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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 July 10, 2020

    The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

    The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

    Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

    Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

    The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

    Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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    Program Your Own Algorithms

    Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

    Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

    By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

    How to Form a Ritual

    I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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    Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

    1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
    2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
    3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
    4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

    Ways to Use a Ritual

    Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

    1. Waking Up

    Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

    2. Web Usage

    How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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    3. Reading

    How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

    4. Friendliness

    Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

    5. Working

    One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

    6. Going to the gym

    If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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    7. Exercise

    Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

    8. Sleeping

    Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

    8. Weekly Reviews

    The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

    Final Thoughts

    We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

    More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

     

    Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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