Introduction to Using a Knife


  • Which knife is legal?
    Large (fixed) / small / lock / dodgy looking *bring in examples
    Depends on situation but some knives are always prohibited e.g. butterfly
  • Maximum penalty for carrying illegal knife?
    4 years in prison and a fine of £5,000
  • Valid reasons to carry a knife?
    To or from work / taking to an exhibition / used for film
  • When is steel prone to staining?
    Too much usage / damp / sunlight / cold
  • What is a full tang?
    Double edged / blade metal through handle / sound of blade, over 3”
  • Where should knives be put when transporting?
    Middle of a bag/rucksack
  • How old do you have to be to buy a knife?
    14 / 16 / 18 / 21

Knife Law

The following points must be considered for carrying knives in the UK:

  • Illegal to sell a knife to anyone under age of 18
  • Only legal knife to carry in public is a folding blade under 3 inches e.g. Swiss Army Knife
  • Can carry a fixed blade knife with a valid reason (lock knife is classed as fixed blade), length is irrelevant
  • Some knives are completely banned e.g.  flick, butterfly, swords, daggers, hand/foot claws
  • Scout Policy:
    • Knives should be carried by an adult between sites
    • Knives should be stowed in the middle of a bag or rucksack when transporting
    • A campsite can be considered public property due to usage (UK law applies)
    • Knives should not be carried unless they are going to be used and stored away when not in use.
    • Knives may not be worn with uniform, unless for religious reasons.


I recommend the Mora 840 Bushcraft Training Knife:

Mora 840
  • Low Cost: can be purchased for £10.95 at
  • Lightweight
  • Right-angled spine for striking sparks
  • High-carbon steel blade for sparks and easier sharpening
  • Good plastic sheath that clips knife into place
  • Finger-guard
  • 5” blade with Scandanavian grind


  • Keep knife in sheath at all times it is not in use
  • Ensure nobody is within ‘blood circle’ i.e. 180 degrees around you
  • Avoid ‘triangle of death’ femoral artery: carve in front or off to the side
  • Thumbs are prone to being cut so keep them clear: Fist-grip for knife
  • A sharp knife is a safe knife (less pressure required – less chance of slipping)
  • Typically push blade away from you
  • Use a baton that is forearm length and easy to manage
  • Can reverse direction for chest lever grip
  • Can also use knee-lever technique by drawing stick toward you on the static blade
  • Can place thumb on spine (although inefficient) for fine carving work

Using a Knife

“The purpose behind the try stick is to demonstrate the skilful use of the knife as a wood carving tool, as well as to learn some of the practical operations that may be used in wilderness living.”

Mors Kochanski ‘Bush Craft’ (1998) pp.34-41

The ‘Try Stick’ is the perfect way to start using a knife and picture below is adapted for Mors’ book, which I recommend buying (ISBN-13: 978-1551051222).

Knife Care & Maintenance

  • Knives rust (even stainless steel) so keep dry and out of leather sheaths, which can attract moisture
  • Keep any moving parts well lubricated
  • Clean regularly – especially carbon steel. Discoloration is a sign of oxidation, which precedes rust.
  • Avoid using for any purpose other than cutting (e.g. can opening) to prevent damage to blade

Maintaining a sharp edge depends on the blade’s grind i.e. shape as illustrated below:

There’s a really superb resource at Wiki How on how sharpen a knife:

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