A while back, Julie posted a news item about a ‘wooden pocket knife.’ I was intrigued: normally, one cuts
a knife, right? So when the opportunity to review Nathan’s Knife Kit
from Klecker Knives
came up, I had to check it out. My 8-year-old son had been asking me when he could get his own pocket knife. I want him to begin to appreciate knife safety, but at the same time I know that he is not ready yet in the responsibility department for an actual knife of his own. Add to this that he and I like to do little DIY-type woodworking projects together (bearing in mind that my tools and skills are meager at best), and this seemed like a perfect fit for both of us. Onward!
NOTE: All images in this review have been enabled with clickable enlargeability for your viewing pleasure.
The origin of Nathan’s Knife Kit is a neat story
. Nathan Klecker asked his father Glenn, a knife designer, to help him design a knife that he would be allowed to use since Nathan was not yet old enough for a real knife. Glenn and Nathan built a knife for Nathan from all-wood components and had a great time doing it. The dull-bladed locking knife allowed Nathan to have a working knife of his own and demonstrate that was learning responsible knife care and use in preparation for a real one. The idea expanded beyond just Nathan and Glenn, and Nathan’s Knife Kit was born. The kit is manufactured by Columbia River Knife and Tool (CRKT Knives
) and is available through their website
, at Glenn Klecker’s site (Klecker Knives
) and also through several other online sellers.
The kit’s packing is a fairly standard plastic bag with cardboard top. Nothing fancy, but the graphics are descriptive and it does allow a potential buyer to have a look at all the pieces in the kit before purchasing, which may aid in gauging difficulty level for the builder(s).
The kit includes the following items:
- Left & Right Handle Frames
- Locking Bar
- Bamboo Spring
- Back Spacer
- Pivot Pin
- Lock Pin
- 2x Dowel Pins
- Small square of sandpaper
- Instruction booklet
My son is very mechanically inclined and we have done several woodworking-type projects before (Cub Scout Pinewood Derby, birdhouses, etc). Therefore, he was very eager to jump right in and get building, so I had to convince him to stop for a minute so we could read through the directions together. As we did so, we looked at each of the parts to determine how they would fit together. One thing I have to point out here is that while one side of the black has the “CRKT” logo burned into it, on the reverse side is a small adhesive sticker (easily removed) that reads “Designed by Nathan Klecker”—I thought it was pretty cool that this was included. You go, Nathan!
So with the pieces all laid out in front of us, we read through the directions, which were fairly simple and included easy-to-understand diagrams. The parts were all pre-cut and cut quite well. As with any wooden DIY kit, the surfaces and edges were a bit rough, but they all fit together quite well by hand, without requiring any tools. We did use the included small sheet of sandpaper just a bit to get the pins to slide into position. The only tricky part that my son needed a bit of help with was orienting and aligning the locking bar, bamboo spring and pin. Even here, I only provided an “extra hand” and some guidance. Within just a few minutes, we’d completed it! Some shots of the completed knife in closed position:
Some shots of the knife in the open and locked out position. Yes, the locking mechanism really does lock out, and the thumb button must be depressed to close the blade, just like in a real lock-back folding knife. It even produces a tactile and audible “lock” sound when locking open.
Detail shot of the locking mechanism in the open and locked out position:
A few more shots to illustrate the finished construction. The parts in our kit all fit together nice and tight, with no slop or loose connections.
Something to keep in mind is that, while the blade is not “sharp” in the sense of having a true blade edge, it does have a sharply pointed tip.
Part of the benefit of having the kit made from wood is that the finished knife can be sanded, glued, sealed, stained, painted and decorated as desired. They encourage everyone who completes a kit to send them some pics of the finished work which they will post in their Hall of Fame.
A shot of me holding the knife, to give an idea of relative size. No, I do not have the hands of a Hobbit. As you can see, the finished knife is a bit oversized. I think this is a great added feature as it allows the parts to be a bit larger to aid in assembly and still see and understand how the parts work together.
And finally, below are a few shots of my son holding the completed knife. He was eight when we assembled the kit just a month or two ago.
Every parent needs to really know and judge his or her child’s readiness and responsibility level before allowing their child to have an item like this. No, it is not a “real” knife, but it is not a soft foam “Nerf” toy either. However, with regard to the kit itself, it was relatively low difficulty level and required no tools, adhesives or anything else. The design of the kit is top-notch: I was impressed with how similar it looks and feels to a locking blade folding knife. My son and I had a good time assembling the kit. With the caveat mentioned at the start of this paragraph firmly in mind, I would suggested that the kit would be great for a parent-child (or grandparent-child, etc) project, Cub Scout (or other organization) crafty/project, a teenager or adult who is curious about knife construction or likes simple woodworking projects, and so on. The price is right (low), and the low difficulty level, quality construction and fun factor make it a virtual no-brainer. Perhaps a great stocking-stuffer with Christmas fast approaching!
This was a fun kit for my son and I to build, but after that, it just kind of sat on his dresser until his mother got tired of seeing it there and it just…disappeared.
Source: The sample for this review was provided by CRKT Knives. Please visit their site for more info.
- + Easy assembly--no tools or glue required
- + Looks and feels like a real knife
- - Not a "toy"--parents need to judge their child's readiness and assist with assembly