Weekly Update 6.23.17

Had a great week shooting (at) Prairie Dogs in Western North Dakota this week and will fill you in later.  Hated to come home and in a way wish I hadn’t!!!

I just got word this morning that the Trestle Pine Topper has been pushed back to late July.  Originally it was supposed to come out in late May or early June.  Things never seem to work out the way we hoped, but I really hope this one comes through sooner rather then later.

There were also a bunch of knives that showed up to be processed.  In the group are some new S&M #3 EXP’s in some of the nicest looking stag I’ve seen in a while.

S&M #3EXP Torched Stag

There is also another group of the #3EXP’s coming out in the next 4-6 weeks with at least a half dozen handle/blade options.  Two that I’m really looking forward to are a drop point blade and…. a release with a Damascus Blade.  That should be a gem.

I have to keep this weeks update brief as I’ve got some catching up to get done.  Orders to get shipped and emails to follow up on.  Monday I’ll try to share a few photo’s of this weeks adventure out West.  Truly a good time!


Weekly Update 6.16.17

Hard to believe its already time for another weekly update.  Sometimes they feel like daily updates!  The biggest news was the arrival and delivery of the Schatt & Morgan #3 EXP Mountain Man knives.

The S&M autos have been very well received but there’s a caveat to new buyers.  These aren’t to be confused with the modern day Microtechs or Benchmade type tactical autos.  The collectors of older auto’s for the most part know what to expect but the non-collector or those new to autos aren’t always aware of the difference.  John Henry 71 and #3 EXP Mountain Man knives are throwbacks to an earlier time when most auto’s were built to be hard working tools used in the outdoors by hunters, ranchers, trappers and such.  Reliability was the key and a smooth, light touch to deploy the blades were secondary to reliability.  Queen did a great job carrying that authenticity forward.

I believe the last of the GEC 38’s came through this week in the form of the Sambar Stag.  Now we wait for the run of 66’s.  For whatever reason, folks seem to finally be getting a bit ‘irritated’ with the abundance of SFO’s and did I get an earful.

Briefly, some of the grumbling I heard (from multiple GEC collectors) was first, there just wasn’t much interesting coming out of GEC anymore.   To paraphrase:   …”It seems like they’re (GEC) taking a pattern and just putting 10 different colors of bone on them as SFO’s…. Production knives are being run in higher and higher quantities and only the SFO’s are limited in quantity….. You have to chase 5 or 6 dealers or individuals to collect all of the different handle colors…. I don’t think you even have to be a dealer to run an SFO (you don’t.  Anyone can join in).

One customer asked me if I had considered working with all of the folks ordering the SFO’s, buying some of their knives and offering them through my store.  NO, I haven’t.  That’s already happening on a limited basis.  Doesn’t make much sense to be a GEC distributor and have to go to a non-dealer to get inventory.

I can’t blame GEC for going for the sure sale.  When you’ve got half a dozen dealers and individuals lined up to take 1000+ knives, that’s pretty hard to walk away from.  It’s just an incredibly odd business model.  Build up a dealer network and then turn your back on your dealers by working with anyone with a handful of $$ wanting to buy an SFO.

I’ve complained about all of the SFO’s and lack of regular production knives for a couple of years and have been criticized for complaining.  I’ve been told countless times in the last 3 years from within GEC that there were considerations to cut back on the number of SFO’s and go back to producing more ‘regular production’ knives’.    It seems the SFO’s will be and are becoming the ‘production’ run knives of the future from Great Eastern.  Frankly, I could foresee the day when GEC becomes a private label company and for the most part vacates their identity.   I think we’ve seen that happen with one of the patterns already.

I’ll no doubt be criticized for repeating these comments and that’s fine.  This week has been the first time I’ve had so many individuals complain and ask what’s going on with GEC and I wanted to pass it on.  It’s just good to know I’m not the only one that’s getting weary of all of this.  Only one of the people I exchanged emails with said they’d spoken up and asked if GEC was going to go back to more regular production items.   It’s not going to affect me in the long run but if you want to see things change, you have to speak up.  Tell GEC.

In the past, GEC has made up a major portion of my business.   As my sales continue to grow, I’m finding GEC is playing an ever decreasing part of that growth.  They’re are other good things happening and that’s where my emphasis is shifting to.

But today, my emphasis is shifting to a prairie dog shoot and some time on the water!!!  This afternoon is going to be spent at the reloading bench and getting things ready to head west.  My golfing partner is going to be laid up with a bum knee for a month or so but at least I’ll have someone to drive the cart for me.  Enjoy the weather!

A Quick Look at the New S&M #3 EXP Mountain Man

In the last couple of days, I’ve had the opportunity to take a look at the new S&M #3 EXP Mountain Man.  While I’ve had no practical experience actually using one, I have taken the time to give it a good lookin’ at.

The #3 EXP’s I received included a number of one of a kind and very low run pieces.  Here’s a group of 4 that I believe were the only ones made that now reside in a pretty impressive and complete collection of #3EXP and #71’s.

Four Rare Handle Options for the #3EXP Mountain Man

There were also more Shockwood handles like the Silver Shockwood pictured below.  As I’ve said before, the Shockwood is really a great looking handle material particularly on a larger knife like the Mountain Man and the John Henry Auto’s.

Silver Shockwood

For the first time, there is also a jigged bone handle which I hope we’ll see more of in the future.

Worm Groove Jigged Bone

When you compare the original John Henry 71 Express with the #3 EXP Mountain Man, the size difference is pretty obvious.  I always felt the Mountain Man was a pretty big knife, but handling it alongside the John Henry…. it feels pretty slim and trim.  In fact, it feels very comfortable in hand.

#3 EXP (L) and #71 John Henry (R)

The locking mechanism on both knives is identical in design and function.  The release button is situated as such to make both of these knives a right handed knife.  For the southpaw, either will be awkward to use at best.

Release Button

The only comfortable way to deploy the blade is by holding the knife in your right hand …

using the tip of your right index finger to depress the release.

The force required to depress the release is noticeably less the that required on the 71 John Henry.  Smaller blade, smaller (shorter) spring, less effort.

Once released, the blade swings open with authority.  If you’ve handled the 71 John Henry you know there’s a fair amount of torque created when that big blade swings open.  The #3 EXP is much more civilized upon opening.  There’s plenty of spring tension to open the blade and lock it up securely all the while letting you feel secure you’ve got control of things.  The blade design is in keeping with the original Mountain Man.  A reasonable length clip blade made of 1095 steel.

The fit and finish of the #3 Mountain Man is in my estimation better then the #71 John Henry.  I get the feeling that the Mountain Man was an opportunity to refine some of the same/similar processes used to build the John Henry.  Even the later runs of the John Henry were more refined then the first run and it seems like the #3 takes it a step further.  Over all, nicely done.

From the feel of the knife in hand and fundamental similarity to the Mountain Man can only lead me to believe it would make an excellent full size work knife.  I’m not accustomed to using a larger knife in my day to day routine and while I don’t envision carrying a #3 EXP, if I had a need, I see no reason why I wouldn’t!

Another late Weekly Update 6.11.17

It always gratifying to hear from the blog readers when I miss the Friday update.  All I can say is everything is going fine and it’s just summer in Lakes Country.  LOTS going on.

It’s been a couple of weeks that included acquiring a different boat, new camper, getting a prairie dog shoot lined up in North Dakota and finishing up the spring ‘planting’.  And then throw in a funeral, wedding anniversary, wife’s birthday, getting things ready for her to have some minor knee surgery and getting the old boat and camper sold.  Add to that a bunch of new knives coming in and you quickly run out of time.

I’ve gotten more feedback regarding Blade and by all reports it was a success in every sense of the word.  The crowd must have been incredible and knives were flying off the tables.  One of the fun things to share from Blade is a picture and an email I received from Ken regarding Queen’s Kiddo Knives project.

“There was a whole lot of this going on, to the tune of about 80 smiles. This is what makes it worth while to me.”  (Ken Daniels)

“Mr. Ryan and Mr. Ken,

We cannot thank you enough for the Kiddo knife program. Our son was so excited to see you this year, he kept his coin in his hand all morning until we could make it to your booth. 
Mr. Ryan,
As your dad instructed me to do so, I have attached a picture of William with his Queen Kiddo knife and I am supposed to tell you that he said to include him in your next catalog. 
Again, thank you both for your kindness and generosity. Please know your program is a success. With your knife this year, our kiddo wants to make his own knife case like his daddy’s.”
What an incredible way to promote knife collecting with the younger generation.  It’s great to see a group of individuals and a company like Queen promote the industry.
This week also saw the arrival of the Schatt & Morgan #3EXP Mountain Man Express.  What a sweet auto.   I’m going to try to put up a brief review of this one tomorrow.  I’ve shipped most of the Pre-order knives already but haven’t had time to list any in the store.  My order was short due to the high demand at Blade, but more are being run and should be coming through soon.
Four Rare Handle Options for the #3EXP Mountain Man

I also received the latest run of the GEC 38 Specials.  Handle options include the Northfield Indian Paint brush and ALVS Green Abalone.  These will also show up in the store tomorrow.

And that my friends is what’s been going on!  Our summer days start early and supper usually doesn’t happen until 7-8PM most nights, later others.  We don’t have a lot of time to make up for those long winter days and have to make the most of it.

Take a Little Extra Time and Stay Sharp

I’ve had a number of emails in the last few weeks from customers asking how to sharpen the 154 series steels.  These aren’t folks that don’t know how to sharpen a knife, for the most part they’re just not used to working with the harder, wear resistant steels.  Like me, they’ve used knives with 1095 or 440 series blades for years and have the basic technique but are having problems getting a fine edge on the 154’s.

There’s no particular trick but I’ll admit I had my own issues with a (somewhat) brief learning curve.  Hopefully, these tips will help.

Personally, I’ve always prided myself on being able to put a very decent working edge on a 1095 blade ‘free handing’ with a medium stone and finishing up with a fine stone and a strop.  When I started using the Edge Pro, I found out I could cut the time in half to bring up a perfectly beveled edge.  Using the Edge Pro on the 154, D2 and ATS series gave the same results but it was the final finishing touches that require a little more attention to reach perfection.

In all honesty, I have a helluva time putting a really fine edge on those harder steels using the freehand process without spending some time on them.

First, my experience a bit more pressure is required to actually remove any steel from 154.  Once I figured that out things started coming together.  The issue then became getting that razor edge.  Once I started getting a razor edge it seemed like the edge wanted to roll over and dull quickly with average use.  The edge retention didn’t seem a great deal better then 1095.

Through trial and error, I figured out I needed to spend more time ‘finishing’ the edge.  In other words, I needed to do more honing with the fine stone and strop.   I’ll spend about a third to half of my sharpening effort honing.

Here’s what your doing.

On the left is a properly finished blade.  On the right you can see that during the sharpening process your creating thata nearly imperceptible “burr” that can be a major frustration if it’s not removed.  On softer steels, you can frequently see the burr if you roll the blade back and forth under a bright light.  It’ll look like a shiny wire on the very edge and you can usually actually roll it over with your finger nail.  On 1095 its relatively easy to knock that burr off with a good strop.

On harder steels with higher wear resistance, that burr is only removed by honing the blade alternately on a fine stone from side to side, literally ‘wearing’ the burr off.   If you get in a hurry you’ll straighten it temporarily to give the feel of a razor edge but if it’s still on the edge of the blade it will roll over with a little use resulting in a blade that needs touching up.  You need to go back to a fine stone and work on eliminating the burr completely.   Don’t rush it.  When you think you’ve got it, give it another half dozen strokes.

So the lesson is take your time.  Don’t hurry it or think you can bring up a perfect edge with a lick and a promise.  When I go out camping or fishing I want an edge on my knife that I know isn’t going to let me down.  My experience has been that CPM154 will hold an edge two to three times longer then 1095 if I’m willing to spend the time sharpening it right.  That small investment in time pays good dividends!

Weekly Update 6.03.17 ( a bit late )

Sorry the weekly update is a bit late this week and a bit short on ‘updates’.  I was out of town for a couple of days attending a funeral.  Now I’m playing catchup so this will be brief!  (maybe to the relief of some)

I got a call from Ken yesterday while he was at Blade in Atlanta and it sounds like the new #3EXP Mountain Man Auto is a winner.  We only chatted for a few minutes but Ken was really happy with the reception it got.  Mine will be coming in later next week and I’ll be shipping the early orders first.  I know that my order is going to be short so not everything may get shipped right away.  They’ll go out on a first in first out basis.

Chris called this week from GEC and let me know there are a couple more handle options for the Tidioute 38’s that will be coming through.  I apologize I don’t recall the bone colors as I was on the road when she called.  Apparently an SFO was partially cancelled so the ‘over run’ will go out with the regular production run.  They won’t have any special markings other then the normal GEC/Tidioute name.

I received a couple of emails from Sven Kinast with Messer Depot in Solingen and his first order of the Trestle Pine’s sold out almost immediately.   We put together another order and they’ll be heading overseas first thing Monday.  This has been gratifying for both of us as your never sure how a product will be received in a new market.  While I’ve always had a good customer base in  Europe, I’m glad this is working as well as it is for both of us.

It’s interesting that Sven has a motto on his website that states:  My motto: “Sell only something you would buy yourself”  If you’ve read this blog for any length of time you know that’s exactly my sentiment as well.  If I don’t believe in it, why in the world would I try to convince my customer base it’s a great product and they should buy it.

Otherwise, that’s about it!  We had high temperatures last weekend in the upper 40’s and yesterday we hit 87F.  Not sure when you get up in the morning if you should grab the long underwear or the Speedo’s.  (Most folks around the neighborhood prefer I go with the long underwear regardless of the temperature)

Weekly Update 5.26.17 Memorial Day Weekend

Monday is Memorial Day and in my book, the official first day of Summer in lake country.   It’s the day/weekend that people up here open their cabins for the summer and celebrate the end of winter.

I had an outstanding piece pass through my hands this week in the form of a #71 John Henry Express Mammoth Ivory, 1 of 5.  Gorgeous knife.  Here’s a part of an email I received from the customer:  “All I can say is wow.Best fit and finish yet.Great in operation and the ivory is just amazing.”  I agree.

John Henry 71 Express Mammoth Ivory

I was also lucky to have a few more very rare 71 Express’ in my possession.  The three below are either one of kind or  very limited run.

L-R Veined Micarta, Chocolate Micarta, Moon Glow Micarta

The Veined Micarta and Chocolate Micarta are one of a kind knives and the Moon Glow is one of just 10.  It’s been fun helping a collector build a complete collection!

Word has also been released that the new Schatt & Morgan #3EXP Mountain Man Auto’s are two weeks out from delivery.  Most folks that saw the #71 were really excited to hear about the Mountain Man Auto.  The size is perfect for a ‘working class’ auto and it looks like it going to be a popular knife.

I was also happy to take delivery of another group of Schatt & Morgan Factory Sample knives.  Almost all of the Factory Samples are one of a kind or limited to two or three pieces.  Queen has been releasing these with COA’s which is really nice to help establish a bit of provenance.

One of the great looking knives to come in was the Schatt & Morgan #99 Special Whittler in Amber Bone.  Really hope we get to see more of this handle color.  The coloration is one of the first “amber bone” that really makes you think of a piece of Amber when you see it.

Schatt & Morgan #99 Special Whittler Amber Bone

There were several of the GEC Tidioute 38 Specials arrive this week.   I believe the Tidoute’s are completed and the Northfield’s should be coming next.

GEC Tidioute 38 Special Mexican Bocote Wood

The latest word on the Trestle Pine Topper is that delivery has been pushed back a week until mid June.  That’s fine as there is a lot to be done between now and the middle of June.  One of the changes I’ll be making with the Topper is switching from a box or pouch to a round tube.  I’ve had people request a box instead of the pouch for the Grand Portage and last Superior run.  They liked the label I used on the original boxes.  In addition, the tubes are tougher then nails and ship well.

So in a nutshell, that’s what’s been going on this week.  A lot going on and even more to come!

Remember the promotion going on with the Swiss Army Knives / Wounded Warrior Project.  Purchase a Swiss Army Knife and add a SAK Classic for $5 at the checkout.  That purchase results in a $10 donation for the Wounded Warrior Project.

I doubt I’ll have time to post on Memorial day so I just want to encourage everyone to take a moment to remember all of the service people who gave their lives protecting our freedoms.  If you see a service man/woman, give them a smile and a wave.  Let them know they’re appreciated.

Wounded Warrior Project SAK Memorial Day Promo

Hard to believe Monday is Memorial Day already, but it is.  For a number of years TSA Knives has had some sort of fund raising project on this weekend to assist the Wounded Warrior Project.  In the past it’s usually taken the form of an auction but I decided to try something a little different this year.

Pretty simple actually.  Anyone buying a Swiss Army Knife between now and through Monday, May 29 will have the option to receive one of the SAK Classic’s for just $5 (normally $12.95).

Swiss Army Classic

Get it?  You buy any Swiss Army Knife in the store for regular price and you can add a Classic to your order for just $5.

So how does that benefit the Wounded Warrior Project?  TSA Knives will MATCH your $5 and make a $10 donation to the Wounded Warrior Project for each Classic sold.  Should be a win/win deal for you and the Wounded Warrior Project.

As I said, the Promo starts immediately and runs through Monday.  When you place an order for one of the regular SAK’s you’ll have a button asking if you want to add a Classic to the cart for $5.  Just select yes or no and your good to go!

Mosaic Pins Photo & Trestle Pine Knives in Germany

I wanted to post a new photo of the Mosaic Pins used on the recent release of the Trestle Pine Buddy.  Not being a photographer, my photo’s rarely turn out as intended and the previous Mosaic Pins photo was a case in point.  This will give you a little better idea how they look.

Trestle Pine Buddy “Mosaic Pins”

In real life they look incredibly nice on the different woods.  In all honesty, I was shamed into getting a new picture up after getting a couple of photo’s from Sven at Messerdepot in Solingen, Germany.  He received his order or Trestle Pines for his shop and forwarded a couple of pictures he shot.  Think I should consider hiring him to do my photo’s!!!

Trestle Pine Grand Portage Circassian Walnut
Trestle Pine Portage Old Growth Oak
Trestle Pine Superior Blue Box Elder Burl


Factory Samples, Trestle Pine Buddy & Trestle Pine Topper

A couple of weeks ago, I  acquired a handful of Factory Samples from Queen.  This week, I had a few more Factory Samples arrive including a couple of Doctors Knives which I haven’t seen made in quite some time.  Many years ago I smoked pipe and found out that spatula blade worked great for cleaning the pipe bowl and the pill crusher was great for tamping the tobacco.  Probably not a Doctor approved application, but it worked!

Doctors Knife Factory Sample Rosewood

An interesting detail is the Doctors Knives have the old “Gowanda, NY” tang stamp.  Very interesting.

Old “Gowanda, NY” Tang Stamp

The Factory Samples also included an assortment of 1 of a kind 99 Executive Jacks.  There were some Brown Jigged Bone, Pink Bone, Elk etc.  All come with a signed COA.

99 Pink Bone Factory Sample

The Trestle Pine Buddy order also arrived Wednesday.  There’s a great assortment of ‘exotic’ handle materials and they did not disappoint!   The pictures don’t do them justice.  If you’re familiar with the term chatoyancy, these handles have it in spades.  You never know how much color and depth you’ll have until the knives are finished.

Balck Ash Burl Trestle Pine Buddy

As luck would have it, Wednesday I was finishing up sawing the final panels for the Trestle Pine Topper when my band saw died. I needed about 20 more pair to finish the order.  I could either wait a week for parts or buy a new saw, so… new saw it was!  Considering how much I use that saw, why does stuff die at the most critical times?  There were so many opportunities for it to crap out during ‘so what’ projects.  Oh well.

While I was sawing the panels, I sand and buff a few  to try to get an idea how they’ll finish. Some of the quarter sawn ash looks really promising.  The first Trestle Pine Superiors came through with a few quarter sawn ash that were really unique.  Hopefully, there will be more on the Topper.  At this point, we’re still on track for a late May delivery.

My understanding is we’re just a few weeks out from the new  #3 EXP Mountain Man  Auto.  I’m guessing the first part of June would be a good bet.  Based on early order interest, the #3 EXP will be every bit as popular as the 71 John Henry Express Auto’s.