07 March 2008

Swiss Army knife sale at Amazon

Nothing in today's Amazon Friday sale strikes me as particularly Parent Hackerish. But given that the Swiss Army knife was the inspiration for the Parent Hacks logo (and a good gadget to have in your Parenthacker arsensal), I thought you might like to know that Amazon's having a big Victorinox sale.

I have Swiss Army knives on the brain, because ever since my son read The Dangerous Book For Boys he's been begging for one. I may have to pick up an early birthday present for him.

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Swiss Army Knives are great, but my only problem with them (after years of owning them... I think my first was at 6 or 8 years old) is that the basic models that everyone associates with the Swiss Army brand don't have locking blades.

Let me tell, ya, a locking blade is important for kids who will use the knife like the hardy multi-purpose tool that it purports to be and not just a whittling utensil. You can do a lot of damage (I know from experience) to yourself when pressing down on the knife to get it to puncture something and THEN having it fold over trapping your finger between the blade and the handle.

Definitely a learning experience, but not a fun one.

That's not to detract from giving knives to kids and letting them responsibly learn to use it as tool.

I guess I am arguing for better tools.

If you definitely want to use Swiss Army products, then go with their products that DO have locking blades.

The have quite an assortment now that includes:

* The Rescuer: Knife of the Year 2007

* Adventurer, boy scout

* Nomad

* Forester

* Trekker

* Atlas

* Hercules

* Centurion

* One-hand Parachutist

* One-hand Trekker

* Adventurer

* Parachutist

* Fireman

* One-hand Fireman

* Outrider

* Rucksack

* Skipper

* Helmsman

* Alpineer

* Hunter

* Picnicker

* Jumpmaster

* Tradesman

* Equestrian

* Workchamp

* Workchamp xl

* Locksmith

The prices vary greatly depending on the model and each model includes tools fitted to specific tasks. They also have different types of locking mechanisms that may influence your purchasing decision as I will get to in a moment.

One you give your child the knife, a locking blade will take a little practice in order to learn how to safely unlock the blade. You might want to go over the manual with them and make sure than can consistently and safely open and close the blade.

You can find the manual for their locking blades here: http://www.swissarmy.com/CustomerService/Documents/UserManuals/lockblademanual.pdf

Because locking blades can be a bit trickier to open and close, you might want to go to a store that carries the knives and have your try them out. A place that specializes in knives or outdoors activities (REI comes to mind) can be a big help in choosing the right tool.

I have a Gerber multi-tool whose locking mechanism is very easy to use, however, a previous knife I owned was very difficult even for me. It had a very hard to spring loaded lock that I wouldn't ever want to give to a child. So, try before you buy.

If you do end up going to one of those places, but buying online (you can't beat the sales), ask them what other services they offer. Many knife specialty stores, outdoor recreation, and outfitters, offer sharpening services or accessories (like sharpening stones... it's good to teach your children how to keep their knives in good condition) that you may want to take advantage of after your online purchase.

My son who just turned 7 has been asking for a Swiss Army knife, and is also interested in my Leatherman multitool. I think he's ready to handle a pocket knife, except for the fact that he leaves things around and his 2 year-old brother loves to pay with big brother's things. This seemed like a potential disaster. I don't mind saying "well, you shouldn't leave your Lego spaceship on the floor if you don't want your brother to destroy it," but it's different to say "you shouldn't have left your knife open if you didn't want your brother to stab you with it."

I had given up finding a "safe" multitool, then came across the perfect item: a "knifeless" Leatherman. It seems to be in short supply, most are backordered, but I found a few using Google. Here's the description on the Leatherman site: http://www.leatherman.com/products/tools/Knifeless-Fuse/default.asp

As an old boy scout, I'm a huge fan of the "Leatherman Squirt" - similar in concept to a swiss army knife, but includes a pair of scissors or pliers as well.

http://www.amazon.com/Leatherman-81070003K-Squirt-Powder-Pink/dp/B000065UEK

Scott

p.s. Asha, I love this blog! I'm a fresh parent of a 10 month old, living in Texas. Keep it up!

I hit the flea market yesterday and there was a vendor selling TSA seized Swiss Army Knives incredibly cheap! $1.00 for the small ones and $3-$5 for the larger ones. And they were real Wegner and Victorinox, not the terrible copies that flood the market. So my advice is to hit up the flea markets and pawn shops first just to see if you can get a bargain. That way you can deliver a lesson in shopping as well.

I ended up buying a leatherman Micra for $5.00, two of those key shaped multitools and a small Spyderco locking knife for a buck each.

I have one similar to the one pictured and it is great to keep in my purse. 99% of the time I use the little scissors to cut the straw shorter when we are out at a restaurant. My daughter expects it now and shows me exactly where she wants me to cut. It really cuts down on the spills from a too-long straw!

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