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Every year, I write up a gift guide that discusses the small items that have made a big difference in my shop.  These are items that are ideal for gifts – it’s difficult to ask your toddlers for an Altendorf table saw for Christmas. I hope that these items are useful to you. If you have any complaints about this gift guide, please submit it here.

The first item is a shop knife. I thought I’d rewrite and improve my original thoughts on this knife, but I cannot.

I lost my shop knife while we were unpacking at Handworks this spring, and I have been on a quest since then to find its replacement. (The company that made my now-lost knife no longer exists.)

I am dang picky about knives. I’ve carried one every day since elementary school. So it is no small thing when I say this: I am glad I lost my favorite knife at Handworks because now I have a Kershaw Link drop-point knife in gray aluminum “blackwash,” whatever that is.

Here’s what I need in a knife:

  • One-handed operation – I need to be able to quickly close and open the knife with zero fuss.
  • The blade has to lock in the open position for safety.
  • It has to be lightweight and compact.
  • It has to have a belt clip.
  • All the components need to be incredibly rugged. I hate flimsy knives.
  • Oh, I also dislike flashy materials or things that look like a Klingon’s wet dream.

That is a tall order, and I rejected a lot of knives until I found the Kershaw Link. What makes the knife even more extraordinary is it is made in the U.S. and can be found for about $40 retail. (I bought mine on sale for $31.)

The blade is stainless steel, but it takes a good edge and is plenty durable when cutting wood, wire and whatever shop material is asking for a stabbing or a slashing. Totally recommended.

— Christopher Schwarz

  • To read entries from past guides, click here.

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Showing 13 comments
  • thekiltedwoodworker

    My SCUBA dive knife is a Kershaw. It’s dreamy.

    I also have a Kershaw Wade Officer pocket knife that my dad found for sale on the counter top at a feed store out in the country. There were three of them, still in the box, along with a dozen Old Timer pocket knives. He asked how much for the knives. The guy said the Old Timers were $20 each and… He thought the others weren’t that good and said he’d sell them for $10 each.

    Dad bought all three Kershaw knives and gave one to me for Christmas. They don’t sell it anymore, but it was a $70 knife. The serrated edge is wicked sharp.

  • Neitsdelf

    Geez, now I want me one of those beautiful Altendorf glue-up/assembly tables for Christmas.

  • whiterc

    Chris, How do you hone the blade?

  • steveg150

    I was so disappointed! After going through the purchase and starting the checkout process I was informed that they couldn’t send it to me. I’m guessing it has something to do with New York State regulation. Anyone know a work around?

  • bicyforev

    A great recommendation Mr. Schwarz! Got one of the Kershaw’s as gift about five years ago, and I haven’t lost it yet.

    My problem now is that I didn’t even know that the Altendorf table saw existed…. Now I want one.

    Thanks a lot,

  • Mark Fisher

    Lately, I’ve carried a Case Stockman. It isn’t locking, but it has a nice high carbon steel blade that can be sharpened incredibly sharp and it is small. For my regular office/teaching days, it is perfect. My other regular is a Benchcrafted Mini-griptilian. It really costs too much but it close to perfect.

  • fubfcriberMike

    Kershaw 1560 Whirlwind for six years plus, along with a Victorinox Swiss tool (original version).
    This model has a blade made of Sandvik 14C28N steel. I’ve had a knife in my pocket since 4th grade and this is by far my favorite. Tough as a hardened nail, stays sharp through ridiculous abuse. If I ever lose it I’ll buy another at full list and be happy to get it.

  • Richard

    I found the CRKT K300KXP Hootenanny also meets these requirements. I liked it so well, I bought my son one also.

  • Barquester

    My only stainless knife has a glass break which is a must if I leave the house.

  • Christopher Hawkins

    The Kershaw 1620NB Scallion Folding Knife is also an excellent choice. Please describe how you close your knife one-handed. I can’t push the accidental closure stop to the side while folding the blade into the body.

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