30 Handy Uses for a Pocket Knife
Here’s to the humble pocket knife. It’s one of the oldest tools in mankind’s arsenal, and one of the most versatile. If you’re the sort of fellow who keeps a folding knife on hand at all times, you’re likely to be asked at some point, “why do you carry a knife?” After reading this you’ll have 30 answers to that question. In truth, there are many more.
When you carry a pocket knife, you’re unlikely to ever exhaust its uses. It can save you time in everyday tasks, and it could potentially save your life. At the end of the day, if you’re going to choose just one tool for everyday carry, it should be a pocket knife.
One minor disclaimer – these are all things you can do with a simple folding pocket knife. You don’t need a multitool, and you don’t need some oversized Crocodile Dundee-esque bayonet.
It’s amazing what you can accomplish with the simplest of tools. For example, you could…
1. Open a Bottle
When you find yourself with a bottle in your hand and no bottle opener in sight, don’t panic. Any knife blade can be used to pop the top. But before you do that, you should probably watch a tutorial on how to open a bottle with a knife (there are several good ones on YouTube) to avoid damaging your blade or slicing your hand.
2. Whittle Something
Someday you’re going to be an old man, and you’ll need to know how to whittle, ideally while sitting in a rocking chair on your front porch. In all seriousness, whittling is something of a lost art. It’s an enjoyable skill and a fun way to pass the time.
3. Slice Up Some Fruit
Your handy dandy pocket knife will always be there when you need to slice and dice some fruits and veggies. You can use your knife to whip up a fruit salad, get into that watermelon at your family picnic, or simply slice hunks of apple and eat them right off the blade like a boss.
4. Sharpen Your Pencil
Whether you’re an avid sketcher or you simply use a pencil for jotting down notes and shopping lists, sooner or later you’re going to need to sharpen that baby up. Using your pocket knife is certainly a more ruggedly satisfying way to sharpen your writing utensil than sticking it in a pencil sharpener.
5. Open a Package
Honestly, this is probably the thing that most knife users use their knives for most often. A pocket knife is perfect for opening those pesky Amazon packages that show up at your doorstep every day (who keeps ordering this stuff, anyway?) It’s also the ideal tool for opening heavier-duty boxes and breaking them down.
6. Spread Toppings
Plop some peanut butter on your toast. Schmear some cream cheese on a bagel. Your pocket knife is great for all of the above. Just make sure you clean it beforehand. And afterward.
7. Remove Staples
You might need to remove staples for any number of reasons, and the right tool isn’t always handy. Fortunately, your pocket knife will do the job just fine, whether you need to remedy a misplaced staple from your staple gun or have to pry out those big metal staples that sometimes hold boxes together.
8. Clean Car Battery Terminals
Before you jump-start your car, use your knife blade to remove the crusty corrosion that builds up on the terminals. Use caution, as the corrosive materials that cause that residue can also ruin your clothes and damage anything they come in contact with.
9. Break Down Some Kindling
Getting a fire going is an important skill to have, whether you’re in a survival situation or on a leisurely camping trip. Doing so requires small twigs and sticks for kindling. A pocket knife is a good tool for breaking down pieces of kindling, and can also be used to shave small bits of wood from a larger log if necessary.
10. Cut Rope
You never know when you might be required to cut a rope or cord. Climbers often need to cut loose a line that has become tangled, and if you’re camping or hiking you may have to cut sections of rope to make a shelter, affix a tarp or make a clothesline.
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11. Open Clamshell Packaging
We all know how frustrating it can be to open items that come in plastic clamshell packaging. Before you have a meltdown a la Larry David, take a few deep breaths and reach for your handy pocket knife.
12. Remove a Splinter
Getting a splinter is no fun, but it happens to us all. When it does, you’ll want to get that little bugger out as quickly as possible. You can always use a pocket knife to help get a splinter out of your hand. But first, sterilize your knife if possible using alcohol or a lighter to make sure it’s safe.
13. Trim Loose Threads
You know those mysterious stray threads that appear out of nowhere on sweaters and shirts? Who knows where they come from, but a sharp pocket knife will remove them quickly and easily. That’s better than pulling on them and making them worse.
14. Fend Off a Wild Animal
Anything can happen out in the wilderness. Animals seldom intentionally attack humans, but if you find yourself in a dangerous situation, you may need to defend yourself. A pocket knife isn’t exactly the ideal implement to ward off a ravenous beast like a bear, but if it’s all you have, you may have to make do. This guy defended himself from a grizzly bear with nothing but a pocket knife with a two-inch blade and lived to tell the tale.
15. Cut Zip Ties
Once they’re all cinched up, zip ties are basically impossible to remove without cutting them. We’re not mad about that, of course – that’s kind of the whole point of zip ties – but you’ll want your pocket knife if you ever have to remove one.
16. Open Letters
A few decades ago, this might have been the most common use for your pocket knife. These days, letter writing is something of a lost art, but if you’re still a fan of this old-fashioned mode of communication, then your knife will be handy for opening up your correspondence. Sadly, you can’t cut open a text message.
17. Cut Someone Free in an Emergency
You may someday find yourself in a car accident in which you need to free yourself or someone close to you by cutting the seatbelt. There have also been a few cases in which dogs have been saved by their owners’ quick thinking and ability to quickly cut their leash with a pocket knife.
18. Go Fish
Fishermen always find plenty of uses for their pocket knives, from trimming tangled lines to cutting bait. In the event that you actually catch some fish – sorry, of course, you’ll catch fish – a good sharp knife will also be useful for gutting and filleting your catch.
19. Cut Off Clothing Tags
When you get to work and realize you forgot to gut the tag off your new jacket, you’ll be glad to have your pocket knife within reach. It’s good for removing the itchy tag from the collar too.
20. Prune Your Plants
Most plants need a little pruning every now and then to keep them happy and healthy. Your pocket knife is an ideal tool when your house plants need a haircut, or your garden veggies are ready for harvest. You can use it for lightly trimming trees and shrubs too, but a saw is better for more substantial branches.
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21. Open a Wine Bottle
Few things are more frustrating than trying to remove the cork from a bottle of wine without a corkscrew. It can be done with a pocket knife, though there’s a certain knack to inserting the blade and working the cork out with a wiggly-twisty motion.
22. Cut a New Hole in Your Belt
Hey, it happens to the best of us. That belt you’ve owned since you were 20 years old might start to feel a little snug, and you may eventually reach the last hole and need to make a new one. There’s no shame in it. Just reach for your pocket knife and create a new hole so you can walk around without feeling like you’re being squeezed in.
23. Unscrew a Screw
Naturally, a screwdriver is a tool you’d rather use to tighten or loosen a screw. But in a pinch, your pocket knife will do the job. Just be careful not to accidentally snap off the tip of your blade. Knives aren’t really designed for hard twisting, and the steel they’re made of (especially if it’s carbon steel) can be brittle.
24. Make a Sling or Tourniquet
If you or someone you’re with sustains a serious injury far from the nearest medical care, you may need to fashion a makeshift sling or tourniquet. Ripping a piece of cloth isn’t always as easy as it looks on TV, so you’ll be glad you decided to bring your pocket knife.
25. Start a Fire
A knife is endlessly useful in a survival situation. Most knives that have steel blades will create a spark if you strike them against a Ferro rod, making them reliable fire-starting tools. Use the flat spine of the blade to avoid dulling the sharp edge.
26. Make a Drainage Hole
When you buy plants, they often come in plastic pots that don’t have any drainage holes. That’s not going to be good for your plant’s roots in the long run, but you can use a pocket knife to cut holes in the bottom so that water can drain through.
27. Peel a Sticker Off
I don’t know about you, but one of my biggest pet peeves is a sticker that won’t peel off without ripping and leaving a mess of shredded paper and sticky glue behind. Luckily, you can remove a sticker from almost any object by placing the blade flat against the surface and working it gradually underneath the sticker.
28. Make a Cut Line
Sometimes you need to cut a piece of wood, but don’t have a pencil handy to mark where the cut needs to be. If you have a knife in your pocket, you can use it to score the wood and create a cut line. Problem solved!
29. Cut and Strip Wire
A pocket knife is an electrician’s best friend. It’s a perfect tool for stripping the plastic jacket off the ends of a wire before hooking it to the breaker, outlet, or switch. In the absence of proper wire cutters, a knife can also be used to cut wire, though you may find that using it this way repeatedly will dull the blade, so it’s best not to make a habit of it.
30. Shotgun a Beer
After you’ve done all the jobs listed above, you can probably use a cold one. Personally, I’d rather savor a craft beer slowly, but if you’re in the mood to slam one back like a drunken college frat boy, you can always use your pocket knife to create the hole in the can necessary to shotgun a brewski. Cheers!
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