Utilitarian tools: the pocket knife

Yesterday Jacki wrote a post about five of her favorite organizing tools. Her post inspired me to look at the tools I depend on daily, and one really stood out as having very high utility: my pocket knife. I have two, in fact. One is the Swiss Victorinix Centurion, which I always take camping, fishing, and occasionally use for jobs around the house. It’s great, but a little big for day-to-day-carry. That’s why the tiny little Swiss Classic SD is the knife I love.

I have one of these on my car’s keychain, so it’s almost always with me. I’ve been carrying it around for about five years, and proper maintenance has kept it in tip-top shape. Swiss Army knives are the ultimate “anti-unitasker.” Even with only got five features, mine is super useful:

  • Blade
  • File
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Toothpick

Just today, I’ve used my knife to open a package, cut rope and string, remove tags from clothing (it sails through those annoy plastic rings!), tighten/loosen a screw, and open letters. It’s also helpful outside the home.

If you decide to buy a pocket knife, you’ll find them at nearly every outdoor store and online. There are several styles to choose from, and I’ll cover just a few here. The first distinction is a knife with a locking blade versus a slipjoint. Simply, when the blade of a lock blade knife is open, it locks open. The Centurion I own is a lock blade knife. To put the blade away, you press a little tab to release it. Meanwhile, the Classic SD has a blade that does not lock in the open position. Which should you pick? It depends on the work you’ll typically do. For light work — opening packages, envelopes, and the like — a slipjoint knife is fine. More intense work, like you might do while camping or fishing, is best done with a blade that won’t move once opened.

Also consider the type of knife you might buy. I’m a big fan of multi-purpose knives, which house several blades and other tools.

When I was younger, my grandfather had a pocket knife on his person all the time. I can remember seeing him produce it seemingly out of nowhere, just in time to cut some string, tighten a screw, remove a stubborn thumbtack, or what-have-you. I thought it was a magical thing, but today I realize it wasn’t magic and recognize it as a tremendously useful tool.

Similar to a pocket knife, Erin has great admiration for the Leatherman MultiTool (one that flips out, not slides out) she received for her high school graduation. She also sings the praises of a good set of kitchen knives because they eliminate the need for so many larger unitaskers. Now, let’s turn it to you. What utilitarian tools — real multitaskers — do you rely on in your life?

13 Comments for “Utilitarian tools: the pocket knife”

  1. posted by Leslie on

    My leatherman multitool disappeared during my wedding reception (yes, we needed it) and no one ever stepped up to admit who took it. However, I did see this yesterday, http://www.techtimes.com/tags/leatherman-tread

  2. posted by in2themystery on

    The little pink Cabela’s multitool is my BFF on the job. I tried a small Leatherman but it lacked a Phillips head. I’d prefer that any multitool leave off the bottle opener and substitute a file, but water bottles have not retired this remnant of beer-drinking sexist stereotyping.

  3. posted by suzi on

    Swiss Army executive! It’s a little smaller, has the same blades as the classic camper; but it has a nifty orange peeler blade. The blade scores the orange to make peeling easier.

  4. posted by Pat Reble on

    I’ve carried a Swiss Army knife for 40 years, but in today’s culture of street violence and security scares it’s become somewhat problematical. Where I live it is classed as a concealed weapon, so these days it’s simpler to leave it at home than carry it in my handbag and risk confiscation, sigh.

  5. posted by liz on

    I like the leatherman tool, but I always carry a rigging knife while sailing (knife and a marlinspike).

    To in2the mystery…. there is nothing better than a cold brew after a sailing race, so having a bottle/can opener is a nice feature. It’s also useful for camping. And to me, having a pink tool is a bit sexist & stereotyping, though I’m sure you’ll never have it stolen by a guy.

  6. posted by ImmaterialGirlUK on

    I have a pink multi-tool that lives in the side pocket of my handbag & although the knife, scissors & screwdrivers get most use I too can open beer bottles or even uncork a bottle of wine in our caravan! It’s so light I can forget it until it’s needed & was lent to a lady at a rally whose male friends were drinking from cans while she had a bottle of cider with no means of easily taking the top off! Being pink it doesn’t get pinched by blokes or lost in mud or grass!

  7. posted by dixieflyer on

    Growing up in the Deep South, if you’re a male, one of the rights of passage to manhood is when you get your first pocketknife that is yours and yours alone. My older brother bought me mine on a family vacation. If memory serves, I was ten years old. It was a simple Swiss Army knife with one blade, and a file. I loved that knife, still have it too! I used it for everything.
    About twenty years ago or more, my father-in-law gave me a Swiss Army knife for Christmas, the “Tinker”. I’m on my second one now, and it has served me well working construction, in the field as a member of the military, factory work, and around the house & yard.
    As for me and my house, I’m glad mine has a bottle opener. I guess that makes me a sexist, but my brilliant, brainy wife doesn’t think so.

  8. posted by Tom on

    Is anyone else having problems with the unclutterer imbedded photos in the emails this week? It is causing havoc to my Outlook.

  9. posted by Bette on

    This is not necessarily a multi-tasker, but it is the one item I can’t live without at home — my Joyce Chen Unlimited Scissors w/ the red handles. Not only does the design make me smile, but the functionality of these scissors can’t be beat. They can be used by left-handed AND right-handed people (a boon in my family of both), have perfectly sharp blades, are compact, and last forever.

  10. posted by Tanya on

    Showing my age: I remember being in high school and having a teacher jokingly ask if anyone had a screwdriver. Much to the teacher’s surpass, thanks to the Swiss Army knife I had with me, I was able to provide one. 🙂 In my Southern family, both sons and daughters received them! This was long ago so I wasn’t breaking any school rules having one with me.

    Sadly, after forfeiting both a Swiss Army knife and a Leatherman tool when I forgot I was carrying them in my purse at an airport and courthouse security screening respectively, I’ve given up on keeping such a handy tool with me. I wish I could still keep one in my purse at all times.

  11. posted by [email protected] on

    I have one of these and carry it in my purse at all times. In fact, I loved it so much I bought one for my daughter and daughter-in-law, too. It’s amazing how often all of us us it.

  12. posted by Pat on

    Yes, it’s a true that these are sad times. i passed my trusty old girl scout knife on to my 15 year old daughter. She keeps it in her makeup bag. Sadly, she grabbed her makeup bag one morning to take to school. She was in a hurry and forgot to take the knife out. When she realized what she had done, she immediately went to the office and turned it in. She was so scared she would be suspended for bring a “weapon” to school. They wouldn’t let her have it back unless we came to get it-ridiculous!

  13. posted by Dave on

    I have carried a small pocket knife all of my life. I saw how handy it was when my Dad would whip his out for all kinds of things. I bent the blade prying the cap of a car battery and the new Uncle Ben is smaller about as long as your little finger. Has a couple very sharp little blades and it gets a lot of use. Opening packages, slicing open the boxes of coffee at work, but no more battery caps!

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