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Greatest Tool #10: The Knife

Greatest Tool #10: The Knife
Knife

    If you have been reading my count down, I’m sure it is no surprise to any of you that my number one greatest tool of all time is the knife.

    There are hundreds of different kinds of knives designed for the kitchen alone.

    To choose a knife that is of good quality and best fits your needs, you need a basic knowledge of the various parts and construction of a knife.

    I’ve looked around quite a bit to find the best descriptions at places like the knife depot, buck, and case.

    Let’s start with a few of the blades.

    1. Carbon Steel – Carbon Steel has been used in the making of blades for many years. Carbon steel blades are tough and take a better edge with little effort. Carbon steel blades must be treated with care to avoid discoloration and rusting. Wash and dry thoroughly after use.

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    2. Stainless Steel – Unlike carbon steel, stainless steel blades do not discolor or rust, however, neither do they maintain the best edge.

    3. High Carbon Stainless Steel – A combination of the best attributes of carbon steel and stainless steel blades. They have the toughness and ability to hold an edge and do not discolor.

    4. Titanium – Titanium blades are made from a mold of titanium and carbides. When compared to steel, titanium is lighter, more wear resistant, and holds its edge longer. The titanium blade is more flexible than steel but lacks its tensile strength.

    5. Ceramic – Ceramic blades are made of zirconium oxide and aluminum oxide. They are more delicate than steel knives but they hold their edge up to 10 times longer. Once these blades have dulled, they must be sharpened by a professional.

    6. Hollow Ground – Hollow Ground is a process by which a knife blade is manufactured by fusing two separate pieces of metal together. After the pieces are fused, a beveled blade edge is created. Although these blades often have very sharp edges, the blade lacks the balance and longevity of a taper ground blade.

    7. Taper Ground – Taper Ground knife blades are manufactured from a single sheet of metal that has been ground so that it tapers smoothly from the spine to the cutting edge. This type of blade desired on knives that are used frequently.

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    Now let’s look at the basic construction of knives.

    1. Tang – It is not what the astronauts drink. The tang is the part of the knife blade that extends into the handle. The length of the tang is thought to be significant in the ability to balance and control a knife. Various manufacturers believe that producing a knife with a tang that extends throughout the full length of the knife is most desirable. Other manufacturers argue that each piece of a knife benefits from using a different metal.

    2. Metal Rivets – Metal rivets are used to secure the tang to the handle of the knife. To prevent irritation to the hand, the rivets should be completely smooth and lie flush with the surface of the handle. In addition, this will help prevent debris and microorganisms from collecting in the spaces between the handle and the rivets.

    3. Bolster – A bolster is a thick piece of metal (collar or shank) that is placed between the handle and the blade. The purpose of a bolster is to provide safety from the blade and add balance to the knife.

    Let’s move on to the handles.

    1. Wood – Wood handles provide an excellent grip, but require more maintenance than a plastic or stainless steel handle. Critics argue that wood handled knives absorb microorganisms.

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    2. Wood Handles Infused with Plastic – A combination of the best attributes of wood handles and molded plastic handles. They have an excellent grip but do not require the maintenance all wood handles require. They are also not as porous as wood handled knives, preventing the absorption of microorganisms.

    3. Molded Plastic or Composition – Molded plastic handles are much easier to care for than wooden handles. They will not absorb debris and microorganisms and are easily cleaned. Critics argue that handles made with molded plastics become brittle over time and can become slippery in the hand.

    4. Stainless Steel – Metal handled knives last longer and adds weight to the knife. Critics argue that they become slippery in the hand.

    Above and beyond construction we can look at the styles of knives.

    1. Fixed Blade Knives
    A fixed blade is a knife in which the blade does not fold and extends most of the way into the handle. This type of knife is typically stronger and larger than a folding knife. Activities that require a strong blade, such as hunting or fighting, typically rely on a fixed blade. Some famous fixed blade designs include the Ka-bar and Bowie knives.

    2. Folding Knives
    A folding knife is one that has a pivot between handle and blade, allowing the blade to fold into the handle. Most folding knives are small working blades; pocket knives are usually folding knives.

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    Some folding knives have a locking mechanism:

    • The most traditional and commonplace lock is the slip-joint. This isn’t really a lock at all, and is found most commonly on traditional pocket knives. It consists of a back spring that wedges itself into a notch on the tang on the back of the blade.
    • The lock back is the simplest true locking knife. It is found on most traditional locking knives. It is like a slip-joint, but the lock consists of a latch rather than a back spring. To disengage, one presses the latch on the spine of the knife down, releasing the tang.
    • The linerlock is the most common today on knives, especially so-called “tactical” folders. Its main advantage is that it allows one to disengage the lock with one hand. It consists of a liner bent so that when the blade opens, the liner presses against the rear of the tang, preventing it from swinging back. To disengage, you press the liner to the side of the knife from where it is attached to the inside of the scales.
    • The framelock is a variant of the linerlock, however, instead of using the liner, the frame functions as an actual spring. It is usually much more secure than a liner lock.

    Then there are knives grouped by function.

    In general, knives are either working (everyday-use blades), or fighting knives. Some knives, such as the Scottish Dirk and Japanese Tanto function in both roles. Many knives are specific to a particular activity or occupation:

    1. A hunting knife is normally used to dress large game. It is often a normal, mild curve or a curved and clipped blade. Hunting knives are a staple in the extensive world of knives. The term “hunting knife” is used loosely to mean any standard straight blade sheath knife that is at least somewhat geared towards real hunting use. In reality most of these knives are never used to dress an animal or for hunting related uses. There are some types of knives that are made specifically for hunting practices. The use of a “skinning knife” is obvious. They generally have a short, tough, razor sharp blade that is designed to easily separate hide from flesh. Skinning knives will sometime have a dull, barbed hook on the tip of the knife for eviscerating game. This is often referred to as a “gut hook.” There is no perfect “hunting knife”. The ‘right’ knife will be determined by the specific use, kind of game, and hunter’s preference of materials and style. There is certainly no lack of choice for someone who is looking for a knife made for hunting purposes.
    2. A stockman’s knife is a very versatile folding knife with three blades: a clip, a spey and a normal. It is one of the most popular folding knives ever made.
    3. Utility or multi-tool knives may contain several blades, as well as other tools such as pliers
    4. An electrician’s knife is specially insulated to decrease the chance of shock.
    5. A kukri is an Indian fighting and utility knife with a deep forward curve.
    6. A machete is a long wide blade, used to chop through brush. This tool (larger than most knives, smaller than a sword) depends more on weight than a razor edge for its cutting power.
    7. A survival knife is a sturdy knife, sometimes with a hollow handle filled with equipment. In the best hollow-handled knives, both blade and handle are cut from a single piece of steel. The end usually has an O-ring seal to keep water out of the handle. Often a small compass is set in the inside, protected part of the pommel/cap. The pommel may be adapted to pounding or chipping. Recommended equipment for the handle: a compass (usually in the pommel). Monofilament line (for snares, fishing), 12 feet of black nylon thread and two needles, a couple of plastic ties, two barbed and one unbarbed fishhook (unbarbed doubles as a suture needle), butterfly bandages, halizone tablets, waterproof matches.

    I’m just saying its way cool.

    What are your favorite knives and uses?

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    Last Updated on January 2, 2020

    How to Break Out of Your Comfort Zone

    How to Break Out of Your Comfort Zone

    Over time, we all gather a set of constricting habits around us—ones that trap us in a zone of supposed comfort, well below what our potential would allow us to attain. Pretty soon, such habits slip below the level of our consciousness, but they still determine what we think that we can and cannot do—and what we cannot even bring ourselves to try. As long as you let these habits rule you, you’ll be stuck in a rut.

    Like the tiny, soft bodied creatures that build coral reefs, habits start off small and flexible, and end up by building massive barriers of rock all around your mind. Inside the reefs, the water feels quiet and friendly. Outside, you think it’s going to be rough and stormy. There may be sharks. But if you’re to develop in any direction from where you are today, you must go outside that reef of habits that marks the boundaries of your comfort zone. There’s no other way. There’s even nothing specially wrong with those habits as such. They probably worked for you in the past.

    But now, it’s time to step over them and go into the wider world of your unused potential. Your fears don’t know what’s going to be out there, so they invent monsters and scary beasts to keep you inside.

    Nobody’s born with an instruction manual for life. Despite all the helpful advice from parents, teachers and elders, each of us must make our own way in the world, doing the best we can and quite often getting things wrong.

    Messing up a few times isn’t that big a deal. But if you get scared and try to avoid all mistakes by sticking with just a few “tried and true” behaviors, you’ll miss out on most opportunities as well.

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    Lots of people who suffer from boredom at work are doing it to themselves. They’re bored and frustrated because that’s what their choices have caused them to be. They’re stuck in ruts they’ve dug for themselves while trying to avoid making mistakes and taking risks. People who never make mistakes never make anything else either.

    It’s time to pin down the habits that have become unconscious and are running your life for you, and get rid of them. Here’s how to do it:

    1. Understand the Truth about Your Habits

    They always represent past successes. You have formed habitual, automatic behaviors because you once dealt with something successfully, tried the same response next time, and found it worked again. That’s how habits grow and why they feel so useful.

    To get away from what’s causing your unhappiness and workplace blues, you must give up on many of your most fondly held (and formerly successful) habits. and try new ways of thinking and acting. There truly isn’t any alternative. Those habits are going to block you from finding new and creative ideas. No new ideas, no learning. No learning, no access to successful change.

    2. Do Something—Almost Anything—Differently and See What Happens

    Even the most successful habits eventually lose their usefulness as events change the world and fresh responses are called for. Yet we cling on to them long after their benefit has gone.

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    Past strategies are bound to fail sometime. Letting them become automatic habits that take the controls is a sure road to self-inflicted harm.

    3. Take Some Time out and Have a Detailed Look at Yourself—With No Holds Barred

    Discovering your unconscious habits can be tough. For a start, they’re unconscious, right? Then they fight back.

    Ask anyone who has ever given up smoking if habits are tough to break. You’ve got used to them—and they’re at least as addictive as nicotine or crack cocaine.

    4. Be Who You Are

    It’s easy to assume that you always have to fit in to get on in the world; that you must conform to be liked and respected by others or face exclusion. Because most people want to please, they try to become what they believe others expect, even if it means forcing themselves to be the kind of person they aren’t, deep down.

    You need to start by putting yourself first. You’re unique. We’re all unique, so saying this doesn’t suggest that you’re better than others or deserve more than they do.

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    You need to put yourself first because no one else has as much interest in your life as you do; and because if you don’t, no one else will. Putting others second means giving them their due respect, not ignoring them totally.

    Keeping up a self-image can be a burden. Hanging on to an inflated, unrealistic one is a curse. Give yourself a break.

    5. Slow Down and Let Go

    Most of us want to think of ourselves as good, kind, intelligent and caring people. Sometimes that’s true. Sometimes it isn’t.

    Reality is complex. We can’t function at all without constant input and support from other people.

    Everything we have, everything we’ve learned, came to us through someone else’s hands. At our best, we pass on this borrowed existence to others, enhanced by our contribution. At our worst, we waste and squander it.

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    So recognize that you’re a rich mixture of thoughts and feelings that come and go, some useful, some not. There’s no need to keep up a façade; no need to pretend; no need to fear of what you know to be true.

    When you face your own truth, you’ll find it’s an enormous relief. If you’re maybe not as wonderful as you’d like to be, you aren’t nearly as bad as you fear either.

    The truth really does set you free; free to work on being better and to forgive yourself for being human; free to express your gratitude to others and recognize what you owe them; free to acknowledge your feelings without letting them dominate your life. Above all, you’ll be free to understand the truth of living: that much of what happens to you is no more than chance. It can’t be avoided and is not your fault. There’s no point in beating yourself up about it.

    Final Thoughts

    What is holding you in situations and actions that no longer work for you often isn’t inertia or procrastination. It’s the power of habitual ways of seeing the world and thinking about events. Until you can let go of those old, worn-out habits, they’ll continue to hold you prisoner.

    To stay in your comfort zone through mere habit, or—worse still—to stay there because of irrational fears of what may lie outside, will condemn you to a life of frustration and regret.

    If you can accept the truth about the world and yourself, change whatever is holding you back, and get on with a fresh view on life, you’ll find that single action lets you open the door of your self-imposed prison and walk free. There’s a marvelous world out there. You’ll see, if you try it!

    More About Stepping Out of Comfort Zone

    Featured photo credit: teigan rodger via unsplash.com

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