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Swiss Army Knife: Blade and Tools Preferences?

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    Swiss Army Knife: Blade and Tools Preferences?

    I was thinking about what blades and tools we ever actually use on our Swiss Army knives. Very plural “knives”; between the four of us we have, uh, more than 4 Swiss Army knives. Some in packs, some stored away unused in bureau drawers. There are implements on all of them that we often use, and stuff we rarely if ever even unfold.

    Starting with the knife blade, or blades. I sure don’t need two blades; I never use the smaller one on most Swiss Army knives, and rarely use the larger one. I have better knife blades, more suitable to the task at hand and equally accessible for most purposes. Still, I guess maybe a single blade on a Swiss Army, or it isn’t actually a Swiss Army knife.

    The corkscrew; eh, we’ll bring something better on car campers where we have an actual bottle of wine, but, in a pinch, that dinky thing will sufffice. I could live without it. I would like to have a bottle cap opener, but, again, carry something better and more conveniently accessed.

    I don’t think I have ever used the little saw blade we have on some Swiss Army knife models. The wee scissors, despite carrying better scissors in the first aid kit, do see frequent use.

    The flat-head, Phillips head and mini-wrench may be the most often used Swiss Army “tools”, perhaps because it is hard to turn a Phillips machine screw head and hold a nut simultaneously with just a Leatherman tool when tightening up some loose or squeaky boat hardware, or making other mechanical repairs.

    Toothpick rarely. Nail file even more rarely (have a better nail file, already on the nail clippers. And on long trips a piece of slender rattail file in the repairs bag).

    The Swiss Army tweezers may be the most often used, but, again, we have better gripping micro-hemostats in the 1st aid kit for plucking out cactus spines and the like. Still, those Swiss Army tweezers are sometimes handiest for extracting easy stuff.

    The ubiquitous Swiss Army knife awl, not very often. See a variety of other possible puncturing implements, including a hot nail head or a tent stake through plastics or synthetics. Also needle and thread and cable ties and duct tape.

    The only time I have used that awl was to crudely make a new belt buckle notch. I’m sure someone, somewhere has actually used that awl for other purposes. Do tell.

    There are now a bewildering number of Swiss Army knife “specialty tools” available, including SA models with flash drives and altimeters, rivet tools (huh?) and, seriously, a freaking Orange Peeler or Hoof Scrapper. Not a two-in-one tool I hope.

    The younger son once won a Swiss Army knife with a teeny weeny LED light. Now with teeny weeny dead LED batteries, one of the current bureau-drawer models. Is it still a freaking knife if it needs batteries?

    If you could design the ideal Canoe Tripper Model Swiss Army knife, what tools and implements would it have? Fire starter flint & steel? Whistle to be guaranteed always-legal? Magnifying glass to read miniscule map notations (or fry ants)?

    Fold-out spatula for frying Spam? (Apologies to Memaquay). Sharp-tined salad fork to dig the last piece of spinach from the bowl? (Apologies to Conk). Roach clip and grinder? (Apologies to nameless)

    #2
    I have never been a fan of SAKs. I carried one for a little while but did not like the blade. I carried a Leatherman for many years while in the Postal Service, these days it's just a 4" folding Gerber clip knife. In the woods, I add a 5" Helle GT.

    If they did have a fold-out spatula for frying Spam I might pick one up.

    Comment


      #3
      I have one of the big Swiss Army Knife models (Champion?) that my parents gave me some 45 years ago to take with me to overnight camp. At the time, I think it was the biggest SA knife they made. I think I've used almost every tool on that knife for one thing or another -- some for unintended purposes (yes as a youngster I tried using the magnifying glass as an ant death ray but the ants refused to stand still) -- with the exception of the fish-scaler, which I didn't use because I wasn't much of a fisherman and I released the few fish I caught.

      I still take that same Swiss Army Knife on canoe trips, partly for sentimental reasons but also because it's a handy little tool kit that takes up almost no space/weight. The tools do actually work if you need them, albeit the size of them make them tedious to use. I think the tweezers are excellent for getting slivers/bee stringers out and the scissors are the best I have for fine work.

      On my last trip, I know I used the can opener to open some corned beef hash and the knife as a steak knife.

      My wish list would include wrench or pliers (I don't think that was an option back in the day). I guess I could use it on canoe trips to raise or lower my seats? A marlin spike would potentially be useful for rope work/untying badly tied knots? Maybe a spare paddle (bent shaft, carbon fiber of course).

      Comment


        #4
        most used: blade, can opener, screw driver.
        "There's a whisper on the night-wind, there's a star agleam to guide us, And the Wild is calling, calling . . . let us go." -from "The Call of the Wild" by Robert Service My trail journal: DuctTape's Journal

        Comment


          #5
          I had one as a kid. It was probably a hand me down of sorts as most things I came by were. Pants. Sweater. Bicycle. Hockey skates. Bow and arrows. Swiss Army Knife with big spoon big fork small knife smaller knife smallest awl...
          I never really used it, it being the size of my mom's cutlery drawer. Who has pockets that big when you're 10 years old? Frig.
          I truly believe the next bestest step in all- in- one devices has been the multi-use tools we see nowadays made more genius by Leatherman, SOG, Gerber, Victorinox et al. I have several scattered around the house, van and various packs. You never know when you'll need one. Except none of them have big spoon, big forks...Frig.
          A couple summers ago I was working on a backyard project with my son when I acquired a splinter in my hand. Felt like a 4x4 but upon closer inspection looked more miniscule. Like a regular old wood splinter. But it sure got in the way of things. Couldn't pull it out pry it out dig it out. What I wouldn't give for a handy pocket full of genius at that moment. My son reached into his pocket and pulled out his Swiss and slid out a teeny tiny pair of tweezers, and out came the splinter as easy as...Frig.
          That ginormous SAK is long gone but I'm pretty sure a smaller version lies in one of our drawers around this house somewhere. Probably sitting right next to the cutlery.
          Last edited by Odyssey; 01-20-2020, 06:27 PM.

          Comment


            #6
            I have one of the smaller models without the scissors, I use the blade for cheese or peeling oranges. I also use the screwdriver (Philips), the can opener also works as a Robertson screwdriver which is useful if you have used outfitting bolts bought in Canada! I have also used the awl once to create a hole in a royalex boat.

            I do use the toothpick because I have a single tooth bridge that is an annoying food trap. The tweezers make a somewhat lame roach holder if I can't locate my hemostat.

            Comment


              #7
              I have carried a SAPK for years ! The Tinker model.

              You don't know it's in your pocket.

              It has saved me so much time and trips to get other tools to do the job.

              I tell people " I'm Naked Without it ! "

              Yeah not having a lock on the blade is a problem for some ! I treat it with respect . I don't have the scars to prove it !

              The Swiss get two thumbs up from Me !

              Jim
              Keep your paddle wet, and your seat dry !

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by Mike McCrea View Post
                I was thinking about what blades and tools we ever actually use on our Swiss Army knives. Very plural "knives"; between the four of us we have, uh, more than 4 Swiss Army knives. Some in packs, some stored away unused in bureau drawers. There are implements on all of them that we often use, and stuff we rarely if ever even unfold.

                Starting with the knife blade, or blades. I sure don't need two blades; I never use the smaller one on most Swiss Army knives, and rarely use the larger one. I have better knife blades, more suitable to the task at hand and equally accessible for most purposes. Still, I guess maybe a single blade on a Swiss Army, or it isn't actually a Swiss Army knife. ...
                Oh, I need two blades. The long blade on mine has been misused so many times that it has the edge of a low grade putty knife, and who doesn't need a putty knife out in the woods (or in the office) sometimes, when no real tools are handy? If anyone ever sharpened that long blade it would end up burried in my thumb. The short blade hardly ever sees the sun but when I need something really sharp, it's there.

                Originally posted by Jim Dodd View Post
                I have carried a SAPK for years ! The Tinker model.

                You don't know it's in your pocket.

                It has saved me so much time and trips to get other tools to do the job.

                I tell people " I'm Naked Without it ! "
                ...
                Alas, post 9/11 we all have to fly naked.

                Comment


                  #9
                  I've actually used my SA knives on a daily basis for going on 50 years! the tinker or mechanic LIVES in my pocket on a daily basis, and has saved my butt on the job more times than I can count, once when my tool pouch was stolen I installed an entire phone system using it. I don't know how many times I've cut drywall (I stopped carrying a saw), striped wire (that's what the funny notch on the pliers is for) crimped fittings, (the other notch) or tightened screws. the notch in the can opener is perfect as a universal wrench for small nuts, the funny hook is great for grabbing wire pushed to the back of the box, and the tweezers are right at hand for those nasty little splinters, so is the small blade if you need to mine for it.
                  In the bush, it works well for fixing a Coleman stove, tightening a pack screw, slicing rope or even salami. That awl is actually a sewing awl- put the thread through the hole, push it through, back feed another thread through the loop, and pull the awl out. And the awl doubles as a drill- push into fiberglass, kevlar or even aluminium, and start spinning, a nice clean hole without risking stress fractures from pounding something through, I've laced gunnels back on, fixed a bad crack in the side of an old grumman, and repaired snowshoe bindings with it. Even that toothpick works to get that stringy piece of dry pepperoni that's driving you nuts out of your teeth.
                  It's all in your pocket ready to go, is it the best tool for any of those jobs? NO, but it is the handiest- I don't want to carry a tool pouch on the trail or across the water, neither do I want to stop and unpack everything, which turns a minor mishap into a major inconvenience!

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by recped View Post
                    I also use the screwdriver (Philips), the can opener also works as a Robertson screwdriver which is useful if you have used outfitting bolts bought in Canada! I have also used the awl once to create a hole in a royalex boat.
                    I forgot about the can opener, which does get used occasionally and, looking at it, see what you mean about that tip working for Robertson heads. Good to know, I never thought about that oddly shaped can opener end having a use.

                    The Swiss Army knife I bring, stored in the essentials bag along with a Leatherman, is an older Mechanic version, like this.

                    https://cutleryshoppe.com/victorinox...nued-sold-out/

                    For 90% of my tripping fix-it needs it has most of the tools I want. It could lose the second blade.

                    About the awl (and marlinspike type) uses, I carry a nail, embedded in the yoga block console. For prying apart crappy knots (the awl just slices the knot to pieces), to heat up with a lighter and melt repair holes in a Royalex hull (or melt sealed holes in anything synthetic), or punch a draft hole in a cheap, too tightly wrapped cigar (Frequency of Use Award). Safer than that SA awl, which comes out to a right angle and threatens to fold up on my fingers when in use.

                    Originally posted by sweeper View Post
                    I have never been a fan of SAKs. I carried one for a little while but did not like the blade. I carried a Leatherman for many years while in the Postal Service, these days it's just a 4" folding Gerber clip knife. In the woods, I add a 5" Helle GT.
                    I don’t actually “carry” a Swiss Army knife. I don’t have everyday need for the various tools in my pocket, don’t care much for the blades and have other knives better suited for various purposes. Rescue knife on the PFD and sheath knife in the essentials bag (very occasionally worn).

                    That Mechanic Swiss Army is more than I want as an actual everyday pocket knife, where 99% of my need is a single sharp knife blade. The usual pocket knife an old Ducks Unlimited Case DU1225L with a 2” folding lock blade, slender and lightweight enough as to be unnoticeable.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      I every day carry a stout, single blade folding knife. I have a squat multi-tool that goes in my pack 100% of the time. I used to think those were the only two tools I needed tripping. I like the idea of Swiss Army Knives and had one as a kid but, until now, I've never looked back after buying my first multi-tool because of the pliers. Now I'm thinking a third tool would be handy, and for me, it would be kitchen-oriented.

                      I have a couple different versions of folding flat ware and I actually enjoy eating with them, especially when it's something like steak as it's so nice to have real fork tines and a separate fork and knife/spoon (Knoon?) I'd start designing my dream Super-Spork with one of these:
                      Click image for larger version

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                      Add a scissors, a tweezers and maybe a ferro-rod. I don't want more than the one blade as I'll already have two others, and I like the shape of this one for blade #3. Instead of the big double can/bottle opener, give me the two separate ones that do other fun stuff, and put a hole in the awl/marlin spike too.

                      Oh geez, now I'm looking at Victorinox online.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Mike Mcrae, your comment about the awl is actually out there- it's NOT a wood awl, it's a combination sewing awl and drill and wouldn't work in any other orientation, the knife body is actually a T handle, just like with many other hand drills and sewing awls. it doesn't fold if used as designed.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by scoutergriz View Post
                          Mike Mcrae, your comment about the awl is actually out there- it's NOT a wood awl, it's a combination sewing awl and drill and wouldn't work in any other orientation.
                          I am learning a lot about Swiss Army knife functions on this thread. I never knew that the end of the can opener could be used for Robertsons until Recped point it out (don’t have any Robertsons).

                          I never even noticed the little thread hole in the awl until your post above. Of course I have trouble using a Speedy Stitcher, so . . . . .

                          I’ve never used the awl on wood. I have tried using it to bore a hole in a piece of thick plastic to run a piece of cord through, which while successful was kinda tricky, hence the hot nail solution.

                          The little notch in the pliers for stripping wire – never occurred to me. I wondering what else I’ve missed on Swiss Army knives.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by Mike McCrea View Post



                            I never even noticed the little thread hole in the awl until your post above. Of course I have trouble using a Speedy Stitcher, so . . . . .

                            I never noticed that hole in the awl before either, Mike! Here is a link to a video showing the actual performance. Nice!

                            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V2UPOmhnwQA

                            I had used the awl occasionally before. When Kathleen and I spent five months living in a one-room cabin, north of the Arctic Circle, from February to June, followed by a one-month canoe trip to the Arctic coast, I lost a fair amount of weight. No booze. Few snacks. Lots of physical work. I used the awl to punch a new hole in my belt. That sharp edge on the awl was useful for clearing out the hole. Interesting thread, Mike. Thanks for starting it.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              The following anecdote is a bit off topic. It does, however, feature a Swiss Army knife, albeit not in its intended purpose, or while canoeing. Back in 1983, I was in the midst of my career, and was doing a fair amount of flying. I always carried my Swiss Army knife in my left pocket. In those days, only Japan Airlines took my knife away. Other carriers were indifferent to my knife. I had been doing some work in China, and was returning to Vancouver, with a stopover at Narita Airport in Tokyo. While standing in the security line to board a Japan Airlines flight, I remembered that I had forgotten to put my knife in my checked luggage. It still rested in my pocket. What to do? I didn’t want to lose my knife again. In a panic, I hit upon the bold idea of hiding my knife in a pair of socks, and then stuffing them into a partition of my carry-on briefcase. I always carried a change of underwear in my briefcase, in the event that my luggage was lost or delayed.

                              It was only a few seconds before the absurdity of my ploy dawned upon me. Too late, though. I was now only a few feet from going through the scanner. I stepped through, and was told by the official on the other side to “Come this way, sir.”

                              ”Is this your briefcase?”

                              ”Yes it is.”

                              ”Do you mind if I open it?”

                              ”Not at all.”

                              he rooted around in the partition, and pulled out my socks, from which he extracted my Swiss Army knife.

                              ”Is this your knife, sir?”

                              ”Yes.”

                              ”Well, you can’t take it on the plane. I will give it to the captain, and you can reclaim it in Vancouver.”

                              So it all worked out. I, and my Swiss Army knife, would likely not fare so well today.

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