Stupid Ideas

Cougar Allen

Buccaneer (ret.)
Oct 9, 1998
Stupid Ideas

One day I was out walking in the woods with some friends when one of my companions stopped to cut herself a staff. She had some difficulty with it and told the rest of us to go on; she'd catch up with us ... after a few minutes we got to wondering what was taking her so long, and I went back to investigate. She was sawing at the sapling with the sawteeth on the back of a hollow-handle survival knife -- I don't know what brand, but it was cheap. (She's always buying cheap knives and I'm always kidding her about it....) She had been sawing away at it so hard and so long she was drenched with sweat and she was cursing a blue streak -- hadn't got through more than half an inch of it yet. I asked if I could help and she told me to go away and leave her alone and cursed me for a while -- still sawing away at the sapling. I just stood there and watched. It wasn't ironwood, only a striped maple sapling. It certainly wasn't lack of effort; I could see that much. I couldn't figure it out.

She was working so hard and accomplishing so little it struck me as funny. I don't think I laughed out loud; I was trying not to anyway, but I might have smiled a little.... Finally she stood up, handed me the knife, and said, "All right, if you think it's so funny you cut the #*%@& thing!" I didn't immediately; I looked at the knife first and burst out laughing. It was a ripsaw.

Some of you may not know much about carpentry.... There are two kinds of woodsaw: a crosscut saw is made for cutting across the grain and a ripsaw is made for cutting with the grain, which carpenters call "ripping." The teeth are different. You can use a crosscut saw to rip with and it'll only be a little messy, but you can't use a ripsaw to cut across the grain with -- it won't work any better than a file.

Have you ever seen such a stupid idea as a ripsaw on the back of a survival knife? All right, maybe some of you didn't know the difference before I explained it, but if you were going to design a survival knife and go into mass production with it wouldn't you look into it first and learn something about saws and choose a tooth design that could cut through a sapling in less than half an hour???

Something reminded me of that story and I got to thinking I should start a thread on stupid ideas. We could include multi-tools as well as knives; I've seen some pretty useless designs there.... I have another one in mind but I'll save it for later, let somebody else have a turn now.

-Cougar Allen :{)

An old tool salesman once remarked,on seeing
a broken chinese socket,"Those tools are
built to sell , not to work with." I think
that applies all to often.
Gerber once made a knife/wrench .
Boy did it look dangerous to use!
Here's a stupid idea- make a survival
knife that has a removable handle that doubles as a night vision monocular,
would'nt that be handy!
How about a neck knife sheath chain that doubles as one of those nifty little pocket wire saws...

How bout a flare pistol who's barrel doubles as a shot glass for your favorite adult beverage. That way you can signal for help if you get too drunk in the middle of nowhere...

REgarding saw teeth: I have my dad's old USAF survival knife. It has rip-type teeth on the spine. Was the Air Force nuts when it specified that feature? I think the idea was that the teeth would be useful sawing through the aluminum skin of a downed aircraft, NOT intending that it be used for massive amounts of wood-working.

I think other makers/manufacturers, not understanding the original purpose, put teeth on their knives, and lotsa people bought them. If you _really_ want teeth/serrations, ask yourself what material(s) you intend to cut, and is the tooth/serration shape appropriate.
Thanks for the lesson on saws! I often wonderd why those survival knives had such an inadequate saw.
How about a corkscrew on a SAK? Swiss army knives seem to have had these since prehistoric times, and I personally have had them for 40 years, and still not opened a bottle of wine with it. All it does is tear a hole in my pocket and look stupid. If it was French I could understand it. Anybody else feel this way about the SAK corkscrew?

I have to disagree w/you on the issue of SAK cork screws. I have found it to be a very handy feature numerous times. hic

There was a discussion about corkscrews among the SAK buffs on rec.knives a while ago -- most people never use them and many consider them a stupid idea these days, but several said they use theirs all the time and couldn't do without it. The better wines still come in bottles with corks.

I wonder how well that USAF knife would saw metal. I don't think my friend's could saw metal any better than wood, but of course it was a cheap knock-off. Aircraft aluminum is not that hard to cut with a knife and I think that would work faster than any saw, but I haven't experimented. By the way, did you hear about the contest between a Mad Dog knife and the Jaws of Life to see which could cut a big hole in the roof of a car faster? The knife won, and was hardly dulled. Cars are made of mild steel....

Another stupid idea: that Gil Hibben monstrosity with the spikes that screw into the brass-knuckle guard -- not the knife, the sheath. He came out with a later model that has a sheath that'll hold it without disassembly, but the original version (still made last I looked) requires you to unscrew all the spikes and put them in a pouch before you can sheath the knife.

Imagine the scene: you're approached by muggers in a dark alley. You whip out your knife with blinding speed and then you unsnap the pouch. You take out a spike and screw it into the guard. You take out another spike and in your excitement you fumble it. You start feeling around on the ground (remember this is a dark alley -- where did you expect to be when attacked by muggers?) You ask the muggers if they have a flashlight you can borrow for a minute. Before they can answer you cut yourself on some broken glass. You ask the muggers for a band-aid....

-Cougar Allen :{)


I'm with Brian and Cougar. I'm very glad my SAK has a corkscrew. It's been used a many an outting, especially impromtu stuff when I used to live in NoCal and make runs to Napa Valley's wine country
! Always had a blanket in my trunk but an "ah-soo" opener invariably was left at home so the SAK saved me from having to buy openers everytime I pulled this stunt.


As for saw teeth, yeah I agree. Then again I have a 15 year old plus Carl Scheipler "Survival Companion" which has the most effective saw teeth I've ever experienced on a knife. They were cut at about a 30 degree angle from both sides of the spline giving a double row of effective wood cutting teeth. I actually have used it several times as well as for "whittling" grooves in hiking staffs. It is quick and admitted rarity


Keep yer powder dry and cutters hair poppin' sharp!

One more note: how to tell the difference between a ripsaw and a crosscut saw: the teeth on a crosscut saw come to a point; ripsaw teeth have an edge like a chisel.

Bruce E is right that saws designed for cutting soft metals like aluminum resemble ripsaws, and I may have misinterpreted the thinking behind that knife; maybe it wasn't so stupid. All that effort accomplishing so little was a pretty comic sight, though....

-Cougar Allen :{)


By that definition, it looks like the SwissTool saw is a rip saw. Is anyone able to confirm that?

Yeah, what's with the SwissTool saw? That sucker's mean for sharp, but it's very difficult to push. You can pull it, but the push stroke is very difficult.

Regarding corkscrews: No thanks. I don't drink. I'd rather have most anything else on a Swiss Army knife. I guess that's why they make so many varieties.

David Rock
Canis Very funny!!
Got any more?

[This message has been edited by mcfg (edited 27 January 1999).]
Re: corkscrews: I like them, but understand why others do not. There are several models with a phillips head screwdriver in it's place. Personally, I like ones like the Explorer that have a phillips head in-line with the rest of the body of the knife for longer reach.

Senpai: Discount Knives (and I'm sure other places) have a small eyeglass screwdriver that screws into your corkscrew on an SAK. To use it, you screw it in with the tip out; to put it away, you just screw it in with the tip down. This is both a very useful tool AND it keeps the corkscrew from snagging on things.

If you do ever need a corkscrew, I think the ones on my SAKs are better than any ones I have ever used, including all those hi-tech (read: overpriced) ones from Brookstone or Sharper Image.

Sorry I am not more on topic...

Clay Fleischer

"10,000 Lemmings Can't Be Wrong!"
Thank you, you took the words out of my mouth re: SAK corkscrews. I've found them useful to have around every now and then for picnics, romantic hiking stops, and in front of the bonfire while camping. Since I wear glasses, I've had one of the small screwdrivers for a long time. It's incredibly handy, as there have been a number of times I've been able to help in those "Anybody got a small screwdriver?" scenarios.
I just learned the manual that came with the original USAF survival knife explained the ripsaw-like teeth were to be used for making notches in poles or tree branches so lashings wouldn't slip. That makes some sense to me -- a ripsaw would do that faster than whittling a notch with the knife. So I guess that wasn't such a stupid idea after all.

-Cougar Allen :{)