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For the Love of Swiss Army Knives

Updated on November 1, 2015
Typical pocket contents from my childhood
Typical pocket contents from my childhood

My Favorite Tool

My favorite tool is my deluxe Swiss Army knife and it has been for many years. Multi-purpose pocket knives and I have a long history together. I have coveted all different versions of them for as long as I can remember. Being an active tomboy, they had a pretty big part to play in my life when I was growing up. So maybe the story of my relationship with them is more a romance than a history.

Keep reading if you'd like to know how I fell in love with them.

All photos by Kylyssa Shay unless otherwise noted.

peeling an apple with my Swiss Army knife
peeling an apple with my Swiss Army knife

Big Brother

My brother is nine years older than I am but that did not harm our relationship in any way. I thought he was the smartest person alive and I tried to follow him everywhere. When I was a little girl, my big brother had a Swiss Army knife I coveted. It had tiny tweezers that pulled completely out, a nail file blade, and a regular blade. It also had this tiny re-usable plastic toothpick that pulled out of the end and an itsy-bitsy fully functional pair of scissors. Sometimes he let me play with the tweezers while he watched when I was very small. When I was old enough, he let me cut pussywillows with the blade and make paper dolls with its tiny scissors.

This One Is Just Like His

The basic Victorinox is the exact same kind my big brother had when I was a child. I believe it was bought for him by my parents through the Boy Scouts.

Victorinox Swiss Army Classic SD Pocket Knife, Red
Victorinox Swiss Army Classic SD Pocket Knife, Red
This classic Swiss Army Knife is exactly like the one my big brother had.

MacGyver Got Me Hooked

Years later, when I first started high school, a television show starring Richard Dean Anderson called MacGyver debuted. I soon decided I'd rather be MacGyver than Han Solo when I grew up. All the shooting had bothered me a bit anyway, and MacGyver didn't use guns at all when he could avoid it. Instead, Mac went around with his trusty Swiss Army knife helping people out of difficult spots. He used his ingenuity and adaptability to turn any old combination of household or woodshed ingredients into a solution for whatever problem presented itself. Mac saved the damsels in distress, the needy kids, the old friends in need, and the villagers oppressed by drug lords- all without messing up his hair. And he always got the girl, assuming that was the honorable thing to do.

Catching on to my MacGyver-fueled obsession with multi-function tools and knives, my father gave me a big Swiss Army knife as a gift. It had a Phillips head screwdriver and can and bottle openers as well two functional saw blades in addition to the usual blade, scissors, and nail file. It even had a corkscrew, and you might be surprised to find out, I actually used it sometimes, albeit not for opening wine.

The Television Show That Fed My Obsession

The series has held up pretty well. While it's a bit predictable now, it's campy enough to make up for it. Every time the red-handled tool shows up on screen I tend to squeal and point it out to whoever is watching with me.

MacGyver - The Complete Series
MacGyver - The Complete Series
I'm watching the whole series again through Netflix and I've been surprised by how relevant it was and how well it has held up. It tackled quite an array of social issues and had a fair number of capable female characters.

Tomboy Treasures

Young teen with a calf and a Swiss Army knife
Young teen with a calf and a Swiss Army knife | Source

My mom didn't care if I was a tomboy; however, she was delighted when I started to carry a purse. So what if it had a large Swiss Army knife, a small soldering iron, a set of Allen wrenches, and a compass in it?

When I wasn't carrying a purse (which was most of the time) the tool rode in my right front pants pocket where I could do a quick draw and open up a broken boom box or a bit of difficult candy packaging in the twinkling of an eye. It divided cupcakes with perfect fairness and cut wildflowers with ease. My Swiss Army knife cut the twine off hay bales, the tops off wax bottle candy, and the cores out of apples. It opened bags of chips and even carved soap into a tiny whale one afternoon. Its scissors made paper snowflakes with more intricate cut work than anyone else I knew could manage. I took it everywhere and it always proved useful whether it was opening ice cold Cokes in green glass bottles or snipping bubble gum out of my hair.

The tweezers in the handle were great for pulling out splinters gained climbing fences, trees, and haylofts and I put them to that use dozens of times. I'll admit the plastic toothpick never saw the inside of my mouth, but it was used to clean between the buttons on my calculator, scrape up a few stickers, and only once to check a cake for doneness. The little file blade was perfect for filing off the rough edges on model pieces before assembly so everything fit together just so.

A Florist's Best Friend

Cutting floral foam with my Swiss Army Knife
Cutting floral foam with my Swiss Army Knife

As an adult, my Swiss Army knife was almost a part of me and it did so many things, from opening the mail to filing my nails to prying open battery compartments. It was also a dependable tool when times were bad. But I didn't fall back as madly in love with it as I had been in childhood until I became a florist.

Unless you are a florist yourself or have worked in a flower shop you simply can't understand how incredibly useful a Swiss Army knife is to a person in that profession. Florists usually use pocket knives or paring knives to cut the stems of flowers in the design room and a Swiss Army knife can be that knife, but that's only the tip of the iceberg.

I think I used every blade and every single tool in mine in the flower shop at least once a week, even the toothpick! The tweezers placed rhinestones and tiny beads on corsages and the toothpick helped keep them in place for a few seconds until the glue held. The scissors trimmed ribbons and cut tiny hearts out of tissue paper. The screwdriver tip opened the adding machine when the paper jammed and unscrewed the bolts holding on the light covers when the bulbs needed changing. The file took sharp edges off molded plastic vases and bridal bouquet holders and filed hardened hot glue off of the counter. The little saws cut blooming branches, Styrofoam sheets, and wooden dowels to size and pruned sickly branches on potted trees.

The blades, oh the blades were the best! They held an edge longer than anything else I tried and never snapped or shattered into dangerous shards like other pocket knife blades sometimes did. Those sharp blades cut floral foam to size and dead leaves off plants. They cut package strapping, cardboard boxes, and, of course, flowers.

Nothing Compares to You!

I love my Swiss Army Knife!
I love my Swiss Army Knife!

While other multi-tools have turned my head on occasion and I have a few multi-tools I feel quite affectionate toward nothing has taken the place in my life of my Swiss Army knife. For me, the it is ingenuity, self-sufficiency, and childhood dreams combined in a single tool. Every time I hold that bulky red pocket knife, it makes me feel like MacGyver, ready to face anything. Every time I use the tiny scissors, I'm nine again and full of wonder.

Do You Own One, Too?

Do you have a Swiss Army knife?

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Every time I hold that bulky red pocket knife, it makes me feel like MacGyver, ready to face anything. Every time I use the tiny scissors, I'm nine again and full of wonder.

If I Needed a New One, Which One Would I Get?

I would get the Victorinox Swiss Army Craftsman Pocket Knife if I needed to replace mine. It has a little pliers on it instead of a corkscrew and that would be far more useful for me.

Victorinox Swiss Army Craftsman Pocket Knife (Red)
Victorinox Swiss Army Craftsman Pocket Knife (Red)
This Swiss Army knife is slightly smaller than my current Swiss Army knife and it has all of the tools I regularly use in it. The pliers are an awesome addition to an already great tool.

Do you have a story about yours? Do you love them, hate them, or just not care?

How Do You Feel About Swiss Army Knives?

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    • Fredrickvanek profile image

      Fredrick Vanek 

      2 years ago from New York

      Delightful article! Your utilitarian Swiss Army Knife is an exemplar of Swiss practicality. Every car (at least!) should have one. And you're absolutely right: A person in a job like yours needs one of these. Thanks for sharing your memories.

    • Jeff Martin1 profile image

      Jeffery Martin 

      3 years ago from Fort Worth

      I can completey understand your love for Swiss Army knives.

      I think I have driven a couple of my co-workers crazy talking about mine; although they never hesitate to ask for it, when they need to use on of the many tools on my Swiss champ.

      I know that one's wife is not fond of me, because I convinced him that he needs one.

    • Kylyssa profile imageAUTHOR

      Kylyssa Shay 

      4 years ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

      The name and manufacturer are unimportant to me, only the functionality matters. It's not a status symbol; it's a tool. It's also a "Chinese Bad Copy" that's lasted me over more than thirty years of heavy use. Why not choose your tools based on how useful they are rather than based on what people will think of your social status when they see them?

    • profile image

      4 years ago

      The one in the photos is a Chinese Bad Copy

      It is not a Swiss Army Knife :p

    • TeacherSerenia profile image


      7 years ago

      ...or snipping bubble gum out of my hair.I think this is the funniest line of the whole lens.But yes I grew up with MacGyver as well. He was fantastic!!!!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      @beindustrial: The compny that makes them have been under contract to the actual Swiss Army to make knives with specific design requirements to be issued to all new recruits since the 1890's to the present date

    • Cari Kay 11 profile image


      8 years ago

      So handy to keep around! Funny short story: When my water broke, I called my husband to get on a flight ASAP (he was in another State). He rushed to the airport but forgot that his engraved swiss army knife was on him. He had already returned to the car once to retrieve his forgotten wallet so he relinquished it! But, he made the birth by minutes! He still misses that knife though.

    • profile image

      felixedet2000 lm 

      8 years ago

      What a utility knife, awesome all the way. Interesting photos you have here.

    • Teapixie LM profile image

      Tea Pixie 

      8 years ago

      I love, love, love my swiss army knife. I carry it in my purse for such a wide variety of reasons I can't list them all here. Let's just say that I won't travel anywhere without one. I have a tiny one attached to my house keys and, when my Dad died, I was bequeathed his fancy-dancy swiss army knife that does a zillion things. I love that you used to make dolls with your brother's knife. Wonderful image of tiny little hands handling something so imposing. :)

    • PlethoraReader profile image


      8 years ago from Silicon Valley

      Still love my three Swiss Army Knives. Great article and Blessed!

    • Elyn MacInnis profile image

      Elyn MacInnis 

      8 years ago from Shanghai, China

      Please oh please find a copy of Bill Holmes book on his time in China that is titled: Coming Home Crazy. He has a chapter on his Swiss Army Knife - named Excaliber, that had me in stitches for hours. Blessings to you!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      This really is a great lens. The way you tell the story, one cannot think of clicking away. And yes, I once had a utility knife.

    • sunny saib profile image

      sunny saib 

      8 years ago

      I never had one for me but Swiss knives have always interested me. I am sure my grandfather had one; he was a fighter pilot and trainer and more precisely a collector of special things of special uses..! Great lens. Makes me wish if I had one on me..

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I have Swiss army knife and I carry it anywhere, just like you. I love it as well but I am still wondering, why is it called Swiss army knife? :-)

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      8 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      We always carry our Swiss army knife. It has been very useful to us in our travel.

    • kimberlyschimmel profile image

      Kimberly Schimmel 

      8 years ago from Greensboro, NC

      I still have my 40-year-old Girl Scout knife. It's too bad kids can't carry around their pocketknives like my generation did. We used to know the difference btween a tool and a weapon.

    • lesliesinclair profile image


      8 years ago

      I loved the tiny one I lost many years ago.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I love my Swiss Army knife and use it all the is so true about those little scissors, they have a magic to transport us to another time and we are always ready for those MacGyver moments. I love the picture of you with your calf and trusty Swiss Army knife in pocket. Now you have given a great gift idea for those of us knowing anyone that works in a florist shop...makes sense to me! So delightfully done Jennifer!

    • Zodiacimmortal profile image


      8 years ago from Yonkers, NY

      I think I have the actual one you grew up with! (as well as a couple basic small ones with just the knife, something else & a file.) I'd love the one with the wrench but it WOULD have to have the corkscrew as well. Magnifying glass (I think dad has that on his. What I'd like is one with a Fork & spoon (in case of emergency

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I like the Tinker because it's slim but has most of the tools.

    • Monica Ranstrom profile image

      Monica Ranstrom 

      8 years ago

      My dad gave me one as part of my emergency kit in my car. Love your lens! There should be a tv show about you :)

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      It is very useful and multitasking. So I wants to buy one.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I've been meaning to buy one of these for years - great lens! :)

    • profile image

      BillyPilgrim LM 

      8 years ago

      I love swiss army knives! Essential man tools...x

    • Stephen Lewis profile image

      Stephen Lewis 

      8 years ago

      I have one of the smallest versions attached to the shift lever on each family car by one of those plastic spring cords given out with membership cards at all casinos. I do not have to carry one, but I am never more than a few feet from one when I need it.

    • bwet profile image


      8 years ago

      they are excellent tools! definitely need to get one for myself!

    • craftycollector profile image


      8 years ago

      My first Swiss Army knife was bought nearly 60 years ago, in Interlaken, Switzerland. Then, as now, the shops have engraving machines and offer free engraving on knives.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I haven't seen a swiss army knife since I was a kid. Was great to be re-introduced. Thanks very much!!

    • LaraineRoses profile image

      Laraine Sims 

      8 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      Dad had one. Of course, one of my five brothers claimed it.

    • Steph Tietjen profile image

      Stephanie Tietjen 

      8 years ago from Albuquerque, New Mexico

      I love mine, probably as much as you love yours. It's always in my purse.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      the quality of swiss arm knife is very good ,as we know before , i like it always

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I have one made specifically for women called the "Miss Army Knife" - it's pink and and it has the blade, scissors, cork twist and bottle opener but also includes some girly extras like a pen, mirror, tweezers, LED flashlight sewing kit and tiny perfume bottle - I've had it over 10 years now and have used it quite often - love it!

    • PaigSr profile image


      8 years ago from State of Confusion

      I have one that was gotten directly at the factory. It is not broken in several places. Even though I can get it fixed it is hard to part with because I tend to use it on a daily basis.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      i've had it once, but now it's gone... still remember it as a good tools and best gift :)

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Tool kit in your pocket, what more could one ask?

    • Trixiesmom2u profile image


      8 years ago

      Did you know you can get them now with a USB and laser option? Amazing tool!


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