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Use the heck out of them!

Discussion in 'Traditional Folders and Fixed Blades' started by jackknife, May 21, 2019.

  1. jackknife


    Oct 2, 2004
    A recent post or two, and some thinking back and reminiscing about the past, (always a dangerous thing at this age.) gave me a few thoughts. Mostly about collections and safe queens. A lot of us keep our 'collections' in mint conditions, and sometimes even thinking that you're leaving a legacy of some sort behind. I thought this for many years, many years ago.

    I was wrong.

    I noticed that when my dad passed away, myself and sister Ann, and a few other family, deeply cherished the items that he was known to carry/use the ever lovin dog poo out of. His old Case peanut, the old Colt Woodsman, his Filson coat, his small collection of pipes, the battered old WW2 era Zippo lighter. When we were packing up his stuff, we came on some brand new pocket knives that he'd been gifted over the years, and had never used. They'd been put away in the sock drawer and never touched. We, the family looked at them, but there was no great rush to grab anything. They weren't "his" knives. They were just some soulless items that obviously didn't mean much to him. They were as pristine as the day he received them.

    I noticed the same thing when I did my great downsizing. I laid all of what I considered excess stuff out on the table, called over kids, grandkids, nephews, nieces, friends and old co-workers to pick out whatever they wanted. There was a lot of nice stuff on the table, some almost new, that for whatever reason, didn't make the final cut for me to treasure. Almost new knives that I had tried a new pattern, and ended up kind of 'meh, not really what I want' kind of thing. Some were kind of picked over and some went home with new owners. But the fight was over what I had carried for years and used the ever lovin dog poo out of.

    My old Buck 301 that had seen me through some years of army service and many years of soccer dad and Harry home owner use was beat up, blades sharpened down to pale shadows of what they used to be, some blade wobble, the black delrin scales worn smooth with no trace of the saw cut pattern left. My grandson Ryan and nephew Mark almost came to blows over it. The much newer Buck 303 cadet with very little wear on it was almost unnoticed.

    The Japanese have a thought that the longer you use something, some of your spirit goes into the item. Maybe it's true. I've looked at lots of those old knives that have blades worn down to toothpicks, handles worn smooth by countless times of use and maybe even worry stone fondling. They do have a certain feel that the sterile new stuff doesn't. A well worn old trapper that is the veteran of years of hunting trips has a feel that no new trapper can ever have. You wonder what tales could be told of far off campsites it could speak of.

    That new knife, that has been lovingly oiled and stored away in a collection has nothing to say, no memories have built into it. Your family will look at it as just more of your stuff that you coveted, but never used, and they'll probably sell it at .25 cents for the dollar value.

    I've reached a stage of life that I understand that the material stuff doesn't matter at all. It's just stuff. What will matter is the memories that you leave behind for your family when you leave. The memories that are built in because they saw you actually use the thing.

    I could be wrong, I've been wrong before. But I think its a mistake keep the knives in pristine condition. Use the heck out of them. Let the blade develop a nice patina. Don't fret over the dings and scuffs it will pick up in use. Especially if that use is with some family members out on a fishing trip, or camping trip, or hiking trip, or all of the above. Forget the metal polish and protective wax. Just rub it down once a while with a nice soft oily cloth and let it go. It will keep the memories better that way.
  2. tmd_87

    tmd_87 Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 29, 2016
    Love it!

    For the most part that how I live my knife collecting life. Use em, sharpen them oil em.
  3. afishhunter


    Oct 21, 2014
    Well said, Carl. :)
  4. Txjohn

    Txjohn Basic Member Basic Member

    Apr 24, 2013
    Every time I sell a mint knife the kids get mad . " Dont sell that Dad , I want to !"
  5. Hickory n steel

    Hickory n steel Basic Member Basic Member

    Feb 11, 2016
    Great post, and I think it's definitely true.
    When you collect or accumulate things the items without memories behind them are just stuff.

    My grandfather's fishing hat is the one thing that anyone really cared about ( to those who weren't just seeing $$$ anyways ), it went to my uncle because the memories were too much for my dad but the memories it held made it the most important nonetheless.
    My dad and I among others have gifted my uncle enough knives that I don't know which ones will be coveted by his kids when the time eventually comes ( he's barely middle aged ) but you can bet it'll be the ones he's used that are most cared about.
    Last edited: May 21, 2019
  6. Henry Beige

    Henry Beige Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 1, 2015
    Admirable sentiment, Carl, but just not compatible with accumulating for investigatory or esthetic reasons. I wish I had the time and energy to get all of mine dinged up. But there are some I will never get around to.
    Stelth, Shurke, tmd_87 and 2 others like this.
  7. JohnDF

    JohnDF Gold Member Gold Member

    May 14, 2018
    I just give my kids the knives they admire right away, right out of the mail packaging.
    I end up with all the knives they don't want anyways. :D
  8. Pinemoon

    Pinemoon Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 25, 2005
    Nice narrative.
    Using is living.
    Prester John, donn and UnderDawgAl like this.
  9. Rookie82

    Rookie82 Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 25, 2014
    You're explanation makes sense. I would rather have something my dad or grandad used, and liked to use, rather than a nick-knack off a shelf.

    I have a large knife collection, but that collection is for me, not for my descendants. I like them, I like to photograph them, and I like to hunt for them. I like to show them to others who are interested in them. They are all mint condition and will stay that way. But not for me to pass them on, but because a mint knife sells easier and brings a better price whenever that day comes. At some point in the future, I will be done with them, and they will find a new home.

    The few knives I use, or ones I have from other family that have meaning attached to them, will always stay with me, and those will be the ones passed down to whoever wants them.
  10. TheChunk91

    TheChunk91 Basic Member Basic Member

    Aug 15, 2013
    I get great enjoyment out of minty knives for various reasons, but I like and agree with what you said Carl, about the knives that really get used. Not even counting what those well used knives will mean to family that inherits them I also enjoy them greatly for the useful companion they are. I try to lean more to the minty collecting side and I already have more knives than I could really use, but there's room for both.

    I have a schrade 8ot that belonged to my grandpa, my dad may have also used it a little after grandpa passed. If that knife were mint it would not be much different than the dozens of other 8ot's I've acquired. It's not in rough shape nor is it remarkable, if I saw an 8ot in identical condition I would pass on it, but since grandpa used it there is no other knife that compares. I am very grateful to have it.
    Last edited: May 21, 2019
  11. not2sharp

    not2sharp Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 29, 1999
    Then there are the pre-dinged ones. The antique knives from exotic and long gone lands that have been used abused, fought, carried and floating around the planet for over 100 years. What stories those could tell! What stories do they tell! These are knives that have been loved enough to be preserved across many generations and we are just another link in the chain doing our best to keep it and its' lore around for the next set of caretakers. Knives came in all kinds of flavors and can be enjoyed in all sorts of ways, and each of them will be; all in due time.

  12. Camillus

    Camillus Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 3, 2015
    It’s an admirable sentiment, but it doesn’t work without downsizing to a few knives that have sentimental value. Otherwise you have, say, 20 user knives that have those memories divided among them all.

    I don’t see the point in tarnishing up every knife I own, just to have a memory of using it.

    I think most of us manage to have a few ‘special’ users intermingled within our collections.

    As my outdoor activities involve boating and fishing more than camping and hunting, sadly that means traditional knives with carbon blades don’t often get chosen to come along for the ride. I do wish it were otherwise!
  13. Frailer

    Frailer Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 25, 2009
    I agree with the sentiment, but...

    As others have stated, I’m under no illusion that the knives I collect will be treasured by my children. They are for my own enjoyment...and mine alone. They don’t languish in boxes in sock drawers, though; they are on display, where I can enjoy them.

    My kids already have the knives I carried on my military deployments, and they routinely carry them themselves.

    If they want one of my “users” after I’m gone, there are plenty of those to go around.;)
  14. Hickory n steel

    Hickory n steel Basic Member Basic Member

    Feb 11, 2016
    When you have a bunch it may be hard to give all of them a lot of use, but I can't let a knife I deem worthy of use sit unused. If I won't use a knife I deem worthy of use it goes to someone who might use it, often my dad or my cousin.
    Or now to the traditional box GAW if the opportunity comes.

    If I ever have anyone for my knives to go to, the ones around to be taken will have been used.
    By me if acquired new / like new, or by me and whoever used it before I got it.
    My knives are just something I like to have and use, not that any I have are worth much but I don't care what they're worth anyways.

    More power to those who collect more than accumulate, but I would feel weird knowing my knives would just be fought over for their monetary value.
  15. hornetguy

    hornetguy Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 11, 2015
    That was very well pondered, and very eloquently put into words.
    Thanks for giving us another (possibly better) way of looking at our "stuff".
    Storm 8593 and Prester John like this.
  16. jc57


    Nov 28, 2012
    If I had someone to pass them on to, it might be germane advice. However, I don't. I will likely sell off most of my collection at some point, maybe in 10 or so years after I am retired and have time to mess with it.

    I have plenty of knives that get used. I won't wear them out. No reason to ruin the resale value of the others. I already made the mistake of buying more than I could ever possibly need. I am past that stage now, but I am not going to compound the mistake.
    MerryMadMonk likes this.
  17. Corso


    Aug 16, 2007
    My Father and Grandfathers are/were one knife guys, they used them until they sharpened them to nothing and went out and bought another

    My Grandfather on my Fathers side passed some years back in his 90's - he left me with alot of memories and a tiny banged up folder that has about 2 inched of the last remaining blade left

    I love it
  18. CVamberbonehead

    CVamberbonehead Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 6, 2017
    I agree completely! Id rather have my dads old stuff that got used than something new. You cant put a price on memories.
    Prester John likes this.
  19. cbach8tw

    cbach8tw Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 9, 2006
    very well said, words of wisdom, and the memories with family and using those items are what are priceless and valued most. When my wife's grandfather passed away, it was the home made butcher knife that he used for carving up hams and other kitchen duties for years that was important to his family. I now wonder if all the knives I have accumulated but have not used will be as well regarded when I go. So I guess use them and love them, take care of them, and enjoy them now.
    Last edited: May 22, 2019
  20. donn

    donn Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 14, 2002
    What a great post, couldn't agree more. I've a modest collection of knives, pretty much all traditional which are all users to some degree or other, but there all in pretty good nick.
    But out of them all the one knife that is most precious to me is my dad's 'Richard's Camp Knife'.

    My dad passed some years ago, but this still tells the tales he's no longer around to tell himself.

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