Why Dentists Should Carry a Knife

Knives (or sharpened objects) are man’s earliest and most common tool.  Archeological excavations often uncover some sort of cutting or chopping tools, no matter how far back in human history we go.  Today, we use them just as much.  We just make them with more sophisticated materials.

Click photo for video of this scene.

I never considered carrying any kind of pocket knife on a regular basis.  Certainly, I’ve owned a few folding pocket knives going back to when I was a kid.  But, I never got into the habit of always having a knife on me…. until about 2 years ago.

Spydies come in all sizes, shapes, and even colors.

First, I discovered Spyderco knives.  Spyderco is a company based in

Golden, Colorado.  They make knives that come in many flavors, high quality, and at affordable prices.  Some of their models are nearly custom-built quality.  I bought one “Spydie,” and then I was hooked.  What I like about Spyderco knives is that while they appeal to collectors and knife aficionados, they are definitely “users.”  They aren’t so expensive or so rare that you’d be afraid to use them every day.  And, they are high quality that will stand up against time.  There are MANY other worthy knife makers.  Everyone will have his / her favorites and biases.  I just happen to like Spydercos.

My first Spyderco knife was this Caly 3 (on bottom). It’s an elegant, lightweight and slim “gentleman’s folder” with polished carbon fiber handles and a discreet deep-carry wire pocket clip. It has a 3-inch blade. This would be a fine choice for a first knife.

“Excuse me while I whip this out.”

I try to work in “Blazing Saddles” lines wherever I can!  🙂  When I decided to add a knife to my EDC (Every Day Carry) “system,” I remained doubtful that I’d ever reach for it during my daily activities.  After all, I’m an urbanized dental professional, not a

Spyderco “Paramilitary 2” pocket clip

farmer working in a barn.  What I did not expect was how often I DO reach for it… every day.  I was honestly surprised.

Most frequently, I grab my knife to open packages at the office and at home.  I don’t know about you, but I get a LOT of packages.  Instead of going off to find scissors, x-acto knife, box cutter, or a letter opener, I just reach into my pocket.  But, there are many other situations where it comes in handy.  Spyderco knives (as well as some other brands) have a pocket clip making them always easy to grab and secure in your pocket.

You may have noticed the “Spydie hole” that is present in every Spyderco knife.  It allows the user to open the knife one-handed by placing his thumb in the hole and pivoting the blade open.  See video below.

A knife saves the day

This is a Spyderco Native with FRN (fiber reinforced nylon) handles. It’s small and VERY lightweight with a 3-1/8″ blade. You won’t even notice it in your pocket. Sells for $62. Click on photo.

Last Friday, I was leaving the office to start my weekend.  I was going to meet a dentist friend at the shooting range for some practice.  I started my car and heard a belt squealing.  And, then I smelled a pungent burnt rubber odor.  I popped the hood and saw that the tensioning pulley for the A/C belt was seized.  The belt was slipping on the seized pulley and burning up.  If I had driven the car, the belt would have broken within a few miles.  If that happened, it might have tangled up in the other belt (brakes, alternator, steering, and water pump), causing it to fail, rendering the car inoperable.  And that means calling a tow truck. I was stuck for the moment.  I didn’t have any tools with me (or at the office).

I called my mechanic on my cell phone and he correctly advised me to just cut off the A/C belt.  Duh!  I wouldn’t have any A/C, but I could drive the car.  So, I reached for my Spyderco knife right then and there.  It cut through the belt cleanly with a single swipe.  Having a good knife handy saved me from being stuck, and I was able to meet my friend for lunch and some range time.  I’d rather sweat than be towed (and miss range time with my buddy)!  I was also able to drive my car to my mechanic the following Monday to get the pulley and belt replaced.

Handier than a Swiss watch

I also carry a SAK (Swiss Army Knife) for all the little tools it conveniently includes (like screwdrivers, scissors, nail file and cleaner, and tweezers for example).  It resides loosely in the bottom of my pocket along with my keys.  The blades on SAK are not that great, generally.  But, they work in a pinch (the steel is nothing like what you get with Spydercos).  I like the quick one-handed deployment of the razor-sharp Spyderco blades for real cutting chores.  But, the compact SAK comes in handy more often than I would have anticipated.

Just another tool

Just to be clear, I do not see a pocket knife as a self-defense weapon.  I carry one purely as a cutting tool.  Edged weapon defense is a specialized skill that requires training and practice.  I have not trained with edged weapons.  Personally, I prefer not to get that close to the “action.”  Though, in a real SHTF situation, you do what ya gotta do, eh?  It’s better than nothing.

But, it’s easy to hurt yourself with a knife.  Spyderco and other quality knives come hair-popping sharp right out of the box.  Every Spydie owner eventually gets his first “Spydie bite.”  I poked myself with the tip of a brand new Spyderco while admiring it after unboxing it.

Should you carry a knife?  I find having one with me is as handy as a Buffalo knife or Bard Parker is in the lab.  My only suggestion would be that, if you do decide to get one for your pocket, stick with a quality product like Spyderco.  Another popular brand is Benchmade (although I have no personal experience with them).  You can expect to spend between $50 – $200 for any of the nicer Spyderco knives.  Many of them are in the $60 – $80 range.  My favorite online store is Cutlery Shoppe.com.  An excellent choice for a first (and even only) knife is the Sage 1 (just under $100).  Click that link and be sure to read the review at the bottom.  🙂  Cutlery Shoppe offers a great variety at the best prices I can find.  Service is excellent.  Tell them I sent you!  (I have no financial interest.)

The Sage 1 is a lightweight, dressy “gentleman’s folder” that can tackle any job. Carbon fiber “twill” handles provide a very elegant appearance while offering a nice grip.  Blade is 3-inches.  If you only got one knife, the Sage 1 would be an excellent choice.

I got this beauty as a gift from my office staff. It’s a (limited edition and no longer available except in secondary market) Spyderco Kopa with abalone and mother of pearl handles. It’s a small knife with a 2 and 7/16 inch blade.

Video review of a few Spyderco knives:

PS… Had to post a couple more photos of these beauties!

Spyderco Vallotton.

The Caly 3 on top / right. The new (limited to 1000 made) Caly 3 Damascus Steel on the bottom / left.

The Caly 3 on top / right. The new (limited to 1000 made) Caly 3 Damascus Steel on the bottom / left.

Edit to add on 1/1/21:  A knife carried by a “Johnny-on-the-spot” (who happened to be a Marine) saved a baby’s life.

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33 Responses to Why Dentists Should Carry a Knife

  1. Gary says:

    This was an awesome review. I have used a Blackhawk Hornet 2 as part of my EDC for quite a while. Similar to the Sage in size but has a serrated area on the blade. I really like the Dragonfly you showed and will be ordering it. Maybe we can get a firearm review from you next?

    • The Dental Warrior says:

      Thanks for your comments, Gary. I’ll get around to reviewing some guns, eventually. I try to keep it mostly dental-oriented. Lots of dental reviews in the hopper, too. 🙂

  2. Rob says:

    Don’t forget Gerber knives as well. I’ve always had either a Spyderco or Gerber. I used to wonder if my old Gerber was any good until I saw some SEALs had the exact knife I did. In fact, I ended up getting a knife from the SEAL as well.

    I carry one for the same purposes you state. Bear Grylls (sp?) always has one too. You never know when you’ll need it, and I’d rather have it and never use it than need it in an emergency and not have it!

  3. The Dental Warrior says:

    I’ve heard of Gerber, of course. But, I’ve never owned one. Thanks for visiting and your comments! 🙂

  4. Sherman A. House DDS says:

    Great review! I used Spyderco Knives on-the-job as a Fireman (from ’96-’05) and still EDC as a dentist these days. I also carry a Surefire E2D that I’ve used as a surgical lamp when the lights have gone out and I’m stuck in a windowless operatory in the middle of an extraction.

    Keep the hits coming!

    • The Dental Warrior says:

      Hi Sherman,

      Thanks for your comments. 🙂 Which Spydie(s) do you carry now?

      • Sherman A. House DDS says:

        I have a few! I have the, “Native,” (newer acquisition) but my old, “stand-by,” is a waved, plain edge Delica. I also have a few Enduras around.

        Tactical Instructor Paul Gomez, “accidentally,” broke the lock on one of my Delicas by hitting the back end of the blade on a table, to demonstrate the strength of the lock. Apparently, unbeknown to me, there was some kind of heat treatment issue with a certain lot of Delica locks…mine was one of them. He contacted the President of Spyderco, and he promptly sent me a brand new knife.

        I like the serrated edges for cutting rope, cord and opening boxes, but for general all-around use and self-defense, I like the plain edge blades.

        My next Spyderco will be a Military model.

        • The Dental Warrior says:

          For an all-around great functional EDC, consider the Paramilitary 2. I like it much better than the Military. I like tip-up carry, and the Military only allows tip-down. Plus the Military is on the large side.

          The PM2 is a fantastic knife. It’s a bit smaller than the Military. I really like my Digicam DLC (black) blade PM2. (I think I put that one in the video.) Also, the compression lock of the PM2 makes for very easy one-handed closing.

          Click here for CutleryShoppe.com’s link to the PM2 in Digicam / DLC.

  5. Excellent review Mike! FYI, I carry a serrated edge pocket knife; it’ll cut through almost anything.

    Just for fun, select the CC Transcribe Audio option while watching your video; seems Google’s voice recognition tech is waaaay off; some of the text is hilarious!

    John Barremore
    Houston, TX

  6. Tim Tishler says:


    You got me hooked on the Spyderco knives. I just got the Sage 1 yesterday. My wife is not going to like you after this. 🙂

    • The Dental Warrior says:

      Enjoy the Sage 1, Tim! You picked a great one. Just tell your wife, “It’s cheaper than drinkin’ and gamblin’!”

      • Tim Tishler says:

        Good point, because between my bass boat and fishing equipment, my cars, my power tools and all of my other hobbies, I am going to have a hard time justifying this new collection!

  7. Roy says:

    Remember it’s not your knife until you cut yourself with it!

  8. Mike E says:

    Hey Mike, long time no see! Congrats on your website/blog, looks excellent 🙂
    I decided to expand my CC with a knife and looked at quite a few, finally decided on the Spyderco Matriarch 2. Its made for one purpose, defense. It is one extremely nasty looking blade but one I am sure will do the job it was designed for should that occasion every arise. Will make me feel a little better when traveling through the Republic of New Jersey and unable to take my Glock as they do not have reciprocity with PA.

    • The Dental Warrior says:

      Hi Mike! Thanks for chiming in!

      Yeah… I believe the Matriarch is a smaller version of the “Civilian.” I agree, it is a NASTY-looking blade! I haven’t gotten one of those, yet. You’ve got me thinking!

      Have you had any edged weapons training?

      • Mike E says:

        Yes, the Matriarch is the small version of the Civilian, I liked it but its just too darned big and a bit heavier of course. I know I would have no trouble carrying its smaller cousin so I went with the Matriarch. Unfortunately, I have had no formal blade training…I’m sure that would be an excellent idea. Hmmm, now what should I Google, knife trainer in PA? Maybe I should just visit you in Florida and you could show me a few moves, then we could hit the range with the Glocks.
        Come to think of it, you could do a combo dental lecture/edged weapons/things that go BANG seminar. I’m in!

  9. Mike E says:

    I’ll have to talk to Don M, I’m sure he’ll have some ideas on the training side of edged weapons!

  10. Mike E says:

    Mike, congrats, just saw your post regarding the waved version. Let me know how the Emerson opener works for you, I may just get that model as well if I can assure myself I won’t be cutting parts of my fingers off every time I remove it from my pocket! Hey, I’m just a newbie at these surgically sharpened knives, I need time to practice 🙂

    • The Dental Warrior says:

      You’re a bad influence! 😉

      Did you get the waved version?

      I’ve been carrying my Caly 3 Damascus (bottom of last photo) for quite a while now. It doesn’t want to leave my pocket.

      • Mike E says:

        I try to be a bad influence whenever possible 😉
        I opted for the regular curve, no wave, I was just unsure about that Emerson opener. It does look very nice, but when I read the description regarding the Emerson hook opening the blade by hooking onto your pocket upon withdrawal … well…it concerned this newbie a bit. I have already sliced off the tip of my thumb with my wife’s Cutco kitchen knife and I don’t need any help there!

        • The Dental Warrior says:

          Watch out for Spydie-bites! 🙂

          • Mike E says:

            That Cutco “bite” should have necessitated several sutures…I opted, instead, to glue the end of my thumb back with some Krazy glue…my wife thought I was nuts, but I was NOT going to wait 3 hours in a ER for some new medical school doc to sew it back on. Nope. Sometimes thick skulls get lucky 🙂

            If the Spydie bites are worse than the Cutco Bites I may have to take my own personal supply of replacement blood with me!

          • Mike E says:

            Mike, I rec’d the Matriarch2 the other day and it is an awesome knife, very concealable and easy/comfortable to carry. I am still on the fence about the “wave” version. Let me know what you think and about the ease/safety of use specifically with the Emerson opener.

          • The Dental Warrior says:

            Will do! Should have it tomorrow or Friday.

          • Mike E says:

            Hey Mike, what do you think of it?

  11. The Dental Warrior says:

    Hey Mike… I moved my reply over here, as the nested replies were getting very skinny!

    I just got it 2 days ago. It’s wicked sharp. The “wave” is pretty cool. Snaps open on drawing it from your pocket. Pretty cool and faster than any other type of opener, including automatics.

    Here’s a video I found on youtube about demonstrating how the Emerson Opener works (on a different knife): http://youtu.be/AN7FaMWNSDE

    A few pics:

  12. Mike E says:

    Very nice! Yes, I saw that video…that’s what put me off a bit, dang, that thing is open quick! I think I’ll play with this one for a while and then move up to the “wave” when I’m more confident I’ll not be severing any digits upon retrieving it from my pocket.

    Good luck with it and be careful!

    Mike 🙂

    • The Dental Warrior says:

      Quick is the whole idea. But, I don’t see how you can cut yourself. The blade opens AWAY from your hand / fingers when drawn.

      It will be a heckuva package opener!

  13. Mike E says:

    Oh yeah! You’ll be ripping through those UPS deliveries with demon speed 🙂

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