Re: Sheath Knife Problem
E. C. HALE (ARTHALE@EKU.BITNET)
Thu, 30 Sep 1993 23:52:59 -0400
To all and sundry:
The sheath knife brouhaha has gone on a little too long for my
taste . . . Naturally I'm going to try to add to it.
Let's get a couple of thing out of the way first.
1. Yes, the BSA did sell sheath knives. I've got one. It's (approx.)
7 1/4" long overall with a 3 1/2" blade. The handle is a bone
pattern and is probably made of a "lexan" type plastic. It has the
scout emblem stamped on one side of the blade's base and "official
Boy Scouts of America" on the other. It looks as though it was made
by Western. As a point of information, it's a smaller knife (with
a shorter blade) than the Bucklite 626 I usually carry on outings.
2. The proper way to carry (wear) a sheath knife is shown on page 69 of
my 1979 printing of thhe Fieldbook. The caption says, "Patterned on
skinning knives of trappers and hunters, the sheath knife has more
romantic appeal than practical value for most people. Because it is
at hand and does not need to be opened, it is fine around camp kitchens
when you can't reach fork, spatula, or a cook's knife. Wear it over
hip pocket - never at the front - for safety." The next photo shows
how a sheath knife is to be used for slicing.
3. In the Handbook I used as a boy (dated by me: 1950 Mar. 9), there are
advertisements in the back for Marbles sheath knives (not official, I
think). The largest of these has a 6" blade. FYI, it's the "Ideal #45"
and cost $4.00.
Now for a mild flame:
I think Brian Davis is a bit guilty of setting up a straw man in his
remarks concerning sheath knives. I haven't noticed anyone on the list
advocating "Bowie" knives or "Rambo" knives as he seems to assert. We are
all against them. However, a small sheath knife, carried in a pack, is no
more dangerous than the 3 1/2" bladed "Swiss Buck" I currently carry in my
pocket. I'll be happy to accept the challenge to field dress a deer with a
Bowie AND do it without spoiling ANY meat! I really don't think it's the
best knife for the job - it is too large to be handy - a 4" to 6" knife with
a gut hook would be better. The Wenger Swiss Army Knife will also do, but
it's a tad small and has a tendency to crud-up with blood, hair and fat and
it's very hard to clean out all the small spaces around the other blades/tools
A single bladed knife is much better here. As you can see, I've had a bit of
experience at this too - yes, I've been a hunter most of my life, slaughtered
hogs, worked in an animal pathology lab and am formally trained in the use of
edged tools - my degree is in sculpture, my first training was as a wood-worker
and carver. Extinguish flame.
I don't let my boys carry sheath knives because they would probably
select the side-slapping variety like the 15" Bowie or even longer machete.
If we can agree on what is "appropriate scout use" of edged tools and follow
up with common sense, we'll be about as safe as we can be. It's impossible
to remove all danger from the use of edged tools. Here's two examples:
1. The first time I was Dean of the University of Scouting (a training
exercise of the past), one of the trainees nearly completely severed
his thumb while coring an apple - the knife involved was a small
pocket knife. The injury required extensive surgery and long
2. The worst injury that has happend in the sculpture studio at Eastern
involved a band saw and resulted in a cut that extended halfway into
the width of the student's hand. However, a student using the mat
cutter (for the Graphics Studio Mr. Davis) which has a partially
shrouded 2" blade, injured herself with equal severity (many tendons
and nerves severed) when the blade came loose and rotated into her
palm as she made her stroke. (The blade had not been fastened properly.)
Well, this has gotten a little long-winded _ Sorry.
I DO NOT INTEND THESE REMARKS TO BE OFFENSIVE. THEY ARE OFFERED IN THE SPIRIT
OF HONEST, OPEN, DEBATE.
Yours in Scouting,
Carroll Hale (SM T-118) SAINT MARK RICHMOND, KENTUCKY
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City