Monthly Archives: April 2015

Trestle Pine Knives Info

Here’s what’s going on.  As I explained last week, Trestle Pine Knives will be a new tang stamp that will be a line of knives that I’ve found to be practical patterns that are made to use, not sit in a display box.  Some will be existing patterns that will be slightly tweaked (with useful ‘tweaks’).

Having lived the majority of my adult life in Minnesota, the northern forests and lakes country have become a part of and shaped who I am.  One of the lakes in the Arrowhead of Minnesota that has filled my life with some incredible memories of fishing and the outdoors is a lake called Trestle Pine.

I first started visiting this lake about 40 years ago when the primary access was a crude single lane trail following an old railroad grade.  The grade ended at a narrow channel in the lake where the remnants of an old train trestle still stands in the water.  It’s a gorgeous lake surrounded by miles and miles of forest.   We’ve shared this lake with family and friends creating countless memories for all of us.  I can’t begin to guess how many miles I’ve paddled on that lake or how many trout were caught over the years.

The trestle and railroad grade is one of many that were built to haul logs out of the old growth forests that were being harvested in the late 1800’s.  Nearly all of these short spur lines were abandoned by the early 1900’s when the forests had finally been harvested.  Some of the abandoned grades became hiking trails, fire roads and provided access to remote lakes.

The logs were hauled to local sawmills for processing by rail, pulled by horses in the winter or floated on the rivers or lakes in warm weather.  In some cases, the logs were held in huge ponds until ready for sawing and occasionally, a few might break loose and over time sink to the bottom of the lake or river.  Some of these sunken logs became encased in mud and the low oxygen content of the icy cold northern waters was the perfect preservative environment.

When I got to thinking about this venture, somehow incorporating the beauty of the Northland into the knives was appealing but a little difficult to convey.   An advertisement in a magazine for furniture made from old growth timber set my imagination in motion.  The wood had a warmth and beauty to it that really captured exactly what I wanted to say.

Unlike logs recovered from southern, more temperate waters, logs recovered from deep, cold northern lakes and rivers pose unique problems.  The season for ‘harvesting’ is short, the waters are sometimes deep and always cold, translating to mean…. ‘difficult and expensive’.   I quickly found out that the suppliers of this old growth wood recovered from the northern lakes were few and far between.  The first supplier I located went bankrupt very shortly after I found him.  Another source only handled finished products and so on…..  A couple of months ago, I finally made contact with a Canadian firm that’s one of the very few companies specializing in recovering and processing these old growth logs.  Thanks to that contact, Trestle Pine Knives was back on line.

So what’s the big deal and why is it worth it?  These are “Old Growth” logs have been underwater for 100 to 150 years.  Many of these logs were saplings as far back as the 1300’s.  You read that right, the 1300’s.  Old growth trees matured slowly in heavily forested conditions wherein the dense canopy cut down on the amount of sunlight penetrating the forest.  This slowed growth resulted in tight growth rings and a heavier, denser wood then we see harvested from managed, new growth forests.

Here’s a great example of a pair of  pine 2×4’s, one old growth and a ‘new’ treated 2×4 I just bought a few weeks ago.  The old growth board (top) came from the farm home I grew up in that was built in the 1800’s.  While the old 2×4 is tightly grained, you can see the pulpy appearing wood between the growth rings on the newer treated board.  Not only is the old growth wood stronger,  the tight grain results in a much more attractive finished product.

Old Growth 2x4 Top, New Growth Bottom
Old Growth 2×4 Top, New Growth Bottom

I ordered some samples of the old growth wood and had a piece stabilized and a prototype knife built.  This knife is finished with Yellow Birch.  The slab is what we started with and the handle is obviously a piece that’s been stabilized, sanded and polished.  I’ve been really pleased that the handful of people that have had an opportunity to actually see and handle the knife have been impressed.  There’s a feel to the wood that can only be experienced and conveys the warmth and beauty of our Northern forests and lakes.  With the practical blade size and profile, the knife has that ‘can do‘ Minnesota feel to it.

Yellow Birch
Yellow Birch

The first release will be the Trestle Pine Knives “Buddy”.  A 6″ OAL full tang caper style with a 2 3/4″ 1095, convex ground blade.  I’ve used this pattern for several years and find it to be just about the perfect size for a convenient EDC belt knife in the field or around town.  Sheath will be a brown leather belt sheath and I’m leaning toward including a FireSteel loop to it as well.  This is a prototype and there could be a minor change or two made on the final product.

Trestle Pine Knives "Buddy"
Trestle Pine Knives “Buddy”

Hope I’m not too far ahead of myself, but right now it appears the first knives will be available in Yellow Birch, Ash, Oak and Maple.  I’m at the mercy of my supplier and what’s available is totally dependent on what they can get or have on hand at the time.  It’s not a simple matter of calling them and saying “I need”, it’s more a situation of “what can I get and when can I get it”.

I’m waiting right now for the first shipment of wood to arrive and then it’s off to the stabilizer.  My understanding is the blades are being cut and readied.  The goal is to have the finished knives in stock for sale by early June.

Next up will be a single blade folder with a 154CM blade hopefully, by July or early August.  There are a couple more projects that should follow going into Fall, but right now….. I’ll be happy to get the first one ready to go!

So that’s the genesis of Trestle Pine Knives.  I’m excited about it and encouraged by the feedback I’ve gotten so far.  Now we wait!!!

Ballistol Oil, Gun Show Report, Trestle Pine Knives, etc….

The Gun Show this past weekend was a success for some of us and so, so for others.  I had four tables and it seemed like everything was well received.  Lots of book sales and one of the better shows for knife sales in a while.  I picked up a nice collection of Western and a couple Case knives.  I paid a premium, but there was some nice stuff in the lot.

The show was the first time I displayed the Trestle Pine Knife proto fixed blade.  The reaction was very positive and the handle material got everyone’s attention.  Later this week I promise to share more about it but I want to have the time to explain the project in some detail.

I also had an opportunity to talk with a couple of guys about the Ballistol Oil.  Seems there are more people familiar it then I realized but it doesn’t get talked up a lot.  As I had posted before, it’s been years since I used it and I guess, along with a lot of other folks, over time I was taken with all the new lubricants and it kind of got lost in the mix.  What I really forgot is what a great lubricant as well as ‘cleaner’ and preservative it is.  It’s a bio-degradable mineral oil based product, doesn’t gum up and can even used as a bore cleaner.  I’m going to stock it in the store in several different size dispensers as well as packets of wipes for field use.

Monday morning I had a box from Queen arrive with the 69 1/2 Feathered Buffalo Horn as well as some of the 69 single blades.  As of this morning all that’s left are a pair of the 69 1/2’s.  Nice knives!!!

That’s it for now!  Have to finish putting stuff away from the show and sort through my purchases.

Weekly Wrap Up 4/24/15

It’s been a cool, windy week in this part of the world, but Spring is taking hold.  Wood Ducks are getting settled, some huge flocks of geese moving around and we’re finally seeing a little green grass.

I’m sure you’ve all seen the news about the latest GEC release.  If you haven’t, they’re coming out with a #83 mini-lockback based on the model 73.  Measuring just over 3″ closed, this should be a winner.  I’ve wanted to see a slightly smaller lock back with a drop point blade from them for a long time.   Sounds like late May or early June is a pretty good bet.

The Schatt & Morgan 33150 Reverse Gun Stock pattern came through this week as well as the Queen/Joe Pardue Coffin Hunters.  Both nice patterns and there are more to come!

Last fall another dealer at a show dropped by my table and gave me a couple of cans of Ballistol “Sportsman Oil” to try.  It’s been many, many years since I last used any or have even seen it available for that matter.  I’ve been using it this winter on knives, guns, door hinges, etc.  Next week I’ll give you a short review of the stuff and if any of you have used it recently or in the past, I’d like to hear from ya.

I also threw out a little information about Trestle Pine Knives and promise some more info next week.  I apologize for not just dumping the information on you but this has  been a work in progress for some time and every day seems to bring a new surprise.  Things are coming together nicely, but still some loose ends to clean up.

This weekend (4/25 – 4/26) is the Detroit Lakes, MN Gun Show at the National Guard Armory and once again, if you’re in the area be sure to drop in and say hi.  It opens at 9:00 AM both days.

Have a good weekend and hope to see a few of you at the Show!

Trestle Pine Knives is Becoming a Reality

There’s an old saying that you have to ‘walk before you can run‘.  Well, in the last 9 months I’ve found out it’s even more fundamental that you need to learn to ‘crawl before you can walk‘.  I also learned if ‘patience is a virtue’…. I’m not very virtuous!!!

In my 60+ years, I’ve spent more then my fair share of time in the outdoors fishing, hunting, camping, hiking, canoeing, etc.  Not that many years ago, I made it a point to spend over a month a year plus countless weekends fishing and hunting in Canada, the Dakota’s, Iowa and Minnesota.  While it was an incredible adventure that’s left me with a ton of fabulous memories, I also learned the importance of good gear.  Whether it’s what you wear, your tackle, guns, vehicle or knife, it all contributes to the experience.   Good and bad.

I had a huge advantage in being able to try out new and different gear since I owned a brick and mortar sporting goods store.  When something new came out, I’d give it a try and there was always someone interested in taking it off my hands when I was done.  Later as a manufacturers rep, I had access to some neat gear and a lot of exposure to ‘new’ stuff before it hit the market.  When I got into the knife business, a whole new door was opened and my education continues to this day.

I have a hard time selling merchandise I don’t ‘believe in’.  If it doesn’t perform the way I expect it to, it doesn’t last long in the store.  HOW a product works has always been more important to me than how it looks, but there’s a balance.

All of this brings me to the point and purpose of Trestle Pine Knives.  There are a ton of options on the market when it comes to selecting a knife, but that perfect blend of form and function can be tricky to find.  A number of knife patterns are great, but if the manufacturer would just tweak this or that it would be sooo much more to my liking.  The time to quit complaining and wishing finally started settling in about a year ago.

I looked at and even tried to have an SFO built, but it turned me off to have the same product available to every other dealer after I was the one to basically finance the run.  “Tagging” onto an order by changing handle materials or color seemed a bit redundant and didn’t accomplish what I wanted to accomplish.  The options were limited to keep production costs in line with the rest of the regular run.  Different blade steels weren’t always an option.  Changing blade configurations in a specific frame weren’t possible.  In brief, I wasn’t interested in trying to create another collectible knife by simply changing the color of an existing knife.  I didn’t want to reinvent the wheel, I just wanted to create something a little unique that looked good, performed better and people would actually use.  So here we are.

Trestle Pine Knives Tang Stamp
Trestle Pine Knives Tang Stamp

Trestle Pine Knives is the result of some ideas I’ve had that are going to be made possible through a collaborative effort with several manufacturers and suppliers who have had the patience to work with me.  Without their cooperation, it wouldn’t have happened.  The start-up has gone through a couple of setbacks that at one point had me convinced I should just abandon the whole idea.  Thanks to my wife and a few close friends, I didn’t.

The ideas have sprung from personal experience, listening to what other experienced outdoors people and knife folks have suggested.  While I have no intention of growing this into a major line, I simply want to appeal to that group of people that use their knives and depend on them as any craftsman depends on the tools he works with.  Many of the knives (and I don’t anticipate a large variety) will be based on existing patterns with different blade steels, handle options or blade configurations than you may have encountered recently.  I do have a couple of ideas for new blade designs, but I’ll see.

For now, that’s what I’ve been working on.  I’ve passed inspection on the first Prototype and blades are in the process of being cut for the first pattern.  Handle material is on order (and I’ll share more on that later).  At this point, I’m hoping that by sometime in June the first Trestle Pine Knives will be available.  I’ll put some more information out as time goes on, but I finally feel the project is far enough along to feel confident it’s really going to happen!!

Weekly Wrap Up… 4/17/15

It’s been a busy week!!!  Lotsa stuff going out and more coming in.  The last of the 38 Whittlers came through the first of the week and yesterday the latest Queen/Schatt & Morgan releases came in.

The latest are the Joe Pardue Coffin Folding Hunter in Burnt Stag….

Joe Pardue / Queen Cutlery Reverse Coffin
Joe Pardue / Queen Cutlery Coffin Folding Hunter

And a Stag Schatt & Morgan Keystone Series Reverse Gunstock….

Schatt & Morgan Keystone Reverse Gunstock
Schatt & Morgan Keystone Reverse Gunstock

Next week I’ll be getting ready for the Detroit Lakes, MN Gun Show April 25 & 26 and want to remind anyone within driving distance to swing by if you can.  It’s always a good time.

I see GEC finally got an update on their Production Schedule regarding the upcoming run of 73’s.  I had heard a rumor that the Tidioute Wood was going to be Osage Orange, but nothing solid on that.  Still no info on the bone but here’s what we’ve got so far.

#73 TIDIOUTE CUTLERY
Cody Scout – Single Blade
• Jigged Bone
• Wood
• Linen Micarta

#73 LL TIDIOUTE CUTLERY
Cody Scout – Single Blade
• Jigged Bone
• Wood
• Linen Micarta

*****

#73 NORTHFIELD UN-X-LD
Cody Scout – Single Blade
• Jigged Bone
• Cocobolo Wood
• Burnt Stag
• Natural Stag

#73LL NORTHFIELD UN-X-LD
Cody Scout Single Blade
• Jigged Bone
• Cocobolo
• Burnt Stag
• Natural Stag

I’m also happy to say that the pieces are finally in place for the project I’ve been working on.  Next week I’ll share a few details with you and fill you in on what’s been going on.  They say all good things take time, so based on that, it should be a verygood” thing!  Hope so anyway!

Queen Cutlery “Knife Days” get together

I meant to post this a while back and it just dawned on me that this weekend is “Knife Days” in Wilmington, OH.  Sincerely wish I could make it but it’s not gonna happen.  Here’s a link for show info if you can possibly go.  Knife Days, 2015

Another link to check out is: Queen Cutlery.  This short video really does a great job on summing up who and what Queen Cutlery is all about.

Gun Show Detroit Lakes, MN ~ April 25 & 26

If you’re in the vicinity, want to bring it to your attention that there’s a Gun Show in Detroit Lakes, MN at the National Guard Armory, April 25 & 26.  The show is around 120 tables and is usually well attended by both exhibitors and attendees.  I’ve talked to a few of you in this area and want to remind you that I’ll have 4 tables set up and if there’s anything in particular you’d like me to bring in, let me know!!

Another Don Carter ‘recycling’ Knife Project

I respect the modern knife makers that can turn a slab of 440C or 1095 into a finely crafted piece of modern art.  For centuries embellishing this common ‘tool’ has been considered an artform resulting in some gorgeous pieces.  Some of the lines, curves, twists, turns, damascus blades, exotic handle materials and inlays are incredibly ‘pretty’ and highly prized collectibles.

Frankly, while I enjoy looking at some of those masterpieces, I’m just as fascinated with some of the old pieces that were made by the village blacksmith in another century or by the home craftsman with limited resources in need of a blade.  It wasn’t a matter of emailing an order to Jantz for a blade, handle materials and pins, you typically had to use what was at hand.

I just love those stories that start out ….“I wonder if I could make a knife out of……”  Well, our friend and knife maker Donnie Carter recently took up the challenge yet again.

As the story was related to me, a friend of Donnie’s is a bit of a scrounger and dropped off a leaf spring off from a buggy seat that had been sitting in a local lake for a number of decades.  (and I thought I was a pack rat!)  Donnie fired up his forge, wiped off the anvil, started hammering away and here’s what was hidden inside that chunk of rusted steel.

Hand Forged Buggy Seat Spring Knife
Hand Forged Buggy Seat Spring Knife
Buggy Seat Spring Knife
Buggy Seat Spring Knife

Maybe it’s just me, but I really like this kind of down home, old fashioned, ‘can do’ attitude.  Guess it takes me back to the days growing up when sometimes you made do with what ya had.  Nice knife Donnie and thanks for sharing!!!

2015 Ice Out Contest Winner!!!!!

Spring is officially here and we have a 2015 Ice Out Contest Winner!!!!  The date was about a week and a half earlier than last year  and I actually thought the lake would be clear of ice 4 or 5 days earlier.

Odd as it might seem, watching the ice go off from a larger body of water is actually pretty interesting.  I spent a couple of hours on our deck Saturday afternoon watching a slab of ice about a mile long slowly get ‘blown’ down the lake.  Most of it piles up harmlessly on the downwind side of the lake, but it’s always interesting and maybe a bit nerve wracking (depending where you’re at).  Now you can understand why we pull our docks and boat lifts out of the water every fall before ice in.  Here are a few pictures to give you an idea what the lake ice looked like as of 10:00 AM yesterday 4/12/15.

Shore Ice Building up
Shore Ice Building up

Just left of this photo there was a slab of ice about 1/2 mile wide still in the process of breaking up.  It took about another 6 hours for that slab to ‘disappear’.

Holding it's ground
Holding it’s ground

Things tend to get a bit interesting for the diners at the local Holiday Inn, wondering if they’ll get to finish their meal with dry, warm feet.

Ice Parking Lot 4.12.15

Here’s a picture of these slabs of ice once they break up on shore.  It doesn’t melt like an ice cube in a glass of water, but develops columns of melting similar to a honey comb.  Once it deteriorates to this point, it starts breaking up pretty quickly.  Actually, pretty neat.

Honeycombed ice
Honeycombed ice
Ice Free 4.12.05
Ice Free 4.12.05

So, the winner of this years Ice Out Contest is……. Charley Barlow with a guess of 3PM on 4/13/15.    The actual time was around 5:00PM on 4/12/15 and Charley missed the actual time by just over 24 hours.  That’s pretty darned good and the title of Master Iceologist is well deserved.  Congratulations!!!

He was bracketed on both sides by:

 

  • 4/9     3:29 PM largecents
  • 4/13   3 PM    Charlie Barlow
  • 4/16    3 PM    John
  • 4/20    4 PM     John B

So Charley, look for a Schatt & Morgan 032171 Stag handled Quart Barlow in your mailbox in the next few days!  Thanks to everyone that participated and I’ll have to think about maybe having a Freeze In contest next fall.

 

 

Week in Review 4.10.15, Ice Out Update, Hess, GEC, etc

Important things first.  I had a 1/2 dozen Wood Ducks show up this week checking out the trees for a good nesting spot so it looks like Spring is coming.  Last year we had a nest right outside of our bedroom but the racoons found it before the eggs could hatch.  Better luck this year I hope!

First Wood Duck of the year
First Wood Duck of the year

For the Ice Out Contest participants, the ice conditions are continuing to deteriorate.  There’s a lot of water starting to show along the shoreline and with the warm temps and wind forecast for the weekend, I think we could see things start to change fast.

Shorelines are opening up!
Shorelines are opening up!

Here’s the standings for the Ice Out Contest.  Looks like it’s quickly turning into a horse race for the last 3 standing!  Right now, I wouldn’t want to bet on who’s gonna be closest because things can change quickly or it can cool off and bring thawing to a slow crawl.  At any rate, best of luck!!!

  • 3/27  2PM    Justin
  • 3/28  2PM    Steve
  • 3/31   11AM   Jan
  • 4/1     High Noon  Dave
  • 4/2     3:31PM  jmw0403
  • 4/3     11:07 AM BA
  • 4/4    High Noon Paul S.
  • 4/5     2:30 PM    Weekes
  • 4/6     High Noon  Bill H
  • 4/7     3 AM     Muskrat
  • 4/7     3 PM    Trapper John
  • 4/9     3:29 PM largecents
  • 4/13   3 PM    Charlie Barlow
  • 4/16    3 PM    John
  • 4/20    4 PM     John B

As far as knife stuff, the EDC knives I listed this week sold quickly.  Figured they would as they were an excellent buy.  I still have a few more to get listed and will try to add them soon.

Yesterday I received the Hess fixed blades and started filling some holes in the inventory.  There are a few more to add that should go up today.  If you’re a camper, hiker, fisherman, there are some great knives to check out that won’t break the bank.

GEC,…… received the rest of the #38 Grinling Whittler stags and am supposed to have some of the red jigged bone by the first of the week.  Still no word on the colors on the upcoming 73’s & 25’s and nothing on the GEC production schedule.  I’m not sure what what to make of that.