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Old March 10, 2014, 06:09 PM   #1
Carl Levitian
Join Date: June 3, 2008
Location: Maryland
Posts: 1,131
The old man's knife.

Growing up in the 1950's was a lot different than today. There wasn't as many choices for a consumer as now, and in general, things were a lot more conservative. Like knives.

My memories of childhood was that every man who had pants on, had a pocket knife in pone of those pockets. There wasn't any one hand openers then, except for the eye-talian James Dean switchblades. My dad and uncles all called a knife a punks weapon, and if they needed a weapon, and a gun wasn't in the cards, then something to bash with was the ticket. Blackjack, stout walking stick, butt end of a pool stick, sawn off piece of shovel handle. We were living in some apartments in Washington D.C. at the time, and the neighborhood could have been better. It seemed that most of the men carried some kind of cudgel or basher if out at night.

But it was the belief of the day, that a man needed a pocket knife to deal with lives little emergencies. Dad was typical with his little Case jackknife. But no matter what the brand, all the pocketknives of the day seemed to run to small 3 inch or so closed two blade serpentine jacks. A two and something clip blade, and a one and something pen blade. Handles were jigged bone, wood, or some kind of plastic that was dyed and jigged to look like bone. Sort of.

Like most boys, I felt my dad was a hero. With his little two blade Case peanut, and his Prince Albert pocket tin that held some stuff, he could fix anything. Fishing, he'd gut and clean a rockfish out of the Chesapeake, or a nice fat perch out of the Potomac. Anything that needed cutting, dad would take out his little Case Case, open the blade and study the job for a moment, and then just make a cut. Sometimes two cuts, and then it was done.

I have to admit I was a knife nut, and in a way I still am. I tried all the new knives on the market, and in the 80's I even did the Pacific Cutlery Company balisong thing. I've had the one hand openers, and even owned a Spyderco. But for some reason they didn't take with me. I always gravitated back to what I grew up with, a two blade jack or my old Camilllus boy scout knife. I got so used to having a screw driver on my knife, that to this day, I find it difficult to carry anything but a SAK.

I know the zytel and micarta and G10 are great materials, but they just don't push any buttons in me. They seem to have non of the feel that some nice ebony, stag, or even jigged bone has.

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Old March 10, 2014, 06:23 PM   #2
Join Date: February 9, 2010
Location: Utah
Posts: 153
I carry a small Swiss knife like yours pictured above.

Last edited by Sam Cade; March 10, 2014 at 09:06 PM. Reason: Removed sexist comment.
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Old March 10, 2014, 10:25 PM   #3
Join Date: August 21, 2011
Location: Ohio
Posts: 338
I always carry a modern Spyderco, and use it for almost all of my "cutting" tasks. I carried an SAK for a few years before I "discovered" modern one handed, locking folders, and I would hate to go back to 2 handed slipjoints for EDC tasks. So many of my cutting tasks involve an object in my off hand.

That said, I'm with you on the screwdrivers. I don't leave my room in the morning without a Leatherman or Swiss Army knife. Or a flashlight. Different tools for different jobs, all of which I would absolutely hate to go a day without. I really couldn't imagine being in a country where I couldn't carry at least a Swiss Army knife. A blade and a screw driver are such irreplaceable tools that I use day in and day out, it's almost painful to imagine not being able to carry such a fundamental set of tools.
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Old March 10, 2014, 10:45 PM   #4
Join Date: July 29, 2011
Posts: 302
When I think of "Old man knife" the image of the bone handled case knife is what pops in my head.

In fact I was fooling around with my grandfathers old blue colored bone handled case a few days ago.
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Old March 10, 2014, 11:21 PM   #5
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Very nice!
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Old March 10, 2014, 11:51 PM   #6
Join Date: October 24, 2005
Location: Colorado
Posts: 669
Dad practically went to his grave in 2009 carrying his pre 1942 Imperial Pilots knife. Sis still keeps it in one of her kitchen drawers and it won't see much abuse there if I can keep her from polishing the blades with steel wool.
I carried a Barlow all through grade school. I thought that was the brand, not the style; might have been a Case or not.
I wore the pocket out of a lot of Levis carrying a Case mini half trapper and carry one I bought in 1973 in rotation with a Swayback Jack I got a year or two ago. I did grind the tip off the trapper pen blade for a screw driver in the early 1970s and never did seem to think I needed a Leatherman after that since my job title included a tool bag.
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Old March 11, 2014, 01:00 AM   #7
Join Date: March 22, 2008
Location: N. Georgia
Posts: 1,809
I still carry an old Camillus G.I. utility knife from 1962.
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Old March 11, 2014, 12:14 PM   #8
Join Date: January 19, 2006
Location: Happy Valley, UT
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Nice. I feel the same way about old man knives. Around here the preference was for Schrade Old Timers.

I had a good experience being helped out during a motorcycle trip by a gentleman with one of those knives... if any are interested here's the writeup.


Relevant excerpt for those not interested in reading the whole story:

Silently cursing the TSA for not allowing me to travel with a knife, a Leatherman, or my tire-repair kit, I tried to find something in the tool bag that would fit underneath the sliding nut and hold it up sufficiently to allow the threads of the screw to catch. No dice. I struggled with it for 5 minutes or so, then a passerby said, "Broke down?" I said no, explained the problem, and asked if he happened to have a knife. Before I was finished with my question he handed me his Old Timer, with the thin blade extended. The perfect tool! It took about 1 second to properly tighten the screw and I gratefully returned his knife.

We chatted for a while and I learned he was from small-town Eastern Oregon, and had recently restored a basket-case Moto-Guzzi Eldorado with his son. Seems the coolest people ride motorcycles, and the even-cooler people ride Guzzis. The coolest people of all carry thin, well-worn Old Timer pocket knives. I've never met a man I didn't like who carried one. (Unfortunately, I have since learned that the Schrade company has gone bankrupt, so no more Old Timers will be made.
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Old March 11, 2014, 01:15 PM   #9
Yo Mama
Join Date: June 4, 2008
Posts: 2,421
I'm still relatively young, 33, and started with the flashy stuff. Don't get me wrong, I love my Spydercos and Benchmades, but man they can get expensive. So everyone started recommending I look into Traditionals.

Then a whole new world opened up for me!

My dad was never around, left when I was very young, and my Mother didn't allow any blades or guns in the house (in fact she freaked out when I was 20 and got my first shotgun). I will change this in my family with my kids. They see my knives, and how to use them. They are still really young, but I want them to remember Dad used them, and loved them, and that they keep them.

btw, Carl, I LOVE that Case.
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Old March 11, 2014, 10:20 PM   #10
Join Date: January 25, 2012
Location: Kingsland GA
Posts: 243
My father has my grandfather's knife. we got it for him as a birthday present many years ago, and my left thumb bears a scar from that blade. it is a simple 3 blade machinist knife made by case or old timer if I remember right. I will own that knife one day as it has my blood on it, and it will be carried to church and formal occasions. my etc is a Kershaw vapor and it gets used hard, I would never use that old knife for those tasks as it would be sacrilegious. thanks for bringing back some memories.
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Old March 11, 2014, 10:29 PM   #11
Join Date: February 1, 2014
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My daily carry is a case tiny toothpick. My special carry is a pearl handled case Eisenhower
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Old March 11, 2014, 11:32 PM   #12
Join Date: April 15, 2005
Location: Greeley, CO
Posts: 7,589
I have lots of new knives, and I favor them for a lot of tasks.

But, you know, I work in a office environment. It's not that I am concerned about frightening my co-workers, it's just that for what I need a knife for at work doesn't really call for a bigger knife (I like the Kershaw Blur, I carry a Spyderco Manix fairly frequently, and I like the Spyderco Endura).

A smaller pocket knife is usually all I need. I recently posted that I carry two knife with my at work, a kershaw leek and a spyderco kiwi. The kiwi is spydercos take on a small slipjoint, and I am quite a fan of it. But, I also like my Case slipjoints, my Buck Canoe, and a SAK. Point is, I enjoy all the knife world has to offer, old or new.

That being said, if I had to have just one knife, it probably would not be a slipjoint. I know that they are useful, but a good one-handed knife with a solid locking mechanism is safer, useful for a broader range of tasks, and with modern materials, more likely to hold up in hard use. Luckily, I don't have to make that choice, so as I said, I enjoy them all.
First Battalion, Seventh Marines, 1990-1994

Tim "Timbo"Marquart
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Old March 12, 2014, 12:13 AM   #13
Join Date: March 22, 2008
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^^Sure you're not a politician?^^
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Old March 12, 2014, 12:30 AM   #14
Join Date: September 24, 2010
Location: Hills west of Denver
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I have a Buck Hunter, I got it the first day I went aboard ship in the Navy, I still have it, though I don't carry it everyday. I had a ships cook take it into the galley one morning, that afternoon I got it back, man, that thing was so sharp you could shave with it. Its still very, very sharp, but not needing it everyday, it stays that way. I currently carry a Victronox 2 blade knife, one small and one large blade, keep them razor sharp if/when needed.
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Old March 12, 2014, 01:22 AM   #15
Join Date: February 23, 2003
Location: NE Ohio
Posts: 522
I wore out the back pocket of a lot of jeans toting my old buck knife around for a lot of years after high school. I eventually discovered how much more convenient and comfortable it was to carry a knife with a pocket clip. Went through several relatively cheap ones and the clips bent and didn't maintain tension causing a lost knife here and there. Then one day a couple years back I happened upon a Benchmade 555 mini-griptillian and loved it for the sturdy clip that placed the knife deep into my pocket and held it securely and the the thumbhole on the blade that made one handed opening a breeze. Though I nearly choked at spending $85.00 for a knife, I now view it as one of the best investments I ever made. I've carried that knife virtually everyday since and love it to death, it's just about the most perfect edc knife I could ever imagine IMHO.

So though I admire the style of the "old man knives" I much prefer a couple of the newer developments such as pocket clips and thumbhole openers. Who knows, maybe someday I can find a mini-grip with stag handle scales and it'll pass for an "old man" knife.
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Old March 12, 2014, 06:29 AM   #16
Brian Williams
Join Date: December 22, 2002
Location: Kampong Cham, Cambodia
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Lately i have been carrying any one of these Case slim line trappers with the Case pen knife.

Yes I know the Amber bone is not a slim line but a regular trapper that I had Muskratman strip out the spey blade
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Old March 12, 2014, 12:05 PM   #17
Join Date: November 21, 2008
Location: Texas
Posts: 5,284
Cool stories and I carry a Barlow or Stockman 90% of the time in my front pocket. I got several lock backs that ride on my belt or clipped in my back pocket. I carry a scout knife to work most days cause the screw driver gets used the most.
I just an ole sinner saved by Grace and protected by Smith & Wesson.
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Old March 12, 2014, 11:09 PM   #18
Join Date: April 15, 2005
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Water-man, as it happens I do work for the government! I prefer bipartisan knife usage, but if forced I know which party I am in, lol.
First Battalion, Seventh Marines, 1990-1994

Tim "Timbo"Marquart
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Old March 13, 2014, 02:13 PM   #19
Join Date: August 1, 2004
Posts: 1,660
Pocket tool

Mine has been the, now discontinued, SAK 'Electricians' knife.

Used to be, it was common to get splinters/chips in my hands. The SAK has an Awl blade that I pointed needle sharp to deal with the splinters before they festered.

The cap lifter works better on bottled beverages than a claw hammer or tail gate.

The Spiderco 'Co-Pilot' is a neat money clip that also offers a surprise.


'No matter how old you are, your brain still thinks its 19.'

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Old March 14, 2014, 11:21 AM   #20
Join Date: May 2, 2008
Location: Texas
Posts: 1,679
The old man's knife.

Carl -

That Damascus peanut sure is a purty little thing.
Watch where you're pointin' that thing...
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Old March 14, 2014, 11:48 AM   #21
Join Date: April 11, 2003
Location: ohio's northcoast
Posts: 2,439
I carry a KA-BAR peanut in my #5 pocket, along with the extra mag.
An LCP is my CC (constant companion)

"Tis better to miss with style,than to hit with bad form"-Colonel Peter Hawker
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Old March 15, 2014, 12:16 PM   #22
Join Date: March 8, 2014
Location: Idaho
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Have carried an Old Timer of one style or another since 1973. I work with three men and I am the only one that has a knife on my person everyday and the only one that still wears a wristwatch. How times have changed. Jim
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Old March 16, 2014, 11:38 PM   #23
Dirty Bob
Join Date: July 10, 2003
Location: The Great State of Texas
Posts: 908
Great post as always, Carl. If I see your name as the OP of a thread, I have to read it.

I'm a huge fan of the Svord Peasant Knife line. They're excellent knives: light, simple, safe to use, easy to completely clean and lubricate, made of good steel in a free country, have very practical (thin) blades that cut like the beloved Opinels, and can be opened/closed with one hand. Although the link goes to a synthetic handled model, the wood handled ones are very nice, also.

All my best,
Dirty Bob
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Old March 16, 2014, 11:50 PM   #24
Join Date: June 11, 2005
Location: TN
Posts: 10,285
Started with slip joints as a kid. Migrated slowly to modern designs in the early 2000's. This is about when I really started noticing the moderns. Always carried a SAK and generally carry something else to try out. Lately it is the Cold Steel Tuff Lite which I purchased as a result of a "sub-3" thread here and I like it. It is an amazing little knife.

I like just about everything, but lately my money has been going to traditionals. I think that I have bought 6 or 8 since the 1st of the year. Yes, I often carry a traditional slip joint in addition to the SAK depending on my mood. I carry these things, but the SAK does all or most of the cutting I generally need done. I'm not afraid to hurt it because I alway keep spares should I loose one or damage it badly. Just started carrying a multi-tool on my belt. Been using it a lot for non-cutting tasks.

I notice myself settling into a comfortable niche whether it be knives, firearms, clothing, or shoes. About all I wear are white socks these days. To think I used to make fun of people that wore white socks,
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Old April 9, 2014, 10:11 PM   #25
Join Date: November 21, 2008
Location: Texas
Posts: 5,284
Great story Carl.
I just an ole sinner saved by Grace and protected by Smith & Wesson.
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