Gun Show, S&M Toothpicks, Collections Acquired

Lots to cover this morning!  First, let me remind everyone of the gun show to be held at the Detroit Lakes, MN National Guard Armory Saturday April 29 and Friday April 30.  Show hours are from 9 till 5 Sat and 9 til 3 on Sunday.  I’ve got four tables reserved and plan on bringing in an assortment of knives and miscellaneous ‘stuff’.

Over the weekend a box arrived from Queen containing some #20 Schatt & Morgan Toothpicks.  Queen has been using more wood on their handles of late and are really coming up with some great looking ones. Pictured below are (top to bottom) Oak, Golden Maple and Desert Ironwood.  An interesting point is the “1 of 30” etch on the Oak that is missing on the other two.  My understanding is these are all part of a run of 30 each.

Just before I sat down to write this, the Northfield two blade Sweet Pickle Jig Bone Weasels arrived.  I believe that’s the end of the run of 48’s.

488217 Sweet Pickle Jigged Bone

The last note for the morning is I’ve accumulated around 30-40 knives from several small collections and will try to start listing some of them today.  It’s a pretty eclectic group with a little bit of everything from GEC.  There’s Ancient Kauri Wood, Genuine Stag, Primitive Bone, Natural Stag and so on.  Interesting group of older knives.

 

Weekly Update 4.21.17

It’s been quiet the last half of the week, but a brief weekly update is still in order.

The GEC 48’s continued to come through with the first of the two blade models coming in mid week.  I believe the two blade stags are either in transit or close to being shipped.  Next up are the #54’s with a whole bunch of SFO’s in the lot.

Queen’s 1/2 Whittlers, Swing Guards and 26 Whittlers rounded out the latest from Queen this week.  The 26’s are a really nice small to mid size knife that would make an excellent EDC.

#26 Stockman Whittler

I do have some news for the Schatt & Morgan 71 Express Auto collectors.  We’ll shortly see another short run coming through with some new handle materials.  Last I knew, it will include Smooth Yellow Bone, Burlesque Stag and Pearl Shock Wood.  The Burlesque Stag is an imitation stag that I’ve been told is a really great looking handle material.  The original Red Shock Wood was well received and based on the coloration we saw, I am assuming the Pearl could be a knockout.

I’m waiting on the wood for the Trestle Pine Topper.  At this time I’m still anticipating a mid to late May release.  As we get closer to Blade, it gets a little more difficult to predict if everything will go ‘as planned’.  Everyone has priorities that don’t parallel mine (which I’ve never understood).  I’ve got my fingers crossed and hopefully all will go as planned.

I was informed this morning that the Trestle Pine Buddy’s will be going to production in the next couple of weeks and anticipate an early to mid-May on those coming in.  Blades will be 1095 with exotic wood handles and Mosaic pins.  Should be a great looking EDC knife.

This past week I realized it had been almost 3 weeks since I last touched up the blade on my Superior.  It’s still cutting fine, but I like a razor edge if I can.  I’ve been really impressed with the CPM154 and can’t recommend the CPM steels enough.  My concern had been that since we typically see the 154’s in bushcraft type knives, maybe a traditional folder would have a blade to thin to resist chipping.  Not a problem.

There are so many fabulous blade steels out there today it’s hard to believe.  The great thing is that many have been developed specifically for knifemakers.  After reading all the glowing reports about the S30V, I can’t wait to try it out on the Topper.

 

Some Follow Up, New Releases and Queen Quality

Friday’s blog post resulted in quite a few email exchanges and a few phone calls that deserve some follow up.  It’s always interesting how quiet things are for long stretches of time and then….I hit on a topic that brings out all kinds of comments.  Just about the time I’m assuming nobody really gives a rip I find out there’s a whole lot of folks thinking similar thoughts.  But not everyone.

The sole voice that didn’t 100% agree said it sounded like I was whining about not participating in the SFO frenzy.   Absolutely not the case.  That was a personal decision I’ve never regretted.  Oddly enough, this business is about more to me than just the money.  It’s about finding and selling stuff that is reasonably priced, quality goods that perform.

To sum up the feedback I got, there’s a whole bunch of folks that are growing weary of the SFO frenzy and the resultant irrational price inflation.

New releases this week included the Schatt & Morgan #54 1/2 Whittlers, 1L Swing Guards and the #26 Stockman Whittlers.  Great looking knives, all.

#26 Stockman Whittler
1L Swing Guard
#54 1/2 Whittler

I really hope if you haven’t looked at Queen for a while due to quality issues, reconsider them.  There have been some major changes internally and between Ryan, Jeff Schley and Ashley Nottingham, they’re building a team that is working together and good things are happening.

This last group of knives that came in are great examples of the current quality.  The fit and finish is obviously better.   Gaps and significant chipping around the pins is vastly reduced.  Side play has become something rarely encountered as well.

My only criticism on the recent releases are I like the smaller blades a bit sharper.  From past experience, I’ve yet to find many knife companies that ship a knife with edges on their blades I’m totally satisfied with.  If that’s the biggest issue I encounter, I can deal with that.

Keep up the good work!!!

 

 

Number Crunching and SAK’s are Coming!

This time of the year it’s too nice to be inside but not quite nice enough to start yard work.  So I start to get restless.  As a result, I start to take personal inventory and reassess my plans for the balance of the year.

My original plans for this year really focused on cutting back and possibly even slowly fazing out of the business and actually retiring.  I’m well beyond legal retirement age (as defined by Social Security) but just haven’t had a desire to quit.   Watching trends from recent years were starting to concern me, however.

GEC has always been the backbone of the business but in the last few years they’ve played a smaller role in overall sales.  It was interesting to see what’s happened with the line.  A little quick addition showed that in 2015 their production was pretty evenly split between regular production (approx 9900 knives) and SFO’s (approx. 10,000).   I haven’t seen 2016 production figures but I’ll be surprised if the SFO production doesn’t far exceed regular production.  Allocation of limited run knives means receiving fewer ‘hard to get’ pieces.  From what we’re seeing so far in 2017, in spite of what I’ve been told, I think it’s a fair bet that SFO’s will be the backbone of GEC sales going forward.  Not good trends for a non-SFO dealer like TSA Knives or any dealer for that matter.

Another factor that’s been concerning is watching the prices collectors are willing to pay for some of the recently produced collectibles head into the stratosphere. We’ve all watched the Barlows that were produced by the thousands increase in price from the $70 range upwards of $400 in months.  Another couple hundred and you can buy a Randall!  When you can buy a high end knife like a Sebenza with an S35V blade for less, I scratch my head trying to understand.  In the last 3 months, I’ve tracked 4 older GEC’s that I sold get resold within weeks on Ebay for 3-4 times the original sales price.  No hard feelings on my part, but I question if that’s sustainable.  That type of price inflation isn’t reflected equally across the ‘collectible’ knife market.  What this can result in is a collapse of the market.  Sincerely hope that doesn’t happen for a lot reasons!

It’s almost as though there are two groups of traditional folding knife collectors that are clearly defined.  There’s a group of individuals that collect knives for the fun and interest of collecting.  They might favor higher quality knives, older production knives, historically accurate reproductions or interesting designs.  Then there’s a group that track whatever’s hot, call it the soup du jour.  The first group is willing to pay for ‘quality’ and even pay a premium (within limits) for highly desirable pieces based on rarity.  The second group buys and sells as though the knives are a rare commodity with absolutely no downside on the market.  Almost a bit reminiscent of the dotcom days in the stock market.  Buy it now, you can’t lose.  I made most of my income for an extended period of time day trading in the 90’s.  Trust me, what goes irrationally up will come down catastrophically.

Right now there’s a ton of disposable income spread among the collectors.  Some of that money is being generated from older collections bringing in sales multiples of 3 or 4 times original price.  Some is being generated from flipping the latest trendy knife.  Somebody’s gonna get burned.

In spite of these negatives, business has been good.  In fact, last year was one of the best years I’ve had for sales.  Then, the first quarter of this year came in as the best first quarter I’ve ever had.   I’ve purposely stayed away from the SFO’s and while I missed cashing in on the phase, I’m alright with that.  This week I took some time to try and understand what’s going on.

In a nutshell, last year I was able to buy several large collections at what I considered to be reasonable prices.  The Trestle Pine Knives did much better then I anticipated and contributed significantly to overall sales.  Queen/Schatt & Morgan sales started increasing and last year was the best I’ve had with that line.  When you add these components together, it means what was lost on one side was more then made up on the other.  All is not lost.

For the time being I anticipate the balance of the year I’m going to explore other growth opportunities.  There is a new Trestle Pine Knife coming out in May and I hope at least one or two more this year.  We should see more of the automatics and regular production items from Queen in the coming months.  Hess knives continue to fill a niche for me.  And most recently, I’ve decided to add Swiss Army Knives to the inventory.

I placed an opening order with Swiss Army this week and should see them arrive in the next couple of weeks.  I’m testing the waters with around 20 different models and am anxious to see how they’re received.  It’s  a knife I’ve had either in my pocket, desk drawer, truck or pack for years.  Actually, the tweezer (as I recently told Dave) is the most frequently used ‘tool’ on the knife for me.  They make a great first knife for the younger generation and are an affordable option for an EDC.

So for the foreseeable future, I’m going to enjoy the business.  I’ll stay open to new knives and products that offer a good value.  As ‘affordable’ collections present themselves, I’ll buy them accordingly.  We’re almost a third of the way through the year and right now, it’s looking good!!!   For those folks paying north of $3, 4 or $500 for a $70 knife, I sincerely wish you all the best.

 

 

 

Trestle Pine Blade Steels

Thirty plus years ago I had a B&M sporting goods store.  Hunting and fishing were the main lines and pocket, hunting and fishing knives were also a part of the inventory.  The fishing fillet knives were almost exclusively limited to the tried and true Rapala line.  Hunters and pocket knives were primarily a mix of #1 Buck, #2 Schrade #3 Case.

My personal carry choice was a Buck 110 that was used for everything including opening mail, boxes, dressing game including fish and deer.  Whatever needed cutting, this is the knife that did it.  It was an all around EDC knife that saw a ton of use over the years.

I checked the tang stamp this morning and it was built sometime between 1974-1980.  As I recall, I picked it up around ’78.

As a side note, today, this knife probably would have been returned as ‘defective’ by some.  The blade isn’t perfectly centered and you can actually move it between the liners when it’s closed.  Lock up is solid but the blade is slightly off center with the spring.  But ya know, I didn’t know any different at the time and it’s worked out just fine.

This was the first knife I had that I really started to understand the difference in blade steels.  There were blades much easier to sharpen but the Bos heat treated 420HC was one tough steel.  It took an edge and held it.

The 110 wasn’t the cheapest option in a folding hunter at the time but if someone started using the 110, they usually appreciated the steel and didn’t complain about the cost.  The biggest problem I encountered was if you didn’t have some sharpening skills, it could be a bear to maintain the edge.  This was in the days when the Crock Sticks were all the rage.  Stay on top of things and you were fine, but let it get dull and you had a project on your hands that went beyond a touch up with Crock Sticks.

Over the next 20+ years I rotated through a variety of smaller Buck folders until I started carrying the GEC line.  I’d used 1095 steel before and had an appreciation how easy it was to put an edge on the GEC’s even if you had to touch it up more frequently then my old 110.  The GEC’s were a constant companion until I started carrying a Queen with a D2 blade.  The D2 made me sit up and start paying attention to blade steels.  That stuff is tough!

The D2 started my flirtation with the Fallknivens and their laminated, cobalt and powdered steels.  I broke out of that $65 price limit and found out there was a whole ‘nother world of knives out there.  A friend introduced me to the 154 series of steels.  My knife carrying habits would never be the same.

When I originally started working out the details of what I wanted to do with the Trestle Pine Knives, my concern was that I’d be limited to the standard 1095, 440C and maybe a D2 blade.  The Old Growth Wood was a central part of the equation, but I wanted something…more.  After numerous conversations with Ken Daniels, I was thrilled to find out there were all kinds of blade options I previously, hadn’t even hoped for (both profile and steel type).  When I found out the 154 series of steels were possible it was a go. No looking back, absolutely no regrets.

In the last few years I’ve become more interested in the high tech powdered steels and the 154 series caught my attention.  There are newer steels that have been developed, but the 154’s are just incredibly good, reasonably priced blade steels.  High stain resistance, good chip resistance, takes a fine edge and holds it AND relatively easy to sharpen or reprofile.  I’ll guarantee that if you don’t let the 154’s get dull, it’ doesn’t take much maintenance to keep them sharp.  I’m not saying it’s as easy to work as 1095 but it will hold a fine edge waaaay longer.

There are a number of really good articles on line about the powdered steel process and the 154 steels in particular.  Spyderco has probably one of the best reference libraries regarding different all kinds of blade steels and it’s easy to understand:  Spyderco Edge U Cation

The Trestle Pine Superior, Portage and Grand Portage carried either 154CM or CPM 154 blades.   My personal experience with the blades has been excellent and the face to face feedback I’ve had is the same.  It would have been less expensive to go with 1095, but  the price differential is well worth it in my estimation which leads me to the blade choice on the upcoming Trestle Pine “Topper“.

As I said in an earlier post, the Topper will be based on the Gunstock pattern with a traditional Clip and Screwdriver/Cap lifter blades.  I opted to go with an S30V Clip blade in the Topper.  S30V steel is heralded as one of the best blade steels offered developed by Crucible Industries and Chris Reeves.  It contains higher amounts of Carbon and Vanadium which means while you still retain good stain resistance, you realize increased resistance to wear and abrasion resistance (better edge retention).  The more I read about the steel the more excited I get about actually getting a Topper in my hands.  I’ve not used a smaller pocket knife with S30V but it sure seems to make sense to me.

I’m anxious to see what the response is the the Topper not only because of the blade steel, but the screwdriver is something I don’t think has ever been put in a Gunstock frame.  What’s the point of just building another Gunstock and expecting it to be something unique?  There are just so many really great knife patterns out there that can be expanded upon.

I had to laugh when the first of the Superiors came through with the high standing Wharncliffe sitting in the Copperhead frame.  Someone was bemoaning the fact it didn’t look like a ‘traditional’ Copperhead.  Mission accomplished.  None of the Trestle Pines are meant to strictly follow the rules of a traditional folder.  I like to think of them as “Neo-Traditional” folders.

Thanks Al, couldn’t have said it better myself!!!

Weekly Update 4.6.17 New Trestle Pine Coming in May!

This was a long week waiting for the ice to go out so an Ice Out winner could be announced.  Other then a few more GEC Weasels coming through there isn’t a whole lot to update you on regarding ‘new arrivals’.

I see the GEC 54’s are on the production schedule primarily made up of SFO’s.   My read is that there will be 3 options in the Tidioute regular run 54’s and 7 SFO options.  My understanding is that all of the Northfield tang stamps are in the form of SFO’s reserved for one distributor.  The 38’s are on the schedule as well and I’m not sure if those are on an allocated basis or what they’re doing with them.   Anymore I just wait to see what they ship me.

There are some interesting items coming through from Queen in the near future.  One of the more interesting one’s will be a very short run of the Swing Guards with Mammoth Ivory handles.  There will also be some #54 Whittlers coming in with 1095 blades.

It’s a ways down the road, but late May you’ll see the next Trestle Pine release as well as a new release of the fixed blade Trestle Pine Buddy.  The Buddy will be fitted with some gorgeous exotic woods and finished with Mosaic Pins.  I’ve had a small group of select Buddy’s in reserve that have traveled to gun shows with me that are sold out, so I’m anxious to get the new one’s in.

The next new item in the Trestle Pine line will be a Gunstock pattern called the “Topper”.  A couple of years ago I EDC’d a Gunstock and absolutely loved the pattern.  The knife just fit my hand right and was easy to carry.  It had a D2 blade which was tougher then nails.  For some time I’ve thought it would be a great pattern to tweak with the Trestle Pine tang stamp and this winter I finally settled on what I wanted to do with it.

It’s going to be in the 3 3/4″ OAL closed range.  Blade configuration will be the standard Clip blade but as far as I know, this will be the first Gunstock ever released with a CPM  S30V blade.  The other major change to the traditional Gunstock pattern is the addition of the screwdriver/cap lifter that was used on the Grand Portage.  Again, I don’t think there’s been a Gunstock built with the Screwdriver/Cap Lifter option.

I love these powdered steels and the blade performance from the Trestle Pine CPM154 and 154CM  has been great.  The S30V steel was a collaborative effort involving Chris Reeve and Crucible industries.  It is a specialty steel that was created specifically to make knife blades and it is a gem of a steel.  I have a friend with a  Buck fixed blade featuring an S30V blade.  Every Fall I touch up the edge for him and find it’s no more difficult to work with than the CPM series and much easier to work with than D2.  Edge retention is fantastic.

The cap lifter is a tool I use a lot on the Grand Portage.  Over the years I’ve owned a number of SAK’s and personally,  the screwdriver / cap lifter is the most commonly used tool other then the blade.  It works great as is or with a bit of common sense, patience and discretion you can make some useful mods to it.  A small grinding/cutting wheel on your Dremel tool can create a very practical wire stripper along the edge of the screwdriver blade.  I’ve asked that in production they keep the top corners on the screwdriver blade as sharp and square as possible for use with a FireSteel.  If need be, simply dress the corners with a file for a nice crisp edge.  The Trestle Pine’s are made to be used.

Handle options will include the Old Growth woods as well as some incredibly nice looking exotics from Mike Ludeman at WSSI in Iowa.  He has yet to let me down!  AND…..there are going to be a very limited run with Mammoth Ivory handles.  I’m talking limited like maybe 3 or 4.

Until next week, I plan to enjoy the spring weather.  Hope you folks down south get your weather settled down a bit from what you’ve been having!!!  Have a good weekend.

2017 Ice Out Contest Winner! finally…

I can’t recall having it take so long for the ice to clear out as it’s taken this year.  In fact, there’s still a slab of ice over a mile long on the NE shoreline that is probably going to take another 36-48 hours to break up.  But, since the latest entry date was for 2:30PM today, 4/6/17 there is no sense is putting off announcing that

  • rarreola  4/6  2:30PM

is officially recognized as the winner of the 2017 Ice Out Contest.  Congratulations!!!  You have a new Trestle Pine Superior on it’s way to you.

Trestle Pine Superior CPM154 Blade

The one exciting feature of this years ice out was the formation of the crystals of ice we saw in the last week.

Ice Crystals

They’re really unique and not something you get to see every year.  I don’t totally understand how they’re formed, but I do know it’s pretty cool when you get to see them.

Thanks to all of you for participating in this years contest and hope you may have gotten a little insight into how easy it is to keep us entertained in this part of the world!  After spending months living in a monochrome world that blue water almost hurts our eyes.

Ice Out Contest Status 4.4.17

I thought there would be a winner to announce in the Ice Out Contest by now.  Thought I’d best offer a contest status update.  This is one strange spring for ice conditions.  Starting Sunday, I assumed the ice would be out within the next 24 hours at the outside.  Nope.  Still have a slab probably a mile long by 3-500 yards wide hanging in there.

Ice condition Monday evening 4.3.17 around 7:00PM

Very cool ice crystals that have formed.

Ice Crystals Formed on the Surface
Slab still floating as of 4.4.17 around 9:00 AM

The lack of wind has really slowed the thawing process down.  Wind will push the ice around toward shore forcing it to break up.  Without that wind, it just sits on the lake like a big puddle of slush.  And that’s exactly what we’re seeing happen

I’d say I expect it to be gone later this afternoon or evening, but I’ve been saying that for the last 3 days!!!  In my book, Fall is official on Labor Day when the resorts start closing and the official start of Winter is when the lake freezes over.  Summer starts Memorial Day weekend with the opening of tourist season and  Spring is officially here when the ice goes out.  So, we wait.

Ice Out, More Weasels and a New Trestle Pine Knife 3.31.17

The Ice Out is progressing.  There’s more open water along the edge of the lake and a few shallow areas opening up.  This was taken last evening.  Maybe sometime this weekend????  You folks living in the south can’t appreciate how much us northerners look forward to this time of year in lakes country.

More of the GEC Weasels came in today.  Specifically, the Blueberry Jigged Bone and Sambar Stag.  I think that finishes up the single blades.

There were a lot new knives that came in from Queen earlier in the week including the Factory Samples.  I believe there are a couple more new Queens coming through next week.  The John Henry 71 Express Auto fans will be glad to know there are a couple more handle options coming in the near future.  I’m not sure its set in stone yet, but I’ve heard we may see a bone or acrylic in the next run.  The second bit of good news concerning the John Henry Express is a price reduction on the Stag version.  Always glad to pass on savings when I can.

This week I finalized the details on the next Trestle Pine Knife, release scheduled for late May.  Specs have been settled on and the handle material ordered.  I’m a little crowded for time today, but next week I’ll fill in the blanks.  For now, I’ll tell you it’s going to be a Gunstock pattern called the “Topper” with a traditional clip blade.

As I said, I’m a little pressed for time today.  Actually, there’s a cup of coffee and a cigar with my name on them waiting for me on the deck.  Gotta run!!!  Have a good weekend.

 

Ice Update & New Release Knife Arrivals

Here’s a quick Ice Update for the contest entrants.  There’s open water showing up in some of the shallow areas and the ice is starting to pull away from the shore.  There’s still plenty of ice out in the lake.  If we could get the sun shining instead of cloud cover it would speed things up considerably.  But…. it is melting.

More of the GEC 48 Weasels came through this week.  I haven’t kept track, but we should be getting close to the single blades being finished and the two blade version coming through.

Queen has held to their plan and is shipping new stuff on a regular basis.  This week I received the S&M 3T Linerlocks,

Schatt & Morgan 3T Linerlock

and an assortment of #40 Gunstocks with CPM154 blades.

CPM154 Gunstock

AND some #64 Canoes

#64 Canoe

I haven’t had time to look at all of them, but I just opened a box of Schatt & Morgan Factory Sample Knives with a variety of handle materials including Rams Horn and Buffalo Horn.   There are #63 Rail Splitters, #376 Swell Centers and #65 Baby Sunfish.  Each comes with a certificate of authenticity.  These are knives that are run with different handle material and for the most part, are all one of a kind knives.  If you like unique, these are for you.

Blades are etched “Factory Sample”.

#63 Factory Sample “Rams Horn”

I’ll try to start listing these yet this afternoon.  Great looking knives!  (Just finished uploading them at:  Factory Sample Knives