My girlfriend and I were having a somewhat intense discussion about how young is too young for a boy to have a pocketknife. I was about six when I got my first pocketknife (a Swiss Army Knife, the tiny "Classic SD," followed not too long after by a Schrade 1080t). My father made me carry around a cotter pin for at least a month before he gave me the Swiss Army Knife to prove I would be responsible and not lose it. He also taught about safety with a knife.
The reason I ask is my girlfriend was somewhat alarmed when she found out how young I was (I will admit that six is a tad bit young, but it's not as if it was a giant hunting knife and I was mature enough for my age, and I had received the training necessary to be safe.) I feel like it was pretty normal for young boys to have pocketknives (most of my friends seemed to have them, and I feel like all of my friends had pocketknives or bigger knives before the age of ten). I hope to have a son one day, and I want to give him his very own pocketknife when he's a boy. I remember how big of a deal it was when I got my own pocketknife, and I would want my boy to go through the same thing. My girlfriend doesn't think that even 10 is old enough.
I think part of the difference in opinion is that she's a third generation Chinese, and I was raised with the "good ol' 'merican" mindset...you know what I'm talking about--Boy Scouts, hanging out with the gang on our bikes, the bigger boys had Red Ryder BB guns, etc.
What do you guys think? How old were you when you got your first knife? How old is too young?

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I got my first one pretty young, but it was one of those tiny key chain pocket knives. As I got older, the knives got bigger. Give your kid one when he's ready. You'll know when you can trust him to use it safely.
Got a Schrade Old Timer when I was six. But, times have changed. I can remember teachers asking me for my knife so they could cut stuff in class. I don't know that it happens these days. I do like the idea of using a cotter pin before giving one out though. I might try that.
That would definitely not happen today. Yes, times they have changed. I'm glad to see someone else getting their first knife at six...
It might be more of a time sensitive thing, to give out a knife.  I asked for one.  The oldest knows about knives.  I've shown him how to use kitchen knives to cut string and open boxes, and he's even asked to borrow mine, but he hasn't asked for one himself yet.  But then, he also pulled a book of matches out of his pocket when I was looking for some.  So, he might already have one.  I should ask.
That made me laugh...
These days a damn peanut seems more dangerous than a knife.

And the memories come flooding back!

 

I recall being five when I discovered, by climbing garage shelving, my dad's Bowie knife. Let's just say that he was none too pleased when he discovered I'd been strutting around the neighborhood with it strapped to my hip. 

 

I didn't find it again until I was around 13, however a year later I did find a cheap promo-gift type pocket knife just lying in the gutter on my way to school. It was unusual in that to open it you had to lift a hinged lever, slide the blade forward, then snap the lever back into the handle. The snap feature was a pretty solid locking mechanism which I thought great.

 

My mom found it on my dresser one morning, asked about it and told me to show it to my dad. He set down his morning paper and looked it over real good. My heart was pounding, fearing it was a goner. He simply said, "Pretty nice," handed it back to me and returned to his paper.  I don't know if he caught hell for it later, probably not as it was a different era, but I was elated!

I also love the cotter pin idea though those are getting scarce to, it seems. I gave my son his first pocket knife, an extremely cheap one as I knew its destiny, at 7 years of age. He is now 11 and has long since lost it. I may get him another one, bit better in quality. Unfortunately, he seldom wears pants with pockets, preferring athletic shorts or sweat pants.
I think I was about 8 when, like Shane, I got an "old timer". For my own son, that's roughly the age range I'm expecting I'll give him his own knife. But much will depend on his own interests, and ability to be responsible.

I too was 6 or 7.  Its an awesome way to teach your son about respect for power.  To me, I loved knights, battles, war........and to get ahold of a knife......you had the power.  The power could hurt not only others but yourself (ie, my friend bobby closed the pocket knife on top of his knuckles as most kids do at least once).  So, learning how to use it, respect the blade, keep it clean, dont joke around with it.......all great lessons, and a precurser, in my opinion to using a gun.  While I am absolutly against anyone owning automatic weapons, and only chuckleheads want to carry a pistol to church and school...........I do think every kid should know how to use a weapon.  Learn about how to load, shoot, carry a weapon, and weapon safety.  A pocket knife is the first glimpse in to that world..........plus, you can carve stuff.....etc.

Boy Scouts used to have a great program for this......Totemanship.  Not sure its still around....mine was a red card I had to keep on me....corners cut if you were caught screwing up....had to redo class to get new card if all 4 corners cut off......teaches you how to carry and use a knife, axe, etc.  For beginners (age 11).

I didn't get into shooting until I was in high school, but I do agree that a knife teaches you the basics of responsibility with potentially dangerous things. 

 

I also remember having that boy scouts knife with the little card...I think mine was yellow but I could be wrong. I never saw anyone getting a corner cut...

The cubscouts have a "Whittling Chip" that you get as a Bear.  You have to be 8-9 years old, or in the 3rd grade.  I found out by accident that they can't carry one until then, as I let my then 7 year old Tiger cub carry his to a meeting.  Ooops! It was a prize from the popcorn, I thought if they would let him win it, he could carry it.  Seems I was wrong.

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