Knife Safety & Maintenance

Knife Safety

There is a saying that in use a sharp knife is safer than a blunt knife as you need to apply less pressure. This is true, however a sharp knife used unwisely is even more dangerous.

I know that many of you already know how to use a knife safely, but for those of you who do not, here are a few points to make the use of your ERK knife safer.

Your knife will arrive razor sharp, so please exercise extreme care when removing & replacing it in the sheath, make sure your fingers do not get in the way. Do not force the knife in to the sheath,  if the knife snags then it is not correctly positioned.

Always cut where possible with the sharp edge pointing away from you.

Always think 'what if ' when cutting with the knife. Think where the knife will end up if it slips ? Move away from other people & animals when you are cutting with the knife.

When the knife is not being used it should be kept in its sheath safely out of the way. Never leave your knife unsheathed on the floor,- the consequences could be serious.

The most crucial advice I can give you is alarming, it frightened me when I was first told about it, and it still scares me when I think about it. Imagine the triangle that is formed between both knees and your groin, this area contains the Femoral artery, which is the size of a hosepipe & under pressure. Cut into this and you have about a minute before someone else will be in line to inherit your knife. Never ever cut in this area !. Cut with the knife on the outside of your legs. Alternatively sit down with your elbows on your knees and cut out in front of your knees.

There are a few videos on 'You Tube' showing how to cut with a knife safely. I would recommend that you look at them.

Knife Maintenance

O1 tool steel makes an excellent bushcraft knife. It will hold a sharp edge much longer than most stainless steels I know of. (Most other knife makers would agree). The only downside to this is that it will tarnish, stain & even rust if not looked after. After I have been using my knife, I always wipe the blade carefully (mind your fingers) with warm soapy water, to remove sap & dirt, then allow it to dry thoroughly. Also make sure the sheath is dry before the knife is replaced back in to it.

If your knife is not going to be used for a while, then I recommend that you keep it in a dry safe place. You can even apply a light layer of oil or vaseline to protect the blade further.

Never leave your knife in a damp rucksack, -This could ruin the knife & the sheath.

Also never keep your knife in direct heat, e.g. on a radiator or next to the fire. This will cause the wood to dry too much and possibly shrink or crack

If your knife does become tarnished and you want to refurbish it but do not have access to a buffing wheel then you could use a piece of fine grit (1000+) wet or dry sanding paper wetted with water to clean it up. The wooden handles have been coated with several coats of Danish oil when the knife was made, but if you dont have Danish oil, a coating  of olive or vegetable oil will bring back the shine & grain to the handle. Apply liberally with a dry cloth or tissue then wipe off excess after a few minutes, then allow  to dry before buffing it up with a dry cloth.

To sharpen the knives I recommend using Japanese waterstones & finishing on a leather strop.The back of a leather belt makes an excellent strop, and is well worth doing as it makes a huge difference to the sharpness. - It makes the difference between shaving hairs on your arm or not.

There is an excellent video on 'You Tube' featuring Ray Mears 'sharpening a knife at camp'. This is the method I use when sharpening my knife with great success.