The Pocket Knife…

If I had to pick  only one tool to have for the rest of my life, it would be a good pocket knife.

I gave both of my sons a  pocket knife when they were about 10 years old. I showed them how to sharpen it and explained what it was and what it wasn’t.  It’s a knife. That means it was made to cut things. It is not a screwdriver or pry bar.  It is not a weapon, but like many common things, it could serve as one if things got desperate.  A trash can lid is not a weapon, until you decide to use it as such.  Neither is a pen, but you could use it as such if you had a mind to.  A pocket knife is a tool, and just like most tools, you can hurt yourself or someone else with it if you are careless.  I have hurt myself many times with tools, but I didn’t try to have them classified as illegal.   You have to have and use some common sense with everything, whether it’s your credit card, the auto you drive, your sex life or what ever, and knives are no exception.

I have noticed that many knives today lean towards what is considered a more ‘combat’ style of knife and may be the reason for some people’s dislike of knives. Being an amature knife maker, I have been asked what qualities to look for in a good pocket knife.  There are tons of good knives out there, so I’ll try to give pointers that I believe to be important and leave brand names to the buyer.

As I mentioned before, todays trends seem to favor the more combat style knives. Most, if not all of them, have very thick blades for a pocket knife. I have found that a thinner blade on a knife is much more useful than thick blades.  Thick blades make it difficult to slice thru many materials because the blade is having to push the material aside as it’s being forced into the cut. The thicker the blade, the harder it is to cut these materials.  A thin sharp blade will almost glide thru most cardboard because of less friction between the blade and material. This is even noticable in the simple act of peeling an apple or potato. The thin blades are much easier to peel with.

You don’t need a pocket knife that will punch a hole in a 55 gallon steel drum. If you need to do that, go get yourself a hammer and chisel!  And if someone says that their knife blade is so tough that they could cut your blade in two, hand them your knife and say “Show me!”.  I’ll guarantee they will crawdad out of their boast.  Not because their blade couldn’t do what they said, it may have been made so hard that it could cut your blade. But I can bet they will not want to risk damaging their expensive knife just to prove it to you! Or just tell them you’ve never needed  to cut  a knife blade, and ask them when was the last time they needed to!

And speaking of hard blades, you might want to pick something else unless you have special equipment to sharpen them or want to send them off and have them sharpen for you every once in a while.  I prefer a carbon steel blade over a stainless blade also. I find stainless blades hard to sharpen and dull fairly fast. Carbon blades can be easily sharpen with Arkansaw stones or the more modern diamond files.  Learn to sharpen your knife and sharpen it often. A dull knife is dangerous! You wind up putting too much pressure on the blade to cut something if it’s dull!

I like the blades of a knife to have a slight upturn at the end which is called a clip point.  I find them more handy than the drop point. They have less blade width at the point making them easier to get into tight places.  If it were for skinning an animal, then the drop point would be my choice, but I normally would not use a pocket knife for this purpose.

I don’t like blades that do not lock.  The best lock I’ve found on a knife is the liner lock. I have had lock-back knives to close on my fingers when grasping the knife tightly. I’ve never has a liner lock to do this. You must purposely push the liner lock to the side to get it to free the blade. Having a good lock on your pocket knife turns it into a small fixed blade knife!

I like thumb studs on the main blade of my knife also.  I could not tell you the times I’ve been holding something in one hand and needed to open the blade on my knife at the same time.  If you have a thumb stud, it becomes very easy to open one-handed.   If it doesn’t have this feature, you have to let go of what you are holding so you can use both hands to open your knife.  That, or open it with your teeth!  I’ve done that too!

You don’t need a knife with a 5 inch blade for a pocket knife.  It becomes unhandy for almost all uses because of its length. 2.5 to 3 inches is more than enough. If you need more, you need a fixed blade knife, not something with hinges.  I prefer bone handles also. They’re hard and will never wear out. Wood can hold moisture, split and nick easily. Some synthetic materials would work, but I prefer natural bone, textured just enough to give you a good grip.

I know this is general information, and I may expound on this at a later date. For now, if you do not carry a pocket knife, pick one up and get use to carrying it every day. I think you will be surprised at just how much you will use it!




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