Knives as Tools

Sometimes I get a wild hair to do something. This time, I decided to drag out a few of my knives and sharpen them. That ended up being “most” instead of “some.” My left arm is now hairless from testing their sharpness, my acceptable level of sharpness being that the knife can shave hair—easily.

Here is my bench with most, but not all, of my sharpening tools. I rely mainly on my ceramic sticks seen as that V” shaped thingie sticking up. I can get the most consistent results with it. “Sharpening those knives ended up with a trip down “Memory Lane.” Guess what? With this post, I am inviting you along for the ride.

Knives are tools, as the title suggests. Yes, they can be used for very bad things like what gun-free England is experiencing now with a rash of knife attacks, especially in London. And yes, as you might expect, they are considering banning knives now. That isn’t the solution, but that is a post for another time.

Back to the tools and our trip down Memory Lane. Much of my adult life I have carried a knife—it’s a tool—and I use mine on an almost daily basis. This habit began back when I was in the Air Force and began my hunting career in earnest. My first “good” knife was a Puma Game Warden folder. I bought it before I went to Alaska (the Air Force sent me there). It is good quality German steel with a serviceable, general-use blade shape.

While in Alaska, I made a sheath for it in the base hobby shop. That was my first endeavor at making something out of leather and far—very far—from it being my last. I used that Puma to dress out a really fine Alaskan caribou I shot on a hunting trip near King Salmon, AK.

I still have that knife and the sheath pictured below. Now some 47 years later, just hefting that Puma brings back lots of memories of that trip. I made sure anyone inheriting it after I am gone knows that. I wrote the details on the back of the sheath.

My next “quality” knife was a Western Cutlery Company Westmark 703 with an Alaskan Skinner blade. I had seen one like this by a custom knife maker, which I couldn’t afford, and liked the blade shape a lot. It is a good combination of skinning and survival shape. On the day I mustered out of the Air Force in Anchorage, AK, I found the Westmark 703 in the Anchorage Penney’s store. It was my discharge present to myself. I used it a lot on later whitetail deer hunting trips in the seventies.

That was followed by a “custom” knife I made myself for deer skinning chores. It was actually only partially made by me because I bought the blade already finished along with Rosewood scales to make the handle. I did custom shape the handle for my hand and made its sheath, too. The “hook” is for use opening up the abdomen of the deer without cutting the gut and spoiling the meat with its contents. It almost adds a zipper to the animal’s belly. I made two more for my boys.

Those were mostly hunting knives. By then (the 1990s) I was carrying a knife all the time. They were all small/medium size utility folders and would include my next “quality” knife, my Gerber and later my Kershaw. The latter was a Christmas gift from my best friend, Buck Roy.

While the Gerber and the Kershaw served me well for many years, I decided to step up to a better quality knife and bought a Benchmade Griptillian folder with a Mel Pardue designed blade. This one (the larger of the two below) was not intended for street carry but rather woods/country carry. The serrated edge was selected to be able to slash seat belts should that need arise. I liked the way the Griptillian opened with one hand by retracting the locking bolt and flicking the wrist. It closed the same way. In fact, I liked it so much I bought a “little brother” for it and retired the Kershaw I was daily carrying. The Benchmades are made of harder steel, and though harder to sharpen, they hold an edge longer. And my daily carry Griptillian baby brother gets lots of use.

I carry one other knife on a daily basis, and that is my little Swiss Army Knife folder. It is a wonderfully useful little knife with small scissors, which gets used more than the blade. I am on my third or the fourth one. They do wear out if you use them like I do.

Knives as tools—I don’t understand why everyone doesn’t carry a knife (or two). I feel naked without mine. Yes, I know they can be a problem in some establishments, so you have to be prepared to leave them in the car sometimes like I had to do at my granddaughter’s dance review last weekend. (You had to pass through a metal detector.) I guess the same applies to NFL games and a few other places. At the very least, you should have a small Swiss Army Knife. I’m telling you, the scissors are very useful—and not only can you cut open packages with the blade, but you can pull a splinter, file your nails, or pick your teeth, too …


Filed under Knives

2 responses to “Knives as Tools

  1. Richard Caire

    Good stories … and good photos to accompany ’em. One of my knives is a looks-like ‘Puma’ but I don’t think it’s branded as such. I’ve used my metal checkering file(-s) to apply probably-unneeded checkering and lining to its metal surfaces. It could be more properly described as a ‘test-bed’ knife. Holds a good edge, tho’. You’re right about the Swiss Army knife, too – even if mine doesn’t let me trim fingernails. I don’t need it to pick my teeth, ‘cos dentures, y’ know …


  2. Doug Caire

    That was a good read, Lane. I have that exact same Puma you have that I picked up while in college – every Wildlife major needed a good knife and it got a lot of use. At work I always have two knives on me – the Leatherman Wave which gets used every day, and a Boy Scout multi-blade/tool on a much smaller scale than the Swiss Army knife, which Shelia gave me many years ago. It too gets a lot of use. Every man should carry at least one knife, and if he doesn’t he may want to consider turning in his Man Card.


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