Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Tools for everyday life - the pocket knife

Every day before I leave the house I fill my pockets with the things that I will need during the day: keys, phone, wallet, pen, and pocket knife.  I can get by without some of the items.  I don't always need a pen.  I sometimes forget my phone - and don't miss it when I don't have it.

The one item that I miss if I don't have it on me is the pocket knife.  I believe that every person should carry one - including kids.

My current everyday knife (Victorinox Swiss Army Pioneer)

Giving a kid a pocket knife implies two major things.  It implies that you think they are responsible for their actions - a knife is sharp, being given one shows that the person who gives it to you expects and trusts that you can (and will) use it in a responsible manner.  It also implies that you think they are capable - that they can use a tool and use it properly. Want to teach a kid responsibility?  Give them a knife and tell them it will be taken away if they ever use it irresponsibly and improperly.  That kid will grow up fast.

I don't remember the exact age I was when I got my first knife, but I do know that I was no older than eight and probably younger.  Most kids of that age should be able to handle a knife safely.  If taught proper responsibility, kids that are even younger may be ready for their own knife.

I don't remember exactly what my first knife was, but I do remember that shortly after receiving it I managed to stab myself in the webbing between my thumb and index finger.  I still have a scar.  I also remember that I didn't tell anyone about the accident.  If I was responsible enough to have a knife, I was responsible enough to deal with the consequences.  I was mature enough to know that while the cut was painful, it would heal with no significant damage.  I learned to be more careful with my knife right away.

I don't have that first knife any more, but I do have a knife that I received when I was about the age of twelve.  I have owned and carried many knives since then.  For many years I worked jobs that required more than just a knife so I carried a multitool either in a pocket or in a sheath on my belt.  Over the past five or six years have switched back to a simple pocket knife.

I got this knife in a set when I was old enough to start hunting (around the age of twelve)

I am often around adults that don't carry pocket knives.  When it comes time to do a minor task for which a knife is perfectly suited, they are often at wit's end as to how to proceed.  A pocket knife an indispensible tool necessary for everyday life and exploration.

With my pocket knife I have been able so many simple things:
cut string, cut rope, cut baling twine, cut myself on a few occasions when I have been careless, cut fabric, cut leather, cut paper, cut cardboard, cut tape, cut zip-ties, cut nylon webbing, open packages, open letters, open boxes, open bags of feed, open bags of fertilizer, open bags of seed, sharpen pencils, sharpen sticks, make kindling, split small logs (I don't recommend this with a pocket knife, but it can be done.), butcher rabbits and squirrels, clean fish, prune branches, cut bouquets of flowers, trim plants in a garden, cut down small trees, dig holes, dig splinters out of my hand, slice cheese, slice apples, slice salami, slice bagels, peel oranges, drill holes in wood, drill holes in plastic, trim fingernails, trim pieces of wood, trim pieces of plastic, cut wire, strip wire, tighten loose screws, chip ice, scrape paint, scrape off glue, pry nails loose, trim gaskets, and many more things that I am forgetting.

For many of these tasks, I could have found another tool to use.  But the knife in my pocket means that they are over and done in less time that it would take to search for another tool.  When I worked as a maintenance employee for the local parks and recreation department I had coworkers who did not carry a knife.  They would have to either borrow mine or waste 15 minutes or more by needing to go back to the maintenance shop for a tool.  I shake my head in disdain over people like that.

Guess what everyone in my office received as a Christmas gift in 2016. 

It wasn't a gift card to Starbucks...

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