Am I Too Careful With My Knives?

Drew Riley

Riley Knife and Tool
Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider
Joined
Oct 17, 2007
Messages
3,964
I attempted to fix some kitchen-sink plumbing, and blew the top off. Water everywhere at 35 psi...splashing off of our high ceilings and landing on my lazyboy in the living room 20 ft away. Not finding any shut-off inside, I ran out to the front of the house and started digging down into the dirt and sand to where my Main shutoff valve is located inside of a large vertical iron pipe, with a cast iron lid on it to keep out the dirt and sand. Of course I dug with what I had...my Umnumzaan. And when I got down far enough and struck the pipe, I had to jam the blade into the finger-hole in the six-inch-diameter cast-iron lid in order to lift it off of the pipe. Once that was done, I reached down into the pipe, scraped away excess sand and dirt and turned off the water MAIN. Yes, I fixed the sink later.

The S30V blade on my Umnumzaan suffered a few minute chips in the cutting edge, which I should be able to polish out quite readily. The knife performed admirably; well beyond the requirements of "casual carry." In this case, it served as an entrenching tool, a pry-bar and a metal scraper. The rather "soft" heat-treat of 58-59 BRH allowed the blade to be stressed, torqued, pried and twisted, without any serious damage. I never did cut with it that day...
So that, sir, is "abuse" of an expensive folder built with extreme precision by Chris Reeve. Hopefully, that is the one time that it will have to go through abuse of that sort. OTOH, a good product should be able to perform, when needed, beyond ordinary expectations, at least for a short period of time before suffering unrecoverable failure, and this Umnumzaan certainly "proved that it's worth every penny.
It is still my EDC; I expect no rapid changes of "the Guard."

You don't have hot/cold shut off valves under your sink?
 
Joined
Nov 26, 2013
Messages
10
I use all my knives pretty hard. Light to medium use for me would be any task where the risk of irreparable damage is negligible. For my most used folder, a ZT 560, it would be up to and including light batoning. I don't mind cutting abrasive materials, I kinda like touching up and even regrinding the edge.
Refraining from using a nice knife for its intended purpose in order to keep its resale value up, is a bit like not having sex with your girlfriend because it might make her next boyfriend like her less.
Of course, pure collectibles are another matter.
 
Joined
Feb 24, 2012
Messages
738
I sometimes have that problem with expensive knives or knives that I'm not really sure I'm going to keep and so I don't want to use them too much and lose their value on the exchange.

For me, light use is cutting tape, paper, some cardboard here and there, food - stuff that will likely not cause any damage to the knife whatsoever.
Normal use would include the light use stuff in higher quantities (ie. Lots of cardboard, heavy duty cardboard) as well as things like carving a pumpkin, cutting corrugated plastic drain pipe, assorted light & heavy plastic product packaging, rubber, carving wood, cutting tiny branches, etc.
Abuse for me is batoning wood, cutting anything in general that has a heavy duty tool designed to cut it (ie. concrete, steel, thick wood) and also throwing the knife. Now sometimes things happen when you're using a knife hard that I wouldn't call 'abuse' however it's hard on the knife like getting it very dirty - especially sand - and obviously dropping it on accident on a hard surface.

I rarely find myself needing a knife for something that would mess it up. I mostly use it for cutting paper cardboard, opening packages and in the spring and fall I gut a deer or clean a trout. I find that most jobs that are abusive are really better suited for a different tool such as a utility knife work much better for things like dry wall or paint work. pry bars work much better than a knife for prying. I don't understand using a knife for things like "batoning", I have hatchets axes and chainsaws for that kind of thing. I am one for using the tool best suited for a specific task. I usually have the best tool for the job right in my garage. When you do this, not only does your knife rarely get messed up but your job goes much better when using the right tool for the job.
 
Joined
Mar 29, 2014
Messages
26
I baton with my folders. I considered it heavy normal use. I prefer my CS Spartan when I do it though. I would still use any of my ZT's if I had to though without hesitation.

Other than that I agree with what everyone else states though.
 
Joined
Jul 17, 2013
Messages
1,002
For me normal use is cutting what needs to be cut, as long as it's not metal. I don't cut wires with my knives that chews the edge up. But cardboard, heavy plastic, wood, etc...is all fair game.

Some knives you buy to use, others to collect. Even with a user I'm guilty of being a little more careful when the knife is brand new. After it's been carried for a while and pick ups scuffs and scratches from use you stop caring so much and can enjoy the knife more. In the end it's just a damn knife, use it!
 
Joined
Feb 24, 2012
Messages
738
You don't have hot/cold shut off valves under your sink?

I was thinking the same thing, there should be a shut off valve somewhere in the house. Even so, In unique circumstances like that I can understand and would do the same thing, but how often do we really find ourselves in a situation like that? Almost never. When preparing for a job, I almost always have time to plan for what I will need to do it properly, go to the garage and get the right tools and do it right. the time I spend gathering up the right tools is usually saved in doing it because the job is finished more efficiently.
 
Joined
Jun 9, 2014
Messages
159
Light use - opening mail, cutting thin cord/thread, slicing paper and cardboard.

Normal use - food prep, cutting thick plastic, cutting zip ties, skinning game/cleaning fish, stripping wire, carving wood

Abuse - it differs more than the other two from person to person. Opening cans, batoning, throwing, prying, scraping on a hard surface.

Silvanus, I couldn't agree more! But main thing to remember is these are tools and you need to remember they are tools, each one has its different purpose or abilities. Some can take on bigger and more difficult tasks while more are more used for simpler tasks. You know your own individual knives and should know their capabilities.
Cheers
-RP13
 
Joined
Feb 10, 2006
Messages
1,176
Use it hard. The more I use a knife the more I like it, and the more it likes me :D. [...] The more I carry and the harder I use them the more I like them.

This. Starting to run my knives and guns hard and not being afraid to scratch them in normal use was liberating. You really get to know your tools when using them as designed. I don't really get "Post Your Favorite User _______" threads showing knives with nary a scuff and a perfect factory edge.
 
Joined
Nov 5, 2013
Messages
70
I can't really agree that 'a knife is just a tool', it's a tool, offcourse, but it's also much more, otherwise this forum wouldn't exist.
A vacuum cleaner is just a tool, i don't see dozens of forums where people passionatly discuss all aspects of the vacuum cleaner^^.

Personally i don't use all of my knives, mainly because i don't live in the jungle fighting to survive everyday and i can do all i want with a small knife (it also helps not to be confiscated by the cops, because here you can legally carry a knife, but you have to have a 'good' reason for it, otherwise they can always take it from you and most of the time they will)
But i like knives and i will also buy knives i don't really have a purpose for.
I also fear scratches in the beginning, but like most, i get over it after a while.
 
Joined
Feb 17, 2013
Messages
6,012
You don't have hot/cold shut off valves under your sink?

Sometimes, especially with older plumbing, the shut off valves are frozen open and there is no way to shut the water off. I have also tried to close such valves and had the stem snap off, or the fitting start leaking (brazed copper), etc. One time, with the shutoff valve shut, I had an older (1970s vintage) pvc pipe crack BEHIND THE FITTING from the minimal torque placed on the assembly while replacing hoses.

Oh the joys of my parents' 40-60 y.o. rent houses.

And sometimes, when "something" happens, you just go into brain fart mode and do what first comes to mind, not what is logical. :D:D
 
Joined
Nov 20, 2005
Messages
19,385
I was thinking the same thing, there should be a shut off valve somewhere in the house. Even so, In unique circumstances like that I can understand and would do the same thing, but how often do we really find ourselves in a situation like that? Almost never. When preparing for a job, I almost always have time to plan for what I will need to do it properly, go to the garage and get the right tools and do it right. the time I spend gathering up the right tools is usually saved in doing it because the job is finished more efficiently.

I hate working under a sink. I run into many houses that do not have shutoff values under sinks. Since I often have to remove the sinks, I carry shutoff values with me in the truck just in case and it has saved me a trip to the hardware store more than once.

We had a washing machine line burst in my house. Wife called me at work.... I told her to just twist the valve there behind the washing machine.... it won't turn..... then I told her to go to the street and turn off the water to the house with a wrench. That didn't work so well either and the water continued to spray everwhere. Got home and she had gotten a young man to turn the water off at the meter. The cleanup began. Sure glad I keep shop vacs around. I still had to replace flexible HVAC duct lines that filled up with water.

But yes, if you don't have shutoff values under the sinks, it would be a good home improvement project.
 
Joined
May 30, 2009
Messages
2,226
I can't really agree that 'a knife is just a tool', it's a tool, offcourse, but it's also much more, otherwise this forum wouldn't exist.
A vacuum cleaner is just a tool, i don't see dozens of forums where people passionatly discuss all aspects of the vacuum cleaner^^.



http://www.vacuumland.org/cgi-bin/TD/TD-DISCUSS-O-VAC.cgi

Sorry, I couldn't resist. I knew the internet would have such a thing. I get your point though.

I agree with having a knife which you would use in an emergency, big or little, without a second thought.

To the OP, find a *good* budget knife, whatever that may be to you. Then get two, put one up and use the other hard. You'll end up loving that knife.
 
Joined
Mar 11, 2011
Messages
18
My most expensive knife is the knife I carry every day one that I am not afraid to get dirty -- carter neck knife. I doubt that I could do much damage to the thing. The more you use and resharpen a knife, the more character it has, and the cooler it gets!
 
Joined
Aug 14, 2014
Messages
1,160
I carry one of my Benchmades and I rarely use them. They both have a great edge on them on I like to keep it that way, I worked hard to regrind the edge and get it polished up sharp

I wear a Leatherman on my belt and that is the tool I use 99% of the time. This system works for me but it does require carrying two tools. I find myself needing the screwdrivers in the Leatherman often enough that it is worthwhile to keep on me.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Feb 10, 2006
Messages
1,176
http://www.vacuumland.org/cgi-bin/TD/TD-DISCUSS-O-VAC.cgi

Sorry, I couldn't resist. I knew the internet would have such a thing. I get your point though.

Hi - I haven't read any of the stickies or used the search function, but [insert long bio here] and I want to get the best "hard-use" vacuum on the market that can suck up a trashcan full of volleyballs and never needs to emptied. Oh, my budget is $35.
 
Joined
Feb 10, 2006
Messages
1,176
Am I Too Careful With My Knives?
Nick, on a more serious note, if you posted pics of your daily users, the answer to your question would probably jump out. You say you baby your knives regardless of cost, but I recently picked up a Utilitac for $20 shipped (!!!) just to have a stout knife that I am not reluctant to use hard. Maybe give it a shot!
 
Joined
Jan 7, 2007
Messages
3,052
Get a $15 Enlan EL-04MCT and sharpen it up. Use it for a month. Don't think about it just use it.

I carry and use almost all of my knives. I have a couple slipjoints I save for special occasions and a few knives I don't use/carry, but the rest get carried and used for whatever normal tasks come my way. Lately I've been using my Spyderco Gayle Bradley to break down boxes. Certainly better than doing it with my hands...
 
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