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My First Knife

Tips on Safety, Use, Maintenance, Sharpening, Conservation, and Outdoor Ethics



A joint educational project of the American Knife & Tool Institute and the Mule Deer Foundation

Message to Parents

Your children will encounter knives throughout their lives. They should be taught the safe use of these tools as early as possible. We encourage you to read this information and to help teach your son or daughter about knife safety and care. It’s important that your children understand that a knife can be dangerous if not properly treated or used carefully. Begin by showing your child safe knife use in the kitchen. Teach them how to sharpen a knife, cut properly, store the knives carefully, and respect knives as tools. We believe it’s important that each child know that:

  1. Knives are tools, not toys.
  2. Sharp knives are safe tools. Dull knives can be dangerous.
  3. The sharp edge and point of the blade should always be pointed in a safe direction.
  4. Do not take knives anywhere they are prohibited such as schools, school functions, or anywhere else they might not be allowed.


Congratulations on owning your “first knife.” With it comes a feeling of pride in being considered mature enough to own and carry a knife. That ownership also brings with it a responsibility to use your knife safely and properly. Like a hammer or saw, your new knife is a tool. It will require regular care, knowing what the knife can and cannot do and understanding its proper uses.Read this manual very carefully. It offers valuable advice and tips on how to get the most from your knife for many years to come.

Know Your Knife

Your “first knife” is more than just a sharp blade with a handle to hold on to. Your new knife may include a screwdriver, file, scissors, tweezers, or other specialized tools. Your knife will either fold inside the handle or have a sheath to put it into when it’s not being used. This keeps the edge from becoming nicked and dulled. It also prevents accidents. The blade is made from a high quality alloy steel. This steel is formulated to be strong, to hold its edge well, and to retain its bright, shiny finish with proper maintenance. Your “first knife” can give many years of safe and trouble-free use. Like all tools, it must be maintained by cleaning, oiling, and sharpening.


Always keep safety in mind when using your knife.

  • Be sure to know how your knife works before using it. Practice safely opening and closing your knife.
  • Always carry your knife with the blade shut or in a sheath.
  • A sharp knife will always be more safe and do a better job.
  • Only use your knife to cut. Do not use it to hammer, pound, etc.
  • Remember not to “chop” or strike objects to cut them.
  • Never throw your knife (unless it’s specifically designed to do so).
  • If the blade of your knife does not lock in the open position, do not put pressure on the blade in a direction that might cause it to close on your fingers.
  •  Always ask yourself “If my knife accidentally slips where will it go?” If the answer is “towards me or somebody else’s body,” change your position.


You’ll get the best service from your knife if it is kept in good shape.

  • Remove all water and dry thoroughly if the knife
  • Use light oil to cover the blade and hinged parts.
  • Wipe off all excess oil.
  • Whenever the knife is not going to be used for a long period of time, make sure that the blades and working parts have a protective covering of oil. This will keep it from rusting.
  • Never attempt to take apart your knife. Doing so will leave you with an unsafe knife that will no longer be warrantied by most manufacturers.


It is easy to keep the blade sharp. Use a good sharpening stone or any of the commercially available sharpening systems. For the best results and safety, follow the directions for whatever system you choose. If you sharpen it regularly, only a few strokes will be needed to keep it sharp.118

  1. Hold the blade at a 10°-15° angle. Maintain that angle while sharpening.
  2. Push the knife in the direction of the edge.
  3. Turn the knife around to the other side of the edge. Push the opposite direction, in the direction of the blade.119

Always sharpen your knife away from your body. When sharpening on a sharpening stone, some steel on both sides of the blade must be removed at a precise angle. Stroking the blade over the stone at a 10-15° angle slowly removes the metal. The metal is actually scraped from the blade making it sharper 120with each stroke as you push it across the stone, as if you’re attempting to cut a thin slice from the stone’s surface.


We are living in an age of concern for the environment. It is a great time to become active in a local, state or national program or organization. There are many groups, clubs, programs and organizations in your area you can look into joining. These groups are involved in many different types of outdoor activities.

Outdoor Ethics

It is important to treat your outdoor surroundings with respect. Always leave the area the same as it was when you arrived, or in better condition. Ethical outdoors men and women always follow the guidelines and regulations. It is important to read all signs. Know the specific rules before you head out on the trail, lake, river or any recreational areas. Guidelines and regulations are established to be sure the area provides the same positive surrounding for each and every visitor year after year.


The American Knife & Tool Institute’s (AKTI) goals focus on educating, promoting and informing people about knives and edged tools. One of man’s oldest tools are still valuable and important in our daily modern lives.AKTI’s mission is to ensure that Americans will always be able to own, carry and use knives. ATKI achieves its goals by partnering with organizations such as the Mule Deer Foundation to share information to youth and others. AKTI also works with lawmakers and law enforcement to ensure your knife rights are not being restricted.

The Mule Deer Foundation’s (MDF) goals center on restoring, improving and protecting mule deer and black-tailed deer habitat, which result in self-sustaining, healthy, free-ranging, and huntable deer populations. MDF achieves its goal through partnering with state and federal wildlife agencies, conservation groups, businesses and individuals to fund and implement habitat enhancement projects on both public and private lands. MDF also strives to increase involvement of shooting sports, conservation and hunting through youth with its M.U.L.E.Y. (Mindful, Understanding, Legal and Ethical Youth) program. The M.U.L.E.Y. program was created to act as a gateway program to introduce, instruct and inspire youth to the shooting sports and conservation ensuring their continued growth. Based on contributions by noted outdoorsman Tom Fegely