Can Knives Cut Through Bone?

This post may contain affiliate links. Read our full disclosure here.


Knives can be very important for a lot of different purposes. They are great for food preparation and cutting as well as several different outdoor activities. They’re also great to use as a tool and can cut through a lot of stuff. Yet many will wonder, can knives cut through bone?

The short answer to this is Yes. However, it will truly depend on the type of knife you’re using. Not all knives are capable of cutting through bone or you’ll have to work far harder to accomplish this with one.

The knives most often made to cut through bone will be larger knives, especially something like a butcher knife you’ll use in a kitchen. Several outdoor knives can do this, but as a rule, they do not need to cut completely through bone as often. Therefore, many will not be capable of that.

There is a difference in the kind of cutting utensil one might use for meat cutting too. In fact, meat that is frozen that also requires one cut through the bone can be much harder for your average knife. In these cases, you’ll see an electric knife utilized. Some can be quite large too.

Keep in mind that when we say “bone,” we are not just referring to human bone here. We’re also discussing animal bones like deer, chicken, fish, etc. Therefore, several knives can fit in this category. However, we’re going to mainly stick with those that can cut through human and most animal bones.

Bone-Cutting Knives Are Usually Found In A Kitchen

boning knife

As referenced previously, a lot of the knives used to cut through bone will typically be used in the kitchen. While Butcher knives are capable of this, there are knives quite similar to those that can also do the job. Cleavers & Chef’s Knives are the two most popular here.

You’ve likely seen movies where butchers are chopping up meat using one of the three referenced knives in the past.

The general make of these knives will be stainless steel. Yet what gives them their bone-cutting prowess is not so much the sharpness of the knife but the largeness of the blade and power used by the wielder.

If a butcher knife is dropped from one foot in the air, it’ll cut a person’s hand for example. Yet it won’t cut through the bone because it still needs more power than the force a 1-foot fall could offer. This is why the main thing behind those knives is ultimately going to be the user that gives it the bone-cutting ability.

Other bone-cutting kitchen knives include:


  • Boning Knives
  • Slicer/Slicing Knife
  • Chopper Knife
  • Some Fillet Knives


Of course, there are some other kitchen knives that if sharp enough, can cut through bone as well. However, as a rule, the ones we referenced are the ones most likely to do so.

Outdoor Use Knives That Cut Through Bone

bowie knife

There are a ton of outdoor knives that are utilized for cutting through bone. While most kitchen knives capable of this will be stainless steel version knives or larger types, that is not always the case with outdoor knives.

For example, Obsidian knives are the sharpest knives on the planet. They can cut through most meat like it’s made of butter. While it takes a little more force to cut through bone, they are capable of this too. In fact, obsidian was one of the first blades early people utilized.

They used these blades to hunt as well as cut up food. Moreover, this was all they had to separate meat so it had to be capable of separating bone. On top of this, obsidian knives were used to make more weapons or tools out of bone. Therefore, we KNOW it can be used.

Other outdoor knife types known for their ability to cut through bone include:


  • Bowie Knives
  • Machetes
  • Kukri
  • Bayonet
  • Some Ka-Bar
  • Some Fishing Knives
  • Some Hunting Knives


Of course, there are other knife types that as a rule are not capable of cutting through bone. Yet there are some models that can do so. This includes your standard pocket knife among several others.

Torture Knives

Sadly, it is true that knives are not just used for good but also for evil purposes as well. You might be saved or killed by just the intention one used it for. Both surgical and torture instruments/knives are used all over the world.

While the United States no longer tortures people for information, and it is considered an international human rights violation to do so…some lesser nations still practice it. In some, they might even cut off parts of someone’s body as a form of torture.

Typically, this is merely cutting off a finger, toe, or ear. In some extreme cases, we’ll see blades used to cut off entire limbs or heads. It is truly all down to the method preferred by the torturer.

The most famous method of blade torture is called Lingchi, but it is better known by the name of “Death By A Thousand Cuts.” It was used in China from 900 AD for over 1,000 years until it was banned in 1905. They’d use one knife to accomplish this, and would not need to cut bone.

If they did want to torture someone by removing fingers, for example, they could accomplish this with any knife they wanted to as long as it was super-heated first.

Surgical Knives

In most hospitals across the United States, surgeries are performed pretty much every single day. While it is not really common that surgeons will need to cut through bone, they will need to do so on occasion.

The most famous knife used in surgical procedures is known as the Scalpel. It is capable of cutting through our skin without any trouble at all. Keep in mind that this is the name used for an instrument that used multiple different-sized blades.

Scalpels utilize 25 different blades, all used for different purposes. Some are large, others are small, and some are angled in specific ways. They are even-numbered One to Twenty-Five on the blade so people will know what they are using too.

This is all at the needs of the surgeon. While handles will remain the same through many surgeries, the blade often won’t be. This is not a universal concept as some blades are reused, but they have to go through a drastic, sometimes extreme sanitation process.

They are also known by three different versions of the blade, which are:


  • Edge
  • Spine
  • Slot


The type of surgery a person is having will determine the version a surgeon will need to use. It is rare they will not have the exact scalpel ready. Usually, they are 100% ready with the correct blades in place before they walk into a room.

The Most Notable Bone-Cutters:


In the medical field, they literally have an instrument called the “Bone Cutter.” We’re totally serious too. There are many knives you could put underneath this category. However, we’re going to list all the bone-cutting knives known in surgery.

Before we do, we should alert you that Osteotome Knives are specifically used for cutting bone in the medical field. Cutting bone to fit a specific need is very specialized, and thus, you’ll often be dealing with someone who only does that for a living.

This falls under a field called Osteotomy. It will require a portion of bones to be removed or realigned, often to correct a problem. It could be due to an impairment of movement, growth, or something similar. Since ALL knives used in this field cut bone, just remember the Osteotome Knife is the most common one to do this.

Others include:


  • The Skull Breaker
  • Bone Scrapper
  • Rongeur (and its multiple versions)
  • Bone Shears
  • Nipper
  • Bone Saw


While we have very specialized knives for cutting bone today, in history it used to be done with knives that might have been used for several purposes. They often had to warm up the knife for it to have a chance to do this too, especially for surgical procedures.

survival quiz