pocket knives, pocket knife, all purpose knife, all purpose knives, indispensable pocket knife

The Indispensable Pocket Knife

If I could chose just one single item to carry with me… anywhere, it would be a pocket knife. With such a knife I can make things. With such a knife I can open things that might otherwise pull open, showering me with their contents. I can use a folding knife to clean a fish, butcher an animal or prepare a meal. I’ve used my pocket knife when doctoring animals and pruning shrubs or tomato plants. I can‘t imagine being without one of these knives being on my person, as I’ve carried one since I was 5.

If I had to choose, I would rather carry a pocket knife than a comb. You might say, “Ah! That explains it!”

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In recent years I have gravitated to a smaller pocket knife whose largest blade is 2 1/2″ long.

For some reason pocket knives have fallen out of favor in much of our society, yet, 100 years ago all men, and probably most women carried one. Use and maintenance of a knife is in my opinion, the most basic of skills to be mastered by anyone wishing to achieve some measure of self sufficiency. Homesteading Edu will eventually have a course dedicated just to knives.

In the 1800s many American hotels, after the evening meal,  passed out sticks for whittling. Most men loved to whittle in the evening.   Taken from The American Boys Handy Book by Daniel Carter Beard, which has a fascinating chapter on boys and their pocket knives.

Folding Knife HQ: Short History of the Pocket Knife

So, you might think, “Ah! I need a pocket knife! What kind should I get?” Well, I prefer a knife with at least 1 larger and 1 smaller blade. The most important consideration is: do you like it and carry it? Probably the next most important consideration is quality of materials and construction. The feature photo for this posting is a picture with a number of different styles of folding knives. Most of them I’ve carried myself. In recent years I’ve gravitated toward the smaller, multi bladed knife. Can you guess which one is my wife, Jerreth’s knife?

Blog: A Really Good Fixed Blade Knife

Appalachian Magazine: The Kind of Men who Carry Pocket Knives

3 thoughts on “The Indispensable Pocket Knife”

  1. Angie McLemore

    I think I need one for my pocket, one for my purse, one for my truck, one tucked into the old mail box that holds lawn tools, then I’ll be set!
    Thanks for the little history lesson, I’ve had a few family members that would whittle during down time.

  2. fourteenmilecreek

    I agree with George. I carry a pocket knife where ever I go. For most of my life, I was an Electrician, so I used a pocket knife nearly every day at work. This is an invaluable tool for a homesteader or anyone else for that matter. (Seriously, a pocket knife could save your life someday). I’ve had occasion, to use mine to cut a horse loose that went down in a stock trailer with a saddle on. The saddle horn was hung up in the bottom rail of the gate and the cinch was cutting off the horse’s air. I had to cut the leather cinch to get the horse back up, so she could breathe again. Early settlers probably faced challenges similar to that one in everyday life. If you are ever in a situation and need to cut a rope, quick, or nowadays, maybe, cut a seatbelt, or open a heavy duty cardboard box, a pocket knife is an essential tool to have on hand at all times.

  3. Great comments!
    Angie, I like your way of thinking!
    Ron, Jerreth had a similar experience, when we were first married. She was working at a youth camp as a wrangler. Someone donated a horse to the camp and she was checking it out. It went beserk and literally hung itself by the lead rope. There were at least 30 people present and not one had a knife on them. She wrecked her back, holding that horse up (so as no to choke the rest of the way) until someone could run and bring the only tool they could find, a set of old hedge trimmers! They saved horse, but my wife’s back has never been the same. After that, she has always carried a knife. Her preference is an assisted opening Kershaw. I suspect part of the reason she prefers it is that she remembers having to hold the front end of a horse and try to cut a rope with hedge trimmers. She wants a knife she can open with one hand, while holding the horse!

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