Weekly Update 2.9.18

The weekly update is best summed up in one word.  COLD!  I’ll share a few pics below of how we celebrate the cold up here but business first.

The GEC 56’s two blade models have been coming through with regularity and have been well received.  As usual, the interest in the single blade version that’s coming seems to be drawing the most interest.

GEC 56 Mustard Jigged Bone

The 56 is a great knife but personally, I’ve always preferred a Wharncliffe, Drop Point, Sheepsfoot or Clip (in that order) for a day to day knife.  In fact, I’d like to see more Drop Points from GEC to lure me back into the fold.

Once the single blades are finished up in another week or so, I’m looking forward to the new #43.  I’m not sure if GEC will squeeze the 71 Bull Nose in front of the 43’s but that should be a pretty short run in any case.

I added a few more of the Blackjack Knives to the storefront and am getting some feedback from customers.  What I’m hearing is tracking pretty close to what I’ve felt.  It’s a great knife for the price.  I’ve played around with one a little but haven’t taken it outdoors to really put it through it’s paces.  I’m particularly happy with the way that blade quickly thins to a narrower cutting edge from about the midpoint on towards the tip.  What you might sacrifice in strength is more then made up for in utility.

Blackjack Mod 125

I was showing a friend the stag handled 124 (above) and she immediately grabbed it with her index finger in the ricasso and thumb on top of the blade.  Her first comment was how comfortable it felt.  Have to agree!

No news regarding Queen this week.  It seems that everything is still on hold and we all continue to wait to see what happens.

Now, regarding the cold weather….  I’ve been taking some pictures as our Ice Castle has been being built and last nite was the official lighting.  The Ice Castle is the center point of our annual winter Polar Fest.

The Polar Fest is an annual event that lasts for about a week in an attempt to distract us all from the miseries of a north country winter and to stall off the effects of cabin fever.  We’ve had sub-zero overnite temps since Christmas nearly every nite so we’re ready for a distraction.

Harvesting ice from Detroit Lake was the 2nd largest industry in our town.  The last commercial harvest was in the 1970’s.  Starting in the lat 1800’s, two competing ice companies harvested and sold ice to businesses from the midwest to the west coast and Texas with the Northern Pacific Railroad being the largest consumer.  At the peak, they harvested up to 200,000 pounds of ice employing as many as 180 men during the peak harvest.  There are some interesting video’s showing how the ice was harvested this winter and more info at this link if you’re interested:  Ice Harvest on Detroit Lakes

Here are a few pictures I’ve taken over the past few weeks chronicling the harvest and construction of the Ice Castle.

The harvest begins.

400-500 pound blocks are floated to a conveyor lifting them out of the water onto the ice

The blocks were lifted into place and fitted by hand

After several weeks, the structure is finished with parapets in place

Flags are put in place with the names of the sponsors responsible for making this happen.

Last nite, February 8th, 2018 was the official lighting of the castle kicking off the Polar Fest

Just to give you a better appreciation of this event, I took the color pix last nite around 7:45PM with an outside temp of -2F finishing up at -21F this morning.  We arrived late but evidently there was  a large crowd present earlier to kick things off.   All kinds of events occur during the next 10 days with a fireworks display set for February 19.  Then….we’re ready for spring!

 

Weekly Update Queen Revival?

I haven’t heard from Queen since last Fall but I’m getting reports from several customers that have talked to people that should know, it sounds like Queen is on its way back.  There haven’t been any definitive details I can repeat but the trickle of info is consistent and coming from multiple sources soooo…I’m left to believe there’s some hope.  Appreciate the info some of you have shared.

The Great Eastern  56 Trappers have been arriving and going out about as fast as they come in.  They’re every bit as nice as the original 56’s.  I talked to Chris earlier this week and tried to add a few more to my initial order with limited success.  My understanding is that some of the 56’s are being run in relatively small (100 pieces) numbers and as a result were actually ‘allocated’ to the dealers.

56 Natural Canvas

I know a lot of the runs are based on initial early dealer orders but sometimes it’s pretty obvious that the initial dealer interest may not reflect the demand.  Often dealer early orders have to be submitted before much buzz is created on an upcoming pattern.  In my case, I may order light based on early interest only to have my mail box fill up with requests for reserves after the info has spread.

When we get an early heads up (like we’re seeing more frequently) as in the case of the upcoming 43 Oregon Pattern it’s so much easier to anticipate interest.  And no doubt it makes life easier for production planning at GEC resulting in easier access to the consumer.

I had an email last night regarding a dealer that has set up some sort of lottery system for early reservations and the writer was poking fun at the matter.  I totally understand why the dealer might do it.  In the past I took reservations and ended up with more pissed off customers than you can imagine.  “Old” customers expected (rightly so)  to be put at the top of the list for any new releases.  Pretty soon it was only “Old” customers that were able to get on the reserved list.  Then you had 10 old customers and you’re only going to get 5 knives.  New customers were frustrated that they didn’t have a chance for some of the more difficult pieces.  I finally quit taking early orders on almost all releases just to avoid the frustration.

Lets face it, GEC has an allocation program that rewards larger dealers with discounts and the lions share of some runs.  Is that fair?  Probably so, but it sure makes life tough for anyone starting out trying to expand or build a legitimate full time business.

I’ve kind of gone off on a tangent but I like to be up front about what’s going on and sharing some of the frustrations dealers can run up against.   Be careful criticizing some of the efforts made to appease all of the consumers.  Trust me, give it time and some of these high demand knives that have ended up with hyper-inflated prices will come back to earth and be available on the secondary market.   When a $90 production knife turns into a $300+ collectible almost overnite, that’s not going to last.

The subject of these incredible prices for some of the GEC’s came up with a customer I have a high regard for in the knife industry.  He brought up the point (and I totally agree) that in the next 5-10 years we’re going to see some of the aging collectors start to liquidate their collections.  We were talking about collectors that have been acquiring since the 50’s and 60’s that hold some incredible older rare or interesting knives in their collections.  Right now the current group of collectors are attracted to the most recent shiny new releases and pay scant attention to these older treasures.  For now, historical interest or unique qualities aren’t a factor to many collectors.  It’ll be interesting to see what happens down the road.

 

New Products Updates

Today is the last day of the Shot Show in Las Vegas and the knife industry was well represented it sounds like!  You can always count on some exciting new products coming out of that show whether its new knives, guns or hunting socks!  A quick look at the web page for Knife News was pretty interesting seeing a few new products related to the knife industry.  I haven’t had time to go through all of the offerings, but here’s a link you might like to check out.  knife News

The have a ton of videos on the site with coverage of a lot of new releases.  At first glance it appears that most are tacticals with a few traditional folders and of course, the bushcraft hunting knives as well.  I like the videos because most are under a minute and give you a quick overview of the knife without a 10 minute sales pitch and 2 minutes of photos of the box from all different angles.  If it’s something that looks interesting, I can make notes and do more research later. The point is, if your into sharp things, there’s bound to be something that catches your eye!

It’s really interesting how so many of the folding knives are taking on what I call a European flair.  Let’s face it, there are a lot of knives coming in from overseas and the origins are reflected in the styles.  Some I like the looks of and others, not so much.  So much of it comes down to the blade steels and how it actually feels in the hand.  Many of them seem to have a very slim profile which is great if you have a smaller hand or want a knife that will disappear in your pocket.  Too often when it comes to using them they don’t feel comfortable.

A surprise arrived this morning in a box of Blackjack Knives I hadn’t anticipated seeing until next week.

Blackjack Knives Classics

As promised, I’ll get a few of these listed in the store hopefully yet today.  In the meantime, I refer anyone interested to a recent post where I spent a little time explaining what I liked about the Blackjack line.  In all honesty I haven’t spent a lot of time actually using one in the field and that’s going to change.

I like using the bigger knives like my trusty Fallkniven A1,  That knife is a handful, capable of most any serious work including splitting firewood.

Fallkniven A1

But I’m drawn to trying one of the Model 125 Blackjacks for a ‘medium’ sized work knife.

Blackjack Mod 125 & Fallkniven A1

The Blackjack 125 maintains that long handle I like plus the mid portion of the handle features a hand filling ‘swell’ that really feels good.  The long guard on the Blackjack combined with the long ricasso should really make for a ‘safe’ knife on detail work.  Another element I like about the Blackjack is the relatively rapid thinning of the blade as you move towards the tip.

Blackjack Mod 125

One of the dislikes I have of my A1 is the blade is quite thick it’s entire length.  While that’s not really a criticism, it means that thin slicing isn’t a strong point for that type of blade.  That thick blade is meant to split, not slice.

And I guess that’s why we need more than one knife, right?  At any rate, I plan on spending some time using one of the Blackjacks and really get a feel for it.  Always like a challenge!

Some of you have noticed I’ve been adding a few older GEC’s to the storefront this week.  I had a small collection come my way and there are/were a few real gems in the mix.  There will be a few more next week.  Always fun to get an opportunity to pick up a collection when I can.

A final note is I see the first of the GEC #56’s has shown up on their website.  Based on that, I’d anticipate we’ll see the first of them start to come through next week.

Weekly Update 1.20.17

The primary question of this weeks update is what’s happening with Queen Cutlery?  I don’t think most of us know anymore then we did a couple of weeks ago.  My hope is that within the next couple of weeks we get and update from Queen to give us a little idea what the future holds for all of us.

In the meantime, sales of Queen and Schatt & Morgan knives have noticeably picked up.  Some buyers admit they’ve never owned a Queen/S&M and figure they better grab one now if they’re ever going to get the one they want.  Others want a “pre-reorganization” knife.  And a few are speculating on a worst case scenario, buying in anticipation that the value of all of the Queen products to go up.  At any rate, I like to see the folks that have never owned a Queen give them a try.

Fixed blade knives have been selling well.  I’m not sure if it’s a growing interest in fixed blades due to the lack of ‘new’ traditional folders or if it’s just the time of year.  Spring is coming and along with it camping, hiking and fishing seasons. The Hess brand has always done well for me and their knives are a fantastic price point considering the quality.

Another line I’ve carried but neglected to give much attention are the Blackjack knives.  I keep a few of the #5’s (my most popular seller) listed in the store but for whatever reason, this has been a gunshow knife.  It seems to sell best when a customer has the chance to pick it up and actually handle it rather than just looking at pictures.

It’s a brand that’s been around since the late 80’s in one form or another and finally found it’s footing in the late 90’s.  Mike Stewart had started out with some of the Chris Reeve fixed blade patterns and finally settled on patterns with a strong influence of the original Bo Randall knives.  They’re not necessarily copies of Randall’s but they have a definite Randall influence.

Blackjack Model 5 Big Leaf Maple Burl Handle

Part of the appeal to me is the size of the handles.  I have a fairly large hand and like the extra long handle on a heavier duty work knife.

Another detail I appreciate on a larger knife is the long ricasso.  Using a large knife for ‘detail’ work can be hazardous and clumsy at best.  The ability to get your fingers closer to the working edge can be extremely helpful to maintain control when working on smaller projects.  That long guard is added insurance your hand isn’t going to slip allowing your fingers to slide up the blade. (important for guys like me)

And finally, it’s made in the USA from A2 Tool Steel with a convex grind.  Fit and finish on all of the knives I’ve handled has been excellent.  As far as the price goes, coming in well below the $200 mark,  they are priced right.  My current inventory of the Blackjacks is low but I have an order coming in for the next gunshow and I’ll try to share more of them in the store.

Right now I’m expecting to see the Blackjacks in about a week to 10 days.  Another couple dozen Hess‘ will be coming through in about 2 weeks.  I’m guessing we may see the first of the GEC 56’s starting to show up in another week as well.  In the mean time, let’s all hope we hear some good news out of Queen real soon.

 

 

 

 

Queen Cutlery, Trestle Pine Knives…now what?

After the announcement was official from Queen Cutlery on Wednesday regarding their cessation of operations I received a couple of emails and phone calls asking me did this affect Trestle Pine Knives and if so… now what?  The short answer is I don’t know.

First, I hope they come out of this reorganization whole and can continue operations.  The knife industry has changed dramatically in the last 10 years making it harder for everyone to maintain a big enough share of a shrinking market to survive.  When I say ‘shrinking market’ I mean there are more and more products vying for a limited number of consumers.   Queen had a unique niche manufacturing an old name representing a quality product that I hope they can focus on again.

Obviously, the fortunes of Trestle Pine Knives was/is tied to the ongoing operations of Queen Cutlery.  I haven’t had any substantive conversation with anyone from Queen since the first part of October.  Emails and text messages have gone unanswered or only vague replies were made.  More recently, I sent in several customer knives for repair/replacement which were returned to me marked “delivery refused”.  There are other personal and financial issues that make this particularly disappointing to me.  In brief, I’m totally in the dark as to the future of Trestle Pine Knives.  It all depends on Queens ability to recover.

I’ve been asked if I would work with another manufacturer.  IF it were possible, I’d consider it.  One of the problems is that the Trestle Pine’s are built using only premium blade steels which some manufacturers can’t or won’t work with.  Second, not everyone is willing to work with some of the exotic woods that I’ve used with Queen.   That leaves the option of following the market and building another traditional bone handled folder.  Not an option for me.

It was a hope that I would continue to scale back the business this year and focus almost exclusively on the Trestle Pine Knives going forward.  I had really hoped to have another knife released by now.   The acceptance of the line has been steadily growing and Sven’s efforts in Germany has been great.   But for now….. I don’t have a clue what’s going to happen.

Neat Old Knives From 2017

I’ve been bemoaning the fact that 2017 was pretty devoid of much ‘new’ in the way of NEW products.   So many of the new releases were just reworks of old knives we’ve seen before and the excitement level was pretty low.  I hope that’s not the way of the future.

Probably the most exciting truly new item was the release of the Schatt & Morgan Express Knives.  And in reality, this is a rework of another series of old knives but at least it was new to most of us.  The acceptance wasn’t as wide as a more conventional traditional folder, but the guys into collecting the old auto’s seemed to love it.

Schatt & Morgan Express

When I got to thinking about neat older knives, a couple of pieces I’ve acquired this past year came to mind.  Now they’re not necessarily anything I think needs to be re-released, their uniqueness is interesting.

The first piece that ranks high on the the cool list was the Cattaraugus King of the Woods “Yukon” that I picked up at an auction.  I sold it this fall to a collector that was thrilled to get his hands on it due to it’s rarity.  It was truly a big old workhorse of a knife.

Cattaraugus King of the Woods “Yukon”

Another work horse is the Western States lockback.  It’s lock mechanism is very similar to the more recent GEC Bull Lock.  Again, like the Cattaraugus, this is a big knife that was made to be used by the serious hunter, trapper and farmer.

I have to believe that in their day, these knives were met with wild enthusiasm by the serious outdoorsman.  Today, knives like these would immediately be popular sellers but unfortunately most would end up in display cases.  The world has changed and the need for a heavy duty work knife that will actually get used is rare.

From work knives, I have a couple of ‘fun’ knives.  I’ve always liked looking at some of the smaller, miniature knives.  This little hunter caught my eye primarily due to the chunk of stag used in the handle.  The overall quality of the knife is great.   The tang stamp is simply “Solingen”.  Wish I had the original sheath.  They may not be practical but I think it’s a holdover from my youth that they just looked cool.

Mini-Hunter

And speaking of original sheaths, this little Mora is a true gem.  I had a guy I’ve known for a number of years show up at a gun show and ask me if I was interested in buying it.  It didn’t take long to say yes.

Mora Fillet Knife

The quality of the embellishment on the sheath is fantastic.  The knife has obviously been used and put away wet more then once without a good cleaning.  It’s amazing the sheath is in the condition it is.  Someday I have to work on cleaning up the blade.  It’s not deeply pitted, just stained.

Not so long ago, I asked what would it take to create some excitement in the knife world like we saw 8 or 9 years ago.  Personally, as a huge fan of the of the premium steels, I hope we see  more manufacturers use them in more of the traditional patterns.

I hope the legislative changes that seem to be taking place across the country continues and we see a wider acceptance of practical auto’s.  There’s definitely a place for more reasonably priced, high quality auto’s that are built with the sportsman in mind.  I’m not talking about $250+ tactical style auto’s but how about a nice GEC #23 auto?  Congrats to Buck for taking the step they did.

Wouldn’t it also be great to see more companies take the lead from Spyderco’s Mule Team project and put out some ‘experimental’ blades for folks to try?  Spyderco deserves an award for taking the initiative and having the creativity they’ve shown with that project.  I know it’s given me the opportunity and motivation to try some different blade steels without spending a ton of cash.

There are so many other ideas that are possible.  All I can do is hope!!!!

2017 New Year Wrap Up

Hard to believe we’re on the verge of closing the books on 2017 and looking at another New Year.  What started off to be what appeared to be another mild winter took a turn Christmas day that dropped our temperatures into the subzero range for the past week with no promise of a break until the ‘New Year’.  Can’t wait!!!  But 2017 has been a year to remember.

From a business standpoint, knife sales held steady all year with some nice surprises.  The biggest surprise  was the article in Messer Magazin featuring the Trestle Pine Knives.  Sven Kinast at Messerdepot has done a fantastic job with the Trestle Pine Knives in Solingen, Germany.  The feedback from overseas has been gratifying and to get that kind of positive feedback from the heart of knife country in Europe is incredibly gratifying.  For a player as small as Trestle Pine Knives to get this kind of recognition was fantastic.

On a personal level, it was a year packed with memorable moments.

A few new stitches to kick off 2017

Hunting in North Dakota
Good morning from the land of Trestle Pine
And a good time was had by all!
A new fisherman is born
Hunting Prairie Dogs in ND

Add to these memorable moments the recent news that one of our nephews has been appointed District Judge in Minnesota and you have rounded out one incredible year!

Its gonna be tough to top 2017 in a lot of respects but we’re sure gonna try!  My wife is going to retire next spring ( I think ) meaning time for more camping, a new hunting partner, golfing, entertaining and spending more time on the water.  I’ve scaled back the knife business and plan to spend more time going to local shows and doing more of the things I really enjoy.

Thanks to all of you that contributed to making 2017 a great year for TSA Knives!  Hope you had a full and eventful year and wish you all nothing but the best for 2018!!!

 

Ghosts of Christmas Past

Christmas is once more rapidly closing in on us.  It seems like every year it’s also the time when I/we reflect on some of the great Christmas’ we’ve enjoyed as well as exploring some of the ‘ghosts of Christmas’ past’.  Maybe ghosts isn’t the proper word and faux pas is a better term.  Whatever.

I think all of us have had those moments when we’d give anything to be able to roll the clock back ten minutes and get a do over.  Maybe we didn’t quite think things through thoroughly or even though we had the best intentions, it didn’t come across that way.  Let me share a few personal ghosts of Christmas past in the hopes it’ll save you some grief.

The first (in a series) of lifetime screw ups came when I was around 7 or 8.  My greatest wish that Christmas was for a bow and arrow.  It was truly a “Christmas Story” moment.  While it wasn’t an “… official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle…” my excitement, like Ralphie’s, was off the charts.  After appropriate safety instructions I was sent outside in the snow to try it out.

As I looked around for a target my focus fell on the side of our old farm house.  Perfect.  What I didn’t consider was that rubber tipped arrow could have enough force to actually break a kitchen window….but it did.  I honestly don’t think I was aiming for it but I nailed it.  This was at a time when money was tight and I have no doubt my parents were less then thrilled at having to replace a window pane, particularly in the dead of winter.  There was a brief suspension of access but life went on.

Years later, the next real faux pas really fell on my dad with a bit of collusion on my part.  Dad had a thing about getting the biggest tree you could get and the bottom of the tree had to be perfectly shaped.  No gaps in the branches, perfectly shaped and a nice full look.

We had a local farmer that grew Christmas trees and it was a cut your own operation.  Dad and I went out and after considerable inspection found the perfect tree.  We knew it was a bit big but were pretty sure we could get it in the house.  We should have known when we had trouble getting it in the back of his pickup we might have some problems.

When we got home, we were a little surprised that a ten foot pine was a tight fit against an eight foot ceiling.   Live and learn.  Mom wasn’t home so it was up to us to figure out how to handle the situation.  It took about two minutes to realize we couldn’t cut off the base of the tree because it was without a doubt absolute perfection.  The only solution was to cut off the top two feet of the tree and it would fit perfectly.

We were pretty proud of our ingenuity and met mom at the door that evening expecting she’d share our enthusiasm.  She agreed the base of the tree was perfect but also pointed out that by cutting off the top of the tree it looked like the tree was growing through the ceiling.   It was pretty obvious she wasn’t really happy with the situation. There was some discussion about going back for another tree that actually fit the room but we convinced her there just wasn’t going to be another tree that perfect.  It was definitely “the” tree that was remembered and talked about for years.

The Ghosts of Christmas past that really haunt me annually have to do with my gift shopping for my wife.  We’ve reached a point in our lives where we don’t do any shopping for each other at Christmas and with good reason.  During the year, if we see or express a desire for something we tend to buy it telling each other Merry Christmas.  Works fine after years of trial and a lot of error.  When we were still buying gifts for each other at Christmas the first real let down for me was the year of the Christmas Sweater.

I’ve never  claimed to be any sort of fashionista and the Christmas Sweater confirmed that.  A number of years ago I was perusing the local sporting goods store looking for the ultimate gift and came across some ski sweaters.  This was in the 80’s and at that time the bulky knitted sweaters were popular with some sort of skiing or wildlife motif.  I found a beauty with a couple of deer knitted into the middle of the sweater looking like they were prancing through the snow.  GORGEOUS!!!!  She’ll love it!

A week later we were Christmas shopping together and I steered her into the same store and we ‘happened’ to walk past the display of sweaters.  I very coolly said, ‘…man, aren’t those great looking sweaters?‘  My wife, never being one to conceal her true feelings turned to me and said with equal coolness… ” Seriously????  I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing one of those!”  Lesson learned!

For a number of years after the sweater I played it safe by shopping at the jewelry store.  There came a point where the jewelry started getting too routine and I decided to break tradition and get something ‘useful’.  For a few years I did pretty good with some cool kitchen appliances that were winners.  A ‘Ninja’ for making Margarita’s.  The “Tater Tornado” (seriously) for making homemade potato chips and a couple of other gadgets.  Most were met with mild enthusiasm and acceptance.  But the real mistake and last gift occurred a few years ago with the ‘Cookie Shooter Christmas’.

I was shopping at Bed Bath & Beyond and struck gold.  After wandering around for a while I was drawn to a big display of electric cookie makers that I called the Cookie Shooter.  You put the dough in it and with the squeeze of a trigger it shot out a perfectly shaped cookie onto the cookie sheet in the shape of a star or a snowflake or something equally cool.  What really sold me on the machine was a woman (shopper) walking by who stopped to ask me if I was thinking of getting one for my wife.  When I told her possibly, she went on to extol all the fabulous features of the appliance and how much my wife would absolutely love it.  Hero status in the gift buying realm was virtually assured.

Now, about a week before Christmas that year I was so pumped about this gift I couldn’t contain myself.  I finally broke down and told her she could open it early as it was something she might want to use before Christmas.  By this time, she’s almost as excited as I am.

She tore the paper off anxious to see this incredible gift.  When she got the paper off, there was a minute of absolute silence as she read the box and looked at the picture of the Cookie Shooter.  The only ‘incredible’ thing was the look she gave me as she asked me… ‘what in the hell am I supposed to do with this????’.  It immediately brought back memories of the deep period of depression and recovery I went through following the Sweater debacle.  It was almost what I’d call a PTSD moment.

When the initial shock started to numb, it was explained to me that she never made this kind of cookie.  She didn’t like them, they were a pain to make and the chances she’d ever use it ranked up there with winning the Lottery.  Got it.  To this day I question if that female shopper that advised me was actually a ‘plant’ to sell stuff that just wasn’t moving that well.

Now these aren’t the only ghosts of Christmas’ past that visit me but they’re the most memorable.  I’ve recovered and (for the most part) moved on.  I still get sweaty palms when I think about gift buying and I’ve accepted the concept that cash is king.  Hard to screw it up.

I have no doubt all of you have your own ghosts you recall this time of year.  I hope like my wife and I you can look back at them as memorable moments that are a lot funnier today then they were at the moment.  It’s not that we don’t mean well, but sometimes in spite of your best effort….

This year, make your own memories and I wish you all a sincere and very Merry Christmas!!

 

Blade Steel, where does it end?

A good share of the non-productive part of my life has  been spent thinking about imponderables.  Searching for the answers to those questions that just deny what should be simple answers.  Like how high is “up”?  Or what happens to all the rubber that wears off from tires.  That one no doubt has an answer but when we have millions of tires wearing out every year on the highways, why don’t we see mountains of ‘rubber’ lying along the road and in the ditches?

This past week I spent a little time reassessing some of the knives I’ve got lying about and why and how did I got hooked on premium blade steel.  More importantly, I started asking myself how much better can these steels get?

In the last 50+ years I’ve gone from the basic 420 Stainless’ and 1095 to A2 Tool Steels, D2, AUS6, 8, the laminated wonder steels from Fallkniven, the CPM Powdered Steels, Maxamet and on and on.  It just doesn’t seem to end.  Every time I seem to find the ultimate blade steel, someone like Dave asks me if I’ve tried out the newest release from (fill in the blank).  And it starts over.  I would have to say the Spyderco Mule Team Project has been my greatest downfall.  If you’re not familiar with their releases, check them out.  They’ve put out some fantastic blades at reasonable prices if you want to try some new steels out.

The main lure for me has been finding that ultimate blade that will take a razor edge with a reasonable amount of effort and hold it without chipping or rolling over….forever.  I know that’s unreasonable but it seems like they’re coming close.  What makes it difficult is every steel has its individual weak points and strengths.

A blade may take a surgical edge but have a tendency to chip under hard use.  Or it may hold an edge like nobodies business but require a trip to a machine shop to restore that edge when it finally gives up.  And I just assume if a blade is too easy to sharpen, that’s a good thing because I’m probably going to have to sharpen it frequently!

All of this ‘pondering’ made me think about the progress that’s been made over the centuries in blade steels.  Think about those first blades made from stone or Obsidian.  And then the development of bronze, iron and finally steel.  Those first knives made from bronze had to be a  major break through but can you imagine having to use one today?  And all of us have come across some really crappy carbon steels but for the guy that traded in his iron sword for a steel one had to be thrilled.  You would have had to search out a blade smith as  the quality would have been incredibly inconsistent since everyone had their own secret for hardening those early iron blades.  There wasn’t a central facility that specialized in hardening steels.  For that matter, there wasn’t even a steel mill putting out consistent product.

So looking at today’s offerings I realize we have some incredibly good products on the market but there’s an ongoing quest for that ‘perfect’ blade steel.  But like that 13th Century BC gladiator thought, what can be better then this when he got his first steel sword.  That’s where I’m at.  What could be better than what I’ve got?

I have a number of the higher end powdered steel blades in my kit and for the life of me can’t think what more I could expect in performance.  The wonderful thing is, I know there’s going to be something in the future even better then what’s currently available.  Will it be an even higher tech steel or maybe some sort of pocket laser?  I’m hoping for another new higher tech steel.  At any rate, it’ll be interesting to see and I know I’m gonna want one!  Now, back to that rubber tire thing…..

 

Thunder Arms

I added a link at the top of the Blog for Thunder Arms based out of Cedar, MN which is just north of Minneapolis/St Paul.  Daniel Puff is the proprietor and I recently had the pleasure of working with Dan on a transfer.  Very accommodating and an all around nice guy to do business with.

Thunder Arms isn’t a huge gunshop with tons of inventory but if you need a transfer done, training or want to place a special order, drop Dan an Email.