08 July 2014

Knives: EDC knife usage

After presenting his everyday cary (EDC) Adam Savage worked at a holder for his Leatherman on youtube. So yes those shiny pocketable knives and multitools,  I think I need them,  but what for?

Every day use like opening packages and letters,  cutting fruit, ... and many other things, I hear. So I went for youtube in search of the 'many other things' as  there are many EDC knife demonstrators there, daily carrying up to five blades.  Listing what I heard the main usages for a knife are: showing one more knife, repetitive fast one handed opening, tactical use, cutting paper and battoning. Yes, and on youtube the main usages of a plane are making thin shavings from a perfectly flat scrap of fine wood and setting them on display shelves.  So the knife usages:

Showing one more knife
To do that I ransacked my storage and came up with some, and for good measure bought two extra online.
From the seventies, my camping knives: A non locking folding knife (a nameless maniaghese-hippekniep),  his Opinel n° 8 replacement, a second thoughts Opinel n° 10 (4" blade),  just to be able to cut bread decently. I added now a new shiny stainless Opinel.
A pocketable-keychain leatherman, pink for a good price, but then I have to find a use for pliers.  Maybe it's more something for fishing.
Two pocketable Victorinox.

Fast one handed opening
I can one hand open my Opinel in maybe 4 seconds (with and without usage of the Opinel knock),  but that's way slower than American knife slingers and the closeness of my thumb to the edge would get too much attention of the youtube safety brigades.  Although ... there is no such thing or rather I am part of that posse, having seen so many people slide their fingers over blade edges. It's sharp or it isn't, there is no try. I found sharp with my first, factory sharp, Opinel, using just the weight of the blade (0.5 oz).  Sharp is safe, they say, whatever safe is.

Tactical use
The stab and slash jobs. Many American knives have a tactical look and are categorized as such,  but apart from that I do not hear much self incriminating talk or demonstrative tactical usage on EDC youtubes.   Personally I had some formal knife fighting training,  but in practice I am even too slow to run away. Anyway what I can legally carry here are knives as a tool not as a weapon.

Cutting paper
I am not so good at sharpening but yes it's not a problem if the test is on thick enough paper.  Shaving is another story, although I like to quote the following "I have found the diameter of human hair to range from 17 to 181 ┬Ám" to explain part of my problem. I expect the thickest hair to be 1000 times stiffer and way easier to cut than a thin hair.

I made many campfires without any knowledge of battoning (that's using a knife as a froe but without any leverage) even if I have to believe youtube, it is the main bushcraft® knife skill together with the use of ferro rods on the back of the knife. On the other hand splitting wood to make a Swedish torch seems a good way to make a smokeless, low maintenance fire. [edit]Seeing later on a Mors Kochanski presentation I was pleasantly surprised to see more than the usual bare bushcraft® basics.

Eating fruit
Rather not.  I can of course, and for example an Opinel does a decent job.  But I usually cut fruit and vegetables with a low angle blade (7+7=14° micro bevel), so a more standard edge (up to 20°+20° and more), even razor sharp, doesn't cut it, it just splits.  The added problem is the need to clean the blade before closing the knife.
A Japanese knife person, Virtuovice made an illustrative video of the apple problem on youtube with one of his hunting knives.

Opening packages
I receive my packages on a predictable place and that's close to my kitchen parring knives. The only way for a pocket knife to enter the competition is a fast one handed draw.  Speed is what Adam Savage was going for, with his multitool belt holder.

Cutting ropes
As a boy scout we did extensive amounts of rope joinery.  The only tool needed is a saw and a knife (or scissors) to cut rope.  Cutting rope with an axe was the alternative,  but things can and will go wrong with an axe and then the whole joint needs to be redone.

A good use of a knife,  I think that cutting meat is one of the main traditional reasons to carry a knife, but it is not my problem.  Surprisingly some hunters say to have worked with mid sized, and even out of necessity with the smallest Victorinox knives.

Is seldom mentioned as an EDC knife usage, but it's a good reason to carry a knife.

Pen knife
When I asked my father he said that he carried one in the thirties, he used it as a pencil knife as sharpeners where not common then.  Pens where already in metal so no real pen-knife-manship.  The other reason given was tradition, as a part of 'formal' wear.

Sharpening and such, the Lincoln way (If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six sharpening my axe):  The art of knife maintenance.   There is for example a Japanese who thinks that all Opinels even the old ones are shiny, he calls it To assembly from degradation of OPINEL it's not only poetic but also very thorough. Me it's all about nicks (I call them serrations) and stained steel. And seeing the stamps and the wood choice, mine are maybe a decenium older.

I decided to try it out by adding to my EDC a smallish Victorinox (with pen) in my pocket, I think the flat screw driver used for prying is more useful than the knife.  Technically: it's the Signature Lite,  where I had the tinner Signature (without light) in mind. I already used each of the five utensils once.  Yeah! ... but mostly at home

On my desk I already had, not a multitool but, multiple tools like screwdrivers and scissors,  I added a shiny Opinel blade to see if it can be useful.

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