Recommendations for a "yard knife"?

When I am out in the yard and need to do an unexpected chore using a knife it is usually my plain edged Delica that is used. I carry both plain edged and a serrated edged Delicas, but the plain edged one gets 90% of the use.

If I know I'm going to be doing yard work I bring a fixed blade. My two favorites are a 15" Ang Khola khukuri, and an old Blackjack Trailguide. I used to be self conscious and concerned about what the neighbors would think. It turns out my imagination was worse than the reality, and no one really cares what I use to cut vines or sharpen garden stakes.
I usually just use what I have on me -- usually my Small Sebenza, though I do carry a serrated Endura on weeekends some (it's red so it is easy to find).

Used my 15" Ang Khola this weekend to prune a tree or two while housesitting for some friends. I should have a review of its performance up in the HI forum soon.

Previous to the khukuri, I used an 18" machete. I hvae a hatchet but I think a claw hammer would work better at cutting than that thing!


Clay Fleischer

"My redneck past is nipping at my heels..." -BF5
Has anybody tried pruning with a .45 :)

On a serious note a Gerber Gater would probably work great. Good handle, easy to sharpen, and not expensive.

Why mess up a good knife with all the sap, dirt and stuff on the blade and handle, when you are looking for a workhorse?


[This message has been edited by wll (edited 09 June 1999).]
Wow-I am impressed with the responses!

Great suggestions all around and a couple of points to address.

Re: the "social" aspects of FBs-Not that social acceptance is a priority, but I try not to attract unnecessary attention, even around my own house. Don't know why I think this, but I believe a machette in hand while obviously clearing the growth would seem less out of place than mowing the lawn with my Randall strapped on. Hence the folder preference.

Re: FB for use-I do have a couple of smaller, more discreet FBs but hadn't thought about using them, but I'll give it try now.

The Wharncliffe and hawksbill blade designs are interesting. I have no experience with them to date and will check them out, along with the CS & Spyderco lines.

Off to the outdoor megamart in Ft. Lauderdale this weekend.

Thanks again for all the ideas and recommendations,
Doug Gray
I don't use my .45 for pruning trees, that's silly! I use my Mossberg 590! I save my .45 for cutting fence wire. Sheesh, where are you from, man, Mars?
I just chopped a small tree down in my front yard with my 7" fixed blade. I know you want to use a folder, and I had concerns about been seen with a fixed blade outside of my house. But the reality is, when my neighbour saw what I was doing, she came over with a big hand saw and tried to help.

I think a fixed blade is ok as long as people knows what you are doing with a knive. And no the hand saw didn't help. The wood was too soft and it clogged up the saw teeth. I eventually chopped the tree down with my knife. The tree was about 8" in diameter and 12' tall.

Good luck with whatever you choose.
I use a Stiff Kiss in a neck carry for yard work. As far as the neighbor reaction, the couple of neighbors that have seen the Stiff in action have commented about the handy nature of neck carry. Access to it is far easier than a folder or FB carried on the hip or pocket when I am on my tractor. The AUS 6 may not be the best for edge holding, but it is very resistant to rust/corrsion.

This thread got me thinking about the social aspects of garden cutting, so today I left my larger blades in the house and took a Spyderco Moran out in the garden. In its kydex slipsheath, it slips unobtrusively into a pocket. It did well cutting evergreen clematis vines, ornamental plum limbs up to the thickness of my little finger, lilac branches, French sorrel, and foxglove for a bouquet. Next time out I may give the AG Russell Deerhunter a try. I like the security of a fixed blade when working in the garden. Small fixed blades seem to function well and can be put in a pocket as opposed to worn on the belt. Of course the smaller knives won’t handle the chopping tasks.

Hatchets can be used for some of the chopping that a small fixed blade won’t handle. They are relatively non-threatening. To be even less threatening, don’t yell “DIE, DIE, DIE YOU VEGATABLE SCUM!,” as you chop up the branches.

A few years ago I made a fixed-blade knife with a green (Dymondwood?) handle. That type of colorful knife would be great for gardening around the timid. It’s not as threatening as scary black knives. Smokey Mountain Knife Works used to have a Red Ryder boy’s knife in their catalogs that looked pretty innocent. Or perhaps a custom maker could make a pink handled gardening knife. A pink knife couldn’t be evil, could it?

[This message has been edited by Howard Wallace (edited 14 June 1999).]
Well, if Hal is going to bring up the Stiff Kiss neck knife as a garden implement, I'll swing in with one of my favorites - a TANTO!
Don't just toss this one off, folks - hear me out. The specific knife I'm suggesting is the Newt Liveasy 'Woo', a super-high-quality custom piece of 1095 with a kydex neck sheath. I've seen them sold for $15, and well worth every penny.
Wearing it as a neck knife, I cheat a little and use a rubber-band attached to the knife and a button on my shirt. This keeps it from swinging around and getting in your way, but keeps it really handy for quick use. I've also done some extensive modifications to customize the handle (wrapped it with paracord - took probably 20 minutes, 15 of which was used looking for the paracord). The estimated customization cost is $0.50.
Remember that this is essentially a single-side chisel-ground sharpened pry-bar, but it's just perfect for rough work. It's pretty easy to sharpen with my Spyderco sharpmaker (sharpening only on the chisel side), and if it gets dinged up a little, it doesn't really matter much.
I'll highly recommend that you try it. And if you don't like it, you really haven't lost much!

Speaking of garden tools, I highly recommend a Japanese tool called the hori-hori. This is sold by the Japan Woodworker as an all purpose garden knife. Really it’s a tool steel trowel on steroids, with a tanto (chisel) style edge, and sawteeth. And last time I looked it was < $20.

Then you can really disturb the neighbors by telling them you are going to the garden to play with your hori-hori.