1. Let's start with some basic shapes. Pictured here are silhouettes of four popular blade designs. You can see
the names of these designs in the multiple choice answers below. Which answer lists the names in the same
order that the blade designs appear in silhouette (from top to bottom)?
A) 1 -- drop point 2 -- skinner 3 -- sheepsfoot 4 -- boning blade
B) 1 -- skinner 2 -- sheepsfoot 3 -- boning blade 4 -- drop point
C) 1 -- boning blade 2 -- drop point 3 -- skinner 4 -- sheepsfoot
Answer (B): 1 -- skinner 2 -- sheepsfoot 3 -- boning blade 4 -- drop point
The skinner is characterized by a sweeping blade and an uplifted point that will not puncture the skin, the
sheepsfoot has a downward blade curve, a boning blade is long and thin for slicing, while a drop point
combines the sweep of a skinner with a point that is lower than the spine of the knife, making it less likely
to puncture the rumen during field dressing.
2. Of the four knife designs illustrated in Question #1, which is the most likely to have a flexible blade?
B) Drop point
D) Boning blade
(D): Boning blade: The boning blade is most likely to be flexible, so that the blade can follow the contours of
the bone during butchering. Knives for filleting fish are flexible for the same reason.
3. Steel is basically made from a combination of iron and carbon. All knife steels have a high percentage of
carbon, but the addition of what element makes the blade stainless (or, more accurately, stain resistant, as true
stainless steels are used only to make kitchen sinks and the like - they are too hard to sharpen to make useful
A) 13 percent or more of chromium
B) 6 percent or more of titanium
C) 0.5 percent or more of nickel
D) 0.4 percent or more of molybdenum
13 percent or more of chromium: The addition of 13 percent or more of chromium is makes a blade stainless.
4. As a general rule, which of the two steels below holds an edge longer and is easier to re-sharpen?
A) High carbon stainless
B) High carbon non-stainless (B): High carbon non-stainless hold their edge longer and are easier to
re-sharpen, although they are prone to discoloration and rust, requiring more care.
5. Which blade would you have the most luck striking sparks from for fire building by striking the back of it
against a flint or other hard stone?
A) A stainless blade hardened to 56 - 58 on the Rockwell C hardness scale
B) A stainless blade hardened to 59 - 61 on the Rockwell C hardness scale
C) A non-stainless high carbon blade hardened to 56 - 58 on the Rockwell C hardness scale
D) A non-stainless high carbon blade hardened to 59 - 61 on the Rockwell C hardness scale
Answer (D): A non-stainless high carbon blade hardened to 59 - 61 on the Rockwell C hardness scale
You got it. When the back of a high carbon knife blade is struck across the edge of a flint, tiny slivers of molten
steel are shaved from the steel. Sparks can be struck from carbon steels in the 56 - 58 hardness range, but the
steel is soft and the spark quickly loses heat. Sparks struck from harder carbon blades (59 - 61) will be smaller
but hotter, giving you a better chance of starting a fire. You will have no luck trying to produce sparks from
6. In knife making, the grinding process determines the blade's cross-sectional shape. Illustrated are three of the
more useful grinds. You can see the names of these grinds in the multiple choice answers below. Which answer
lists the names in the same order that the grinds appear in silhouette (from top to bottom)?
A) hollow grind, Scandinavian grind, flat grind
B) flat grind, hollow grind, Scandinavian grind
C) Scandinavian grind, flat grind, hollow grind
7. Now let's take a second look. Match each grind to its appropriate use. Which grind is:
A) Scandinavian -- woodworking Flat grind -- strength Hollow grind -- field dressing
B) Scandinavian -- field dressing Flat grind -- woodworking Hollow grind -- strength
C) Scandinavian -- strength Flat grind -- field dressing Hollow grind -- woodworking
Answer is (A). The Scandinavian grind, with its single bevel blade edge, can be laid flat
against wood and excels for many bush craft skills, such as whittling fuzz sticks for tinder,
splitting small wood, carving traps and shelter construction. The flat grind blade maintains
blade thickness for strength, while the hollow grind with its concave shape maximizes the thin
portion of the blade, enhancing its slicing ability.
8. Which blade grind is easiest to re-sharpen in the field?
B) Hollow grind
C) Scandinavian grind
(C). Because it has a single bevel edge, all you need to do to maintain the correct angle when re-sharpening is to
lay the edge flat on the stone. In a pinch, even a flat sandstone river rock can produce a keen edge. This makes it
an ideal grind for a general-use hunting and wilderness skills knife. Hollow grind and flat grind blades have a
double bevel with the blade tapered in a two-step process, first to a thin section, then the thin section is more
abruptly ground to the edge. You need a guide to maintain the correct angle to the stone.
9. Which of the following blade designs and lengths will give you the most point control for a general-purpose
hunting and wilderness skills knife
A) Bowie knife with an 8-inch blade
B) Drop point hunting knife with a 4-inch blade
C) Skinner with a 2 1/2-inch blade
Answer (B), the 4-inch drop point. A knife with a blade approximately as long as the width of your palm (for
most men, from 3 1/2 to 4 1/4 inches), with a point that drops from the spine so that it is in line with the center
of the knife blade, provides optimum point control.
10. True or false? A general-purpose wilderness knife should have prominent upper and lower finger guards to
protect your hand during heavy use
Sounds like you use your knife enough to know that an upper guard interferes with placing your thumb on the
back of the knife for control. A small lower guard is acceptable, but must be unobtrusive, so that it fits between
the fingers when you move your hand up for fine woodworking. Prominent finger guards are for fighting knives
that are thrust into an enemy; otherwise, they just get in the way.
11. In recent years, serrated or partly serrated blades have become extremely popular on hunting knives. Which
purposes are they useful for
A) Cutting rope and slicing bread
B) Skinning game and butchering meat
(A): Cutting rope and slicing bread
Serrated blades are useful for cutting rope and slicing bread. That makes them a good choice for a boat knife or
picnic blade. On a hunting and wilderness skills knife, a serrated blade is an abomination, producing ragged cuts
and interfering with skinning and butchering.
12. How about a gut hook? They also have become de rigueur on a hunting blade
A) No gut hook, no way!
B) No gut hook, no way!
C) No gut hook, no way!
Answer: No gut hook, no way!
Repeat after me: "Real men don't use gut hooks!" All gut hooks do is bind up in deer hair, interfere with striking
sparks from the back of the blade, and get in the way when you're whacking the back of your knife with a wood
baton to split wood. They also are dangerous, because you have to turn the blade upside down to use them,
exposing the sharp edge of the blade.
13. Your knife handle should be as long as the width of your palm. It should be neither too thin nor too thick.
Well, "duh" as Homer Simpson would say. But for hunting and wilderness skills use, what shape should the
handle be in cross section?
D) Any of the above is okay. It's personal choice.
Answer (B), oval, because an oval handle gives you a better indication of the direction of the blade edge when
you're up to your elbows in gore, making it safer and more accurate to use. Rectangular handles, the most
common shape on folding knives, produce blisters.
14. Let's sum up what we've learned from the quiz so far. Our general-purpose wilderness skills/hunting knife
should have a drop-point blade with a Scandinavian grind (flat grind is okay), a blade as long as the width of
your palm, preferably of hard high-carbon steel so you can strike sparks (stainless is fine if you carry other ways
to start fire), no serrations, no gut hook (no way!), and a smooth oval handle without obtrusive finger guards.
Now, let's put this blade to work. Which of the following trees can be easily toppled using our knife?
A) Dead maple tree 4 inches in diameter
B) Green poplar tree 6 inches in diameter
C) Frozen oak trees 4 inches in diameter
D) All of the above
Answer (B): Green poplar tree 6 inches in diameter
Green trees, especially limber saplings, are much easier to fell than dead or frozen trees. And softwoods such as
poplars, even with relatively large trunks, are easier to fell than smaller hardwood trees such as oaks.
15. We've chosen a sapling to cut down to make a frame for a lean-to shelter. What is the proper technique for
A) Bend it back and forth, then hold it bent with one hand while pressing down on the outside of the
bend with the knife blade. Rock the knife back and forth while applying strong, steady pressure
B) Bend it back and forth, then hold it bent with one hand while sawing back and forth with the blade
held at right angles to the trunk
C) Pound the tip into the trunk, then jerk it back and forth to widen the cut.
Answer is (A), bend the trunk back and forth to weaken the wood fibers, then apply steady downward pressure
to cut it. Support the trunk as it is cut so that the remaining part doesn't splinter, for once it does, it will be
difficult to finish the cut.
16. Let's turn our attention to bigger game, a green poplar tree with a trunk about 6 inches in diameter. Looks
impossible to fell with a small knife, but with the right technique you can topple it in less than 15 minutes. What
is your first step?
A) Press the belly of the knife blade against the trunk with the blade held horizontal to the trunk, then
whack on the back of it with a wood baton.
B) Press the tip of the tip of the knife against the trunk with the blade held horizontal to the trunk, then
drive it into the trunk by whacking the pommel or butt of the handle with a wood baton.
C) Press the tip of the knife against the trunk with the blade held vertical to the trunk, then whack on the
pommel or butt of the handle with a wood baton.
Answer is (B), drive the knife tip into the trunk 2 or 3 inches with the blade held horizontal to the trunk, then
jerk the knife back and forth to widen the cut. Repeat the process around the trunk until it is girdled and can be
pushed over by hand.
17. Because toppling a tree and many other wilderness knife craft skills demand a tough blade, let's define just
what "toughness" means in a knife blade. True or false: the harder the steel used to make a knife blade, the
tougher it will be.
Answer (B): False
As a rule, softer steels have a higher tensile strength and will bend under heavy pressure before they break --
they are "tougher." Harder steels hold an edge longer, but are more brittle.
18. When applying downward pressure to a knife blade to peel a limb or cut through a heavy stick, where do
you place your thumb?
A) On top of the spine of the blade
B) On the side of the blade
C) On the side of the handle
Answer is (C), place the thumb on the side of the handle for maximum power while protecting the thumb from
injury. Placing the thumb on top or along the side of the blade reduces the power of your stroke and also
exposes the thumb to injury.
19. Which of the following knife operations is least safe?
A) Cutting toward the chest
B) Cutting beyond the knee
C) Cutting on top of the thigh
Cutting beyond the knee with the follow-through away from the body is safest. Cutting toward the chest is safe
as long as the follow-through is controlled. Cutting downward over the thigh is by far the least safe, for a slip
could sever the femoral artery.
20. With use, knife blades made from even the hardest steel will eventually begin to dull. True or false? A
sharpening steel is only useful for realigning an edge that has bent, not for removing metal to re-sharpen a dull
True – A sharpening steel cannot remove metal to re-sharpen a dull blade, but can realign an edge that has bent
21. BSA prohibits the use of fixed bladed knives by the following:
A) Boy Scouts
B) Scout Leaders
C) None of the above
D) All of the above
(C): Guide to Safe Scouting: “A sharp pocketknife with a can opener on it is an invaluable backcountry tool.
Keep it clean, sharp, and handy. Avoid large sheath knives. They are heavy and awkward to carry, and
unnecessary for most camp chores except for cleaning fish.
Since its inception, Boy Scouting has relied heavily on an outdoor program to achieve its objectives. This
program meets more of the purposes of Scouting than any other single feature. We believe we have a duty to
instill in our members, youth and adult, the knowledge of how to use, handle, and store legally owned knives
with the highest concern for safety and responsibility.
Remember—knives are not allowed on school premises, nor can they be taken aboard commercial aircraft.”
22. Fixed bladed knives are allowed at Mataguay and the Youth Aquatic Center during summer camp.
False: MSR 2011 Summer Camp Leaders Guide states: Non-folding sheath knives are prohibited as there is no
need for such equipment. Throwing knives, stars, or any martial arts weapons are NOT allowed at camp. YAC
Summer Camp Leaders Guide states, under the “Weapons, Knives, Full Size Axes and Fireworks, Firearms, &
Ammunition heading: Non-folding sheath knives, throwing stars or martial arts weapons are not allowed at
23. Fixed bladed knives are never allowed at Mataguay Scout Reservation.
B) False: Fixed bladed knives are allowed at Mataguay when it appropriate to use them as per BSA
(National) and SDICBSA policy. They are not allowed at SDICBSA’s summer camps, however. Varsity
Rendezvous and Venture Rendezvous frequently involved the use of fixed bladed and thowing knives which are
part of their programs.
24. It’s OK to wear a fixed blade knife in public as long as nobody can see it.
Penal Code 12020. (a) Any person in this state who does any of the following is punishable by imprisonment in
a county jail not exceeding one year or in the state prison:
(4) Carries concealed upon his or her person any dirk or dagger. This says no to concealed dirks and daggers
– it doesn't prohibit them, just states they have to be carried openly, on the waist as defined under the open carry
definition. Open carry definition is subject to interpretation . . .
The dirk (and dagger) definition in the law, (see #24 in 12020 definitions), covers pretty much anything,
because ready use as a stabbing weapon that may inflict great bodily injury or death applies to the screwdrives
and pens just as well.
25. It’s legal to carry a pocket knife in your pocket with a blade longer than 3” long.
Blade Length Limit - Unless there is a specific law restricting the blade length in any given local area, you can
carry folding knives of pretty much any length, not outlawed in 653K.
26. Assisted opening knives are illegal in California.
C) True and False
Penal code 653K defines what is a legal pocket knife and what is a switchblade and gravity or ballisong knife.
Folding pocket knives are legal, while switchblades, gravity and ballisong knives are illegal. A "Switchblade
knife" does not include a knife that opens with one hand utilizing thumb pressure applied solely to the blade of
the knife or a thumb stud attached to the blade, provided that the knife has a detent or other mechanism that
provides resistance that must be overcome in opening the blade, or that biases the blade back toward its closed