Why the interest in knives?

Apr 18, 1999
Since joining the forum I have enjoyed the survey questions posted by other members. Therefore, I thought I'd post one of my own.

From time-to-time, I have wondered, and so has my wife, why I have such an interest in knives. Now that I know I am not alone in my interest, have come out of the closet somewhat, so to speak, I will attempt to articulate the reasons for my interest and ask those of you who have thought about it to do the same.

Here goes. I was initially drawn to knives as a boy, many years ago. At the time, I lived in a rough, inner city neighborhood, and thought a pocket knife made sense. It did. As an adult, I have not been completely successful in overcoming those early insecurities and I see little in the news to bolster my confidence society has changed for the better....no matter where one lives. Therefore, I am never without a sharp knife. So there is one reason for my interest. This reason makes sense to me.

On another level, however, even if I had no practical reason to possess a knife, I would. Many knives are beautiful to view and hold. I am facinated by the asthetics, thoughtful designs, materials, workmanship, etc. They truly are a joy to behold.

There are two reasons for my interest. I am sure there are other, more cerebral reasons, but my psycho-therapist is unavailable at the moment. What think you?
Willie Boy - Very interesting question. Gonna make us think, huh?

1. There is a tremendous history upon which to draw. More than most "things" that one could collect and study. (like bowls vs computers)

2. There is measurable performance as "automobile type things" might have.

3. There is art in many forms from many cultures.

4. There is a wide range of quality and price.

5. There is the "natural" attraction ("All God's critter have knives").

6. The feeling of "Helplessness" is dimished because "Mowgli's tooth" permits the "possibility" of solving emergency problems, be they "defense" or "matter separation".

a few to start with?
To expound upon Mr. Glesser's reasons, I must say that we all have hobbies where we like to collect different things for different reasons. Those of us with a "practical" nature tend to collect useable items such as knives, guns, etc.

For me, I tend to collect on the performance nature verse the aesthetic beauty of said objects. Maybe as I gain a few more years of wisdom such as Mr. Sal Glesser :), I'll start to focus my interests in knives as more of pieces of art instead of tools-of-the-trade.

I have heard the following theory more than once, in some cases from qualified academics, and I am inclined to believe it.
Though our rapid technological growth has given man a sense of equally rapid personal evolution, we are still at this point in time upper-paleolithic "hunter-gatherers". Think about it, what "hunter" would be without a knife? The pull upon us to the knife is very, very old. It will be a long time before it becomes a recessive trait in the human genome.
Sal's remark about the need for a "tooth" couldn't be more appropriate. I'm also glad there are people like Sal, who make such a fine "tooth" for all us "hunter-gatherers"!

[This message has been edited by JohnCD (edited 26 April 1999).]
Willie Boy,

As the others before me have stated, there is a basic need in man(some anyway) to possess a tool for utilitarian purposes as well as defense.
In this day and age there are so many varieties, shapes and sizes of this tool that the drool factor sets in right before the "gimmee, gimmee, gimmee" factor.

For me it is a matter of utility vs beauty but to each his own. Maybe someday I will buy a knife(perhaps damascus) for display purposes. For now though, if I can't justify it to my wife forget it. " But honey, all the cool kids have one, and if I don't get it they'll all make fun of me" and the list goes on.

God bless!

Romans 10:9-10

"Military" Fans Unite!!
JohnCD - We "Hunt" the wild greenback and we "gather" around the knife.

Dave - Practicality and use still win overall. However, perhaps the wisdom permits one to see art in the superior funtion of a well designed, well made tool, even a hammer.
My interest started with my dads knives. He always carried his trusty Ka-Bar pocket knife. I remember he would always find a reason to use it, weather he was whittling a piece of wood or cutting a radiator hose to make it fit. I also remember him using his case fix blade to clean trout when we went camping. He used to tell my brother and I that he had these knives before we were even born. We would find excuses to borrow them from him whenever we could in attempt to try to be like him. I'm quite a bit older now and have my own collection. I've been able to add his knives to my collection. My dad told me that I would someday recieve his knives when he passes away. Someday my kids will recieve them from me, as well as the ones that I am collecting. I believe they would want them because they are a part of me.
For some reason, sometime in my teens I fell in love with knives. I had always wanted to carry one and had gone through all the cheap wannabee's since early childhood. It started to get bad in high school. I still didn't know anything about true quality, but I had to have a knife on me at all times. In college I discovered real knives in a Cold Steel catalogue. Now I can see a beautiful art knife or a superiorly made tactical an overwhelming NEED just humbles me. I have to have it!! I could go on and on about the FEELINGS I get when I see a good knife, but I sure wouldn't let you all see me like that. Who can Explain it?? May just be evolutionary need, or maybe something more.

Sorry this is so long, I'm new at this Forum Stuff. Just used to sending long email messages to friends. I'll get used to being brief and to the point. Somebody stop me, I'm rambling.

Newbie, Daniel Dorn

WOW!!! Who brought this thread back?!?! I wrote the above over a year ago. I have learned so much more since then. I think this forum is the greatest and appreciate all the members who have contributed their knowledge and opinions. I have now succumbed to the need for knives and still can't explain it.

[This message has been edited by Daniel Dorn (edited 05-15-2000).]
I've often wondered why I too have such an interest in knives. I can remember carrying a knife as early as 8 years old. I have never been without one since then. I remember when I bought an Uncle Henry stockman that were guaranteed against loss for life... remember?. Now where is that knife?

Upon thinking about my obsession, I have concluded that a knife combines art and science in the most fundamental way or said another way it combines beauty with functionality.

As a tool, it is without equal, in a word, indispensable. A knife is practical to carry and I am always asked by someone else to use my knife because they always know that I carry one.

A knife also combines the latest in materials in order to make it more durable and effective. Technology has allowed knives to be produced that are almost indestructible, but maintain function after being abused repeatedly.

On the other hand, it requires the skill of master craftsman to bring the materials together in a shape that is both ergonomic and pleasing to the eye. Some knives are clearly a work of art but still have not lost their basic function.

Knife designs are also clearly individual, which makes collecting, looking at, and fondling them a great past-time for those who understand what a knife represents.

As you can see I am really obsessed.

Jeff Jenness

[This message has been edited by jeffj (edited 30 April 1999).]
Danaiel D, I'm new to this forum stuff too. It sure is nice to be able to communicate with others of similar interest isn,t it? Have you ever checked out the post asking where forum members live? All over the world. What an amazing technology and wonderful time to be alive.

Willie Boy
In 2 weeks I'll be 52, and I can't remember when I didn't like(love?) knives. Since I was a kid, knives were basicly a tool. Never really thought of them as collectibles. They just seemed to accumilate; wish I had taken better care of those I had years ago!

It's only been in recent years that I've come to appreciate craftmanship and beauty of many of my knives... from custom made to factory knives to the couple of fixed blades that my son and I have enjoyed making.

Thanks to all for sharing their views.
The tool thing kind of works on the face of it, however, if our attraction were based on contemporary utility, wouldn't it apply to other things as well? How many of us sit in front of the TV for extended periods monkeying with a chain saw, or screw driver, or how about a drill bit? We don't - but we'll do it with knives by the hour. I like JohnCD's suggestion. I think it's genetic. Those who spent evenings lolling about the cave, looking at the fire, were either facinated by sharp edged devices and kept them at hand, or they weren't around to contribute to the gene pool. Non-knife guys were weeded out in a hurry.

Collecting is a lot easier to explain. When the knife arrives and we pull it out of the box, we're bathed in this wonderful feeling. To get the feeling again - you gotta' buy another knife! We're actually buying feelings, and getting useful things (knives) in the bargain.

I just have to say this about knives:
(excluding swords of course)

-They're an affordable form of passtime, hobby, passion, whatever you want to call it i.e. they don't burn a hole in your pocket

-They are forever, as are diamonds, unless they get stolen. And plus, they are much cheaper

-The admiration for a knife will not usually die out after a year. I had an older (much older) friend who bought a Cadillac and would wash and wax it every week and even spend hours every week just sitting in it. Well guess what, that only lasted for two months

-They are primary survival tools. I have always been imagining myself stranded in a remote forest and the most important things to me at that time would be shoes, clothing, water&food, and of course, a knife

-Lastly, a knife might one day end up doing an unimaginable and miraculous thing for you that might just save your life or that of another. They are versatile and invaluable. You need a knife most when you don't have one...so just carry one wherever you are!
Ego? Insecurity? Paranoia? Maybe some of all those things, but the real reason why I got interested in knives is because of my martial arts experience. I've been doing that for 11 years now, and weapons training just seemed to be the next logical step. My coordination's good enough, so's my judgement, and in a day and age where people will kick your ass for looking funny at them--along with their 5 or 6 friends--it's comforting to know that after you take the first guy out, the last 5 or 6 will think twice about following their buddy's example. After the martial arts thing, though, I'll just have to admit that sharp things fascinate me, especially the concealment models. And there are so many beautiful models out there! It's the same obsession I have with my other hobbies (like flyfishing), you can never have too much stuff, whether you're gonna use it or not! And then there's the utility thing...But I guess that's just my justification for carrying around a weapon. Anyway, that's just my take on the question...
I'm from Malaysia, a country which has a strict law against Knives! Infact you'll be thrown into jail if you were ever caught with one regardless the length or reason. But that doesn't stop me from carring one. Why? My menifesto to such action is because( similar to the one you offer) danger lurks everywhere! You'll never know when you'll be attacked or mugged. A piece of steel in your hand makes a differents. But unfortunatelly, my opinion was not agreedable with the general public. Besides, knife is art, tool and most of all, safety. I'm sure you'll agree with me too.

power the steel!

[This message has been edited by keninshiro (edited 03 May 1999).]
Originally posted by keninshiro:
I'm from Malaysia, a country which has a strict law against Knives! Infact you'll be thrown into jail if you were ever caught with one regardless the length or reason. But that doesn't stop me from carring one.
Keninshiro....i am from singapore, and like you and everybody else here, i like² knives.
similarily, i could be arrested for possesing an offensive weapon, but i always feel naked without a knife of some sort on me.....you ain't the only one who carries a knife around against the law....
My interest in knives began when my iaijutsu instructor began showing us some techniques using a shorter blade (like an aikuchi, hamidashi, or tanto). I had always carried a small Spyderco at the time to open boxes and the mail, but I then began to search for "the perfect carry/self-defence/martial arts knife. Low and behold, several years later, I accumulated many knives from many makers and manufacturers. So...I like to approach knives from three points of view:

1) There are knives that I like to use daily, for daily chores.
2) There are knives that I like to use for martial arts.
3) There art art/investment-grade knives that I like to display or just admire.

I admit that now I have more No. 1 and No.2 2 knives than No. 3 knives.

My current using and martial arts knife is a Hartsfield Kwaiken. For the last year, I've been more interested in fixed-blades, but it's funny how people keep changing what they like.
I like knives for the same reason I like power tools -- they're neat, and they do useful things. Knives have an added advantage as you can carry one around with you all the time (I guess you could carry power tools around with you all the time as well, but not without getting some odd looks).
Plus, they're, well, pretty.
My interest in knives probably grew out of my interest in swords. That in turn had grown out of an interest in martial arts. Eventually I got a catalog from the Edge Company (seller of a variety of strange and interesting stuff, though generally not very high quality in terms of cutlery) in order to see the sword designs. That was my first real exposure to folders outside of SAKs. After I turned 18 and got a credit card, I ordered a S&W SWAT folder. Not very high quality, but it did show me how many uses you can think of for a knife once you have one. Then while looking at other knives I came across a picture of a Spyderco Lum and was blown away. Most of my knives seem to be of the "tactical black" variety. The Lum really stands out. It took a few months for it to actually be available and arrive but while it was on backorder I found other knives that I liked and have bought a few more Spydercos, and a Benchmade and Microtechs. Also a few balisongs, which I got into due to having a cool plastic balisong toy when I was younger and being seduced by the BM model 42. Now I'm interested in getting some classier knives and finding some knives that don't use black handles so they won't blend in with the rest.

Many people are squemish about knives and many other things. For some reason I tend to be drawn to what makes them squirm
Knives, snakes, spiders, guns, and probably some other unPC interests that I have yet to uncover.

Simon Yu

"I look at it this way. If things get much worse I'll be too dead to care."