I have a very nice pocketknife. It’s not an expensive one, or anything like that. It is however, a beautiful and perfect object.
It’s a Buck Slimline. It’s a single blade lockback about 4-5 inches long in the blade. Unfolded it’s a good sized knife, yet folded it’s slim and light enough to carry in a pocket, even in a suit pocket without noticeable weight.
I bought it for myself a while back, many years, and I’ve managed to hang onto it without losing it which is itself a feat.
I have a few key objects in my life that mean a lot to me, that I’m proud of, and that I care for. I have my cool cowboy boots that I feel that I’m entitled to wear as I have a legitimate claim as a cowboy (or think I do.) I have my watch, which I like quite a bit, and bought before I could afford it, my crappy pickup truck, a few other things,… and my knife.
I carry it with me all the time, every day.
I have an Arkansas sharpening Stone, and a leather strop and I used to keep it truly razor sharp, I mean so sharp the edge was soft and you could cut yourself without knowing it.
A great sharp knife is a fine and useful tool to have, and I’ve always carried one. I have never thought of it as a weapon, and I doubt that I would ever be so foolish as to attempt to use it that way, as both father and grandfather have stressed to me what a poor and stupid weapon a pocketknife truly is.
I used to use the knife a lot, for all kinds of things. Nowadays, I most open mail or cardboard boxes, or my daughter’s new toy with it. I stopped sharpening it, and it’s gotten dull.
Yesterday there was a horse expo in Harrisburg, and I took the family. While wife and daughter wer browsing I came across this exhibitor who was a knife sharpener. He looked like he knew what he was doing, and ho only charged a dollar to sharpen pocketknives. I handed him a dollar and my knife.
A moment later I watched in horror as he put my blade to a coarse grindstone. He handed it back and said “there you go!” with obvious pride in his work.
Tonight I’m looking at it with sadness. All he really did was roughen the edge so it’s like a damned ginsu. It’s all abraded so it cuts by sawing rather than slicing.
So, today I went and found my whetstone and I’ve been working on it for an hour, trying to restore its past glory. I’m getting there, but I have to cut a new less steep angle in the blade to get the result I want, and it takes time.
While sharpening it, I’m thinking about how times have changed and what it means. I used to carry a Swiss Army Knife to school. I’ve carried this very knife on board airplanes before without objection.
I was stupid to let that guy touch my knife. It’s my tool I should have cared for it myself if I want to rely on it. Similarly I cannot understand the stupidity of the idea that we will be a safer country if we don’t let people take pocket knives to school or carry them on planes.
Any idiot can do just as much damage with a pen as they could with a knife. They can do just as much damage by putting an edge on an old credit card. A belt with a good buckle is a more dangerous weapon.
A knife is simply a tool. It’s no more dangerous in and of itself than that belt with the buckle.
It’s how you use it.
We are less safe without these things.
Back to sharpening I go.