When I bought my first pair of Bjornklader work pants I noticed a raised metal button on the side of the leg. I wondered what it was for so I did some online research and found that in Europe tradesmen attach fixed-blade sheathed knives to them. My work vest has one of these buttons as do some other brands and articles of European workwear.
A number of companies make European-style work knives. The brands I'm familiar with are both made in Sweden. The first knives I bought were from Mora; the ones in this story are from Hultafors (click photos to see more).
I'm not sure why this style of knife is popular in Europe and yet almost unknown in the U.S. The European preference for fixed-blade knives is probably a combination of experience (the knives work) and like so many things in construction—tradition.
There were several reasons why I started using these knives:
* I thought it would be practical to have a small whittling type knife for cleaning out cope cuts.
* Fixed-blade knives are more robust than utility knives and can do things utility knives cannot.
* I liked the idea that specific versions of these knives existed for various trades: carpenters, electricians, painters, and the like (click photo for more details).
* It doesn't hurt that there is something cool and unusual about these knives; I like having things that are different.
Hultafors' knives are relatively inexpensive and retail for between $12 and $22 including the sheath. Blades are made from Japanese steel (carbon or stainless) and can be resharpened. The polypropylene handles are tough enough to beat on and yet comfortable to grasp.
Knives of this type can often be found where hunting, bush craft (survival), and tactical supplies are sold. Mora products are widely distributed in the U.S. and are readily available online. You'll have to look a little harder for Hultafors knives but they're out there (Amazon and other online vendors have them). The knives in this story were provided by RepconNW, a workwear and tool distributor in Battle Ground, WA.