General Life Skills

Why Every Guy Needs a Pocket Knife

Reaching into my pocket I felt the rounded wooden handle of my folding pocket knife. My thumb rubbing across the smooth handle. It’s a reminder that as a man I need to become what Morgan Snyder calls a generalist. All too often, our culture pushes us into specialties. Specialties are not all bad.  I want my surgeon cutting me open for heart surgery to know what he’s doing. No offense to the plumber, but I’ll pay for the specialist when it comes to my heart. The problem is we hire too much out. Sure, there is a balance between DIY and hiring the much needed and trained expert. It’s learning the balance of time and cost that often plays into such decision-making. Yet, as each of our journeys further into manhood, we need to have a general sense of how things work and are able to attempt them ourselves. Maybe not always solo, sometimes with a friend. 

Dave Nichols is an adventurer who has seen and lived in other parts of the world and now calls Colorado home. His story about knives, and making them, stir up the call to be a knife-bearing man myself. Listen to his story.

I like making pocket knives. I started because I saw a knife a friend made. He is a tiger researcher who worked in Russia and made knives with fossilized mammoth teeth. It exuded ultra-manliness and I knew I needed one at that moment.

Knife in the making.
Dave Nichols starts the process.

I decided to try my hand at making my own (also because I did not want to pay the large price tag) and have now made about 20 knives with exotic handle materials from fossilized mammoth teeth, buffalo horn, tropical woods, and even tiger eye stone. I love to use unusual materials because they are beautiful, even though it has no effect on how well the knife functions.  I think it makes you want to carry it around more because it is cool.

Photo by Dave Nichols

They are always useful and you never know when you need them.  I have done manly things like cutting up fish, opening boxes, and whittling wood, but more often than not they are cutting plastic, spreading peanut butter, or being used as a tiny screwdriver for loose eyeglasses.

Photo by Dave Nichols

I have a wife and two daughters and it is amazing how often they need a knife although they would never carry one.  It definitely seems to fall into the “man” category.  It might also possibly be because women’s clothing seems woefully lacking in useful pockets.  This is something God made me uniquely interested in and other people benefit because of it.

Photo by Dave Nichols

What is also interesting is that the smallest and plainest knives seem to be the most useful. I am not afraid to carry it around all the time and I don’t care if it gets scratches or dings.  I made a big fancy hunting knife out of exotic materials about four years ago and have never used it. 

That’s why a trusty pocket knife becomes a man’s closest ally in the mastery of a variety of simple yet profound tasks. In fact, proper use of a knife can be the most loving thing you do for those closest to you. Pulling mine out I opened a package for my wife. Later, I used it to cut some paracord as I tied down my canoe on the Crosstek.  Recently, while turkey hunting, my other knife was used to clean the bird. Knives are useful for a ton of everyday tasks.  Tasks that can show your love for others.  

Here are several of my knives. 

A guy can never have enough knives.

L to R:

Snake Eye Stainless steel 3.5-inch blade. Easy flip open blade.  Ballpark cost: $15-$20. Often found at truck stops.

Coast 2-inch blade. Easy fit in the pocket. Ballpark cost: $15-$20.

Haswell Survival Knife.  4 inch-forged blade with leather sheath. Ballpark cost: $150-$175.

Opinel No. 8. French-made folding pocket knife. My daily companion.  Ballpark cost: $18-$20.

Gerber Stainless Steel Single Blade. Simple, clean, lightweight. 2-inch blade. Ballpark cost.: Under $30.

BucknBear Mini Camp Knife. Damascus Steel 3.5 inch blade with a leather sheath. Ballpark cost: $75.

Morakniv. Basic 511 Knife.  Swedish basic knife. 91mm (3.5 inches). Comes with a plastic sheath. Ballpark cost: under $10.

Rill Simple Tool Bone Daddy Damascus Folding Skinner. Leather sheath and tuning rod. Ballpark cost: $80.

Snake Eye Folding Blade Tactical Knife. 3-inch blade. Ballpark cost. Under $20. Cleans turkeys.

Sharper Than an Any Knife Every Made

We read in Hebrews 4:12 that God’s Word is like a two-edged sword. 

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Sharp knives are useful tools. When God uses His Word to cut deep into my soul, it may at first sound cruel, mean, unloving. The truth is in His hands, the knife of his Word is the most loving act of discipline in making me more of the man I’m called to become.

What knife is in your pocket?

Warrior On!

Photos by Luke Lallement, unless noted otherwise

David Riffel is the Founder and Executive Director of Having gone through his warrior years (18-30) essentially without a mentor, God has placed in him a heart for warriors, to come alongside them in various ways as they figure out life. David’s newly released book, Mentoring Warriors: Coming Alongside Young Men 18-30, outlines principles for mentoring and gives advice for warriors in six key areas of life: self-management, life skills, education/career, relationships, faith, and identity.

Dave Nichols

David Nichols' creativity is expressed in a host of venues, from pottery to painting to travel and making knives. Having lived in South Korea, David now resides in Colorado where he teaches art and a thought-provoking class entitled "The Theory of Knowledge". Time with David is always refreshing!

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