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Home > Magazine > ProjectGadget > Have an Edge? Sheath it!

Have an Edge? Sheath it!
April 19, 2011

I have a folding knives and sheath knives and they're happy as they are. My kitchen knives don't have it bad, being mostly in a block or on a magnet strip.

But I've come to see that all of my other bladed tools are in a bad way, to put it bluntly, which is what they become.

My saws, chainsaws, axes, hatchets, rasps, files: NONE of them have anything decent for protection.

I have a sweet thin-kerf Japanese pull saw wit bamboo handle that I use a LOT: for the 5 years I've had it, it has had a lame PLASTIC pouch of a sheath. Sure, it works, but, whew, pulling a nice saw out of a glorified baggy every day is just lame. I'm fed up: I want a good sheath for that thing. (I notice that japanwoodworker doesn't sell sheaths for them. They have a leather wrap for multiple saws, though.) But I recall seeing nicer models with sheaths at the Japanese hardware store in San Fran where I bought it...who knows.

My nice wood rasp has had a homemade cardboard sheath for eons. ...C'mon.

My best standard wood saw has its original hard plastic sheath that falls off -- now kept on by a strip of duct-tape: lame.

My axes, hatchets, bow-saws and chainsaws: all bang around unguarded.

Heck, a bow-saw will BITE YA BAD without a case. When not in use or being transported, they attack body parts like demons unless they're cased. And of course they become instantly dull, ruining the beauty of the bow-saw, which is that when in proper shape they're almost as fast as a chainsaw in certain common applications.

(Actually, my good chainsaw does have a busted full case which kinda works -- I have to cradle it like a baby to carry it -- the 2nd-hand didn't fit into the supposedly matching 2nd-hand case so I cut away the interfering plastic -- and the handle fell off -- gotta kludge a fix there.)

The moral of the story is that EVERY edged tool needs a SHEATH! It's JUST AS IMPORTANT AS THE EDGE! ...I know this, but it's hard to live. My lumbermill brother Kelvin is good about this. He pretty much sharpens his chainsaw after every use. I'm getting a lot better at that, finally. But sheaths? I'm "off the back." Gotta catch up!

What's great about this dilemma is that it's not: sheaths are cool. We all know that. But, really, they are. There are all sorts of neat leather or wood sheaths out there -- but you might have to dig for them. I don't have a great resource for them yet. Obviously, it's best to buy a sheath WITH your tool when you first buy it. And here's where it seems like a real dilemma does jump up: I'm finding it really hard to retroactively buy sheaths for tools. They're just not commonly sold separately and some tools just don't get much respect in sheath-land. So we might have to make our own. Knife sheath dudes are way into it. There are lots of instructions out there. But I'm talking about ALL edge-tools. Outside of knives the info drops off to about nil. I'd be curious to see what folks could come up with. Maybe they won't be fancy but they can be decent. Let's get-ir-done. Your blades will thank you. It's a mission for me, anyway.

And, you kitchen knife people out there: Don't let 'em bang around against each other! Block 'em or strip 'em. Don't even let them spend time in a dish drainer or dish-washer with other items. Wash and dry them by hand then put them up. Then you steel them as soon as they're slightly off. They'll only need a stone every 6 months if you steel 'em every so often. But if you mistreat them they'll get nicked and dull quick then you'll have to stone them -- and that soon turns good kitchen knives into grampa's funny cottage knives -- you know, the ones with the crazy edge shapes worn away by the stone. We don't want that.

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