The Woodsboy’s first knife

A little over a year ago, when the Woodsboy turned 5, I bought him his first knife. While this may seem too young an age to some people, I think this is largely a 1st-world viewpoint. From evidence I have seen, children in rural areas of developing countries and tribal societies around the world are accustomed to using knives at even younger ages. It’s true that this is largely out of necessity, as they don’t live in a world full of pre-packaged, store-bought items, but the simple fact is that they would not be allowed to handle knives like this if they were not capable of it. So under constant supervision, with safety always in mind and with a clear set of ground rules (e.g. always cutting away from himself, always returning his knife to its sheath when not in use, only cutting things Daddy lets him cut, letting Daddy keep the knife in a safe place when we’re not practicing with it etc.), I have begun teaching the Woodsboy how to use his first knife.

The knife in question is the Condor Junior from Marttiini:

Image linked from

I bought this knife from a local sporting goods store for around 25 Euros ($27.50). A few specs:

  • 8 cm (3.2″) Scandi-ground blade
  • Rounded tip for safety
  • Finger guard
  • Grippy rubber handle
  • Rugged leather sheath

So far over the past year or so we have used the knife together about half a dozen times, and our use has been centered around safe handling, as well as getting to know how the blade works and how to cut effectively. Most of what we do is cutting sticks, whittling and cutting string. As he gets older and progresses, we’ll work on wood carving and other things like that. I’m happy to say that the Woodsboy has never come close to hurting himself with the knife and am proud to see that he handles it in a safe way (praise for good behavior goes a long way!). If you are looking for a starter knife for a child, I highly recommend the Marttiini Condor Junior or a similar knife with the same level of quality and safety features. The Condor Junior is a solid, well-made knife which should serve my son well for years (BTW, the tip can be ground pointy later on when he is mature enough and can begin carving with the tip).

I will leave you with a picture from last weekend showing the Woodsboy practicing his feather-stick/shaving making skills. Needless to say, we were both very proud of his pile of shavings (which by the end was more than enough to get a campfire going). πŸ™‚

DISCLAIMER: Utmost care is necessary when allowing children to use bladed tools. They should NOT be left unattended. You alone as a parent/guardian are responsible for deciding whether or not your own child is old/mature enough to handle bladed tools and for teaching and supervising them.

30 comments on “The Woodsboy’s first knife

  1. Julian says:

    As a parent and a Scout leader I totally agree with you, my kids got knives aged 6 and my son has cut (tiny nicks) himself a few times, my daughter never (touch wood) and they have been using knives for many years 6+. The same with Scouts explain, keep instruction clear and let them grow in confidence and they’ll be safe. Its a shock to some parents but they soon realise we’re sensible and safe. I hope he enjoys using his knife and keeps the tradition alive.

  2. richie8923 says:

    Great entry. IΒ΄ve also been pondering a knife for my little lad aged 5 but wasnΒ΄t quite sure what to get. The idea of a rounded point is excellent and absolutely vital.

  3. I think I carried a penknife in first grade. Most of us country kids did back then. Things have changed a bit since then.

  4. Finnman says:

    I think that’s pretty good first knife. I gave first knife to my youngest boy (4) last week ( Victorinox Bantam). My older son (7) have small kauhavan puukkopaja puukko with sharp tip and no hand guard. No wounds so far πŸ™‚

    • I thought about giving the Woodsboy an SAK as his first knife, but decided against a folder because I didn’t want it to close on his fingers accidentally. In a few years, when he’s experienced with the fixed blade, he can have a folder as well. Hope your boys are well and that we can meet up this summer! Thanks for the comments. πŸ™‚

  5. wgiles says:

    I have a Marttiini Condor and it has become my new favorite inexpensive knife. I was 12 when I got my first rifle. I was only allowed to use it under my father’s supervision, but it was (and still is) my rifle. When you learn to use and respect a knife or an ax or a rifle that is yours, it makes a difference. My hatchet wasn’t new when I got it, but it was mine and I learned how to sharpen and use it safely. I think that these experiences are often missing from our children’s lives.

    • The Condors are a pretty attractive line of inexpensive, but good quality knives. I might have to get one myself at some point. πŸ™‚

      Couldn’t agree with you more with your comments about learning to use bladed tools, firearms etc. Trying to do my part with the Woodsboy!

  6. Ron van Wiggen says:

    Of course you’d go with a Martinii Junior. We’d have and had the Mora Scout. I like the sheath!
    And 5 is a good age for starting with knives. We kept 6 as a start, mainly due to laws in the Netherlands.

    • Hehehe, what can I say? πŸ™‚ I can imagine that you guys have Moras in every sporting goods store the way we have Marttiinis here. πŸ˜‰ Yep, the sheath has a nice design and is very rugged. It’s every bit as good as the sheaths that come with the knives for adults.

      Thanks for your comments and support!

  7. OakAshandThorn says:

    You are right…most parents these days wouldn’t be caught dead teaching a young child how to use a knife. But rural areas have their own way of doing things, such as the hunter rite of passage when the child is old enough to get a hunting license, their first firearm, etc. πŸ˜‰

    Man I love Martiinis…I have the Arctic Circle which I wear as a neck knife. It may be smaller than most “Bushcraft” knives, but it’s one heck of a slicer. Martiini makes some of the best puukkos for the price IMO :).

    • Fortunately, Finland still has a very strong tradition of outdoorsmanship, hunting, knife use etc. None of the Woodsboy’s relatives got their panties in a bunch when I gave him the knife on his 5th birthday. πŸ˜‰

      Knife snobs may poo-poo Marttiinis, but they are probably some of the best inexpensive knives out there: super sharp, solidly made, real leather sheaths etc. Nothing wrong with using them at all. I have one of their cheapest models, and it is a solid performer.

  8. Joe says:

    That looks like it would make a pretty good knife for skinning squirrels and weasels. Those feather sticks by the way, very impressive; nearly a full curl. My Dad used to count how many I could make, only the ones with a full curl counted.

  9. Richard says:

    Makes my heart soar to read and see this. I too had a early love of knives, that has continued into my late 60’s. I didn’t receive a good knife to begin with, I found a big ole Bowie type knife, that was stuck in the ground (probably stuck there years earlier by a hunter dressing out a deer). I have spent most of my life searching for the perfect knife. About 30 years ago I found the Finnish Puukko style knife, although not perfect for everything it is really good at everything. Thank you for being a good father.

    • Thanks so much for your comments, Richard! I’m doing the best I can. πŸ™‚

      I have an appreciation for puukkos as well. You’re right that they are good at a lot of different things, but not perfect for everything. Traditionally, I think they were primarily used for carving wood, cutting leather, cleaning fish and game etc., all of which they do very well. I usually prefer a knife with a stronger tang and larger blade because I find them to be even more versatile, but my second favorite is the puukko, no question.

  10. I did the same with my kids. They learned proper knife use with a wooden knife I whittled, practicing grasps and good mechanics. Then they moved on to Victorinox’s Kid’s knife (also a rounded blade.) Now they each have an Opinel #8 with the brightly colored handles. Thanks for your writing!


    • Thanks for your comments and support, Mike! I plan on giving the Woodsboy a folder when he is a little older and is proficient with the fixed blade. It will probably be a Victorinox or Opinel, as they are my favorites as well. πŸ™‚

  11. Clancy J says:

    What a lucky kid! We need to get our son a good knife as we plan on lots of camping and fishing this summer, not to mention Webelo badges to be earned. We are working on our first hobo stove too.

  12. Joona Vainio says:

    To each his or her own,of course, but I was, and my daughter (now 23) was given a downscaled real puukko at that age or in fact earlier. Some might say the rounded tip is counterproductive as it strips puukko as many of its features as it does of its deadliness. And I wouldn’t call this country exactly 3rd world πŸ˜‰

    The only real difference between a “kids” puukko and “adults” one was the size, as a comfortable handle and a steady grip are the more important safeties. As is the importance of sharpness above all else. A dull blade is much more dangerous as it will slip, skid, and skip easier. A kid will have hard time learning how to ride a bike if he or she’s got only a trike to practice with.

    Whatever, common sense and encouraging kids to use it comes a long way. A “castrated” puukko is better than no puukko at all.

    • This knife’s edge comes as sharp as any of their “adult” knives, so it’s perfectly acceptable for learning to do certain cutting tasks with. As for the tip and guard, they can be easily modified with tools once a child is ready. So this knife can be made into exactly what you are talking about: a smaller version of an adult’s knife. This is what I am planning to do. Can you carve with a rounded tip? No. Does a child need to learn carving with a pointed tip as the first thing? No. Can two children who learn with two different knives ultimately be just as good with a knife in time? Yep.

      No, of course Finland isn’t anything like a 3rd-world country, but it (along with Scandinavia) is probably unique among them in keeping certain traditions alive, e.g. knife use. πŸ™‚

      Thanks for the comments!

      • Joona Vainio says:

        I wasn’t dissing the Kid Condor. Tested and considered it for my then 5-6 year old. But she was more interested in Xacto knives and such how to design and cut incredible cardboard houses and sharpen artist pencils and pastels. And later photography and such.

        In that you need a sharp point by default, so no wonder if our parenting approaches took slightly different courses. Just made sure she knows how to use a puukko if needed. And let her use my smaller ones and geve her the “traditional” coming of age heirloom puukko (a Marttiini 2009 annual one) when she graduated.

        Back then I didn’t refurnish and make shoddy custom knives as a hobby. Now of course all my friends and relatives have to bear with another “oh no not a knife AGAIN” πŸ˜›

        Nice restoration jobs, BTW. From one serious(ly only) amateur to another.

        • Onko sulla oma bloggi, Joona? I would like to see your knife projects. πŸ™‚ Thanks for the compliments as well. I think I will only ever be an amateur, but in my mind, as long as it works, it’s OK. πŸ˜‰

          After the Woodsboy has outgrown the Condor Junior, I will get him a nice, custom puukko from one of my favorite knife makers. It will be when he is a little older and able to appreciate it a little more. That’s why his first knife is a cheaper factory-made knife. It’s pretty much just a starter knife to get him comfortable with using one. Sometime soon we will modify it to be more capable and then he will use it like that for a while until he gets his real puukko. πŸ˜‰

          Thanks again for the comments and for visiting the blog!

  13. Joona Vainio says:

    Funny typos, no edit. Sorry and never mind. Own bad :/

  14. OutdoorEnvy says:

    That’s a great first knife choice! I have been thinking of this model or a Mora 511 or 546, old style as a first knife as well for my kids. Not quite there yet but close. Close enough dad is thinking about which knife it will be πŸ™‚ Good stuff and good times ahead for you and your boy.

    • Glad to hear the little ones can expect to receive their first knives soon. πŸ™‚ I would have preferred a wooden handled knife for the Woodsboy, but they didn’t have any at the store I went to, and the Woodsboy’s birthday was later that day. πŸ˜‰ This is not to say that I just grabbed “any” knife off the shelf, as I knew the Condor Junior would be a good started knife in any case.

      Thanks for the comments!

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