What would be a good folding knife for ship work ?

Apr 12, 2000
Hello all- A friend of mine just started a job working on ships out of NY Harbor and he asked me to recommend a good folding knife.
Blade about 3-4" and one hand opening is a must. It will be for basic chore work, cutting rope, etc..
I was thinking that corrosion would be a problem with all the saltwater so that should be an issue.
Are there folders made specifically for this type of activity ?
What can you guy's recommend ??

Thanks very much, Donald.
For marine use, a sheepsfoot or hawkbill, serrted blade would be useful. Also, a marlin spike, for unknotting or splicing ropes, would be handy. A.G. Russel makes this in one package, called the Sailor's Knife (how appropriate). One-hand open, serrated sheepsfoot, with a spike. Check it out here:

Also, for one-hand sheepsfoot blades check out the Cold Steel Land & Sea, and Syderco Rescue and Dyad. For hawkbills, the Spyderco Harpy & Merlin.
Spyderco Native, combo edge zytel or g10. The combo edge is 60/40. It would be good for cutting line.

I use a BM 710BT. I've cut 1" diameter manila with no problem at all...as in one cut. I've even cut though 3.5" to 4" nylon hawsers with it. Your friend shouldn't really worry about getting a marline spike with the knife. It's cheaper for the company to buy the line with an eye already in it than it is to pay someone to take the time to do on the spot (especially because they'll probably count it as over time). The BM is my preferance. The Chief Mate of our ship swears by his spyderco mariner. It's a great knife. If he doesn't want to spend too much $$$, then he could look into a CRKT. I think they make an inexpensive folder with a mariners blade.

(Third Mate for hire)
epigram is right, CRKT also makes a hawkbill. It's called the Seahawk, but I fear it may have been discontinued with the Apache line. It has an ATS34 blade, so it is a good find if you can find it.
The Russell Sailor's Knife is a beaut, but it really isn't a one hand opener. For a lot less $, Camillus makes a sailor's knife with a 50/50 plain/serrated blade and marlin spike. If I had the $ though, I'd go with the fully serrated Russel.
I've owned the Camillus sailors knife and would recommend against it. It didn't even come really all that sharp right out of the box. I had the 50/50 blade and the serrations weren't very sharp either. The spine of the blade is very think and is V ground to the bevel at a big angle. It really doesn't cut very well IMO.

The spyderco rescue is also a good knife for around $35. I see a lot of people with those.

[This message has been edited by epigram79 (edited 03-08-2001).]
Thanks tons for the suggestions. I'm gonna see this guy tomorrow and show him what's what, the BM sounds pretty good as does the Russell and the Spydie.
I don't think price is a big issue with this guy, he see's how much I pay for some of my customs so he probably would'nt think too much of dropping 100+ for the blade if he had to. I'm gonna go on the various websites and print out some information.

Thanks again to everyone

[This message has been edited by nowhere fast (edited 03-08-2001).]
I have a Spyderco serrated Merlin, and it cuts rope like hot butter. That would be my suggesion.

A Benchmade AFCK with combo edge (a must for rope or for busting down cardboard boxes) and BT coating for extra rust resistance. Your friend should also get into the habit of frequently using Tuff Cloth on whatever blade he ends up with.

Your friend may also want to carry a multitool such as a Leatherman PST. I don't recall ever being on a ship, even just for a few minutes, without using my PST for something.

Balisongs -- because it don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing!

I know that you are familiar with our SARK. It was designed to the Navy's specifications. The new pointed model (P-SARK) will be available shortly. Works like a house-afire on al fiberous materials and has the Wave feature to boot.

Take care,

The #1 Hard Use Knives In The World
The Prophet by David Boye.
Dendritic Cobalt folder, 3" blade, Zytel handles. Blade will not rust.
Ever. Or so I've heard.
I have the 440C bladed model and the bloody thing seems to never stop cutting. I tried a test on 1/2" Manila rope and I had to quit after over 200 cuts because I was just not gonna dull the thing enough to stop cutting that rope. The Dendritic Cobalt is reported to hold it's edge even longer than the 440C model. WHEW!
Might be worth a look-see.

The individualist without strategy who takes opponents lightly will inevitably become the captive of others.
Sun Tzu
If price really isn't a factor, how about a stellite or talonite sheepsfoot or two blader, one blade being serrated? The talonite/stellite solves the rust and wear problems. There aren't too many such blades out there, and the price would probably start over $500. Just ruminating...
All of the true sheepsfoot "marine folders" with marlinspike that I've seen are...stiff to open, and on the small side.

The best marine-use knife at a reasonable price that I know of is actually a small fixed blade, the Myerchin A500:


It's 440A stainless, very rust resistant, but with a good heat-treat so you get better edgeholding and toughness than that steel is normally known for. NYC knife laws allow carry of up to 4" worth of fixed blade open or concealed, so there's no legality problem.

It's available as the A508 with marlinspike de-knotting tool in the same sheath:


See also:


At $80 retail, hard to beat. If he does any food prep or fish cleaning with the same knife, a fixed-blade is a lot easier to get completely clean, especially a "skeleton handle" type like this. Folders tend to get yucky crud hidden in the cracks.