When I was a Cub Scout, I was very excited to earn my Whittling Chit card. Basically, I had to whittle a block of wood with a knife without cutting myself. It was a success and so I earned the right to carry one of my best small fixed blade knives on Cub Scout campouts.
When I moved into Boy Scouts, I earned what is called the Totin’ Chip which allowed me to use saws, axes, and knives that weren’t motorized. This started my appreciation for having a knife.
I grew up watching my Dad carrying his most popular combat knife the KA-BAR US Marine Corps Fighting Knife wherever he went. On Christmas he would be the one people would ask to borrow his knife to open up a present or box they received.
For your kind information, I would like to mention that the KA-BAR is one of the best fixed blade knife brands in the world.
Now I have become that person who carries a knife and is being asked to use it to help with the gifts that cannot be opened at birthday parties and Christmas gatherings.
Carrying a knife comes with the responsibility of being safe. I would like to share what I believe, are the 13 basic safety rules for fixed blade knives that are most neglected.
This is my opinion based on what I’ve learned and experienced as a senior leader of my Boy Scout troop. As a senior leader, I have taught many younger scouts the basics of knife, ax, and saw blade safety.
Through this training, I have seen many inexperienced people attempt to say they understand knife safety and they clearly didn’t.
There are many things that could go wrong with a knife such as cuts on hands or fingers to it slipping and falling onto someone’s foot to it penetrating someone’s abdomen.
I have not seen any major knife accidents during my time in leadership however I have seen much neglect with those who have many years of experience and training using a knife.
This list is a refresher for those with a lot of experience and a guideline for those newer to using a fixed blade knife.
1. Don’t Try to Catch a Knife If Dropped
It may seem obvious, but we’ve all been there. When your knife slips even though you were gripping it well, should you try to catch it, it is most likely that you will not catch the handle, but the blade itself.
Because the blade is generally longer than the handle on a fixed blade knife, the chances that you hit or grab the blade are much higher than that of catching the handle.
If you do drop a knife, it is best to jump back and get out of the way. You may be worried that the blade will be damaged when it hits the ground.
But is a knick in your knife really worth your finger?
This is why if you drop a knife, you should never try to catch it.
2. Never Point a Knife Towards Yourself or Others
It may seem obvious, but in doing so, you could potentially hurt someone. If you are cutting towards yourself and your knife slips, your chest is directly in front of the path of the knife, putting all of your vital organs at risk.
The same goes for if you are pointing a knife towards someone else, it puts them at risk and could be potentially lethal.
This is why you should never point a knife in the direction of anyone, including yourself.
3. Keep Your Fixed Blade Knife in a Sheath
The third fixed blade knife safety rule would is to keep the knife in its sheath until you are ready to use it. This is a basic rule for safety ensuring that accidents won’t happen when the knife is not being used.
Unlike folding tactical knives, where you can simply tuck the blade into the handle.
This will also protect dulling the knife if it falls and corrosion if left exposed to the elements.
Finally, it will serve you well when storing it away as you won’t need to worry about being accidentally cut when reaching for it.
4. Always Use a Sharp and Clean Knife
The fourth safety rule for the fixed blade knife is to keep your knife sharp and clean. When a knife is dull it is likely to slip when being used and possibly cause an injury. As many knife people know, a dull blade is much more dangerous than a sharp one.
In this case, I will recommend buying the best manual knife sharpening system rather than an ordinary sharpening stone. You will be able to use the system for outdoor knives or kitchen knives or any sharp tools you are using in your home and require constant sharpening to be ready to work at any time.
So keeping it sharp will help if there is an accident because it will be a clean-cut versus a dull knife that can create a more damaging cut.
Keeping it clean will prevent infection if cut and will allow for a better blade in general. A clean knife will last much longer and be more reliable if you take care of it.
5. Never Use Your Body to Test a Fixed Blade Knife
After sharpening a knife I always want to know exactly how sharp it is. Whether that be by attempting to slice through a piece of paper or seeing if it’s sharp enough to shave.
However, I soon realized that testing the sharpness of a knife using my arm to see if it could shave was not a good idea.
After purchasing a best survival bowie knife, I wanted to see how sharp it was out of the box. I continued to cut a few small pieces of wood and slice through a piece of paper with ease. Surprised by how sharp it was, I then tried to shave my arm.
It was not only sharp enough to shave, this out-of-the-box bowie was sharp enough to cut my arm open like it was the piece of paper I had tested it on earlier.
Knives are meant to cut. So unless your goal is to cut yourself, never use your body to test a knife.
6. Hold the Knife Carefully
The sixth fixed blade knife safety rule is to hold the knife by the handle, not the blade. This seems self-explanatory but it is commonly ignored which can lead to problems. When someone blindly grabs a knife they could hold the wrong end which will cut them.
They also take shortcuts when handing the knife to someone else and grab the back of the blade. Just use common sense with this one and hold the knife where it was designed to be held.
7. Maintain a Minimum Safety Circle
The seventh safety rule is to make and maintain your safety circle. A safety circle for those who don’t know is an imaginary circle around your body that the tip of your blade can reach with a full extension of your arm.
Nobody should be in that circle because they could risk being cut or injured. If someone is in your circle prior to taking out your knife, you should move.
If someone enters your circle while your knife is out, then they should move. Just to be safe before taking out your fixed blade knife make the circle with the sheath on your knife to test the area.
8. Store Knives in a Safe Location
The eighth safety rule for a fixed blade knife is to keep the knife in a safe location. Whether that is on your body or hidden away from others.
This is to ensure that those without the proper knowledge or without your permission can’t access it. This can be harder as you accumulate more knives to keep away from the wrong hands, but it is vital to everyone’s safety.
This will ensure that those who are looking for something to play with or intend to hurt others can’t find the knife which keeps everyone safe. The location should be somewhere that is dry and clean to help keep the blade clean and prevent corrosion.
9. Use a Fixed Blade Knife Appropriately
After picking the right knife for your application, use the knife appropriately. After all, knives are a tool designed for cutting and are not a toy. You need to pay attention while using a knife so that you do not injure yourself.
Fooling around can be a distraction that causes the knife to slip. Additionally, knives shouldn’t be used for playing games like throwing (unless they are specifically designed to be thrown). Knives should not be used as a pry bar; the knife blade could break and go flying towards your face.
Even if the knife just breaks, you could be missing a key piece of equipment. You would never want to be without a knife should you find yourself in a survival situation.
Lastly, make sure to read any documentation that comes with your knife in case there are additional safety concerns to be aware of.
10. Make Sure Your Body and Hands Far from the Blade
The tenth safety rule for the fixed blade knife is to keep your body and hands away from the blade while using it. This will prevent an injury if your knife were to slip.
It can be difficult in certain applications to keep your body parts away but if you can’t, you shouldn’t be using your knife or you should put on safety gloves.
As you apply force to the back of the knife, if it were to slip or finish unexpectedly nobody is fast enough to react and accidents will happen if something is in the way.
As a precaution, keep your body and hands away from the path you’re cutting including at least two feet beyond.
11. Keep Knife in the Same Place While not Using
The eleventh safety rule is to put your knife away when you’re not using it. I’ve seen many people use their knives for a second and they just leave it lying out on the table.
Just take that extra second to put it away. This will keep it from accidentally falling and hurting someone or being stolen.
Many people tend to forget that they left it out and then it ends up being there for a long time. It could be taken by someone who won’t take care of the knife or use it in a safe manner as you do.
Know where your knife is at all times and this will keep you and others around you safe.
12. Keep Your Knife Handle Dry and Clean
The twelfth fixed blade knife safety rule is to keep your knife handle dry and clean. With a wet or dirty handle, it could cause the knife to slip and cause injury.
This can become difficult when using the knife outside or in an unclean or contaminated environment. Do your best to put away your knife by wiping off the handle first.
Once you get back to a clean environment you should give it a sterile wipe down to prevent infection if there is a cut and let it air dry which will keep the knife handle clean and dry. This will keep you and others safe by preventing the knife from slipping out of your hand.
13. Use Common Sense Whenever Using a Fixed Blade
It may seem like, well, common sense, but it is something that a surprising amount of people don’t use. All of these safety tips may seem obvious, and yet, a lot of people do or don’t do these things and get injured because of it.
When using a knife, just use common sense of what is safe and what isn’t. Sometimes your own judgment is the best way to keep you safe even if it’s not what others think.
So, if you use common sense and the other rules listed here, you and others will be much safer when you are using your knife. That is why you should always follow these safety rules for fixed blade knives.
The bottom line, you must follow safety protocols in order to prevent injuries from occurring. A fixed blade knife is not a toy and it should be handled and treated as a tool. If you take care of your fixed blade knife it will take care of you by being reliable and dependable when you need to use it.
The safety rules listed above are what I would recommend to anyone new or experienced who uses a knife on a regular basis.
These rules demonstrate that you are responsible to others and they will trust you with their knives. If you are trusted, you can see some pretty cool knives that others have. It will also cause others to believe you can do other things like lead or be influential.
Looking responsible in knife safety can lead you into many places you never thought you could be. Enjoy your knife but don’t forget to be safe and responsible.