Introduction: A "Ghetto" Retractable Utility Knife AKA "GRUK"

Picture of A "Ghetto" Retractable Utility Knife AKA "GRUK"

You may or many not know that I’m currently living/stuck in Kabul, Afghanistan.  Being here has its perks despite what you might think.  For one, living here forces you to be innovative, resourceful, and creative. 
One of the problems I was having was never having a utility knife where I wanted them.  Either they would get confiscated, or picked up by locals with sticky figures, or just lost.  I know that these are cheap items, but when the nearest Home Depot is 8000 miles away, you find other ways to get by. 

So enters my Ghetto Retractable Utility Knife or ‘GRUK.’  Its only requirements were that it needed to be made with found objects, I hand no real tools to make it with, and it needed to be ‘somewhat’ safe.  (To be honest, safety is never a real concern of mine.  I mean I live in a war zone.  Just yesterday 3 cars bombs exploded down the road.  Last Monday there was a massive attack on the city I’m in, so if I cut my finger on a knife, oh boy.  8>) (this is just me; feel free to be as safe as you want.)  Safety is only a measure of comfort.  Each individual needs to find their own. 

Step 1: What Do You Need?

Picture of What Do You Need?

OK, here is what I found, a piece of cardboard, a piece of wire and an old blade from another knife.  (Yes, I understand the irony of finding a knife while looking for parts to make one.  But there is an excellent ‘ible here from a guy that makes them from scratch.  Here is the link…
That is what I was planning on doing before I found the knife blade.)

Step 2: Make/sharpen/clean the Blade.

Picture of Make/sharpen/clean the Blade.

Depending on what you are starting with for a blade, follow the aforementioned ‘ible to get it to resemble a blade. I just needed to clean and sharpen the blade I found on the sidewalk.  (Note, in Afghanistan, sidewalks are hard to find, but just about every building is made of masonry.  So I just needed to walk outside and rub the blade on the side of the house to get the desired results.  BTW, if your co-workers didn’t think you were strange BEFORE they saw you rubbing the building, they will after they see it.  Especially if you say “I just wanted to see if a Genie would come out.”  Like I did! 8>)

Step 3: Making the Handle

Picture of Making the Handle

To make the handle, cut a piece of cardboard the width of your hand.  Now, just tightly fold the cardboard around the blade.  It’s pretty simple.
You want at *least* to cover the blade twice.  It will wear through the cardboard if you open/close it a lot.  So make sure that you replace the cardboard before it falls apart.  (note, the wire will provide a small measure of protection if it does cut through the cardboard.)

Step 4: Secure the Handle

Picture of Secure the Handle

I wrapped the wire around the handle to secure it firmly.  This worked out perfectly for my needs.  Note, the blade can move in and out of the cardboard, so you can retract it.  Just tighten or loosen the wire to increase or decrease the friction on the blade.

Step 5: Decorate

Picture of Decorate

Not really required, but I figured I’d make the knife “mine” by just jazzing it up a little bit.  I’m no artist.

Have fun and don’t cut yourself!



abeimers (author)2015-06-21

How are u struck

geeklord (author)2010-02-03

I'm gonna make one, just so I can have it in my desk. Thanks for the 'ible!

 I keep a meat cleaver in my desk.. you know, for when the zombies attack

So I'm not the only one! Makes me feel a little bit less weird already

fancypenguin845 (author)and-reas2010-02-23

well, i guess i can tell you guys about the shovel and socket wrench i keep next to my bed. for self defense purposes :P

I just have a home made shocker (Tazer)

Fashim (author)killerbanjo2010-02-24

I have a piece of wood with Nails at the End

geeklord (author)Fashim2010-02-27

 Aaaaa..I only have a cheapy stainless steel knife stuck in my bed stand...

tledgerwood (author)geeklord2011-08-01

I have like 8 different pocket knifes, a homemade kodak tazer, 2 lock knives and a home made cross bow by my bed. Why so much? Incase some one annoys me.

funny thing is... im not joking

killerbanjo (author)geeklord2010-02-28

I would never use anything that could cut or damage somone, only blut objects or electrical.

doughnutguy1 (author)killerbanjo2010-07-15

if zombies invade and all you had was a lead pipe, simalar to the one i have next to my bed, how could you cut things? you have too consider utility purposes.

geeklord (author)killerbanjo2010-03-07

Um...I don't think I'm going to roll over on it in my sleep, or anything else like that.

Fashim (author)geeklord2010-03-08

I once fell asleep listening to music i managed to wrap it round my neck and make it so the when ever i sit up it tightens 0.o

geeklord (author)Fashim2010-03-08


TheInventor1997 (author)geeklord2010-06-11

i have a machine gun under my pillow, an m4 i think, i got it for my b-day =P

geeklord (author)TheInventor19972010-06-15

Scary thing is, I actually know someone who has an M4. I've never really met the guy, I just know he has tons of $$$ and collects guns.

TheInventor1997 (author)geeklord2010-06-17

hmm, he lives in canada? i might know him

hobbitboy (author)Fashim2011-01-08

if have a pvc pipe by my bed. one time my sister was sneeking in my room and she tripped it woke me up and i beat her with it

keithsachs (author)and-reas2011-01-27

i keep a bayonett..

pogoman12345 (author)geeklord2011-01-30

i keep a nuke in my desk, just in case the military needs me to bomb Afghanistan

Hlavinka50 (author)2010-08-01

Hey if you add a piece of wire through the hole at the end of the blade you will be able to pull it in or push the blade just my $.02

TheInventor1997 (author)2010-06-11

hmm, oookayyy

TheInventor1997 (author)2010-06-11

oh ya is it hard living there

StuJones (author)2010-02-26

Very nice! By the way, what are you doing in Afganistan?

inchman (author)StuJones2010-02-26

21 years in the Army, and that’s why I’ve spent the better part of the past 4 years in the Middle East. (But I do have fun here.)

Feel free to read about what I’m doing here at my blog…

It’s got lots of pictures and stories from my adventures here.

Or you can read about my deployment in Iraq last year here…

Have a great day and thanks for the comment!

Thanks again, 1LT Eric Petrevich

assax (author)2010-02-13

 cool idea but if you cant get a knife where did you get the computer and camera to make this? :)

Arbitror (author)assax2010-02-26

Well, if you read his words closer, you would discover he said this:

One of the problems I was having was never having a utility knife where I wanted them.  Either they would get confiscated, or picked up by locals with sticky figures, or just lost.  I know that these are cheap items, but when the nearest Home Depot is 8000 miles away, you find other ways to get by. 

shiftrk (author)2010-02-20

Call it what you want., but that's a shank!!

Fashim (author)shiftrk2010-02-24


dirtstarr (author)2010-02-03

Be safe man!

Conbamo (author)2010-02-03

lol it looks like an old box cutter i have, but also looks similar to somthing a prison inmate would use o.O no offence to you at all

patsougstad (author)2010-02-03

A+ for resourcefulness!! Thanks for your service.

leeski (author)2010-02-01

 A utility knife in kabul sounds useless.....what are you doing there...

Broom (author)leeski2010-02-02

Why useless? Do you suppose that everything in Kabul comes pre-opened a/o pre-cut?

Jonny Katana (author)Broom2010-02-02

 I think he was referring to using the knife defensively.

Mother Natures Son (author)2010-02-02

Goodness, why isn't this in the Valentine's Day contest? I bet my girlfriend would love a hideous, starkly utilitarian improvised tool.

Nice job.

milsorgen (author)2010-01-28

As long as the blade is sharp I'm sure it will be about safe as any other utility knife.

correction, Safe as any other sharp utility knife. I have found very little more dangerous than a dull blade. 

oh yea, i cut the entire length of my thumb open because i was trying to jam a dull blade into a bag of meat at work.  Keep it sharp!! 

Pumpkin$ (author)2010-01-30

Stuck? Let me guess, the government and military... Run for it.
 Do it
wanna XD

jtobako (author)2010-01-29

Pre-Duc-Tape tech!

stephenniall (author)2010-01-29

Id imagine this is as safe as any other knife .. I would wrap the handle in duct tape though ! would look cool and be more water resistant etc

MrMystery96 (author)2010-01-28

i think it looks nice. great job.

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Bio: "Black socks and Birkenstocks do not maketh the geek. I would argue that the essence of geekitude comes from within. To the true geek, it ... More »
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