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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 ,58mm
Victorinox Swiss Army Classic SD Pocket Knife, Red ,58mm
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?


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