Catch up : A users guide to the Swiss army knife

Swiss army knife
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When I was a young kid, me and a good friend of mine used to play survival for several days at a time in the back country of his parents property. His parents had a hundred or so acres of nothing but trees, creeks, and swamps. We would grab back packs and fill them full of chili cans and snacks, and dress up in our finest military attire. One thing we both made sure we had with us, was our trusty swiss army knife. We used the knife for almost everything. From opening our chilli cans, stripping bark, skinning frog legs (yes we ate them), and sharpening sticks to make traps, the knife was an important part of our camping arsenal.

Today my love for the Swiss Army Knife is still just as strong as it was when I was a kid and probably still used just as much. Whether bringing the family camping, or when I'm going to slay the biggest buck ever on a hunting trip (usually I slay beer, not deer), or a day hiking trip, the knife will surely be within my reach.

Short History of the Swiss Army Knife



Long before I was ever playing survival man in the woods, these multi-tool knives were being carried by soldiers in the Swiss army.

In the late 1880's, the Swiss Army had the companies, Victorinox and Wenger, create a tool that their soldiers could take into deployment that would be suitable for opening canned goods and disassembling their Swiss service rifle, which at the time was the Schmidt-Rubin.

In 1891 the first knife, and quite possibly the first multitool in history, was created and called the Modell 1890. The knife was a hit with the Swiss Army so they had them mass produced by the Wester & Co. The knife had a blade, reamer, can-opener, screwdriver, and grips made out of dark oak wood that was later partly replaced with ebony wood.

Model 1890 Swiss Army Knife

Since the 1800's, Swiss Army Knives have evolved, adding several varieties of tools and making them available worldwide. The most common Swiss Army Knive's today are known as the "Everyday Use" knives equipped with scissors, file, cork screw, phillips and flat head screwdrivers, wood saw, and leather punch. Some even have handy hidden tooth picks and tweezers.

Swiss Army Knife

Knife anatomy and Multiple Uses For the Swiss Army Knife


Swiss army knife uses infographic

Large Blade Its long, shiny surface makes it passable for signaling by reflecting the sun. If you need fire but don't have tinder, use it to create shaings. Whittle away wet outer layers until you reach the dry stuff. The large blades longer cutting surface makes it easier to apply pressure and create thin, burnable curls without over stressing the blade or your wrist.

Can Opener Use the curved, sharpened edge to scrape concave pieces of dead, dry tree park to make tinder, or hollow out a wood knot for a cup.

Awl If you have a firesteel but no striker, this tool is up to the task -- and it saves your blade from pinch-hitting and losing its edge. Hold the sharp edge at a 45-degree angle against the steel and pull the steel back quickly.

Bottle Opener This short tool is the best in the lot for prying and digging. Use it to go after edible roots (such as burdock and dandelion)' grubs in rotten logs, or to loosen metal nails and staples from wood for other uses. And when you return home safely, use it to open a cold on and toast to your survival skills.

Saw Many multitool blades aren't strong enough for batoning (chopping wood by hitting a hard object against the blade); use this instead for a heavy duty wood work. If its wet out and you need a fire, saw off dead branches at the base of conifers.

Cork Screw If you need to scavenge a piece of cord, use this tool to unravel it. Slip the pointed tip into the knot and lightly pull the handle to loosen. Good cord can be a lifesaver.

Small Blade Save the big blade for the courser stuff. Smaller blades offer better control for precision tasks like carving notches in deadfall traps and processing and cleaning fish and game.

How To Care For Your Swiss Army Knife



Swiss army knife
Sharpen your knife - Re-sharpen using a whetstone at an angle of 15 -20. This will result in a cutting angle of 30 - 40. If sharpening on a grinding wheel, always cool with plenty of water to avoid excessive temperatures and the resulting damages.

Swiss army knife
Cleaning - Open and close the blades several times in warm water until they move easily again. After drying, place a small drop of oil between the blades and the tool casing or spring as well as other friction surfaces. Never clean your knife in a dishwasher!

Swiss army knife
Oiling Your Knife - Various properties are essential when selecting knife oil. For example, there are oils which are primarily used to care for a knife but which have insufficient lubrication properties. These can even be harmful to the functionality of a pocketknife (stickiness, etc.). Also, please heed the general food regulations.


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Rocky Mountain Bushcraft

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