Knife Safety

Knife Safety

knife safetyI am not actually going to do ‘The 10 do’s and 500 don’ts of knife safety.’ I am going to talk about knife safety though. This is definitely stuff you want to include when you’re teaching your kids how to safely handle knives. My theory isn’t that kids should not handle knives. My wife taught our two year old daughter how to properly hold and use knives and now she helps mom cut veggies for dinner (she’s three now). We should be teaching our young ones how to properly handle knives. That way, when they do get their hands on one, they respect the knife and know how to safely handle it. I fear that if we don’t teach our kids how to use and handle knives until they are older(how ever old that is) they will either fear the knife and not want to use it, or be careless with it because they didn’t know what it was capable of. That is when kids ‘play’ with knives. If our kids are properly educated on how to safely use and handle a knife, we shouldn’t have the issue of them ‘playing’ with them.

Some of the first things youth are taught in boy scouts in relation to knife safety is the ‘triangle of death,’ and the ‘blood circle.’

The triangle of death.

This area includes your upper legs, groin and femoral arteries. Keep the blade away from the area at all times. Never cut or carve wood in a way that brings the blade towards that area. Always move the knife away from you when cutting our carving wood.

Blood Circle

This is the space around you (all 360°) at arms length where someone could walk while you’re carving or cutting with your knife. To find your blood circle, stick your arm out while holding your knife, spin in a circle (do this when alone first, not in a crowd), and anything within the reach of your blade is your blood circle. A good rule of thumb is to double that space. If you have a 6 foot arm span, then have a 12 foot blood circle. Be aware of your blood circle and position your self so that you are the only person in that circle.

Proper grip

You should grip the handle as if making a fist. This will give you the best leverage but will also prevent you from cutting your fingers. If you have to hold it in a different way, with fingers close to or touching the blade, you should wear leather gloves. You would rather slice through leather then your own fingers.

There is also safe ways to apply leverage. The knife should always be moving away from you, never towards you. One slip can cause you to take a chunk of skin off or stab the knife somewhere unpleasant…which would be anywhere. The two leverages I want to talk about are the knee lever and the chest lever.

Knee Lever

This is done by putting your elbows on your knees while in a kneeling position and moving the wood away from the knife instead of moving the knife. This can also be done with moving the knife instead of the wood. Typically you will place your elbow on the opposite knee. For example, if you are right handed like I am, you will place your left elbow on your right knee. This will allow your right arm to swing away from your body, keeping you safe from cuts.

Chest Lever

This grip is done by holding both arms in chicken wing shape, with the hands on the chest. You will move both knife and wood at the same time. Again with the blade moving away from you. This is a good grip for removing large amounts of material while other people are within your blood circle.

Sharper is safer!

Yup! I know, it sounds backwards. The sharper your knife is the safer it is. The reason is because you will use less effort while cutting or carving wood. If your knife is dull, you have a higher chance of losing control of your blade which may lead to personal injury or the injury of others. This is why it is also important to know how to properly sharpen and care for your knife.

A couple points to end with.

When you are done using your knife, always put it back into its sheath. Never place it on the ground or on other equipment. I made the mistake of throwing my knife into the ground when I wasn’t using it. This is not very smart for many reasons. Here’s two:

1. I could trip on it if I’m not looking where I am walking.

2. It wrecked my blade. The blade hit dirt and rocks as it sunk into the ground. This made my knife quite dull. It took a lot of work to get rid of the burrs and get the blade sharp again, and I would say it is still not where it should be.

By always returning your knife to it’s sheath, you will always know where it is and accidents are less likely to happen.

Your knife is not a toy. It needs to be treated with respect. If we ever become lazy or disrespectful to our belt knife, it wont hesitate to disrespect us back. And it is not very forgiving.

Cutlery

Cutlery

crocodile dundee knife 77I hope everyone has seen Crocodile Dundee. If you haven’t then stop reading this and Google “Crocodile Dundee Knife” and watch the short YouTube clip of the scene. You will then understand why I have this pic chosen for this post.

I’ve been reading this book called “Bushcraft 101” by Dave Canterbury. Chapter 2 is entitled “Tools.” The first tool he talks about is your knife. I wanted to write about this today because I think we will all find value in this. Plus, it just might be enough to convince you to go get a really sweet knife.

His opinion, and I would have to agree with it, is that the most important tool you can have is your belt knife. It is what it sounds like; a knife that sits on your belt. This knife can be the best tool you own because, if chosen right, it can make other tools that you need when an emergency arises. So the real question comes down to what is the best belt knife?

There are three basic blade profiles: The butcher, trade knife, and spear point. Each have their pros and cons and we will get into those next. The profile is the physical shape of the blade.

The Butcher

The butcher blade looks like how it sounds (assuming the sound brings to mind a butcher’s knife). It is large, with the blade curving slightly upwards. The spine is flat at 90 degrees. This can be very important. It can be used as a striking edge to create sparks as well as work better when being hammered on with a large stick for splitting wood (otherwise known as ‘Batoning’). This blade is best used for big jobs because of its power. It makes splitting wood and other high demanding jobs easier. The down side is that it makes the smaller tasks like shaving wood for kindling harder.

The Trade Knife

This blade type was typically used by traders and trappers. About a million types of blades fall under this umbrella term. Trade knives are good for field dressing animals and doing finer tasks.

The Spear Point

This blade is typically used for small tasks like whittling and fine carving. This blade is usually double edged and designed best for piercing or penetrating like a spear. Not the ideal blade for splitting large wood though.

When looking for the perfect belt knife, you don’t want something super big. Large knives become cumbersome to carry and can’t handle the little jobs. But you don’t want something small either, like a pocket knife. The happy medium for blade length is 4.5 – 6 inches. Throughout history along the American frontier (and I’m assuming the Canadian one as well) this length of blade was the most common and most were found with the butcher profile.

Almost more important than the profile of the blade is the knife’s grind. The shape of the cross section of the blade. The main grind types are: Hollow, convex, flat, and Scandinavian. Blade grinds

 

The Hollow Grind

The Hollow Grind will maintain a very sharp edge and will do very well at skinning, but is easily damaged because of the thinness of the blade.

The convex Grind

The Convex Grind is the strongest and best for splitting but not very good for whittling or the finer carving tasks. This grind is also the hardest to maintain in the field. Something to keep in mind.

The Flat Grind

The Flat Grind is easier to resharpen in the field. It is very good for the finer tasks of carving or making kindling. However it can be brittle depending on the knife blade, the task you’re doing, and the weather. If it gets too cold and you’re trying to split wood while twisting it side to side it could damage the blade.

The Scandinavian Grind

The Scandinavian Grind is one of the best for finer carvings. The Flat and Scandinavian grinds are quite similar so their pros and cons are as well. Like the flat grind, it is easier to maintain in the field, which is a giant plus, and is great for the finer jobs. Neither of these two grinds are terrible for splitting, but they are not the recommended grind for the task.

It really comes down to what you think your tasks are going to be and then picking the knife, blade, and grind that best match those tasks.

Because your belt knife is such an important tool in your kit, this is not an item you want to ‘pinch your pennies’ on. You want the best quality knife money can afford. This one tool could be the difference between a comfortable bushcrafting trip and a terrible nightmare experience. Nothing worse than not having the right tools for the right job.

Be the Gray Man

Be the Gray Man

CrowdI have always wanted to be an army spy or something cool like that. When I look at getting survival gear I am attracted to the tactical style. I think I look legit and it makes me feel invincible. There’s only one problem. I look legit.

The problem with looking like a legit tactical expert is you will stand out from the crowd. You will appear to have the right and the best survival gear known to man. That means those who do not have any gear will come to you for yours. So how can we still be a tactical survival expert without standing out like a sore thumb?

Be the Gray Man

This is a survivalist term that means to blend in. Camouflage does not only mean wearing desert or woodland gear. According to thefreedictionary.com, Camouflage means “The concealing of personnel and equipment from an enemy by making them appear as part of the natural surroundings.” This can mean a desert, a wooded area, or a crowd. How do you blend into a crowd? What camouflage is there for a crowd? Try to look like everyone else. That way when people scan the crowd their brain doesn’t pick out your weird dress code. Why is that guy wearing so much woodland camo? Weird.

This is a tough thing to do. I find I really want to look cool and super prepped. The problem is I will walk around with a target on my back. So what can we do to accomplish becoming the gray man?

1. No logos. The number 1 goal is not only to blend in, but to not create stimulus in others. If you wear a Calgary flames hat it may also cause someone to want to strike up a conversation about the last game.

2. Use common sense. Being the Gray Man will be different depending on location. You will dress different if you are at a grocery store compared to a college campus or a church. Know the area you are going to and dress and act accordingly.

3. Know it will be difficult. Being the Gray Man. The point is to “not be there.” Human nature says you want the attention. You want people to notice you. You want credit for something. Even if you successfully achieve being the Gray Man, you desire credit for it. You want to share your success with others. Being the Gray Man means going against that and not seeking attention or credit. It will be difficult.

4. It is a process. This is something that takes time. There’s not point in waking up one morning deciding to be the Gray Man when you’ve shown everyone on your block your gun collection. When SHTF, they are running to your house for cover. It would have been better for you to simply disappear. No one really knew too much about you. And that’s good.

5. Lastly, it is nearly impossible to achieve. That doesn’t mean don’t try. Just realize it is impossible to actually be invisible. But let’s do our best to blend in. That way when the zombies come, we wont have to worry about other people trying to kill us as well.