At What Age?

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by Dave Dallam, Sep 24, 2020.

  1. Dave Dallam

    Dave Dallam Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    Aug 9, 2020
    At what age should a child be given a knife and taught knife care and safety? What kind of knife should a first knife be? Separately, at what age did YOU get your first knife? What was it?
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  2. Richard338

    Richard338 Gold Member Gold Member

    May 3, 2005
    I got a SAK at age 8. Still have the scar from closing the small blade across my pinky.
    I made my son a fixed blade at age 9. He whittled his finger while learning, but has been fine otherwise. I got him safely using an axe after age 10. My daughter got into cooking at age 12, so we made her a chef's knife of her own. She picked up the skills quickly without incident.
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  3. Rich S

    Rich S

    Sep 23, 2005
    Age 7, a Queen barlow.
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  4. Horsewright

    Horsewright KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 4, 2011
    In the cowboy world its pretty young. 6/7 usually maybe younger sometimes. Notice that both these young men from Canada (at a roping here in CA) are both wearing belt knives already while shopping in our booth and looking at the knives.


    I spoke with their mom the year before at the same roping and asked her about them. She said she started them with wooden knives and then they graduated to a small fixed blade with a dull edge. When she felt they were ready her husband sharpened the knives for them. Older brother bought one too that day:


    Younger brother in the red bought a practice rope:


    Pretty darn handy with it too!


    My own son (at the same roping in the black hat), got a Case trapper when he was 6 or so. I dulled the blades and he carried it that way for a while and then once he'd understood things, sharpened it up for him. He's still a Case Trapper guy.


    Personally its hard to remember when I didn't have a knife. I couldn't tell ya when I got my first one or what it was.
  5. sailfish

    sailfish Basic Member Basic Member

    Jan 1, 2019
    I hurt myself pretty bad with one when I was about 5 and didn't ask to get a knife again until I was 13. But if I was raising a clone of myself, I'd probably feel comfortable enough giving him one at 9 or 10, a small traditional style.
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  6. Eli Chaps

    Eli Chaps Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 20, 2018
    I think a Buck 425 makes a great first knife. Small, easy to use with a lock that provides some extra confidence. And it is cheap enough that if it gets lost or broken that it isn't too big of a deal.
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  7. 3fifty7

    3fifty7 Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 24, 2016
    I got my first knife, single blade lock back Colonial Coyote, when I was 8 and cut myself the first day.
    My son got his first knife, single blade Case lock back, when he was 8. Got a Boyscout whittling chip when he was 10, so he was able to demonstrate safely opening-using-closing his knife and could carry it from then on at Boyscout events.
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  8. Stelth


    Jul 15, 2007
    I was 5 in 1972 when I found an old bone handled 4-bladed scout knife. I have no idea what brand because it's been lost for decades. I remember it was really hard to open the main blade. I don't remember any problems resulting from having a knife at that age.

    It was something like this:

    Last edited: Sep 24, 2020
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  9. RoyalHolic

    RoyalHolic Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 3, 2019
    I'd say a SAK at 7 or 8 isn't irrational. My first knife was a Case Trapper probably around 7ish granted I didn't have access to it whenever I wanted.
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  10. eveled

    eveled Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 11, 2016
    6 a SAK is about perfect for a kid.

    I got a 4 blade SAK for my sixth Bday. Back before even the original MacGyver
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  11. I think the way I'll introduce my kids to knives is using a small fixed blade in an outdoorsy setting, rather than a folder or SAK. Something like an Izula or even a Mora will allow for small hands, doesn't require finger/grip strength to open, and is pretty much indestructible. I may ask my son, who's almost 5, to try opening one of my SAKs tonight to see if it's even something he can do.
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  12. madcap_magician

    madcap_magician Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 27, 2005
    Depends on the kid. I think handling kitchen knives would be first, and then a locking folder with a handle and blade design with a choil or guard of some sort. I got a Buck folder when I was six or so, but my own son is nine and doesn't have one yet. He just spends less time outdoors in the woods than I did at his age.
  13. Omnius


    Apr 17, 2020
    I don't think there is one definitive answer when to start, it probably depends on how serious and careful the kid is. I got my first knife at 5-6 years old, don't remember exactly, but it was maybe a year before primary school. But 30 years ago and in a bit rural regions it was different. Every kid had a knife, it was common like smartphone now. Even most teachers thought it normal when you brought a knife to school to show off a new one to your friends. Mostly small fixed blades for cub scouts and SAKs. Or grandpa's hand me down slipjoints or Buck 110 look alikes.

    Maybe 8 years and kitchen would be a good beginning. In 4th year of primary school I started having practical classes. At first it was gluing models and basic cutting to make a sandwich, during next 2 years sharpening and simple woodworking.
    I would be a bit careful when choosing a folder for a kid. From my own experience a slipjoint might not be the best as a first knife. Especially now with many other options. A kid can do what a knife wasn't exactly designed for and a weak spring might easily close then. But a good strong spring for a kid will be too hard to open and dangerous with snap close.
    People say Opinels are good for a first knife, cheap, safe and simple. That is true, but when I was a kid I wanted something cool like a TV action hero would have. Probably good to teach basics, but definitely not something to keep a kid interested.
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  14. oldmanwilly

    oldmanwilly Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 7, 2014
    This was my first knife, which was given to me by my grandfather when I was 4 years old:

    The darn thing was already well worn when I got it. It isn't much larger than a USB stick but it sure felt like Excalibur in my little hands.

    It came to me with a decent working edge - I know this because I promptly cut my thumb while trying to open a pecan with it. After a little hydrogen peroxide and a band-aid I was ready to start whittling again. I wasn't allowed to keep the knife in my room until age 5 or 6 and, until that time, I was only allowed to carry and use it when at our ranch or hunting.

    As mentioned above, every kid is different and some may not be responsible enough for a knife until they are much older. You will have to do your best to gauge their maturity and their ability to handle a knife safely. I like the idea of having a child help out in the kitchen to familiarize them with cutlery and teach the basics. That might give you some idea of their abilities before you decide to take the plunge.
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  15. gazz98

    gazz98 Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 3, 2008
    Age. It does depend on the child and their maturity level. I probably wouldn't give a knife to a kid until they were a teenager for the most part.

    Knife. I would suggest a knife with a lock for a first knife. As much as I like SAKs (yes, some do lock I know), I'd give them a locking knife while they learn. Nothing too fancy. A Kabar Dozier ($20), Buck 112 or Ranger ($25ish), etc.

    Me. My grandpa gave me an old barlow knife at 14 or so. I've had a knife in my pocket ever since. 35 years.
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  16. jaseman


    Jul 28, 2016
    My daughter started with kitchen knives at around 6 y/o. Pairing knife at first, since the size was most comfortable, then progressed from there. Her first small multi tool a year or so after that. Shortly followed by a small SAK. At 11 now, and I’m thinking maybe it’s time for a proper locking folder for camping - something like a Dragonfly maybe.

    Me, I don’t remember when I learned to handle knives, but my father taught me how to use tools from an early age by helping him with every project he worked on. My first two real knives were a Vic SAK (no idea what model) and a 2” Buck style folder. Don’t remember which I got first, but I was around 8 or 9 and they were both for using at scouts.
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  17. Henry Beige

    Henry Beige Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 1, 2015
    My grandson’s first knife, at age 5, was an Opinel 7. He could handle it all right, but didn’t really bond with it. Next year, after consultation with his mother, I gave him the Marttiini Little Classic (junior classic?). He took to that immediately. To this day, it is the one he uses most.

    QThe springs on next year’s SAK Cadet were too stiff for his fingers. He will have to grow into that one. Last year it was a Maserin Plow. He can open it, but it is still a little fierce for him.
    This year, I gave him a Mora for a carbon blade and a slightly different feel to the Marttiini. I have yet to see how that one plays for him.

    I seem to recall having jackknives at his age, the most memorable being the Camillus demo knife. But this kid definitely gets along better wit fixed blades. He will spend hours shavi g big sticks into little sticks. Since ha got the Marttiini, I can’t recall ever seeing him with a folder in his hand.
  18. afishhunter

    afishhunter Basic Member Basic Member

    Oct 21, 2014
    Depends on the kid. The level of maturity is much more important than age.

    I received my first knife when I was 4 or 5. I believe it was a genuine Army issue "Demo" knife. My uncle was home on leave before being sent to Viet Nam. He gave it to me.
    I presume he had a second one issued to him, since he gave me another "Demo" knife, when he was discharged 4 years later.
  19. TheEdge01


    Apr 3, 2015
    I was probably 6 or 7 when I was given my first knife. However, I wasn’t allowed to carry a knife until I was around 10.
  20. DangerZone98


    Dec 7, 2019
    As some of the others stated here, it largely depends on the maturity of the young un. Some kids can handle knives at 6 while some adults shouldn’t even come within 6 feet of anything sharp.

    If I have a kid someday and decide he or she is responsible enough for an edged tool, I’d probably start off with an ESEE Izula or a Mora at around, say, eight years old. In my opinion, fixed blades would probably be safer for the little ones. Folders can come later.

    Of course, you can’t just hand over the knife and call it a day. Teaching your kid to use it wisely is ultimately your responsibility as a parent.

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