The Knife Collector

By Phil Spano

If you’re reading this you’re probably like me, you collect knives or you’re into them and want to start collecting.

It all starts with one.

When I was 8 years old I was a Boy Scout. We were out on a trip trying to earn badges like any good Pokémon trainer, and this trip was for a campfire badge and a whittling badge.

I remember watching my Scout Leader get the fire going and teaching us ADHD filled kids the proper ways to make fire and of course being safe while doing it.

Then he grabbed a stick and pulled out a pocket knife, a Victorinox Swiss Army Knife. I couldn’t tell you which model it was, to be honest I’m surprised I remember any of this at all, but it had a bunch of different tools so maybe a woodsman or tinker or something similar.

As an 8 year old I thought it was the coolest thing ever. So he grabbed his stick and started to whittle a point on it. Now let’s back track a bit for those that don’t know, whittling is when you take a piece of wood and carve it into something. Like a spear, or a little gnome with a cool hat or Santa Claus.

The scoutmaster, as smart as he was just carved a simple spear out of this stick. That probably wasn’t the greatest idea for a group of kids, but in the big picture, he was teaching us a lesson that obviously stuck with me for the last almost 30 years. 

Now if you think showing a bunch of kids how to create a fire and make a spear out of a fallen tree branch was bad enough, he then gave each one of us our own Swiss Army Knife. Identical to what he was carrying and used for this spear. We were stoked!

He gave us each the knife, told us to go find a nice sturdy stick and whittle ourselves a spike. We were out like a cat stuck in a plastic bag. Into the woods to find the perfect stick. I found one. About as long as I was tall, I sat down in the grass and started to whittle away this pointy piece of wood until it was so sharp that I could stab anything.

Once I finished that, I did what any 8 year old kid would do. I started chasing the other kids and they chased back, poking each other with our freshly made spears. That was until the the scoutmaster started yelling and we all stopped, took a seat next to him at that campfire, and then he handed us marshmallows.

That’s what the sticks were for. Not to stab each other like the little Spartans we thought we were, but to stab and then toast marshmallows. We were the happiest bunch of kids who had just earned 2 badges.

That is why I collect knives.

I have obviously lost that Swiss Army Knife or my parents took it away from me, that I can’t remember but what I do remember is that I always had a knife on me.

My first real knife was a Kershaw Cryo 2, a small Hinderer designed, Chinese made knife with 8cr13mov steel and that Kershaw speed assist. That was it. For the longest time, the only knife in my collection.

I’ve had plenty of the cheapo knives you’d find at flea markets but they’d always fall out of my pocket, or a screw would come out and it would be completely unusable, so

I’d buy another. I saw Kershaw as a reputable brand and had always had a thing for Hinderers but could never get myself to spend that kind of money on a pocket knife. That didn’t make sense to me.

I started researching a little bit. I came across a photo of a Spyderco PM2, black blade with the digital camo scales and I wanted it so bad. I loved the looked of it and thought that would be the perfect knife for what I needed a knife for. If you don’t know me, I’m a blue collar guy. I’ve worked in the HVAC field for a very long time and there’s always a need for a knife of some sort.

The price of the PM2 scared me. So I found an orange scaled Tenacious that seemed a little better than the Cryo2. I picked it up and it was all downhill from there.

Since then I’ve had probably 100 different knives come and go through my collection. The first one over $100 was a Spyderco Para 3 that my wife got me for a birthday one year.

The collection has grown since then and knives have been sold or traded for other knives ranging from cool budget knives like the QSP Pelican I currently have to much more expensive like the CRK Inkosi that has found a new home.

I have everything from fixed blades, to folders with all different kinds of steels and locking mechanisms from all different companies and designers. There’s just so much variety out there it’s hard to have just one knife.

I currently have about 30 different knives. Which I know, isn’t the biggest collection, but I don’t collect just to collect. I use every knife I have. It’s very difficult to select a knife every morning for work. I try to pick based on what I’m doing for that day. If I’m going to be washing coils, I’ll grab something that will hopefully not rust easily, if I’m working with metal I’ll grab my cruwear PM2 or a fixed blade. There’s a knife for almost any scenario.

When people hear that I collect knives they look at me funny, but when they need to cut something, where do you think they go first? You never realize how often you would use one for just about anything from opening packages to cutting your kids Dino nuggets.

Collecting knives has brought me into a community that has become part of my life for quite some time now and because of it I have met some awesome people and gained life long friendships who all share the same love. It’s not about the steel or the brand it’s about the functionality and design for me.

I will keep collecting to someday pass down to my kids so they can enjoy these amazing tools from people all over the world in hopes that they keep the collection growing and then pass down to their children.

So whether you’re like me and collect users to beat up and push to the limits or you just collect so you have something cool to show off to fill that spot in your heart, don’t ever stop. Keep collecting, keep these makers making and innovating and coming up with something no one’s ever seen before.

2 thoughts on “The Knife Collector

  1. I have a similar story, it was Royal Rangers, my church’s equivalent of the scouts. My grandpa always had a slip joint, taught me to shoot, hunt, fish. You’re right, thought, most people absolutely don’t realize how often you’ll use a pocket knife if you have it on you.


  2. Phil, great nostalgic article. My latest collectors (and I use all of mine as well) are Case slipjoints, Benchmade mini Griptilian’s and a couple customs from Jason at K-Paw knives…
    Nick, congratulations on #50.


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