Lachlan made the following short video where I demonstrate opening a fresh clam with a sturdy pocket knife.
It is easy for a novice to cut his or her hand trying to open a clam. As one web site says, it is best to be shown by someone who is good at it. Just below the video is a description of the procedure.
Hold the knife in your dominant hand, and in your other hand position the clam with its lip facing out towards your fingers and the hinge facing in toward the base of your thumb. The clams fatter, rounder end should be down towards your pinky finger. Apply the knife edge carefully in the groove between the two lips, and use your bottom two fingers to apply steady pressure to the back of the knife. Do not try to use your knife hand; this increases the chance of slipping [emphasis added]. Simply squeeze the knife in and use it to cut the two muscles holding the clam closed. If you are careful you can run the knife along the roof of the clam and sever these muscles without cutting the meat. Next simply cut the other ends of these muscles. It takes some practice to open clams without mangling the meats.
Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the Aleta, Ocracoke's mailboat from 1944-1952, compliments of the Core Sound Museum. Click on the following link for photos, text, and audio recordings about this iconic vessel: http://www.coresound.com/saltwaterconnections/portlight/aleta/