Gear

So You’re Thinking About Buying a Fancy Pocketknife...

Tips From the Guy Behind William Henry, Pocketknife Maker to the Stars

By Najib Benouar ·
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Maybe you’ve been romancing the thought of spending a summer weekend roughing it upstate. Or maybe you’ve been looking for a token of appreciation for a certain parental figure in your life by next week’s end. Or you’ve just been hanging out on gear sites a lot lately.

But chances are you’ve considered picking up a good-looking, well-made pocketknife. And maybe you’ve got a few questions.

Luckily we’ve got answers. Because we caught up with pocketknife guru, Matt Conable, whose William Henry knives can be found in the pockets of everyone from A-Listers like Harrison Ford and Nick Jonas to soldiers and first responders. (And it just so happens that WH dropped a new collection today.)

Here’s what we learned...

Pocketknives are an essential tool every guy should have. And choosing your own should be considered an experience, a ritual, a personal journey.
“We like to be able to solve problems, to be able to fix things, organize our world.” Conable says. “Knives are man’s first and most essential tool, allowing us to shape our environment. And all you have to do is have a box or vacuum pack to open, and a pocket knife is still essential.” Perhaps the tasks themselves have changed, but throughout history man has leaned on the use of sharp tools to accomplish daily tasks.

There’s no such thing as “too pretty to use” even when we’re talking about knives like these.
The sorts of pocketknives you see online as well as the ones from William Henry can sometimes look more akin to works of art than they do something you’d find in the typical Army Surplus shop, but that shouldn’t stop you from using one. “I get ‘too pretty to use’ a lot, and I have for a couple decades. But through that time WH pocketknives have also been used by soldiers, first responders, sportsmen, and people from all walks of life. Used, for whatever was needed at the time. Saving lives, dressing game, the most mundane and impressive tasks. The beauty, the adornment, the details are simply thoughtful finishing touches on an excellent tool.”

Skip the junk and buy something that makes you feel good when you hold it.
Conable’s advice for those wading into the waters of pocketknife ownership, “There’s a lot of junk out there, and some really exquisite work, too. If you’re going to do it, buy great pieces. Buy rare pieces. Buy pieces that you connect to personally, that make you feel good when you hold them. Knives are tools, not just for display. Whether or not you put them all through the paces, they are extensions of your hand and (when done right) a combination of form and function that appeals to our most basic desires and most lofty aspirations.”

WH knives have been favored by (certain actors who have portrayed) Han Solo, Steve Zissou, Morpheus, Aldo Raine, and Fat Tony.
William Henry knives have gained a strong following with in-the-know celebs. Conable mentioned casually “Laurence Fishburne, who has been a fan for some time, called and asked me to make a custom piece for another famous actor. Laurence needed a gift to acknowledge a personal favor.”

And it doesn’t get more manly than knives and personal favors.

Najib Benouar has been known on occasion to write about menswear, ice cream scoops and all other manner of gentlemanly pursuit.

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