Knife fanatic, actor, and host of the new American Glutton podcast Ethan Suplee breaks down his favorite knives—from opening boxes to chopping veggies, and which knife is off limits at home.
ETHAN: When LEO asked me to contribute a piece on my favorite knives, I needed to go all the way back to the early ’80s to really get into the origins of my affinity for blades: when I snuck my first switchblade across the border from Tijuana. It was a cheap, black, traditional Italian style stiletto switchblade, and I loved it. I have run the gamut of collecting edged steel, from utility folders to fixed blade weapons.
For everyday stuff like opening Amazon boxes, cutting twine, or yard work, I like a good folder. Referred to as a “broken blade” amongst those who fight with knives, I do not think of these as weapons, but rather as tools.
110 Folding Hunter Knife
The first knife I ever owned was a Buck 110 my grandfather gave me. The Buck Model 110 has a 3 3⁄4–inch blade, a high-tension lock, and a low- pressure release. The handles are typically wood with bolsters of heavy-gauge brass. Introduced in 1964, it was one of the first Lockback folding knives considered strong enough to do the work of a fixed-blade.
Red Stag Pocket Hunter
The second knife I received from my grandfather was a case-folding hunter. This one doesn’t have the Lockback feature of the Buck, but it feels better in my hand and I always thought it to be classier.
Leek Knife in Olive
My favorite modern utility folder is the Kershaw Leek. These have been made over the years with a variety of handles and blade types. I even have one with a Damascus blade, which may seem a bit silly, but I like it.
I was at dinner once, and a French gentleman retrieved a classy looking folding knife from his pocket, opened it, and set it on the table. He then asked the waiter to remove the steak knife that had been left there for him. When I inquired about this, his response was “would you ever drink champagne out of a plastic cup?” This sent me down the rabbit hole of regional French knives, from the ubiquitous Laguiole to the intimidating Corsican Vendetta Blade. I have a deep appreciation for French pocket knives and collect them almost exclusively from Fontenille Ptaud.
Laguiole Nature Classic Range Juniper Burl
Rouen City Old “Cow’s Tail” Knife in White Mammoth Ivory
Corsican Sperone “Classic” Range in Corsican Sperone
Choosing a good kitchen knife can be a daunting challenge, and there’s so much range that it can at times be difficult to determine which are right for you.
I have a set of Miyabi Knives that I don’t feel emotional about letting my wife and kids use.
Miyabi Artisan 10- PC Knife Block Set
Hidden in my kitchen, I have a couple of Bob Kramer-designed knives for Henckels that aren’t to be touched by anyone else in the house.
Stainless Damascus 10” Chefs Knife by Zwilling J.A. Henckels
For something that bridges the gap between everyday use, utility, and art; I really believe in going custom. Tom Kier is not only considered a specialist in edged weapons by the US military, but he’s also one hell of a bladesmith. The knives he makes should be prominently displayed when not in use.
Thomas Kier PH 610.496.2670 firstname.lastname@example.org
Knives as weapons is a whole other subject. I’ve asked my blade mentor and instructor, Tom Kier, to contribute his thoughts to this:
“Knives and edged weapons are some of the oldest tools used by man. Knives as a weapon have a great utility. There are attributes that one should look for in a blade as a weapon. The steel used in a blade is not crucial to its function. Nearly any high carbon steel or stainless steel that will hold an edge will suffice. The geometry of the blade is more important than what the blade is made from. Most blades will work well with a blade length from 3 to 5 inches long. Blades should be light for ease of carrying and movement while in the hand of the person. The handle should be no longer than the width of the hand, preferably with very little guard or hilt. Kydex or like-thermoplastic make excellent sheaths, and as much thought should be put into the carry and sheathing system, as the weapon itself. Folding blades are fine for utility tools, but I do not recommend them as weapons. Knives as weapons or any weapon really requires training to be as effective as possible. As with anything in life, ‘Know what you’re doing, and why you’re doing it.’ ~Irish”
Here are some of my favorite purveyors of knives of this type:
*Disclaimer: As this knife guide isn’t strictly limited to the kitchen, note that carrying of some of these blades is considered a felony in certain states. Please be respectful of the laws of the land.
CHECK OUT ETHAN
As the host of American Glutton Podcast
As (Shut the F*** UP) Gary in The Hunt
Randy Hickey on My Name is Earl
As Louie Lastik in Remember the Titans
As Seth Ryan in Tony Kaye’s American History X
As William in Kevin Smith’s Mallrats (+ Kevin Smith’s Chasing Amy, Dogma, Clerks II )