The "James Bond" Primitive Escape Knife

forged small escape knife

The other day I was teaching a class in knifemaking, and after class, another volunteer made a comment "Do you always carry a knife around these days?" It's true, I seem to be doing that a good deal, and it made me realize that not everyone, myself included, needs to be seen carrying a knife around, or sticking out of your pocket..... So what do you do? I considered what I had seen in the past about concealable knives and the basic rules seem to be concealability, size and "coolness." Ok, I skip coolness because I make "primitive " knives, they are functional and do what is needed, they cut and hold an edge, so what is MY criteria for a concealed knife. After some brief research I found that there were a few sources that I had seen, one was a type of knife that was used as a patch knife for muzzle-loading weapons, an all-steel blade and handle with a curled finger grip to provide you better control and a way of holding the knife while still using your hand, and not the Pirate method, holding the knife in your teeth, while you load, simply a curled end the you put on your finger like a ring, and swing the blade out of your way while you load, then swing the knife back into your hand to cut a patch. These knives were used nearly everywhere that people used muzzleloaders, so they were common, but were also used in places where, at one time, knives were outlawed, the decorative metal handle was formed into a curl or pin shape that could be slipped into the belt or a sash, making it look like a piece of jewelry or metal ornament, but allowing you to grasp the ring and pull it out quickly. Such knives became small, complex and decorative items of adornment, in places such as Scotland, Ireland and in cases where wearing a knife openly was prohibited, or "uncouth." This was, of course, before the common use of pockets, and when it was not practical to just carry a utility knife or clasp knife in a bag, as it required rummaging around to get it.  Native Americans placed the knife conspicuously, and in artistically decorated neck-sheaths that were suspended, as a necklace, around the neck, and these were used for many purposes, the Scots placed the knife as a pin in the shoulder sash, where the protruding curl was formed into a decorative curl or hook, but was immediately available if pulled out. Even in modern times, the military has developed sleeve knives and "thumb" knives for use in evasion, escape and espionage use, so basically, my knife was to be a combination of the old, and the new, to encompass simplicity and stability, with the ability to be hidden in the hand, and available immediately. How I managed this was to initially find the piece of steel to be used, in this case a broken file, with the small tang and about two inches of the actual file blade left, so that the file could be shaped into the blade, and the tang formed into a ring to be placed around the finger, with the bottom of the tang to be grooved to provide a place for fingers to support the blade, and protect it from the edges. The tang is stretched, tapered more and formed into a ring, and the broken file is shaped into the best version of a blade to provide the cutting surface required, for cutting, slashing or stabbing. Two manners of holding the knife are either to put the ring on a finger, or to make a handle from string or cloth, which can be held in the hand and act as a handle.


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