Phone. Wallet. Keys. Pocket knife.
If you’re anything like me, that’s essentially the same routine you go through right before leaving the house each morning. Each of those items – except for maybe the phone, depending on how connected to the outside world you are – is a vital part of your day. Yes. Even the pocket knife.
It may not always come in handy, but it’s one of those things you’re glad you grabbed when you need to whittle an old-fashioned table ornament, make spears to ward off predators or simply open a box with too much packing tape on it.
Actually, if I’m being completely honest, unless you’re working in construction, the armed forces or in the wilderness, today’s typical iPhone wielding, Facebook checking young man doesn’t seem to have much of a need for a pocket knife anymore, which is a shame. An absolute shame. Especially when you consider how necessary they were back in the day.
Hundreds of years ago, General George Washington defeated the British with one swift swipe of his pocket knife. Of course, that’s not exactly how it happened, but, according to The Smoking Jacket, he did carry a pocket knife, a Barlow knife actually. All militia at the time were forced to carry pocket knives as secondary weapons before they were made a part of the American soldier’s uniform during World War II.
To this day, some men do still carry pocket knives. Though I’m not in the armed forces or much of a woodsman, I occasionally find uses for my pocket knife during everyday activities such as sharpening pencils, cutting bags open or slicing open blister packages. Sometimes I’ll even use it when I’m scaling fish or chopping an apple, but for the most part I carry one because of the sense of security I get from it. Because, let’s face it…men who carry a pocket knife look badass, and there’s a reason for that. They boost confidence.
I believe the mere fact that men are able to carry a potentially harmful, sometimes useful tool makes them feel indestructible, boosts their confidence and how they look and ultimately forces them to look badass. It’s sort of a security blanket. Maybe that’s really the reason why they were made a part of American soldier’s uniforms – a small form of psychological warfare to boost soldier’s courage or something.
Of course, there must be other reasons why pocket knives can boost confidence. I’m sure some men have received a hand-me-down knife or two from their fathers at one point or another, so they may treat them as mementos of sorts. Some men may simply find comfort from opening and closing the knife, like treating a nervous tick, if you will. Maybe it’s merely the ability to pull it out and show it off that boosts confidence in males. It’s worth a thought.
So what kinds of pocket knives are there? A ton. Thankfully, Practical Manliness broke them down to the four major types – jack knives, pen knives, multipurpose knives and multitools.
Jack knives, one of the oldest American tools, were generally the first knives a young boy would own and were characterized by one or two blades on a single hinge that folded into the hilt.
This Case Jack Knife is available here.
Pen knives were used to sharpen quills back in the day. They typically have two hinges with two or three blades that fold into the hilt, making them a bit more versatile than the jack knife.
This Case Pen Knife is available here.
Multipurpose knives are your standard Swiss Army knives. They have screwdrivers, corkscrews, scissors, can openers, saws and more. I’ve even seen a few with USB flash drive. Way to bring these knives to the 21st century, guys. Because of the added tools, these knives are generally bulkier and heavier than the aforementioned knives.
Swiss Army Knives can be found available here.
Multitools have a whole mess of tools in them. In fact, it’s kind of unfair to even call them knives. The knife isn’t really even the main focus, since it’s more of a mini toolbox. Therefore, I wouldn’t even really characterize multitools as pocket knives, but Practical Manliness did, so…yeah.
This Leatherman Skeletool Multitool is available here.
For a more conclusive guide to pocket knives — the different parts, the type of blades, how to sharpen them and more — check out CarterCrafts.com and let us know what type of knife you carry. Feel free to tell us why you carry your knife? How useful in your everyday life? What do you think of pocket knives being associated with men who look badass? Let us know in the comments below. We’d love to hear your thoughts.
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