The Cutting Edge

I’VE BEEN THINKING lately of the tool-users’ rule that you should always have a sharp edge and fire with you.

I used to do that: getting dressed in the morning included putting a knife and a cigarette lighter in my pocket. Then I stopped smoking. Then I stopped wearing jeans. A multi-bladed Boy Scout or Swiss Army knife is too heavy to go in the pocket of lightweight slacks. That’s more the kind of thing you keep in the top tray of your toolbox. Just as they’ll tell you the small gun you keep in your pocket is worth ten of the high-powered safe queen, so, too, the knife you can stick in your pocket and forget until your hand reaches for it is way better than the one that has all those blades you’ll never use, but makes your sciatica act up where it presses against your leg, so you leave it atop the dresser when you go out.

I have one, and the top tray of the toolbox is the best place in my world for it.

For some time, I’ve carried a Victorinox pen knife on my keyring. Recently that knife lost the ring that held it onto the ring. No sigh. I really wasn’t that attached to it anyway. Nevertheless, I’m feeling the need to pick up something to carry in my pocket. I have a bunch of knives in my drawer, just need to pick one.

I have three more of the Victorinoxes (Victorinoces?), but they don’t appeal to me much. I may put one on my keychain again, but I don’t want it to be my main carry blade. Nope. Looking for something more substantial.

My first pocket knife after the Boy Scout do-everything knife (which taught me the relative values of mutli-purpose and dedicated tools) was a Case. Three blades, I think, the only difference being the size and shape of edge and point. No corkscrews, nail scissors, screwdriver, or any of that. I have no idea where it went. Lost in the mists of time.

I have an old Boker jackknife of doubtful provenance that somewhat resembles the Case. Two blades. The action is still workable, albeit stiff, but it’s looking a bit worse for the wear. The name badge has come off. There’s a hole in the scale, filled with a plastic retainer of some kind where the badge should be. The blades are rusty and in need of sharpening. Boker has a warranty and service facility out west. I may send the knife out there to get refurbished, if they’ll do it. The prices I’m seeing on similar models new lead me to believe it’s probably worth it.

But I suspect I still need to find something. I used to have a small lock-back I liked. It resembled one that Boker lists for $60. There’s no way I’d pay $60 for what amounts to a pen knife. A larger, less costy version of that might appeal. Maybe something “tactical,” as much as I hate the word.

Update: Found a cheapass lock back with about a 2″ blade and a plastic handle — forty years ago, I’d have said Bakelite; who knows what it is now. Made in China. Called a Sabre Hillman. Yeah. Me neither. Was in the cheapassshit bucket at Ace Hardware. $3.99. Cheap at twice the price, so I got two. It came out of the bucket sharp enough to slice a sheet of note paper. I didn’t press my luck and go for a double-spread of newsprint. It’ll do until I form enough prejudices to pick out and buy a real knife.

Meantimes, I reckon I’ll attempt to get in touch with Boker and see if they’ll refurbish This Old Jackknife.

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