To Use, Or Not To Use? That is the Question of the Day.

Image courtesy of David C. Andersen

After recieving the Folts Minimalist pictured above (thanks Clay!), complete with laser etched logo from CRKT Chopfest 2014, I briefly wondered if I should use it, or preserve it as a collectible. What would you do? The answer to this question probably depends on which of the following appeals to you more.

Firstly, a beautiful folding knife, hand made by a master of the craft. Exquisite filework adorns its back spring, and it wears scales of deeply textured mother of pearl. Accented by highly polished bolsters, the flawless, elegant blade opens on a silken pivot, and clicks open with a gratifying snap. Light plays across its surface, the mother of pearl scattering the rays as if through a prism. Oiled and cleaned meticulously, it rests on the mantle, encased in glass, a fine thing of beauty.

Image courtesy of Vanderkolff Knives

In the other corner, an old Mark 2 fighting knife. The common kabar. Carbon steel blade. Pitted. Scuffed. The edge, rough, uneven from years of use and sharpening. Its stacked leather handle, black from the oil and sweat of gruff, grubby mitts. Hardly a fine thing of beauty. Practical. Potent. Pig sticker.

Image courtesy of David C. Andersen

My Camillus U.S.N. Mark 2 circa mid 1944-1945

I’m sure the stories that Mark 2 could tell would fill a book.

Now back to the original question. For me the the choice is obvious. I more thoroughly enjoy a knife when it is being used. As such, I’ve mostly let go of any knives I own that won’t ever see any action. If I’m going to keep a knife, you can bet I have a use for it. I wouldn’t want any of my blades to languish in a box.

Collectibility be cursed, I’ll use that Chopfest Minimalist, even though the bead blasted finish will attract scuffs like a new tax opportunity attracts a politician. And I’ll continue to take my first production run Benchmade 162 on camping trips. To enjoy these things without actually using them, fails to recognize what makes them enjoyable in the first place.

There is something a little sad about that knife in the glass case. While undeniably beautiful, the used up Mark 2 is just so much more interesting! Every scratch tells a story. I say, get out there and give your knife a story to tell!


  1. dph says:

    I have a small collection of knives, most of them go through the rotation of edc use. The ones that don’t are just too big for edc, but they still get used when camping etc. Not using a knife is like having a Corvette in the garage with 20 miles on the odometer, it’s just wrong.

  2. Cubbie says:

    While many knives have a beauty to them because of their function or history (such as that kabar), others are a true work of art wrapped around something functional. I wouldn’t want to put one of those to hard use.

  3. Nathan says:

    I have a couple custom knives that cost me 700 bucks and they still get used. Maybe there’s a knife I wouldn’t use that’s out there but I haven’t run across them

  4. knightofbob says:

    I’m a collector, and I have blades of all shapes and sizes sitting unused in their original boxes. Several have no practical value for me to begin with (combat daggers, Spyderco Civilian) and therefore exist in my hands to be taken out and admired, or shown off (then wiped clean, oiled if not stainless). I’ve even been known to buy two of a model I plan on using.

    Not that I’ve never taken a first production run blade out in the field, or that I keep everything in like-new condition. My work knives are hardly pristine. I just have no problem sitting back and admiring the design and craftsmanship that goes into the finished product for itself, without putting any more demands on it than existing.

  5. GC says:

    I have two knives which live in their boxes. They’re not rare or particularly expensive, but they are special to me because of their aesthetics so they don’t get worked like my other knives. I give all my knives attention – as long as I’m sitting still (working, watching tv or reading in bed) I have at least one knife next to me. I frequently stop what I’m doing to turn it over in my hands and contemplate its design. So while not all my knives get dirty, they all would all know that I care (well, if they were sentient).

  6. Tom in Oregon says:

    Like other guys, I’ve got a fair share of knives in my collection. Every one has been used.
    Skinning animals, peeling insulation from wire, prying staples…
    The only ones I haven used are a microtech oft knife, and a Buck nighthawk. I played with them for a few days but they sit.
    The buck was given to my dad by one of the Bucks years ago when they were in El Cajon. It’s going mushrooming for chanterelles this fall!

  7. Dogman says:

    Actually, I don’t find a knife under glass to be sad unless it’s a knife trapped there without ever having lived a life of its own.

    I own quite a few knives I don’t use but enjoy anyway. I have a few knives I use frequently. I have a very few that have lived long and eventful lives.

    I have one knife I would consider putting under glass and displaying. It’s been with me for 40 years and it has earned a place of rest and display. There’s maybe a couple of others that have seen use for half that time that could be retired and displayed proudly for their shorter but still eventful histories. The others are working on earning retirement but are still collecting stories to tell. The only knife worthy of display is a knife with a history. The only reason to put it under glass and display it is to preserve that history.

    Of the two knives pictured, I suspect the only one worth preserving is the USN Camillus with all its stories to tell.

  8. Roger says:

    I have a friend who always goes on about how terrible it is to have knives you never use. Always makes the point to brag about how he’s edced his Sebenza. The ivory knives I own sicken him, over a hundred years and they haven’t so much as been touched. I’ve made money selling knives to him. He’s lost or damaged so many mid-to high range value knives that it’s a sad knife story all it’s own.

    Last one he lost was a nicely customized Benchmade 42. It’s illegal to carry balisongs where he lives, and he’s an idiot.

  9. Sam L. says:

    I have a Gerber Mk I, a Mark II, a Guardian, and an AGRussell Sting that, being daggers, I don’t carry. The Mark II is in my car.

  10. John says:

    I like your perspective that using a knife instead of keeping it away in a box brings you the most enjoyment. I’ve been thinking of getting a dagger set for my nephew for his birthday, but I’ve been contemplating whether or not to put it in a collectible case or not. He is pretty similar to you since he likes using his knifes, so I think I’ll just get him the daggers and let him get a case if he so desires for whatever reason.

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To Use, Or Not To Use? That is the Question of the Day.

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