If you have children, chances are really good that they have shown an interest in what you do as a career, what you do around the house, and any interests that you have. Which also includes your knife hobby. If your child starts to develop an interest in the same things you are interested in, that is a good sign. It’s also a great opportunity to bond with your child and teach him/her more about what it is that interests you. But what happens when the subject of interest is the knife hobby? Obviously, this is a hobby that is and should be - totally off limits until the child reaches a certain age in which you can then introduce them further into this fascinating world of knife collecting and knife usage.
The knife in general, is man’s oldest tool. Stop and think about it for a minute. Even if you are not a knife enthusiast, think of the times where you are using knives. At home is one major example. In the kitchen, we prepare meals for the family and knife usage is a key element in this. Knowing how to properly use a knife is important in this scenario. Let’s take it a step further. If your family likes to go camping for instance. You’re using knives to process tinder for the campfire and for food prep. You’re also probably using some sort of compact or folding saw as well. So yeah, knife use is all around us but when we are into this hobby, it’s a constant. Thus, we need to be able to teach the next generation proper knife handling techniques as well as knife use. The big question here being, at what age is appropriate to teach my child to handle and use knives? This is a question that only you as parents can answer. It depends on the maturity level of the child as opposed to a numerical age because all children mature at differing rates. The child needs to demonstrate responsibility first and foremost. It’s good to begin to educate them on your knife collection. If they show an interest in learning about knives, start off with the basics. Show them knives come in different sizes, different colors, different handle materials, and such. At that age they gravitate more towards visuals. Show them and explain to them (on their level), the differences between a folding knife and a fixed blade. Show them how to handle either properly and safely. Showing them to hand a knife to someone handle first, always! You might want to allow them to handle one of your knives with very close supervision from you, to ensure they are holding it properly and not going to drop it. It’s also imperative to educate your child that a knife - any knife - is NOT a toy! And that if they see any knife, always assume it is sharp and handle it accordingly, or to go get an adult to have them remove the knife from the table or workbench.
Jennifer Iovito of Classy Raptor Tactical teaching her children proper knife handling and safety. As a Veteran Combat Medic, she understands the importance of safety and conveys it to her children
And when using a knife, ALWAYS cut away from you (you should know that by now!) Explain to them why you always cut away from you and not towards you. So first and foremost, teach them to handle a knife safely and from there you can judge if the child 1) has any interest in learning more about knives and 2) if they listen to you and handle the knife in a safe manner.
One thing that also needs to be brought up is if you have a daughter who shows interest in knives but she might bring up something like “knives are for boys only”. This is where you need to step in immediately and reply something like “girls can also be interested in knives as well”. Knives are for ANYONE who is interested in the hobby and is not a gender-specific interest only. I know plenty of women who are into knives as much as I am. And as you may already be aware, there are also some pretty good female custom knifemakers as well. So, it is important to correct your daughter if she says something like this. Be encouraging to her, but do not push her. In order for her to fully appreciate this hobby, she needs to know that
The child needs to demonstrate responsibility first and foremost. It’s good to begin to educate them on your knife collection. If they show an interest in learning about knives, start off with the basics.
just because she is female doesn’t mean that she can be into knives. Knives are not for the young or for the old. Or for men only or women only. The knife community is inclusive, sharing the common bond of having an appreciation for such tools.
Once you are sure your child knows that knives are not toys, and how to safely and responsibly handle knives in general, they may express a desire to have their own knife. This is when you know, this is not a passing fad for them. Once you are sure your child is ready for the next step, you have to find out which knife is appropriate for them. Their small hands lack the dexterity needed to operate a linerlock one handed so I would stick to something simple. Everybody likes Victorinox Swiss Army Knives, right? They have a model called My First Victorinox (https://www.victorinox.com/us/en/Products/Swiss-Army-Knives/Medium-Pocket-Knives/My-First-Victorinox/p/0.2363.T) which has a translucent red handle, a main blade with rounded tip for safety, and a bottle opener/screwdriver tool. MSRP is $23. It has the looks of the other real Victorinox knives and the blade is sharp, so it is a real knife for all intents and purposes. If you go the single blade route, perhaps something like an Opinel, those French made friction folders that have the ringed bolster lock. They come in various sizes and costs, they are economical as well. If you have successfully taught your child how to manipulate a lockback or liner lock and feel they are ready for something like this, maybe something small and inexpensive to get them familiar knife locks. Again, these knives won’t break the bank but they are inexpensive enough to acquire and should the child lose it, you’re not out a whole lot of money.
In closing, it’s up to you as a parent - to judge when it is safe to allow your child to own and use a knife. You need to first spend quality time with your child and teach them the basics of knife use, knife safety, and knife handling. And by all means, when and where possible - bring your child along to a knife show. That’s a perfect opportunity for you to further educate them on the variety of knives and different designs. Who knows? You could be bringing up the knife enthusiast of tomorrow, who might eventually take an interest in custom knifemaking and become the next hottest maker! You never know. If they do not attain that status - it's perfectly OK. You would have invested quality time with your child, making memories for you both, and imparting wisdom on man’s oldest tool.