Monthly Archives: December 2014

Nice Kinfolks and Keen Kutter Hatchets

I had mentioned picking up a nice little Kinfolks hatchet at the last gun show but hadn’t posted a picture.  The leather handle needed refurbishing and the pommel was missing.  Otherwise, the metal and blade were in great condition.  Well, I got it back this week and I couldn’t be happier.

Kinfolks Hatchet
Kinfolks Hatchet

Great little hatchet and with the refurbished handle, it looks fantastic.

Kinfolks Hatchet
Kinfolks Hatchet

Now, after constantly professing that I’m not a ‘collector’, it makes me wonder why and how I ended up with a Kinfolks as well as a pre-1940 E.C. Simmons Keen Kutter.

Keen Kutter Hatchet
Keen Kutter Hatchet

Not in anywhere near the condition of the Kinfolks, for some reason I guess I just felt ‘drawn’ to it.

Keen Kutter Hatchet
Keen Kutter Hatchet

And while I was digging around in the odds and ends box, I kinda forgot I had a pair (?) of 10 1/2″ Keen Kutter scissors.  Ugly as they are, I should keep them out because it is one cuttin’ pair of scissors!!!

Keen Kutter Shears
Keen Kutter Scissors

I didn’t really buy any of these items because I collected them, they just kind of interested me.   Kind of like that rare and valuable Schrade Timber Scribe that slick fella traded to me during one of my weaker moments at a local show.

Schrade Timber Scribe
Schrade Timber Scribe

In fact, it seems like there’s getting to be a lot of stuff I don’t really collect, but it just kind of ‘interested’ me.  What’s really concerning is there’s no commonality with many of these acquisitions other then they’re kinda old.  Might be time to consider an intervention. ……right after the Fargo Gun Show…. or maybe when it warms up next spring…… fersure…..

Fargo, ND Gun Show January 3-4, 2015

Quick reminder for all of you ‘locals’.  The Fargo, ND Gun Show is coming up Saturday January 3 and Sunday January 4, 2015 at the Civic Center in Fargo, ND.  Temps are gonna be below zero most of the weekend so you might as well come on out and wander the aisles!!!  I’ll have three tables set up right inside the door on the upper level of the Civic Center.  Hope to see ya all there!!

Happy New Years and what a year it’s been

Let me start by saying 2014 can be summed up as an interesting, frustrating, rewarding, confusing, amazing year.  I just haven’t decided which adjective best describes the overall picture!

I have to start by saying the most amazing thing I witnessed this year was the explosion in popularity in the SFO market driven by Great Eastern.  The year started pretty normal but by mid year GEC had made a clearly defined shift to the SFO, club and private label side of the business.  The shift was so strong that distributors (not associated with the SFO’s) ended up with a rather mundane looking rerun of the #54 for a ‘new’, year end release  that  didn’t hit their shelves till Christmas eve.  In other words, nothing really new for the Christmas stockings.  While my holiday sales were what I’d call average, the bulk of the orders were for older knives or ‘other’ brands.

The interesting and confusing aspects of the year has been the astronomical prices some of these SFO’s have reached on Ebay.  ( I think the recession is over.)  This was a series of ‘production‘ knives with a long bolster, jigged bone handles and a 1095 blade, run in relatively large quantities (for GEC production norms) hitting prices 4x issue price.  All of a sudden some of the high end custom knives started looking like a bargain!   A few folks made some nice profits but let’s be honest, in the long run those prices aren’t sustainable for a production knife.

It’s been frustrating to see GEC shift their focus away from building the knives that brought them to the party.  This past year was filled with lower priced (relatively speaking) knives with delrin handles, a proposed hatchet(?), dual knife set, fixed blade ‘bird hook’,  steak knives, paring knives or the aforementioned SFO’s aimed at the collectors.  Quite frankly, the ‘regular production’ lineup has been either a bit boring or downright odd.  I think the handwriting was on the wall when the 21 Bull Busters didn’t blow out off the shelf as quick as they were built.  That’s a great knife at a reasonable price, but it’s not what the majority of GEC consumers are looking for.

For several years we heard the mantra that GEC wanted to be a small company building superior products for folks looking for a quality knife.  Now, it seems the collector market is in the forefront while they throw ever more unique  low end ‘stuff’ against the wall to see if it’ll stick.  .While that’s been interesting to watch, it’s also been disappointing.

The positive side to all of this has personally paid off by pushing me to expand my product spread to fill the void.  The Edge Pro sharpeners have been great.  Starting to dabble in the higher end Fallkniven knives was one of the better decisions I’ve made in a while.  It not only filled the gap for some old EDC customers, it brought some new ones in as well.  Hess continued to be a strong seller to the outdoors-man that wanted a high end custom ‘EDC’ knife that was reasonably priced.

The shining star was Queen Cutlery.  Queen not only maintained a solid catalog line of popular knives that were available throughout the year, they produced some reasonably priced, really neat short run knives as well.  The Bill Ruple Jacks were a major hit.  It’s been fantastic to see a company building knives with a variety of blade steels for the consumer that appreciates the difference.  Queen also seems to have the ability to balance short runs, private label and regular production knives to keep things interesting for everyone while maintaining a steady flow of products.  Sales have steadily increased as more crossover buyers decide to give them a try and the feedback has been positive.  It’s been gratifying to see the quality from Queen continuing to gain consistency and there’s just a lot of positive things coming out of their factory.

During the past year I’ve gotten a bit ‘harder’ when it comes to dealing with customer concerns regarding quality issues, perceived or real.  Most recently I had an exchange with a potential customer regarding a request that the $58 Farm Tool he wanted to order be ‘perfect’ in all respects.  The radar went up that this was a knife that would be returned regardless of the condition.  A few weeks before, a #42 was returned when the customer noticed there was a slight (and I mean slight) difference in the blade bevel from side to side.  Prior to that, a 73 came back when the customer felt it just didn’t meet the standards most of the other collectors on the chat boards were seeing.  (No specific problem with his knife, however.)  It can reach the ridiculous level pretty quickly.

And thanks to all of you that made purchases at TSA Knives this year.  A portion of the dollars you spent with me went to the Wounded Warrior Project.  I haven’t totaled the numbers yet, but it should be around $2,000.  Thank you.

Overall, it’s been a good year.   Some disappointments and some home runs.   I’m working on a couple of potential projects for 2015 and am starting to put the wheels in motion.  Always looking at new items to add to the store but they have to be items I’ll personally use or endorse but nothing immediate in the plans.  Beyond that, if there’s one thing we can always count on, next year will no doubt be just as interesting, frustrating, rewarding, confusing and amazing as this past year!!  In the meantime, have a Happy New Years!!

More Buffalo Horn Bill Ruple Jacks!

Didn’t expect this, but I’m glad to be able to add a few more of the Buffalo Horn Bill Ruple Jacks from Queen this afternoon.  Their are several of them with some really great looking variegated Buffalo Horn if you prefer that over solid black.

Buffalo Horn Bill Ruple Jack
Buffalo Horn Bill Ruple Jack

This has proven to be a popular series and a great pattern.  I’d really like to see this pattern become a staple in the Queen lineup.

Schatt & Morgan Heavy Jack

I just added the latest short run from Queen Cutlery this morning.  They released a Schatt & Morgan #90 Heavy Jack with carved Camel Bone handles with a great looking Mother of Pearl Keystone Shield inlay and ATS34 Blades.

Schatt & Morgan #90 Heavy Jack
Schatt & Morgan #90 Heavy Jack

It’s never easy to get MOP to show up decent in a photo, but at first glance, it almost looks like polished nickel silver, but as soon as you turn it in the light it picks up the pearlescent glimmer.  Great looking.

Mother Of Pearl Keystone Shield
Mother Of Pearl Keystone Shield

It’s interesting to note that with all the emphasis put on ‘collectible’ traditional folders, people tend to overlook the fact that Queen has been building some really affordable knives lately with high end blade steels.   The 440C blades are nice blade steels but for a knife you’re actually going to use it’s hard to beat ATS34.

 

 

 

Carry 4 Defense Class Followup

Thursday nite, my wife and I participated in the Utah CCW class put on by Craig Roe and Dennis Jones, owners of the Carry 4 Defense school.   It was held at the Red River Regional Marksmanship Center in West Fargo.    (Nice facility!)  I believe there are 15, 50′ lanes for pistol, an 8 lane air gun range AND an underground 6 lane rifle range set up for virtually any caliber high power rifle, short of a .50 cal.

Craig Roe did the instruction Thursday while Dennis Jones handled the fingerprinting, photo’s and general paperwork.  All in all, a smooth flowing operation that started on time, covered all of the information and had us out on time.

Having been through numerous CCW classroom training sessions, it easy for the instructor to get bogged down, particularly if they have a specific area of interest they enjoy discussing.  Craig did a great job keeping things moving while handling all of the questions, plus spending some time on proper stance and some outstanding marksmanship tips.  In fact, I’d definitely consider some range time with him as I’ve still got a lot to learn.

I’ve done a fair amount of shooting and even though I’ve sat through similar curriculum presentations before, I had no problem staying awake right up until the 10PM finish!  And I’ll admit to walking out with a bit more knowledge then I came in with.  Time well spent.

If you live in the area and are contemplating obtaining or renewing a Minnesota, North Dakota or Utah permit, check these guys out.  They’ll even travel to your location if you’ve got a few guys interested in getting together for a class.  I’ve posted a link to their website at the top of my blog page or just click on this link :  Carry4Defense

In the interest of total disclosure, I wasn’t compensated for this post nor did we receive or ask for any discounts for the course or future considerations.  Just calling it as I see it, just a couple of nice guys doing a great job!!

A Merry Christmas Wish for Everyone!

The countdown is on for the big day!  Not sure how the weather’s been where you’re at, but it hasn’t felt or looked much like winter up here, let alone Christmas.  No snow on the ground to speak of, temperatures in the 40’s just a few days ago and not a decent snowstorm in the foreseeable future!

We drove around town a couple of nights ago to check out the Christmas lights on the neighbors houses and were disappointed there weren’t many lit up.   Maybe it’s the lack of snow that makes it look less festive, but it just didn’t seem to be as bright and festive as usual.  We need snow!!!!!

Sunday, to break the monotony,  I started digging around in a box of old memorabilia that brought back some great memories of  Christmas’s past.  Here’s a little gem I’d forgotten alllll about.

DSCN2089

DSCN2090

We had a rocking chair in the living room of the old farmhouse I grew up in that was pulled up next to the oil burner that sat in the middle of the room and heated (more or less) the entire house (after a fashion).  Usually my mother or sister would sit with me and read when I was small and this book was a special one brought out just for the holidays.  Like a lot of you, it didn’t take too many readings before I could recite the words along with the reader.

I was really surprised after 60 years the book was in as good a condition as it is since it’s been handled and read many many times for countless Christmas’.  Like my sister said, it was one of the those ‘special’ Christmas items that Mom brought out once a year and carefully packed away for the next year.  It should be passed on to another generation but it’s just tough to let go of some things.

The discussion with my sister brought up a couple of other less fond memories as well.  The one task we both dreaded after Christmas was taking the tinsel off from the tree.  Cash was a bit tight in those days and it didn’t make any sense to waste money on new tinsel each year when we could reuse it.  Sooooo….. it was carefully removed and wrapped around a piece of cardboard to keep it straight for the next year.

Another great memory was a picture of one of my great nephews with his first pocket knife that I gave him.

First Knife
First Knife

He was around 9 years old at the time and had been begging for his ‘own’ pocket knife.  When I gave him the SAK, it came with a ton of warnings and instruction regarding safe use, proper care, etc, etc.  One of the conditions I put on the gift was that we take a picture of his ‘hands’ with the knife and a promise he’d keep all of those fingers attached to those hands.  Eight years later and so far, so good.

One of the best recent Christmases for me was just 6 years ago.  That was the year the I had my knees replaced.  In fact, it was exactly 6 years today.  Strange Christmas memory?  Not for me!  That marked the end of several years of pure misery with a pair of worn out knees that made even the short walk to the mailbox a chore.  To be able to make that walk without pain was truly a gift.

The most thoughtful and appreciated gift?  Believe it or not, it’s the 50# bag of peanuts I get each year to feed my birds and critters.  For me, it’s a gift that I get to enjoy over and over, everyday throughout the winter.   Isn’t it funny how our priorities and appreciation for things change as we get a few more years behind us?

All these little memories and reminders make us realize we all have ‘markers’ in our lives that make some Christmas’ stand out more then others.  Maybe it’s the first Christmas with a new ‘addition’ to the family.   Every now and then it’s finding the absolutely perfect gift for someone that lights up their day. To a few, it’s another day  spent halfway around the world away from friends and family making sure we’re all safe and sound.  For some, it’s a special day spent with friends or family.  Whatever the situation, I sincerely hope that every one of you has a truly memorable Christmas wherever in the world you might be and with whomever you might be spending it.

Merry Christmas!!