Knives as gifts

Aug 24, 1999
Knives are special both to the giver and to the recipient. I'd like to hear about some memorable experiences you folks have had in either role.

I don't want my children fed or clothed by the state, but I would prefer THAT to their being educated by the state.

A couple of years ago, my son-in-law's brother, a Special Forces lieutenant (Green Beret) had finished his qualifying course and was also recently married. He, his wife, and others were on hand at the opening of the wedding gifts. He was getting restless as each piece of crystal, tea towel set, and bar of perfumed soap was opened. Then one gift, especially marked for him to open was handed to him. He yawned and tore the end off to reveal the combat knife I had given "them." He went nuts, got up and moved to a chair in the corner away from everyone, and sat there sheathing, unsheathing, sheathing, unsheathing, you get the picture! The "thank you" note they sent included a few words written by Paul himself to the effect, "Colonel Woodbury, you saved my life!"

I always give kitchen knives and sharpening systems for wedding gifts and have given my two sons and one son-in-law (a great guy) each a Randall of their choice from my dwindling collection. I have a couple left for my youngest daughter's husband (whoever he may be--she's only 14 and not interested in this subject yet) to choose from.

Bruce Woodbury
The most fun I ever had giving somebody a knife was at a family reunion a few years ago. I took my brother's boys (9 and 11) aside and told them I had something special for them. Then I told them some stuff about growing up and the relationship between liberty and responsibility, and about making right choices and picking the right heroes . . . and kept rambling until they couldn't stand it any more.

Finally I pulled out a couple of nice little Schrade pocketknives and watched their eyes.

For me, giving is much better than getting. Much, much better.

I don't want my children fed or clothed by the state, but I would prefer THAT to their being educated by the state.
This is a little bit of topic drift that of which Jim is so fond.

I was told once that the folk lore was that if you give a knife you cut the friendship. If you gave a knife the friend would always make a token payment so the knife was not a gift.

I have only heard this once, and no one else seems to have heard of this.
Yes, knives are very special gifts, regardless of whether you're on the giving or receiving end.

Over the past 17 years, I have had a good friend who owns a machine shop which has made parts for the companies I have worked for. On occasion, I have been in a bind and have needed to make some custom gun parts which, due to circumstances, my sponsors were unable to provide. My friend has ALWAYS bailed me out and made those parts, thus allowing me to compete. To thank him for his friendship, I would always give him a nice knife. Originally, he wasn't a "knife guy", but as I needed more parts, thereby growing his collection, he slowly became one of "us".

One day, there was a package delivered to my office from him. Inside was the gift of one of the 1st decorated Sebenzas. I was absolutely floored!

I am happy to say that my friend, Doug Hill is now my business partner and one of the founders of SPEEDTECH.

Stay sharp!


Jim O'Young
Home of the Speed Tech "SYNERGY" (tm)
1999-2000 BLADE Magazine "Most Innovative American Design"

I have heard/read the same thing about giving a token payment for a knife as a gift. I believe the custom is very prevalent in Europe.

Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.
When I PCS'd from Germany, the unit did not give me a plaque or certificate or award. They had all pitched in a bought me a Buck Buckmaster, knowing my penchant for sharp things. My partner had instigated this without me even having the slightest clue.

What a gift! I was flabbergasted. The greatest gift/award I received while in the military.

Know, giving knives... I recently gave a CS 4" Voyager tanto, fully serrated to a female police cadet that was about to graduate. She is a petite thing, about 5'2". She told me she brought it back to the academy and started to flash it around the other knife guys in training and got stunned looks all around. They couldn't believe that the girl they had been picking on all along could and did handle a knife the way she did.

They all keep their distance and mind their manners a little better. Besides, I wanted to make sure she could even the score when the time came, and the CS seemed very appropriate.


AKTI Member A000360
Like most people here knives are more than just tools and weapons to me. I have given all my close friends knives as b-day gifts or X-mas. I always tell them some thing my father told me. If give a friend a knife you have a friend for life. It means something for me to give someone a knife. I know this sounds silly to some people. My father had one other quote for me about knives. That you never really own a knife till it has bit you. Once you cut yourself it teaches you not to be careless. The only drawback to giving knives to my close friends is that every time they are over to my house I spent most of the time sharpening their knives.

Drac Noroc
I was giving a 15+ year old R.W. Loveless designed gaurdian from a friend of mine. I was so happy. I'm planning to buy him a BM for christmas.
The tradition you speak of is of French origin and calls for the giving of a monetary thank you(usually coinage) in return for receiving a knife so as to avoid severing the friendship.

The only limitation is lack of imagination.

Romans 10:9-10

"Military" Fans Unite!!

Hmmm... No knives as such... Bu tlet me share this.

I have had a strained relationship with my family... I have always felt they did not respect life path that I have taken, nore my marriage or anything...
A couple months ago my Mother came out to vist. She wanted me to teach her to shoot.
I got her hooked on my PPK/S, and set her up with a dealer in her area that I know to get a good deal on it... We fired a few boxes and had a good time. She learned a lot. Then she opens her DUFFEL sized purse - I am not kidding guys - if this this was luggage it would have wheels. Out she pulls a polished and engraved wood box. Inside are 2 custome Springfield .45s that my Dad had made for me.
I was too choked up for words...

I mean, if I went around saying I was an Emperor because some
moistened bint had lobbed a scimitar at me, people would put me away!

When I learned that my childhood "best friend" of 40 years was marrying a girl from Lyon France, and moving there with her to raise a family, I gave him a going away present - my first handmade, a Randall Made Model 3 using knife. That was a moment neither of us will ever forget.

I've also given numerous outdoor knives - several handmades - to a good friend I've known since 9th grade; a real quality guy who doesn't deserve the struggles that life has dealt him. He can't afford handmades, and is so appreciative when I send him a "keeper".

By far my best experience though, was when I gave my 3rd son (of 5) a Randall Pathfinder for his 13th birthday. He's the only one of my sons that seems to have a love of knives like I do.

Man...That was a real classic moment !
Trying to bring these boys up right is mighty challenging, but seeing the look in that boy's eyes when he opened his present makes all the trials and tribulations of parenthood well worth it.
I was taught as a child, in the fifties, to give a penny to the giver of a knife. A free knife would "turn on the giver" was the way the story went, and I have done that ever since.
As far as gift knives go, when my brother went to Viet Nam in '68 a friend of our dad's, a WWII combat Marine, gave my brother his K-bar issue knife. Fortunatly my brother and the knife returned in one piece and he has that knife to this day.

I gave my best friend a Delica before going away for college for a forestry course a few months ago. He still maintains it's the best gift he's received in years. He's getting a Bushman this week before he leaves...

"Earth has its boundaries, but human stupidity is limitless."

The custom of token payment is still prevalent in my locale.I give a lot of knives and the person receiving one usually gives me a penny to avoid cutting the friendship.In the case of a Spyderco knockoff, this might actually be fair market value.Friends don`t give friends knockoffs!

Also,the custom of returning a knife in the same position as it is handed to you is still alive and well. If someone hands you a folder to examine in the closed position,the custom is to return it in the closed position.The same is true for fixed blades,sheathed or unsheathed.
AKTI 150

[This message has been edited by davidb415 (edited 28 August 1999).]
My good friend Gary Graely sent me a letter yesterday and inside taped to it were 2 coins. Gary said in part
"......I was playing with the little Case Knife you sent and it hit me! I never sent you a coin for the knife you sent. Don't want to cut our friendship so enclosed is the coin for the gift of that knife, actually I'll put two, one for the butterfly, almost forgot about that one."

See....the tradition is alive and well. Gary has given me gifts, too. He made me a sheath as a belated wedding gift.




RE the whole penny tradition

There's an article in the September Blade mag about this, starting on p. 58.

"The general theory was that you could ask for the lowest coin of the realm when you were given a knife. Back then, when you were dealing with an absolute monarch and teh king or queen handed you a knife of their own, you were expected to kill yourself with it. But, if the king demanded a coin from you, then he was giving you the knife."
--Bruce Voyles, quote in the Blade article.

In 1995 I was assigned to an Asian country as station manager for an American based carrier. They had several aircraft on lease to that countries national airline.

Shortly after my arrival a new director had been appointed to the technical department. I was told he was tough, smart and ex- Air Force. He had worked his way up through the ranks and had recently retired as the youngest 3 star general in their militarys history.

When I went to his office to introduce myself, I stood face to face with a man I had gone through tech school with in 1967. We were both 19 then and were both wearing one stripe on our sleeves. He had been part of a military exchange program.

To celebrate our reunion and his new appointment, I gave him an original, but mint condition, bayonet from the late 1800's in a Teak presentation case. It took me a while to get it all together but the look on his face was worth it.He placed it on display in his office, in the center of his other plaques and awards. As far as I know it's still there and we stay in touch to this day.


When the world is at peace, a gentleman keeps his sword by his side.......
Sun-Tzu 400 BC

The response to the question about paying a token for a gift knife is great! More information than I ever thought I would get. I'm glad I found this thread again.

Someone should or most likely already has started a thread on knife lore, customs and superstitions. I'll have to look through the old posts when I have the time.

Thanks, Mike
Kodiak, yep glad to send them off to you and I thank you for the Case 5 blader as well, neat little knife!

I've given away knives to friends when I knew they wanted one but couldn't afford it, and it always reminds them of me, which is a nice thing, just as the Case folder reminds me of Greg (Kodiak PA) every time I use it.


It ain't those parts of the Bible that I can't understand that bother me,
it is the parts that I do understand.
Mark Twain