Tools That Don’t Suck: Kershaw SpeedSafe Pocket Knives

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As water feature installers, my sons and I are used to hard, dirty and sometimes dangerous work. We enjoy what we do, whether it’s digging ponds, plumbing pumps, rolling boulders or tweaking waterfalls. We also value anything that makes the job faster, easier or more fun. We’re always looking for tools, apps or gadgets that save time & effort, eliminate stress, add to our comfort on the job or are just fun to use. Often a buddy will turn us on to one. I’d like to return the favor by passing our favorite Tools That Don’t Suck along to you.

I won’t leave home without a pocketknife unless I’m going through Security. I’ve had dozens over the years, starting with my trusty Buck 110, the old school model with ebony wood scales. They all shared the same drawback; they were difficult, or impossible, to open safely with one hand. I tried going to fixed blades, but standard side sheaths were bulky and very noticeable. Cross draw sheaths, set horizontally on the belt at the small of the back, seemed menacing. These might not have presented too much of a problem on the worksite but both were certainly less than optimal in any formal setting. The same could be said of the one automatic knife I brought back from Italy. That raised eyebrows everywhere.

A few years ago I discovered Kershaw SpeedSafe knives. The assisted opening system, a beautifully engineered internal spring, allows a small flipper tab on the top of the blade to quickly open the knife with the touch of a finger. It is NOT an automatic knife, a switchblade or anything illegal; the spring just helps the knife open, safely, with one hand. The system is available on a multitude of models, some pricey, some very inexpensive.

I am a huge fan. I own a number of Kershaws, choosing between them depending on what I’ll be doing that day. My current favorite for field work is the sturdy, somewhat heavy Freefall tanto style blade. The textured scales offer a good grip even in wet hands, while the sturdy edge is easily sharpened and stands up to abuse.

At the office or going out I really like the lightweight Zing, which I find as attractive as it is functional. It is hardly noticeable when parked in my right front pocket, but always at hand when I need to open a package or share an apple. One last point that has kept me from getting into too much trouble with my very patient but always budget conscious better half, Susan. Many Kershaw blades retail for less than $35, including the two mentioned here. At work or play, Kershaw SpeedSafe knives definitely qualify as Tools That Don’t Suck.

Want to see more Tools That Don’t Suck by Demi? Read all about the DMT Diamond Sharpener for your knives or read more of his articles here!

About the Author:


Demi has been in water garden construction since 1986. As Atlantic’s Director of Product Information, if he’s not building water features, he’s writing or talking about them. If you have a design or construction question, he’s the one to ask.

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