Pocketknife recommendations?
December 16, 2008 5:38 AM   Subscribe

Can you recommend a good woodworking pocket knife for a 12 year old?

My nephew would like a good pocket knife, where the main use would be for woodworking/whittling. I am guessing that this means he isn't looking for a swiss army variety one or a Leatherman type with a bunch of other attachments.

Bonus for online purchasing, but if needed, I am in the Boston area.Any suggestions?
posted by genefinder to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm not sure what advantage the Leatherman would have for whittling. I used to use my Swiss Army Knife for that just fine.

Personally, I would get him the Tourist Swiss Army Knife, which is basically the standard set of tools plus two blades. If you'd prefer one with a locking blade, I also have an Outrider that is really, really nice. It was a small saw as well, which comes in handy when whittling.

I'm sort of biased against Leathermans, could you tell?
posted by InsanePenguin at 6:10 AM on December 16, 2008

An Opinel, maybe an OP10.

They have a very simple system for locking the blade open or closed. Good simple well-made knives with no extras.
posted by mandal at 6:10 AM on December 16, 2008

Assuming you're looking for folding knives, I'd aim for a blade-locking mechanism of some sort. for safety's sake. Plastic handles and stainless steel blades (not carbon steel) would tolerate more abuse / poor maintenance.
posted by jon1270 at 6:15 AM on December 16, 2008

Gerber makes some cheap, lock-blade knives that are tough enough for a 12-y.o. Verify the blade length for legality in his town, and deliver a stern warning about the Secret Beating you will deliver if you ever find out he's brought it to school, threatened anyone, or otherwise misbehaved. :7) But plenty of caompanies make them.

Also, are his parents OK with it? I can't wait to give my kids a pocket knife, but the penalties (mostly at school) for screwing up are so severe these days that I want to be sure they're ready.

I'm a multitool guy, but I would skip a multitool in favor of a simple knife for starters.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:42 AM on December 16, 2008

IIRC, most Cub Scouts have a pocket knife by age 10 or 11 in order to earn their knife safety chip. So I don't think the age is inappropriate if his parents are OK with it. The Swiss Army knives hold up well to the sort of abuse a 12 year old will dole out - just get one of the simpler ones with minimal gadgets beyond the blades. And make sure he understands the consequences for accidentally leaving it in his backpack that goes to school with him.
posted by COD at 7:56 AM on December 16, 2008

I really enjoyed and still have the single-blade Schrade my dad got me for my ninth birthday, although I did manage to break off the tip at one point doing something it wasn't made for.
posted by dunkadunc at 8:12 AM on December 16, 2008

An Opinel or Schrade Old-Timer (ideally an old US-made one from eBay) fits the bill. As does all the advice on ensuring that it's put to proper use.
posted by holgate at 9:49 AM on December 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

Just to clarify, his mother (my sister) sent me the request, and if he ever brought it to school, it would be a complete accident. He would use it as part of scouting as was mentioned above.

Thanks for the suggestions so far. Keep them coming.
posted by genefinder at 10:02 AM on December 16, 2008

A second vote for the Schrade Old Timer. I had one of these at around the same age, 30+ years ago. Great knife -- three blades, perfect size for young hands, and great for wood carving/whittling.
posted by mosk at 10:49 AM on December 16, 2008

I still love my old Buck folding knife - I used it for all sorts of general camping tasks as a kid.
posted by Caviar at 11:13 AM on December 16, 2008

I would STRONGLY recommend AGAINST a swiss army knife, most leathermans or any other knife where the blade does not lock into position. They are inherently unsafe. When cutting an object (rope, log, wood, etc), the blade can easily collapse and cut off your son's finger. Such knives are cool to collect and look at, but are unsafe to use.

Some of my favorite knives where the blade locks, in order are:


Spyderco being the most sturdy and most secure locking mechanism (in my opinion).
posted by Witherwings at 12:55 PM on December 16, 2008

I'm a big fan of Columbia River Knife & Tool Company. But, like Caviar I have a fondness for the Buck Knife my Dad gave me a kid. More important than the knife is learning to keep the blade sharp, most any knife can be used for whittling. If he really wants to carve and woodwork take a look at GarretWade's Carving knife section.
posted by RobGF at 1:04 PM on December 16, 2008

There is nothing like a good Buck Knife. Plus it will last forever.

I still have mine from when I was about that age.
posted by Sprocket at 11:07 AM on December 17, 2008

maybe a tiny bit pricey but I seriously doubt you'll find a better pocket knife for whittling and carving upon this backwater planet
posted by Redhush at 3:30 PM on December 17, 2008

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