Pocket knives

December 6, 2011

While I have never been a Boy Scout, I do try and uphold their motto “Be Prepared”. Or perhaps in some other wordings of such an attitude to life, such as “Expect the Unexpected” (from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), a wording that has on occasion saved great embarassement or worse.

This is the reason for my Out Bag, and that, so far as I can remember, I have continuously carried a pocket knife since schooldays. I cannot remember what age I was regularly carring one, I assume it was school age at some point (that would not be allowed today). I’ve only lost one – and I certainly believe lost not stolen – at University. I rememeber having it, which room but a day or so later I realised it had gone, and despite quite a search (I was also leaving, so was packing up), never found it. That still irritates.

The other lost knife, another one that irritates, is the two blade Swiss Army knife I purchased for my father. I know when I last saw it, after his death, and it is one of the things that ‘disappeared’ from Mother’s house while she was
there and had carers come in to keep an eye on her.

More recently, issues such as trouser pockets not being so strong as before, the need to carry many more keys with me, needing something to cut finger nails (with growing age, my nails tend to break more easily, and hence need to be trimmed ‘on the go’). So I picked upon the standard ‘vanity’ Swiss Army (Victorinox) type. I use the word ‘vanity’ in that it is for cutting fingernails etc, as the primary function, although it was the Classic SD Mini knife. This knife lasted well, but apart from some design features, below, my tendancy of dropping my keys meant the red plastic sides – ‘scales’ – were breaking.

For a short time after that, I carried a larger Swiss Army knife, but basically it proved to be too big – much though I liked, and used, the extra blades, the corkscrew proved to be the most useful additional part.

Not so common: Victorinox (L) and Wegner 'vanity' knives

So we come to the recent knives. Having had the side plastic – ‘scales’ break, I looked for an alternative, and found a special Victorinox version of their Classic Mini with knurled alox handles. Notibly more expensive even though it had fewer features, it was the metal sides I was interested in. There was also the Wegner equivalent of the Victorinox Classic, which had the larger plastic scales, although in this case profiled for better gripping. I should note both of these knives took some time to find, they certainly were not available in high-street shops whenever I looked.

The knurled alox handle is much slimmer than the standard plastic 'scales'

For various reasons, having the knife on my keyring became a requirement, and here the two knives show their relative merits and problems.

The (in this case orange) knurled alox handles make for a much smaller physical knife, for the same size blade. But the design means that operating the knife means having the rest of the keyring attached half way down the knife – the Wegner knife has it at the other end. Due to its slim design, this particular Victorinox knife does not have the toothpick or tweezers (the Wegner does – and internally mounted, not externally as per the standard Victorinox ‘vanity’ knife with the red plastic scales).

It is interesting to look at what knives were actually issued to the Swiss Army. From the 1960s until recently, they had knurled alox handles. The most recent model has “polymer texturized non-slip inlays incorporated in the nylon grip shells” (from Wiki), but it is designed to be keyring mounted – and the keyring is at the opposite end to the opened knife!

A modern 'Soldatenmesser' Army knife - note the keyring location. (Wiki photo)

So I guess my ideal knife for this purpose would be of the general Victorinox knurled alox design. but with the Wegner keyring location, and even possibly the internally mounted tweezers like the Wegner. But (and here is the dumbing down), why did Victorinox design a knife with the keyring in such a stupid position in the first place?

While I do use the knife for the ‘vanity’ purposes that I alude to, I’ve used it to re-wire a mains plug (actually, that is an illegal act now…), cut paper, wood… But I’m not so popular now as when I had a corkscrew on the knife.