One of the earliest tools in recorder history is the blade, a simple edge on a rock used for a variety of different reasons. Today the blade has evolved into an elegant and often controversial tool that is held in high regard by some and despised as a weapon no longer necessary, by others. I fall into the first camp. I love my knives, they are useful and have been part of my life as long as I can remember. I have found that there are two common reasons people feel the need to carry a knife as part of their everyday carry
The first and most commonly and practical need for an Everyday carry knife is its usefulness as a tool, A good knife or multitool has great utility, and can assist is many everyday tasks such as opening letters and boxes to prying open paint can lids and tightening screws or scraping corrosion off a car battery. Depending on the sharpness, style and material of the blade different task may be easier than others.
The second less common but just as practical reason people carry a knife is for a means of self-defense and security. For the majority of people that carry for this purpose alone, it is about peace of mind in what they feel to be a hostile environment. There are several people don’t feel comfortable with or are not permitted to carry a gun in their place of work, such as Postal workers, or teachers, so they do the next best thing and carry a blade as a means of self-defense. The truth is most that carry a blade for self-defense would not know what to do with it in a fight, they just use it as a visual deterrent, and sometimes that works.
There are knives that are versatile enough to fall into both the utility and the protection category. This will depend heavily on your work environment and the policies they have in place. I will never encourage someone to put their livelihood at risk just to carry what I believe to be the most useful tool you carry daily.
I have work several jobs in my lifetime, from jobsite construction worker, service repair man, Big Box store sales associate, assembly line worker and for the last ten years I have worked in a high-rise office building with professional white-collar co-workers. I have seen what works in each of the different environments and how the people in each of the different industries react when you brandish your tool that the outside world sees as a weapon. I have found the reaction of your co-workers and customers to be every bit as important as the functionality of the knife or multitool you are using. In the current environment we live in, everything that has a weapon sigma is a weapon to somebody and it is important for us, the majority, law abiding citizens, to not give the opposition a reason to push for the restriction or ban of the tools we hold in such high regard.
Professional office type jobs and Retail or outside sales including general customer service positions typically don’t require a larger knife. I Have held these types of positions and have found a small one to three-inch maximum blade folding knife or small multitool is sufficient to get the bulk of the required task completed. In an office you will be opening letters, large envelopes or boxes and maybe cutting the wrappers off office supplies. In retail, you may cut open boxes for new stock for the shelves or scrape pricing sticker residue off product packaging. There are not many if any task that require a large blade or even a fixed blade knife in this or a similar line of work. I used to carry a Kershaw tactical folder every day, since I have evaluated my actual needs, my work week knife is the Leatherman style CS, with the scissors in place of the pliers. It is a great little utility knife for the daily task I have to complete in an office setting and does not make people around uncomfortable when I brandish it to open coffee filters or open packages.
When I was in construction or on the assembly line I carried my larger Kershaw folder and a Leatherman. For these industries you may need something with a little “heft” that can withstand a larger dose of daily use in a harsher environment. As a field worker I had more challenging task like striping electrical cables, clipping wires and cutting on denser materials. It is not uncommon to see these types of tools or blade on a construction site or as an in-home repair man and is not looked upon as a tool that is out of place. Typically, something with a two to four-inch maximum length blade is common for this type of application and will not draw attention and a larger folding knife is a good option for a self-defense application.
concealing a knife for personal defense is never a bad option, especially if your place of business is not on board with firearms in the workplace, or if you would for the federal government, you can be terminated or jailed for having a firearm on premises. I carry a medium size fixed blade for my weekly self defense option. Since I sit at a desk all day, I keep this in my computer backpack where it is both concealed and accessible from the exterior. I went with a medium size fixed blade for a few reasons, first it is small enough to fit in my bag without drawing attention, second, it can be used in tight spaces. Really my biggest concern is when in my car or at a gas station, I travel in one of the top five major cities daily and there are people on every corner and at lost of gas stations panhandling. This issue is you can’t always distinguish between the true panhandlers and the crooks running a con that would rob you blind. Your personal defense weapon should be something that is job compliant or left in your personal car if you drive a work vehicle as many service industries require. Make sure it is something you are comfortable handling and can be concealed. My Wife and I both carry a Mora Companion in our cars or in our bags.
Now that we have gone over the work place specific and often “workplace compliant” Everyday carry knives, lets discuss a few other situations you need to consider. As an avid fisherman and camper, I carry my personal defense knife camping, the Light my Fire Moraknives, it is a great blade for cutting bait and bush crafting chores while camping. I still carry my Kershaw spring open folding knife on the weekends as both my utility and protection blade, it is not a large knife, but it has great utility and serves my needs well for my activities on the weekends. You should evaluate what your hobbies and interest are and find the knife or multitool that is best suited for your needs. Kayaking and canoeing or fishing, a stainless-steel one-piece knife in a plastic sheath may be your best option. Hunters may use surgical steel curved blades for skinning deer, hogs or squirrels. Biking, skating or any other mechanical hobby may require a good multitool. Rock climbing, a good one handed folding knife may be your best bet. Really you should try out different options and see what is right for you.
Here are a few things to look for in a knife when selection for your EDC and Hobbies.
Blade Length – How long does you blade need to be? Yes, size matters! You don’t one something that is grossly oversized or undersized. Packages and boxes only require small blades while skinning a dear will require something much larger.
Blade type – Straight or Serrated or a blade with both? A straight smooth blade is great for cutting paper, tape on boxes or breaking them down to go in the trash, carving wood, cutting string, slicing cheese, fruits and veggies. A serrated or a blade is good for cutting into meat like beef, pork and chicken, cutting foam inserts or insulation. I like it for cutting paracord or larger ropes, you can use a point to hold the rope or place it between the divots to hold the rope in place while you apply pressure.
Blade style – Drop point, Clip point, Spear, Tonto, Curved, Re-curved? There are so many options on blade style it is hard to go into the uses for all of them. Drop Point, clip point and spear are great for digging out holes in wood and carving. My experience is that Tonto makes the best improvised flat head screw driver and scraper, the curves and Re-curved are great for skinning and meat processing. Some of the smaller re-curved are good self-defense blades.
Blade Material – Carbon steel, stainless steel, surgical steel and even plastics? – Each of the steels are good for their own reasons, Carbon steel is easy to sharpen but does not hold and edge very long, this is by far the softest of the blades and is commonly found on many folding style knives. It is a dependable material however you may get what look to be rust spots on it after a few years if it is not well taken care of. Stainless is harder to sharpen but keeps an edge a little longer, this is your typical pocket knife or Multitool material. Note there are different grades of stainless steel and they are not all the same, be sure to get a good quality 420 or 440 is standard. Surgical steel is great for skinning animals but is by far the hardest to sharpen and is often the thinnest blade. These are typically reserved for fillet style knives and not common for Everyday carry or utility knives.
Folding – Liner lock, back lock or no lock at all? Folding knives are great for the pocket, in a bag or purse and don’t require any other bade protection. When I say blade protection, I mean your hand protected from getting cut when going for the knife. Liner lock are great for one handed use, opening or closing and make for great ease of use when doing another task. I like mine for fishing, I can hold the rod while I cut the line after I get hung up on logs below the water. A back lock is good for focused task, these are not typically one-handed operations however you can close them one handed with practice. Knives without locks are not my favorite, they are commonly the swiss style multi-function knives and can come back on your fingers when used improperly, these should not be used by beginners.
Fixed blades – Full tang, Rat Tail or partial tang? Full tank means the blade material extends from the pommel to the tip of the blade, these are typically the strongest knives and most durable for heavy duty chores like chopping sticks or branches. The rat tail or partial tang tapers off into the handle typically between half to three fourths the way into it. These are your potato peelers, fruit and veggie choppers, wood carving bait cutters or light duty knives that don’t take a tremendous beating.
I have several knives I have picked up over the years for different reasons and different situations. I will be totally transparent here and admit, some knives I have just because the look awesome! These are not part of my everyday carry rotation and are not particularly useful other than wall décor but are treasures no less than my functional ones. You have been armed with a good foundation on the most common, and earliest tool of man. This is where you need to find the knife that works best for you, everyone has their own style and it is reflected in the knife they select for their everyday carry and hobbies. Be sure to do your homework on personal situation, what you are permitted to carry in your workplace and the brand, style, material and overall utility of your knife selection before you make a purchase. Don’t waste your hard-earned cash on a cheap tool that may leave you in a bind, but don’t overspend on a show pony either, find a balance of value and utility.
The links above, where I have specified the knives or multitools I carry are for your reference on the products and specifications so that you may compare features and help you find the knife that is right for you.
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