Story by Dana Benner, Photos by Dana Benner and Manufacturers
The world is full of “things” for the homesteader. Some of them are actually useful; others are just made to make you believe that you need them. One thing that is certain, blades of many types are essential for life on the homestead. You can do without many things, but a good knife (or knives) is not among them.
There are many really good knives out there and this piece is not about saying one knife manufacturer is better than another. Instead, it is about giving you, the reader, a good idea of the types of knives you should have on hand on any homestead.
Will I cover every possible knife available? No. Will you agree with all of the choices that I suggest? No. Will I leave out some knife styles that you think are important? Yes, I will. This article is only a guideline, based on my experiences. You will have your own experiences to draw upon, and you should decide which knife styles and brands are best for you, based on those experiences.
No one knows everything, but a smart person always asks for the advice of someone they respect and that knows much more than they do. Before starting this endeavor – despite my currently held beliefs – I decided to ask an expert in the business of knives; L.T. Wright.
L.T. is a Master knife maker and the owner of L.T. Wright Knives. The bladesmiths at L.T. Wright knives craft some of the best blades in the business and, because I own many of them, I opted to turn to him for help. L.T. quickly recommended a few must have blades: a machete, a heavy-duty kitchen knife, an EDC knife and a good belt knife.
What follows are the blades that I use on a daily basis – starting with the pocketknife.
No self-respecting woodsperson, homesteader or survivalist would ever be caught dead without a pocketknife of some sort. Pocket knives run the gamut from simple to elaborate and there is a perfect one for everybody.
My first pocketknife was given to me by my father when I was about nine years old. It was not expensive, but it was mine. My father taught me the importance of that knife and the responsibility that came with owning it; or any knife. Today I carry a Swiss Army knife – complete with all of the gadgets.
Over the years I have used pocketknives to carve wooden animals for my daughter, strip the plastic coating off electrical wire and make feather sticks at the campsite. I’ve also been known to open that rogue bottle of adult beverage from time to time.
The versatility of a pocketknife makes it one of the most valuable tools you will have around the homestead. The brand is not important, and the price shouldn’t be an issue. The less expensive pocketknives will work just as well as the high-end brands. You can get a good pocket-knife for around $10 – $30. Although they can run a little higher if you select something with many different features and functions or opt for a multitool instead.
Anyone who has had to clear brush from around the homestead knows the value of a good machete.
As a kid I worked with my father, clearing areas of property, and the tool I was given was an old French-made machete that was common military issue to French troops operating in Asia during WWII and into Vietnam. I still own that machete and it is still going strong, but now I find myself leaning on one made by L.T. Wright, called the Overland Machete.
The Overland Machete has an overall length of 19 inches and a sharpened edge that measures 12 inches. The steel is 3/32 inches of 1075 high carbon steel, with a convex grind. The blade has a 2-stage patina, that helps to prevent rust and aids in the sharpening process.
Last, but not least, the handle is made of micarta and there is an optional Kydex sheath.
A heavy-duty kitchen knife is essential for preparing that roast, cutting up ribs, de-boning a turkey and even cutting vegetables. There are many kitchen knives out on the market, at various prices, offering something for everyone. The key is to find the one that works best for you and you feel most comfortable with.
My everyday kitchen knife is the Large Pouter, from L.T. Wright Knives. It is perfect for deboning all sorts of meat, making thin slices, butterflying fish and chopping.
The large Pouter measures 9 inches long, with a 5-inch cutting edge. The blade is made from Austrian AEB-L high carbon steel, with a flat grind, sharpened to a razor’s edge. The handle scales come in a few different colors, but mine has green micarta.
Your everyday carry knife (EDC) has to have many attributes. It has to be light enough to carry all day and it needs to fit the pocket comfortably (in other words you don’t want to feel it jabbing you as you walk or sit). It also needs to be small enough to conceal (if needed), and unassuming if worn in the open – you don’t want it to draw too much attention. Finally, it has to be strong enough to handle a large variety of tasks.
That is a great deal to ask of any knife and the Next Gen is one knife ready for the challenge.
The Next Gen, made by L.T. Wright Knives, is a fixed blade with an overall length of 7.5 inches and a sharpened edge that measures 3 inches. It is made of A2 steel and has a flat grind that is sharpened to a razor’s edge. The Next Gen comes with either green or black micarta handle scales; mine has green.
My Next Gen stays with me at all times (except in places where I can’t carry any type of weapon). I have used it for everything from cleaning fish and skinning small game to cutting rope and opening packages for my wife.
It keeps an edge no matter what I ask of it, requiring only minor swipes on the stone occasionally.
My first contact with L.T. Wright came when I was looking for a good, high quality “bush” knife. I wanted a knife that would stand up to heavy punishment and keep on going. I looked at many knives, but the knife I liked the most was the JX2 Jessmuk – which was designed by Chris Tanner and made by L.T. Wright Knives.
I haven’t looked back since.
The Jessmuk’s design takes the best features of the ulu and combines it with a traditional straight blade knife. The curved sweeping blade makes the Jessmuk an excellent slicer, while the blade being forward of the handle makes it perfect for making feather sticks, tent stakes and batoning. Its sharpened spine allows you to debark tree limbs, scrape tinder bundles and ignite a ferro rod as well.
The Jessmuk has an overall length of 9.5 inches and a sharpened edge that measures 4.5 inches. It is made from 01 tool steel and features a scandi grind. The micarta handle and exceptional balance make this knife feel good in the hand.
These are the knives that I consider to be must haves for the homesteader. Are there others? You bet. There are many great knife makers out there. Do I own other knives, from other makers? Yes, I do, but these are the ones I rely on most of the time.
I happen to like and own the knives I discussed here, but you may have other ideas of what would work best for you. As I mentioned earlier, this is more of a guideline to start you in the right direction and make you aware of the different knife styles that you should have on hand when homesteading.
The most important thing is to find knives that fit your need and you have confidence in. Happy homesteading. K&G
Do you have any knives or knife styles that you like to use for homesteading? Join the conversation, comment on this story below. >>
L.T. Wright Overlander Machete
Blade Material: 1075 Carbon SteelBlade Length: 12.25 inchesOverall Length: 18.75 inchesBlade Thickness: 0.09 inchesBlade Grind: Convex EdgeWeight: 19.5 ouncesHandle Material: Natural MicartaMSRP: Starting at $155.00 with sheath
L.T. Wright Large Pouter
Blade Material: AEB-LBlade Length: 5 inchesOverall Length: 9 inchesBlade Thickness: 0.093 inchBlade Grind: FlatWeight: 2 ouncesHandle Material: Natural MicartaMSRP: $119.00
L.T. Wright Next Gen
Blade Material: A2Blade Length: 3 inchesOverall Length: 7.5 inchesBlade Thickness: 0.125 inchBlade Grind: Full FlatWeight: 2 ouncesHandle Material: Natural MicartaMSRP: $135.00
L.T. Wright JX2 Jessmuck
Blade Material: 01 Tool SteelBlade Length: 4.5 inchesOverall Length: 9.5 inchesBlade Thickness: 0.125 inchBlade Grind: ScandiWeight: 5 ouncesHandle Material: Black MicartaMSRP: starting at $235.00 with sheath
L.T. Wright Knives(740) 317-1404www.LTWrightKnives.com
L.T. Wright KnivesBlade HQKnife Center
Dana Benner has been writing about all aspects of the outdoors, survival, history and culture for over 30 years. His work appears in regional and national publications.
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