To Jimp or not to Jimp?

Ever since early man decided to use sharper tools, there has been a dilemma. How to stop the hands from getting hurt? Yes, we know, this doesn't sound to be a big deal, in theory. However, people using sharp knives know that it can cut straight through skin, muscle, and tendon far quicker than you think, and the scar for such injuries often stays for life, so the considerations here are real. The first remedy used was the development of a knife handle, but human ingenuity quickly became more creative, as the design for a knife evolved from a basic cutting tool to an all-purpose tool and weapon. Soon we had wrappings around the handle, knife hilts, guards, choils, and… wait for it, jimping.

Even if it sounds like a new dance step, jimping is a line of toothy grooves located on the knife. As is the case with blade tangs, Jimping is an often overlooked feature of the knife. Here's a rundown of the what we are talking about-

What is Jimping on a knife?

As previously mentioned, jimping is small notches or filework are cut into the back of the blade or placed on the unsharpened section between the knife and the hilt, called the choil or on the other portions of the knife. Sometimes, they are used on the handle's base rather than the back of the blade and may even be seen on the lower part of the handle.

What Jimping Does?

Jimping demonstrates that not all of the knife work is done by simply holding the handle in the fist-like handle. Often the knives are used for precise skinning or carving, and in such times, the best way to use the knife is to place your fingers or thumb on the back of the blade for better control. This is when the issue of slipping comes up. For instance, while skinning a game, what if the knife has blood or fat on it and is quite slippery? At that point, it becomes practical to add some form of friction on the knife from where it is going to be held, usually to the back, so that regardless of the conditions, you are less likely to slip and cause injury.

This is what jimping does. It offers your thumbs or index finger a better grip as it has something to bite into while you work with a knife, as the fingers might slip over the blade.

Nevertheless, not every style of the knife uses jimping. It is up to the company or person who makes the knife for sale or use.

Are there any Alternative Uses for Jimping?

Apart from just being used as a non-slip surface, there are some creative alternative uses for jimping. Some folks use it to rest the handle of a cooking pot on while cooking dinner over a small gas stove, and others use them to rasp or file wood or other material.

It is often used to make a knife useful (such as for military-style or "tactical" knives) or as a way of decorating the knife. Though some people might say that jimping weaken the blade by altering the knife’s structural integrity and adding potential breakpoints under stress. Others, however, will agree that having jimping on a knife not only looks good but is useful as well and should be a staple part of knife design.

So, where do you sit on the debate? Are you a jimping fan, or not?

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