Gary W. Graley

“Imagination is more important than knowledge"
Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider
Mar 2, 1999
Just wondered if any of you have Superstitions regarding knives? One of mine is that only the person who opens a folder is allowed to be the one to close it, you should see the looks I get when I explain it to someone when I ask them to close the knife before giving it back to me.

Also in the Movie `The Edge', the keeper of the camp told him to give him a coin, said if someone gives you a knife then you must give that person a coin, otherwise it cuts the friendship.


When a fellow says, "it ain't the money but the principle of the thing,"
it's the money.
F. McKinney Hubbard

[This message has been edited by Gary W. Graley (edited 06 April 1999).]
I have always believed that it is bad luck to just give someone a knife. You should always give at least a penny for it. Though sometimes I forget this. -AR
I had never heard the "cuts the friendship" superstition before, but looking back it seems strangly prophetic.
In college, a friend gave me a Wenger Swiss Army as a birthday present, and we later had a falling out.(And I thought it was over a woman.) And a few years ago I gave a spare Leatherman to a friend going on a trip, and he has pretty much dropped off the face of the Earth since then.
I cannot recall giving knifes to anyone else except my brothers. We are closer now than ever before in our lives. Blood is thicker than water. And maybe stronger than Iron.
It's worse luck if you try and catch a falling knife with your foot.

My lone superstition is that a knife really isn't mine till I change it...This also goes with guns, cars, and most other gadgets.

There was a discussion some time ago on rec dot knives about this custom. Its' origin is lost in the mists of antiquity, but the basic premise seems to be that if the recepient of a knife gives a coin in return, it is clear to both parties that no harm was meant by the gift; the friendship was not severed. Walt
I can attest to the stupidity of trying to catch a falling knife, as mentioned in my reply to the "worst cuts" thread. In a knife shop, I spoke to a gentleman who told me when he was younger and on a boat (navy?) his friend asked to see his Case sailor's sheepsfoot folder. the guy was going to hand it back, but he told the friend, "Close that knife before you hand it to me or I'll throw that knife away." His friend said "No." and when the friend handed him the knife he threw it into the sea. His friend thought he was crazy but he explained handing back a folder without closing a blade would sever their friendship so he got rid of the knife instead. Jim
I've posted this a couple of other places.
My Great Grandfather gave me my first knife, but he told me I had to pay for it. Since I was six years old, I didn't have any money and I tried to talk him out of it, but no dice.
I had to go groom his horse for him to earn the money for the knife. I got paid .25 cents for doing this job that I would have happily done for free. Grampa gave me the knife and .24 cents. in one day I got to comb out the horse, a shiny new knife, and .24 cents. In those days, .24 cents equalled one coke and 19 pieces of penny candy! MAN I HAD IT ALL!
Since that time, i've put a lot of thought into it and knowing my Great Granddad, (He lived long enough to teach me how to hunt and fish AND to see his great great grandson turn two.)it was all about responsibility. If I cut myself, as he KNEW I would, then I had bought the knife and could blame no one but myself. It may be superstition, but to this day, I've never given a knife away. Including to my own son who's now 18. His first knife was a shiny new SAK Tinker. Nother story though.
Thanks Grampa.

My father died when I was 8, so Grampa knew that the only one to teach me the things I needed to know was him. Thank God I had him for so long.

I cut it, and I cut it, and it's STILL too short!

It's apparently a Chinese belief that knives should never be given as gifts, penny or not. Apparently giving a knife means you're severing the relationship. I think the penny in return is a Western variant on the same thing.

I can also vouch for the belief that catching a falling knife (or X-Acto in my case) is bad luck.


It's bad luck to catch a running band-saw. It's also bad luck to use someone elses knife without asking; you could get your a.. kicked in a kitchen.
When I was at the C.I.A., my meat fabrication teacher was this crazy old German(Chef Roth). One day I asked, "Hey Chef, can I use your knife?". His reply in a very thick German accent;"Joseph,can I use your wife?". He was a tough old coot and to save face I told him he was lucky that he's my teacher and old, but I thought it was a very funny comeback.

Rock On!

I agree with the one about the opener should close the knife.
I don't give knives away so I've not experienced the broken friendship, but I would go with the coin idea(which is of French origin).

*Norse Knife Nut*

"Military" Fans Unite!!

"The only limitation is lack of imagination."

Here are a few, that I printed several years ago in a Cal-Knives bulletin:

Knife superstitions:

Don't make toast on the point of a knife. This brings misfortune on the house.

Don't cross the knives when setting the table, or lay one across a fork. Quarrels will follow, unless you avert this omen by straightening them immediately.

Don't leave a knife on the table overnight; if you do so, a burglar may enter the house.

Don't spin a knife on a table; this is generally unlucky.

Exception: To find out if your future wife or husband will be fair or dark spin a white-handled table-knife on the table. If it falls with the blade towards you, he or she will be dark; if with the handle, he or she will be fair.

- Cécile Donner & Jean-Luc Caradeau
The Dictionary of Superstitions

Superstitions regarding knives? NOT AT ALL, thank you! Neither mysticism, magic, "philosophy", etc. I guess, my life is complicated enough without.


[This message has been edited by Markku Huttunen (edited 22 March 1999).]
Here's a section on Finnish knife lore, from the Kellam catalog:

The ancient Finns treated iron, and tools made form it, with respect and thought it to possess magical powers. The farmer would start his spring sowing by sticking his knife into a standing position at the end of his field to ensure a good harvest. The Puukko was even part of the courting ceremony. In some parts of the country, the girl would carry an empty sheath on her belt waiting for the knife of a suitor. [Let's keep the symbolism subtle here! - JKM] A groom had to show his handiness by carving some household article with his knife. Many traditional knives have leather tassels on
the sheath that shake for chasing away the evil spirits.

In on of the Knives annuals several years ago, there was an article on Norwegian knives, which mentioned the same tradition for opening negotiations re. marriage.