Monday, December 28, 2009

Knives - a discussion

Some people are afraid of knives...

There are a lot of misconceptions about knives and types of knives. There are daggers, dirks, hunting knives, folding knives, fighting knives, boot knives, buckle knives, switchblades, machetes, pruning knives, steak knives, scalpels, letter openers, box cutters and the list goes on and on. Then there are the regionally specific names: balisong, jambiya, navaja, bowie, kukri, parang, bolo, ulu, athame, etc… Obviously there are countless names for them, some of which mean specific things, some which don’t. This has resulted in many legal battles trying to define which ones are illegal to carry under certain circumstances, and which aren’t. These battles are still being fought and refought, and overturned and reviewed and revised. The reality is that a knife is any cutting edge or blade, handheld or otherwise, with or without a handle, they have been around for a couple MILLION years. They are tools, and have a multitude of uses. Even knives that are named for a specific purpose – such as a hunting knife, or chef’s knife can be used for so much more. Some shapes might be more efficient at a particular task, but you can use almost any type of knife to carry out the task of any other. Is a paring knife less dangerous than a switchblade? Odds are the paring knife is sharper, sturdier, and easier to handle. The infamous Bowie knife, which is now thought of as a fighting knife, was originally a large butcher knife, and can still be used as such.

The things that distinguish one knife from another are shape, size and materials. Some shapes are better for pruning plants for example, while others for opening boxes, chip carving, slicing cheese, or carving a turkey. Large knives are better for large tasks (cutting through the jungle), small knives for delicate or small tasks (surgery). Folding knives are better for keeping in your pocket (switchblades are not recommended for pockets), while straight knives fit in sheaths or cases or blocks. Knives have been made from bone, stone, bronze, steel and anything else that can hold an edge, or even if it doesn’t hold an edge – some uses don’t need it, like letter openers.

Some knives will never be used to cut a single thing – art knives, for example, frequently sit in a case and are primarily meant to be looked at. Even if they are designed and constructed of the best materials, the owner may choose never to use it. Other knives will be used daily for one purpose or many, again depending on the owner.

As a knife maker, I make knives because I enjoy it, not because I expect my knives to be used a certain way. If I call something a fighter style knife, it’s because it looks like that style to me, not that it will be used to fight with. A person who will never pick up a bow or rifle may still enjoy the look and utility of a hunting knife, but use it for camping chores, or opening boxes, or the mail, or to sit on the shelf and look pretty.

Knives are tools, don’t judge them on a name, don’t blame them for how they are used. If you disagree with the user, talk to the user, don’t ban the knife.

1 comment:

Erica said...

This is a great post, my love :) even I learned things I didn't know from this.