Question of the Day: Would you use a “disposable” blade in an everyday knife?

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Would you carry a knife with an interchangeable blade?

In the course of my daily trolling for knife content, I came across an interesting knife by the Havalon Company.  Instead of sharpening your blade when it dulls, you simply snap it off and snap in a new, factory sharpened one.   This is the first time I have seen the concept applied to an everyday knife outside the realm of utility/tile knives or surgical scalpels.

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Neolithic harpoon point with removable microliths

The concept of interchangeable blades is nothing new. In fact, it dates to the Neolithic period when toolmakers first started hafting small microliths onto a larger wood or bone tool.  This represented a major technological breakthrough.  It allowed tools to be fashioned from smaller pieces of stone.

Previous, paleolithic tools required a stone core of suitable size and shape, from which flakes were removed to create the tool. In the neolithic, these flakes themselves were the tools, or at least the cutting edges.  When the tool dulled with use, these smaller blades could be changed out rather than making an entirely new tool.

Paleolithic tools could be resharpened, but the underlying size and shape of the tool was changed in the process. If a Paleolithic tool broke or could no longer be resharpened, it was made into something else or simply discarded.

Fast forward several millenia, and tile knives with reversible, disposable blades became a staple in toolboxes everywhere. The concept took another leap forward in the early 2000’s when someone figured out how to use these same blades on a pocket folding knife rather than a bulky OTF sliding style.

This development coincided with my stint as a boat-builder. Tile knife blades were disposable shop supplies. We were extremely hard on blades (cutting rolled fiberglass among other things), and we changed blades several times a day.  Every time I pulled mine from my pocket, wish I had been the one to come up with the idea of utilizing a folder in this capacity.

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When folding handles for disposable tile knife blades came on the scene, I thought that they were the greatest thing ever,  except for slicing bread.

In addition to the more general purpose knife shown in the first picture of this post, Havalon makes knives for specialty applications such as filleting fish (the one I am most likely to try).

So after a somewhat long lead-in, my question is this: would you carry a knife like a Havalon? or is the disposable blade concept best left to specialty applications?

comments

  1. jwm says:

    What would replacement blades cost? If you can sharpen your traditional knife to a good working edge what advantage is there in buying disposable blades that will be a constant expense?

  2. Ben says:

    I carry a Stanley folding utility knife whenever I know I’m going to be working on things that I wouldn’t want to use my nicer EDC knife on, like cutting a lot of cardboard, roofing, etc. I carry it because it retracts into the base instead of folding, which makes it much thinner and easier to carry.
    The problem for me with using a replaceable blade knife for everything is that the disposable blades are often thin and brittle. My EDC knife will take a lot more abuse than one with a disposable blade. You can always just put a new blade on, but you’re out of luck for that day.
    The other issue with knives with replaceable blades is the blade retention systems are not always the best. I have had several occasions where my disposable knife blade has actually come out of my knife while cutting something thick. Pretty dangerous.
    My answer is that it’s a trade off. I would carry a disposable blade sometimes, but it would not replace my EDC knife permanently.

    1. Enzo says:

      This is how I feel about things too. My work jeans always have my folding utility knife clipped to them. The tasks at work like cutting carpet or drywall wouldn’t be so great with my Case trapper. But as soon as I change out of my work jeans my Case is in my pocket as my EDC for the rest of the day.
      I carry a 10 pack of replacement blades in my bag just in case I need a mid-day swap as well. You make a good point with blade retention, I was cutting carpet the other day and almost had the blade come out because I was accidentally pushing the blade release down.
      I like the smooth feel and the looks of my EDC too much to switch to a Havalon =D

  3. dwb says:

    my folding utility boxcutter knife is very handy for everyday use. I probably would not buy a knife with replaceable blades unless the blades were very inexpensive though.

  4. Robert Farago says:

    Are you kidding? I’d surely cut myself during the replacement process—even more than I do now in day-to-day carry. And yes I called you Shirley.

  5. Pantera Vazquez says:

    I probably wouldn’t bother with the Havalon, however I do have the Sheffield pictured below it (the blue knife). Bought it several years ago in a thrift store for about 9 dollars with a 5 pack of spare blades. It has turned out to be a literal workhorse. The spine lock is true and reliable, and the portion of the knife that holds the blade is strong as hell and locks the blade securely. It folds nicely, and opens easily single-handed. the blades are razor sharp, and you can flip them when one side wears dull. the knife is heavy for its size, in comparison to others but it is as hardy as it is heavy. It also has a convenient pocket clip. This is truly, in my opinion one of the best work folders I have owned.

  6. Sam L. says:

    No. I want a sturdy one-piece blade.

  7. CrankyBuddha says:

    The guide we used when I first started hog hunting turned us on to the Havalon knives. All three of us in that group went out and bought one the next week. Literally razor sharp and blade swaps in seconds when they weren’t. One of the guys with us had been an avid hunter for years and he was impressed as well. His fancy and expensive hunting knife went into the drawer after the first hog was dressed out.
    Based on my needs, a Gerber EAB Lite has become my EDC. I do carry a larger, stronger knife in my bag but the EAB Lite stays in my pocket all day every day.
    -Cranky

    1. Stinkeye says:

      I carry an EAB Lite as a money clip every day. Great little knife. I also carry a Kershaw partially-serrated folder and a Leatherman Squirt PS4, so unless I need to carve up a mastodon, I’ve probably got an appropriate blade for any routine cutting task that I might come across.

      1. Pat says:

        +3 for the Gerber EAB (along with a standard folder, of course).

  8. MikeJ says:

    Nope. I bought a Havalon Baracuta not too long ago and took it with me on a recent hog hunt. But I’ll be damned if I didn’t leave it at camp when it came time to field dress my hog. I did however have my EDC Spyderco Sage 1 with me, and it did the job with ease. So in the same week, I opened boxes, cut a loose thread off the wife’s dress, made nacho rings out of a whole jalapeño at a mexican food joint, dug some jerky out of my teeth, and field dressed a hog with my EDC. And I’ll use the same knife on my next trip. A nice looking, well made, knife in S30V that I can wear anywhere – maybe even pry with.

    I’m not ditching the Baracuta, it did a great job boning a turkey from the same trip, and I’m sure would have done well on the hog, but in safety orange, it would NEVER be my EDC – even in another color. And the reality of changing blades is you really should have/use pliers – now you need a EDC multitool too. The quality of the knife, not the edge, just doesn’t compare.

  9. jason says:

    I wouldn’t necessarily EDC the havalon but would definitely pack it in A bug out bag or emergency kit. Love the availability of sterile blades. Though most surgeries are best left to the pros it’s a nice feature it provides.

  10. Joleolsen says:

    Not for EDC, but it might have some uses.
    I have been meaning to pick up a utility blade folder.

  11. Bob Damon says:

    I carry a Gerber EAB or a small kiradashi to cut things.
    The kiradashi is from Ecos knives. Easy to sharpen.
    The EAB is great because I never worry if I am abusing the blade, when it gets dull you just get a new blade.

  12. pastubbs says:

    I carry a Gerber EAB pretty much everyday but that’s mainly because I work in a Weapons-Free-Zone and the EAB is considered a “TOOL”.

    1. Pat says:

      You just flip the blade to the other side, then swap out when both sides are dull.

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Question of the Day: Would you use a “disposable” blade in an everyday knife?

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