F&S Quiz: Do You Know How To Use Your Knife?
By Keith McCafferty Illustrations by Tom McCafferty There's an old Nordic saying: "A man without a knife is
a man without a life." The knife is the one essential survival tool. Know how to use a knife and you can spark a
fire, whittle the trigger for a deadfall trap, cut saplings to shelter from the storm. Not to mention skin a deer. But
how many of us can call on basic knife craft skills in a crisis? How many of us understand blade design? The
right kinds of steel for the right kind of knife? Let's slice to the heart of the matter. Most of us do little with our
knives beyond trim our fingernails, fillet crappies for the pan, and field dress the occasional buck. Chances are
your knife skills are rusty: But maybe not. By taking this test, you can find out how much you know. More
important, you can find out what you don't know. Study up, and you can turn a dull edge into a keen one.
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
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
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
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
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
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
8. Which blade grind is easiest to re-sharpen in the field?
B) Hollow grind
C) Scandinavian grind
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
10. True or false? A general-purpose wilderness knife should have prominent upper and lower finger guards to
protect your hand during heavy use
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
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!
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
BSA General Knife Knowledge
21. BSA prohibits the use of fixed bladed knives by the following:
B) Scout Leaders
C) None of the above
D) All of the above
22. Fixed bladed knives are allowed at Mataguay and the Youth Aquatic Center during summer camp.
23. Fixed bladed knives are never allowed at Mataguay Scout Reservation.
24. It’s OK to wear a fixed blade knife in public as long as nobody can see it.
25. It’s legal to carry a pocket knife in your pocket with a blade longer than 3” long.
26. Assisted opening knives are illegal in California.
C) True and False