There are very few tools that are an absolute must. Ones that come to mind are a hammer, screwdriver, and a knife. There is no more important tool than a knife. It can cut, dig, thump, whittle, and so much more. It is vital to have a good knife, but what makes a knife good?
Why Everyone Should have a Knife
In my pocket, I try to keep a knife on hand at all times. There are many reasons. Some are as simple as to be able to open mail and boxes. Sometimes it is nice to be able to carve a nice trinket while you sit and wait. Without fail, you will always find a reason for a good knife. But a knife must be used with responsibility and properly cared for.
There are many tips for safety when it comes to knives, but I will share the 3 major ones.
- A knife must be treated with respect, as it can cut and can cause harm.
- Always use the knife with the blade facing away from you. Never cut towards your body.
- Be aware of who and what is around you, and always keep a safe distance between you and others or objects.
Currently you can get many different brands of knives such as Buck, Swiss Army, Gerber, Case, and many more. The brand, however, is not the most important part of the knife. What really makes a knife is the blade material. The best material is high carbon steel. This particular material requires care, but it is also the best when it comes to holding an edge and durability. You can find Stainless Steel and other material blades, but there is still no blade better than high carbon steel. You can typically tell what material the blade is made of by locating the etching on the lower portion of the blade.
Obviously, every job needs a different tool. With that in mind, it is important to get the right knife for the right job. If you are going hunting, a pen knife will be more frustrating than beneficial. There are many useful types of knives. Knives for hunting, knives for cooking, boning, fileting, carving, and gutting, and knives just for general purpose. Choosing the right knife starts with knowing what the knife will be used for. For a child, a pen knife would be a great fit. However, if you are going on a hunt you will want a good hunting kinfe.
You always want to care for your tools properly. In order for them to be useful when you need them, you need to put some time into caring for your tools. A knife needs to be cared for just like any other tool. It needs to be cleaned, oiled and sharpened.
Most basic care can be done while sharpening your knife. You will need some basic materials before sharpening: honing oil, a sharpening stone, and a couple of clean cotton rags. You can purchase honing oil and a sharpening stone at most hardware stores.
- To start, you will want to take a cotton rag and wet it with some honing oil (you don’t want the rag dripping, you only want to wet a portion of the rag). Clean the blade and spring (if equipped) with the rag.
- If your knife has a spring, this would be a good time to place a drop of oil on the spring as well as the pivot point of the blade. Open and close the blade numerous times to allow the oil to work in.
- Open your knife so the blade is locked in the open position. Then run a fine line of oil down the sharpening stone.
- Hold the knife at a 20 degree angle and run the blade down the stone keeping the 20 degree angle. As you pull the blade down the stone, you will need to ease the knife away from the stone so that the whole length of the blade is getting sharpened on each stroke.
- The number of strokes on each side depends largely on the condition of the blade at the start of the process. If the blade started in good shape, then it obviously won’t take as much effort to sharpen as compared to a badly dulled blade. It is important to note that a stropping strap (a leather strap used for sharpening) can really add a superior edge to any blade. Stropping straps are a bit harder to come by; you can typically find them online.
- When the blade is sharp, you will be able to see a nice edge on the blade. Another test for the sharpness of a blade, which I don’t recommend to everyone, is to shave the hair off a portion of your arm. The sharper the blade, the easier to shave.
If you start with the basics, purchase a knife with a good quality blade, and take the time to properly care for the knife, you will soon have a great, functional heirloom to pass down to following generations.