Monday, March 30, 2015

A Child's First Knife

I love your blog and videos. Thank you for all of your hard work and dedication. I appreciate your ideas of practical preparedness rather than wasting our time with fantasy zombie preparedness like so many other survival bloggers do. Thank you for you recent video entitled "3 steps to perfect pocket knife". I work in office where it would be inappropriate to wear a folding knife attached to your suit pants. So I appreciated your ideas about other viable options.
I was wondering what your thoughts are on what type of knife is a good first knife for a boy. I have a six year old son and have been wondering when is a good time to get my son a knife, and what type of knife that should be. My son enjoys hiking, exploring in the woods, building forts, and playing out-doors. He is the oldest of my 4 children and is responsible for his age. What do you think is a good boy's age for a father to give a knife to his son? What type of knife would be best? I know that you have two young sons and I would appreciate any advice you might have on this matter. Do your boys have knives? If so, what kind? And when did you give it to them? How could you tell they were ready for a knife? What rules do you have with your boys? I appreciate any ideas you might be willing to share.
Thank you,
My son's Swiss Army Knife Explorer and Hultafors HeavyDuty Knife. The pictured Leatherman Sidekick would also make a first great knife/MT for a boy.
Thanks Danny,
A knife is obviously an important tool and it sure is a big deal for a boy (probably a girl too, lets not leave the ladies out!). Your first knife, your first gun, its not just a gift, it’s a rite of passage. It’s a grownup, maybe your parent or grandparents, recognizing you’re responsible enough to handle such responsibility.

When I was a kid I loved the idea of having a knife. I managed to get hold of various tiny pocket knives but I got my very own proper fixed blade knife for my tenth birthday. It was one of those cheap hollow handle “survival” models, made in China. I still have that knife.

I gave my oldest son (eight at the time) and my nephew (nine) their first pocket knives during one summer holiday. This worked out well because I had more time to spend with both of them and teach them how to use their knives. The knife isn’t supposed to be just a normal gift. It should go along with proper instruction on how to use it and care for it. Even if a lot of the advice may fall on ears too young to understand, you should still explain everything as well as possible. Safe handling of the knife is of course important. In my case, I bought my son and my nephew a Victorinox Explorer. These aren’t cheap knives, but I loved the idea of both having that bond, the same knife model, given the same day, and the look on their faces was priceless! A Swiss Army Knife makes a great first knife to learn the basics. Given how famous they are there’s a good chance that a kid has already seen and wanted one for some time. It comes with a number of other tools as well and kids just love that.
If I had to do it again, I would go with this other model instead. It has the saw which I think is important and its an overall great model no matter how old you are:

A couple years ago, I got my son his first fixed blade knife, a Hultafors Heavy Duty. This is a tough knife, made in Sweden. It's twice the thickness of most Mora knives. The carbon steel blade rusts and stains easily but it’s a solid blade to learn the basics of handling a real knife and its strong enough to prepare wood to start a fire with it.
As for the age, it really depends. Eight to ten sounds about right depending on the level of maturity. I would try not to rush it. We sometimes have a hard time being impartial when it comes to our own kids and tend to overestimate how mature they are. Its better to take it easy and make sure they can handle the responsibility. Start by teaching them safe knife handling first. Once you give them the new knife, have them use it under your supervision at first until you notice they are using it safely as well.

Here are some of the rules I insist on:
1)Be careful with your knife at all times. Keep a firm grip and find a safe place to use your knife. Put it away if others are close to you, especially children.
2)Always cut away from any and all body parts. If your knife slips, what will it end up going against?
3) A knife is a tool, not a toy. Don’t pry, throw or use your knife for any other purpose than its intended use. If dropped, quickly step away. Don’t try to catch it.
4)Grab the sheath firmly when removing a knife from its sheath and keep your fingers out of the way when closing a folding knife.
5)After use, clean up your knife, keep it sharp and store it in a safe place.

Yes, a boy can and probably will get cut. We’ve all got cut at some point, but chances are far less with proper instruction so relax and enjoy the treasured experience!

Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good choice. Multi-tools are good, but SAKs are better for EDC (imo) unless you are a dedicated handyman. And truly, you only miss the pliers when choosing the SAK - a pair of ignition pliers is a good companion to the knife - seperate tools and all.