest temperatures humans ever inhabited. The Siberian city of Oymyakon had a temperature of – 67.8 C officially registered as the coldest ever on planet earth. As you can imagine, steel characteristics at these temperatures change significantly, hence the requirement for concave/convex design of the Yakut blade to ensure its extra durability. Likewise, the knives handle, traditionally crafted in a shape of an egg in a cross section, does not have any finger/hand guards hence allowing it to be held firmly in a glove.
Reduced surface contact.
Furthermore, the Concave/Convex geometry of the Yakut blade leads to very low surface contact with the material being cut, and thus extremely low resistance. It will never get stuck in the wood because of its geometry unlike a conventional blade. The shape of the blade further allows you to employ the tip as a drill to effortlessly and effectively make holes in wood or leather. These characteristics could become very useful in a survival scenario. Any experienced outdoorsmen would agree that in an emergency situation fatigue and lack of hydration are your two worst enemies. Dehydration, and lack of sleep combined with general fatigue, may cloud your judgment, which would inevitably lead you to lose your survival battle. The performance of simple tasks, that you would perform under normal circumstances effortlessly, could become practically impossible. Therefore, whether you are digging for water, cutting brunches for shelter or skinning that game for food, the less amount of effort you apply the more chances you have to come out alive.
All of the above listed characteristics could be enjoyed by the left handed folks. The knife can be customized for a left handed person by simply forging the fuller on the left side of the blade, while making the right side convex.
Finally, the traditional knife made of birch burl floats. A customer once asked me to make him a traditional knife. Well… I thought, does he want a brutally rugged, durable, functional, savage looking forged knife like something out of Mad Max movie? And then, I remembered that one of the major value propositions of a “traditional Yakut” is that it floats. A Traditional Yakut with forged blade, and not a drop of glue or anything that could add extra weight to it, will not sink. In a survival scenario, because of buoyancy of the handle material, and the reduced weight of the blade, thanks to the fuller, you can make a fishing bobber out of your Yakut knife. Someone once even suggested it could be made in to a primitive compass. I could not neither confirm nor deny this claim. However, the floating characteristic on its own, makes it my personal choice for a zombie apocalypse knife. After all, we all know its coming right ? 🙂 Who would want to lose their knife when being chased by zombies. If the zombie apocalypse does not happen in your life time, at the very list you will not drown a knife like that on you fishing trip.
The Yakut knives come in all shapes and sizes, with the extreme fuller on one side of the blade making them a unique bush craft tool. The convex/concave geometry of the fuller supplies the knife with an array of useful characteristics. Their versatility, durability, simplicity and effectiveness make them my personal choice of the ultimate bush craft knife. Siberian knives are more than cutlery, pieces of ethnic art, Siberian tradition, and history. They also make a reliable survival tool. If you make a Siberian knife your adventure companion you will not be disappointed.
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