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post #4 of Old 08-23-2008
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This is my first post here (oops - my second), but certainly not my first visit to SailNet. This thread came up repeatedly as I searched "rigging knives" on Google. I've spent at least five hours, consolidated some notes, and would post the following synopsis of the rigging knife market for kiyoshi's or anyone's input. I posted this on another online location as well, but I suspect it might get as much visibility here as anywhere.

If we consolidate the combined counsel of additional articles (easily available on the Web), the following components must be present for a (folding) rigging knife to be considered complete, without being excessive. These few criteria for a folding rigging (sea/marine/yachtsmen) knife are as follows (and widely repeated):

-- Blade characteristics: Single-handed locking blade of quality steel, perhaps half-serrated, and definitely not pointed on its tip

-- Marlinspike: Locking, stout, and dedicated marlinspike (not a marlinspike that doubles as a ruler nor as a shackle breaker nor as a leather punch)

-- Shacklebreaker: The shackebreaker must NOT be a component of the blade nor of the marlinspike (both should be closed in shacklebreaking mode, should they not?). The key may or may not be a component of the handle, presuming the knife is folding.

-- Bottle opener: A bottle opener can be integrated into a shacklebreaker easily (and several makers do it), and this increases the general utility of the knife by some huge ratio without any impact on its function as a rigging tool. Am I wrong?

Many people can do without a can opener on their knife. (A can opener can be stowed elsewhere.) I mean, how often is someone opening a can while climbing in the rigging, breaking loose a frozen or rusted shackle, or cutting loose the knotted end of a severely fouled and violently active jib sheet? It’s a non-essential component. A bottle opener is also non-essential, but more frequently relevant, and it can be integrated into the essential shackle key without any impact on the core mission of the shackle key.

-- Lanyard: Must have lanyard loop and a lanyard, custom-made or retail.

That’s it - nothing more. However, there is yet to be one folding rigging knife that combines these few and specific features into a single model. Please prove me wrong. This list took about five hours total to establish, and every knife cited below fails the above list in at least one or more ways.

-- Boye folding sea knives (these integrate the shackle key into the marlinspike, rather than having a standalone shackle key, and this is not ideal. But otherwise, the Boye knives would seem to be closest to the most ideal, using the above criteria. But....Um - no bottle opener, and they are $139 US)

-- Davis folding rigging knives (these may proudly declare that their marlinspike is locking, and there is often a dedicated shackle key - look at model 1551. Hurray on both counts!!! However, the main blade is NOT locking (what??!!!), nor is this cited as being a one-hand knife. How can someone come so close and yet miss such obvious criteria? It’s staggering, but Davis is hardly alone in this category.)

-- Generic rigging knives (lack of locking blade/marlinspike or lack of one-handed functionality are the issues across the board)

-- Myerchin folding knives (every knife that includes a shackle-breaker integrates it into either the blade or the marlinspike. Do you want to have an open blade or spike rotating wildly while breaking loose shackles, particularly near a sail or line?)

-- Sheffield folding rigging knives (three knives have a wonderful shacklebreaker, one has none, but the blades are not locking, though the spike might be.)

-- Spyderco folding rigging knives (their marine knives are all geared toward rescue, not rigging nor sailing, and often they have only a blade, and nothing more)

-- Wenger/Victorinox folding rigging knives (marlinspike is not dedicated nor stout, but modified to be a hybrid type tool, becoming part ruler and part shackle breaker, and these are not locking. Generally there are extremely excessive niceties that make these “rigging” knives something else - but three nautical related models, Alinghi Yachtsman, Helmsman, and Skipper, do have locking blades)

-- West Marine folding rigging knives (all lack shackle key, marlinspike, or both, and no locking anything)

-- Whitby Italian rigging knife (blade is not locking)

-- Wichard folding rigging knives (blade is not one-handed)


Last edited by onewebfoot; 09-04-2008 at 06:38 PM. Reason: Revised Davis write-up slightly to arrange alphabetically. (2nd) Revises (substantially) the representation for Sheffield.
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