I just gave my son his first knife. It’s one I’ve had and used extensively for 11 years, and he was really excited. I explained to him that he’s only allowed to use it when I’m with him because he needs to learn how to use it safely, but this didn’t dampen his enthusiasm at all.
There are a few criteria I considered in choosing a first knife for a kid.
Blade Length: Short. The further the tip of the blade is from your hand, the less control you have over it. When a young person is learning to use a knife, this distance should be short.
Blade Type: Fixed. Folding knives can snap shut, resulting in a bad cut. With a fixed blade knife, there are no surprises.
Bevel: Woodworking Grind. I’ve worked with a lot of people over the years who have tried to carve wood with a knife not designed to do so. They found it challenging, at best. I want the learning process for my son to be as simple as possible, which means I want him to have the right tool for the job. The Scandinavian knives fit this description, as the inexperienced user can quickly learn to make fine wood shavings.
Cost: Inexpensive. With knives, you don’t have to spend a lot to get a lot. A good, functional knife that they will never outgrow can be had for less than $20.
The model I gave my son is the Frosts Mora model 106. It’s got a 3 1/8 inch blade and costs $15.99 from Ben’s Backwoods. The particular one I gave him I recieved as a gift in 1999 for teaching at a rendezvous.
A kid’s first knife marks the beginning of the journey to becoming a craftsman. But it also marks the beginning of a life of wilderness travel, which could lead to camping in the nearby woods or a monthlong expedition across northern Quebec or Alaska. Although it’s just a small, inexpensive tool, the experiences it facilitates are not only priceless, but timeless as well.