Rope Cutting competition -- what are the rules, best designs, steels, etc?

BossDog

KnifeDogs.com & USAknifemaker.com Owner
Staff member
I have it in my mind I should try to make a few competition cutters. I've never paid any attention to it so I have no idea.


I understand there has to be a visible pin in the handle and a lanyard that can go around your wrist.

Are there rules on max size and weight?
What edge generally works best?
What length works best?
What steel has been working well?
 

Mike Carter

Well-Known Member
MAXIMUM Specs allows:
Blade Length – 10" (measured from the front of the handle to the blade tip)
Overall Length – 15" (measured from the back of the handle to the blade tip)
Blade Width – 2" (measured at the widest part of the blade)
Blade and Handle Thickness – No restrictions

Your knives will have to be tested and certified by Bladesports before they will alow them in their competitions. You can see all of the rules and specs for Bladesports International competitions at http://www.bladesports.org/knifespec.html

Almost all of the top competitors use CPM-M4 becuase it can be ground extremely thin and still hold up without damage. Bear in mind that it's not just cutting ropes but also 2x4s, hardwood dowels, water bottles, papers tubes and often golf balls, cans or other surprise cuts.

I would suggest you get some tips from Warren Osborne, Gayle Bradley, Steve Singer, Jose Diaz or Donavon Phillips before you make your knives.
 

Fred Rowe

Well-Known Member
Some of the competition cutting knives are ground thin, along the spine, forward of the ricasso and just back of the tip an inch or so so the the tip still has some weight for momentum. Looking at the spine from the top they have the appearance of an elongated femur. Thick on both ends and thin in the middle.

Just an observation, I have no personal experience.

Fred
 

BossDog

KnifeDogs.com & USAknifemaker.com Owner
Staff member
both good answers..a few more like this and I can put something together. I'm still curious about the thickness of the blade though..
 

Cliff Fendley

Well-Known Member
I believe I had Warren tell me they take the CPM-M4 blades down to .004 before sharpening. You need the blade right before HT because the CPM-M4 eats belts after HT.
 

Mike Carter

Well-Known Member
Some of them use 1/2" CPM-M4 and leave the spine 1/2" at the tip and taper back to about 1/4" near the handle. They want to move as much wieght forward as they can for power but they want the edge as thin as they can get it.

Both Gayle Bradley and Warren Osborne told me they cannot stress enough how important the handle design is. It has to be comfortable and you can't waste time re-gripping in a competition. Some of the cuts like 2x4 and ropes really transfer a lot of shock through the handle. They tell me if you hit right, you hardly feel it but if you hit it wrong it's like hitting a brick wall.

Almost all use a full tang knife but this year one cutter (I think it was Gary Bond) started using a hidden tang to move more weight forward and to increase shock absorbsion. Everybody uses horse stall mat for handles.

This is the knife Ted Ott used to win the 2010 World Cutting Championship at the Blade Show.
blade2010%20231LR.jpg

blade2010%20238LR.jpg
 

BossDog

KnifeDogs.com & USAknifemaker.com Owner
Staff member
I had a nice 30 minute chat with Dan Keffeler tonight about competition cutting. I'm stoked about this. I am going to give this a go. I've just now placed an order for CPM M4 in 3"x30"x.290/.320" and 3"x30"x.290/.320" so I'll have that listed when it comes in.
 

Mike Carter

Well-Known Member
Good to see you here Dan. Folks, Dan is one to watch in the cutting competitions. I expect him to be wearing that championship belt buckle one day.

Blade2010F.jpg
 

Phil Dwyer

Well-Known Member
From what I've seen, that tip about the ergonomic qualities of the handle is imperative. Fussing for one's grip while wailing and swinging away can't be good, and is more common than you might think. A lot of the challenges are like sprinting. You've got to go full bore until the job is done. Good muscle tone for the specific task(s) is a good idea too. It's easy to get fatigued.

I don't know if it's common or not, but I saw some strange cutting challenges besides just slicing loose hanging rope(s) and chopping through 2 by 4s. Stuff like slicing through some loose hanging toilet tissue with the blade tip without tearing it, or stabbing down on a ping pong ball with the point of the blade and having to be able pick the blade back up with the ball still attached, or splitting a golf wiffle ball in half with a single chop, or having to slice clean down through a ping ball ball and upright empty plastic bottle (the pp ball is sitting on the mouth of the upright bottle)

Good luck! I hope you keep us posted.
 

Dan Keffeler

Well-Known Member
Good to see you here Dan. Folks, Dan is one to watch in the cutting competitions. I expect him to be wearing that championship belt buckle one day.

Blade2010F.jpg
Thanks Mike
We really appreciate you covering our sport and your articles and photographs. I would definitely like to stop by your table and talk more at the next blade show
Dan
 
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