Had a friend share a couple of pretty unique bits of history form Cattaraugus Cutlery this past week. The first is a find at a garage sale that I understand was acquired for less then the cup of coffee at your local Starbucks.
And how about a receipt for repair work dated 1899 for the grand total of $.25 which apparently included the return shipping.
About all I can say is it’s been one of those weeks when you’re just glad to be alive!!! Sunny, warm not hot, a little rain once in a while, fingers are pretty well healed up …perfect. We have company coming in this weekend and I just pulled 10# of ribs out of the smoker. More company next weekend for the 4th and promises of more good weather.
On the knife front, I think GEC finished up the rest of the Ben Hogans and now begin on the huge run of Boy’s Knives. It’s going to be interesting to see if all the SFO’s and regular runs are finally gonna fill the demand. Last I heard the totals were going to be over 1700+ pieces which is huge by GEC standards.
Queen came through with their Skate Key Jack and Barlow’s. Really neat little nostalgic knives. Quantities weren’t particularly high on these so it should be a great collectible or a good conversation piece EDC knife. They also ran some ‘clean up’ knives which were interesting as well.
Last I heard, I’m still anticipating the first Trestle Pine fixed blades to come through in the next week to 10 days. I keep hearing from some of you on a regular basis wanting to enter an early order, but until I’ve got them in hand, gonna make you all wait.
Otherwise, gotta get the tank topped off on the boat, get the ski’s and tube out. Should be hitting the water in about an hour to kick off the weekend. Wish you were all here but 10#’s of ribs don’t go all that far when I’m at the table!!!
Always good to get feedback on new releases. Good and bad. This week I got an email from Will and he nicely summed up my feelings about the Queen City Work Horse with the Sheepsfoot blade.
“Good morning Greg,
The Workhorse Barlow turned up this morning – customs always takes about 5 days to process things send e-mail get payment etc….
It’s a real gem! Remarkable knife and extremely well finished, tough but not crude. This is a Roots Barlow inexpensive for everybody’s pocket (rather than lining the pockets of SFOs…) Really good value and when you think that the TC Barlow (Ok better handles flashier bolster can sell for 250 USD in some forms it’s ridiculous. I have 2 Tom’s Choice and 3 or 4 15s and that’s enough for my tastes,but I see yet another run in the GEC pipeline!
No, the Queen is really well done so please send my positive exp to Queen when you have contact with them. Be nice if they did Yellow Jigged Delrin too. “
That’s really been typical of the feed back I’ve been getting. Great value for the price.
On the custom front, there’s a fellow named Dave from Canada that is not only a knife maker, but he also makes his own Micarta. I’m always impressed by anyone with the patience and ability to form a piece of steel into a usable tool of any kind, but it’s not to often you run across a knife maker that also makes their own handle material. Photo Album
I’m only posting a couple of pix and encourage you to check out his Photo Album to get a better look at some of his work. Very nice!! Be sure to click on the pictures in the album and you’ll find he uses some unique materials….graph paper???? I’ve sold Dave knives for quite some time and never had a clue what an artisan he is.
The best part of this job is getting to see some really neat stuff from time to time!
I mentioned mid week that there were some knives coming in from Queen this weekend and wanted to let you know they arrived. NEAT stuff.
They went through a clean up of odds and ends and put together some really nice knives. Most carry the Schatt & Morgan trademark starting with a #21 Equal End Whittler with Golden Age Jigged Bone handles.
Next is the #55 Stockman with Fire Red Jigged Bone Handles. The Blade is marked 1 0f 600 but only 12 were in this run with a 2007 blade etch. (I wiped the blades to try and remove the film on them but it looks like all I did was smudge them even worse!!)
Then there’s a 76 Swell Center with Berry Worm Groove Handles. Just 8 of these came through with 1 of 600 blade etches and a 2008 blade etch.
The there are two new releases. The first is a Wildcat Driller with really nice Buffalo Horn handles. 35 were made with ATS-34 Blades
And the latest release is a really cool, old nostalgic idea from 50+ years ago. The Queen City 69 Skate Key Barlow in Burnt Stag. There will be another version of this coming through shortly in a Jack pattern.
It’s really fun to see something unique like this come through once in a while and it’s worth noting the fit and finish on all of these knives is as nice as I’ve seen.
Another week of summer gone and it’s been an active one! For the one or two of you that care, my injuries are healing but my pride is permanently damaged. I did get a nice note of concern and understanding from a retired cutler, but I have a feeling he was probably chuckling as he typed the email.
Last word I had on the Trestle Pine Knives fixed blade is that it is on schedule to be ready by the end of the month which is fast approaching. I’m anxious to see the finished product!
I’m waiting on the latest short run releases coming from Queen.
There are also some really short run Equal End Whittlers, Swell Center, Stockman and Wildcat Drillers coming through. In all probabilities, I should see some of these show up by the weekend.
The big surprise for the week was the negative feedback on the latest GEC release of the Ben Hogan and Lady Leg. I was surprised because neither of these patterns are huge sellers and the amount of feedback was out of proportion.
First, the Ben Hogan criticism was aimed at the lack of an end cap and ho-hum handle options. I’m a big fan of the Ben Hogans, but I went really light on this release and yesterday cancelled part of my initial order.
The other complaint from several people was that someone at GEC decided to pin her ‘knee’ and remove her ‘shoe’.
There were some really unkind and actually, rather humorous comments made. We can all agree that not all bare feet are created equally. There’s nothing cuter then a babies feet and toes, but a 70 year old marathoner’s feet??? Not so much.
That pin on the ball of the foot was reminiscent of a bunion and the one on the heel makes one think of a big old callous. While the bow tie shield might make you think of a garter, there’s no doubt that big pivot pin makes me think of a knee replacement. Now don’t shoot the messenger, I’m just passing on what I’ve heard (and one or two of my own perceptions).
I have to agree, that original Lady Leg was really classy looking. The shoe was done exquisitely with the pin highlighting ‘her’ ankle. Other then trying to bring the price down, why would you make the changes? We all know you’ve got some years on ya’ Kate, but they sure didn’t have to do that to ya.
An old customer made the comment yesterday that it almost looked like something you’d expect from Rough Rider. I don’t know if GEC thinks their knives are too expensive so they’re trying to push the price down by making these changes or what there motivation is. It’s sad to see happen as we have enough commodity knife companies out there already.
I’ve always been a great believer in the old adage that you’re never too old to learn. While I’ve known all along that I’m not and never will be a knife maker, I had a desire to be involved in the process of putting the Trestle Pine Knives together beyond the idea and just gathering the materials. Foolishly, I agreed to cutting and sanding the handle material for the next project.
I’ll be the first to admit my fingers aren’t as nimble as they used to be. The feeling in them isn’t quite as acute as it once was and maybe this explains why.
A belt sander is an incredible tool and you can remove a lot of stock really quickly! It looks pretty harmless and they say even a beginner can quickly learn how to safely use it. But….there is a learning curve. A few sharp observers noticed in a couple of pictures on a recent blog post that there was just a bit of hide missing from a couple of my finger tips. Nothing major, but enough to be an aggravation. This is a result of the ‘learning’ process.
Now the really embarrassing part of this story is that being a slow learner, I have three fingers on my right hand that are already taped up. I just figured I’d let those fingers heal a bit so I started using my left hand to hold the stock, makes sense, no? Well, I’ve learned absolutely that I’m not ambidextrous.
The good news is I did get a lot of the material prepared. And I did want to put a part of myself into this project, I just didn’t plan on DNA being involved.
The really painful part of this incident didn’t occur until my wife got home last nite. We’ve done enough hunting together she’s pretty good at reading ‘sign’ and not a bad tracker. Over the years she’s gotten accustomed to coming in the house automatically checking for blood trails, pieces of flesh, empty band-aid boxes and if I’m sitting on a chair or lying on the floor. If there’s a tool out of place, she’ll usually make a cursory check for blood stains before she comes in the house.
When she saw my finger and I explained how it happened, the first words out of her mouth were….. ” I think you oughta quit doing that as you’re obviously not very good at it…..” She didn’t say, ‘damn that looks sore’, or ‘oh my god!!! Are you all right??’… nope. I guess that’s what 40+ years of marriage will do to a relationship! The really depressing part was I couldn’t offer up an argument.
There’s lot of different ways to express the same message and I would have felt less emasculated if she would have maybe quoted Inspector Harry Callahan and said… “A man’s got to know his limitations.” Well, I’m learning!!!!
I’ve been carrying the Work Horse Barlow a week or two and after getting a good edge on it and putting it through it’s paces this week, here’s a really brief review. Best way to do it is to compare it to a couple other knives I’m personally familiar with.
Interestingly enough, the smallest knife (GEC 26) is just a couple of tenths of an ounce lighter then the Work Horse Barlow. The Fallkniven is the bulkiest but lighter then either the GEC or the Work Horse Barlow by almost an ounce! Actually, all three come in at under 2.5 ounces so none are what I’d call bulky.
I’ve never been a great fan of the shorter spear blade (but I do like that long slim spear in the GEC #65 Ben Hogan!) A good drop point has always been a favorite of mine particularly in a fixed blade and the Sheepsfoot is a favorite in the smaller knives. (In fact, I’d love to see GEC bring that drop point back out in their 25 Barlow and back that spring off a bit.) That straight edge of the Sheepsfoot is easy to sharpen and a good all around utility blade for most jobs other then dressing game.
In recent years I’ve developed a bit of arthritis in my hands and I find hanging onto the small handle of the 25 or 26’s can get uncomfortable for extended cutting or carving. I’ve really come to appreciate a bit more handle to hang onto and both the U2 and the Work Horse Barlow fit my hand nicely. The Delrin handle on the Work Horse may not be fancy to look at, but the jigging makes for an incredibly durable and secure gripping surface.
This was a typical week of opening mail, cutting up some cardboard, cutting tape for packing and unpacking and just all around general purpose cutting. The Work Horse performed exactly as I’d anticipated and I really appreciated the lighter pull required to open the blade over the GEC. The U2 being a lockback has a really light spring so it’s not a fair comparison to either the GEC or the Work Horse.
It’ s no secret that I’m a big fan of D2 steel and am currently enthralled with Fallkniven’s laminated powder steel blades. Both the GEC and the Work Horse have 1095 blades which is an excellent steel in and of its own right. By this morning, I can tell the razor edge I’d put on the Work Horse could use a pass or two with some 2000 grit diamond tape to really bring the edge back to peak performance, which I’d anticipated. It wasn’t really ‘dull’ but I like things sharp! From using the GEC’s with 1095 blades the past 6 or 7 years, the Work Horse blade performed just the way I’d expected it would. No criticism.
So would I keep the Work Horse in regular rotation? Yup. Will it replace my U2? Nope. But you know what, when you can buy 2 of the Work Horses for less then the price of one of the U2’s or the GEC….. it kinda gives you something to think about.
I’ve been carrying a Queen Barlow with the Sheepsfoot blade the last few days and finally decided to put a real edge on it. Like most everyone, it’s a rare occasion that a factory new knife comes through with what I feel is an acceptable working edge. For some reason, it seems the folks that focus strictly on fixed blades do a much better job of honing their blades before they go out the door. Traditional makers, other then some of the CNC built tacticals or customs, not so much.
The Queen Barlow had an ‘acceptable’ edge, but not what I like to use so out came the Edge Pro. I have been using one of the Edge Pro Fine Diamond Stones for reshaping the blade angles when necessary so no more then 5 or 6 passes on each side laid down a little flatter grind for me. The steel in the blade is 1095 and the hardness seems to fall in the range of most of the 1095 folders but the water stones weren’t doing the job. I knew the stones were getting pretty loaded with steel particles even though I regularly scrub them with a product called Barkeepers Friend (good stuff). It’s been a while since I trued the stones and thought that might help.
Edge Pro has a product for truing any type of (non diamond) sharpening stones that consists of nothing more then a piece of tempered glass and Silicon Carbide.
Sprinkle about a teaspoon or so of the Silicon Carbide on the glass, add enough water to make a slurry and grind the stone in a circular motion in the mixture on the glass. It only takes a minute or so and your stone is trued and a lot of the surface crud is removed as well. This made all the difference in the world and I could immediately feel even the 600 grit stone was more aggressive at finishing the blade.
Cleaning any stone makes a world of difference in how effective it cuts. Oil stone, water stone, whatever, keep it clean. Also truing your sharpening stones can make an old stone work like new.
Going back to the factory edge on today’s knives, the Edge Pro quickly shows all the flaws on the grind. You’re holding the same angle the length of the blade and if there’s any uneveness or bellying in the blade…. you’re gonna see it.
This entire process of setting up the Edge Pro, truing the stones and sharpening the Barlow took probably 20 minutes from start to finish. Pretty small investment in time to end up with a razor sharp tool.
IF you’re an Edge Pro user, one word of caution. When you lay the knife on the table to sharpen the edge, small particles of steel will accumulate under the blade and end up scratching the blade. It’s hard to see in the phot, but there are some very fine scratches that are visible.
Personally, I don’t get to bent out of shape if my EDC’s have a few scratches on them. IF it bothers you, there’s a really simple solution to prevent scratching when you sharpen the blade.
Regularly wipe of the table that the blade lies on and keep it clean every time you turn the knife to sharpen the other side. Even more effective, use some blue painters tape to protect the blade.
1095 is a good steel for an every day working knife and with a proper edge, it’ll get the job done just fine. I’ll admit to getting spoiled using the Fallkniven laminated powder steels, but for under $40… this is a gem. The 1095 might need a little more attention to maintain that razor edge, but if I lose it, it’s a whole lot easier on the budget!!!
Pretty well covered the highlight of the week already with the report on the Wood for the Trestle Pine Knives project. Things are progressing nicely and a delivery date is in sight!
I did get some info on the upcoming release of the GEC #15 and it sounds like the numbers are going to be huge. It appears that in addition to the numerous SFO’s tagging onto this run, GEC is also going to be running some pretty generous numbers of their own under the Tidioute trademark for the distributors. By my guesstimate, there’ll be close to 2000 units built and if I’m not mistaken, this single run will come close to, if not eclipsing the total quantity of 15’s run in all of 2014!!!!!! It wasn’t that long ago collectors dreaded seeing runs of 100 pieces!
The feedback I’ve been getting on the Sheepsfoot Work Horse Barlows has been 100% positive in all regards. Queen’s taken some hits on quality in the past. Some of it deserved, some not, but in this case they hit the ball out of the park. At the price, I don’t see a US built knife that comes close to the value!
Next week the GEC 65’s should start arriving. Interest has been a bit soft and the production numbers aren’t huge but it’s always been a favorite pattern of mine. A few years ago, I put up a post showing a minor modification to my own 65 to an EZ open design. The original pictures were lost in an ‘upgrade’, but here’s a couple of recent shots.
The EZ Open notch is a really simple mod’ and gives the knife a whole new personality. The spring (as in many of the GEC’s) is way more aggressive then necessary and if you actually use your knife in the outdoors with wet or cold hands you know how much fun it is to battle that heavy spring tension.
Sorry I’m a little late getting this weeks update posted, but have a good weekend!
Over the weekend, I made a trip to WSSI, in North Central Iowa to pick up the wood for the Trestle Pine Knives. WSSI is owned and operated by Mike Ludemann, specializing in stabilizing wood, bone and horn for knife handles, gun grips, stocks, pen blanks, etc, etc. WSSI works with customers all over the world including many of the major players in the knife industry and well known custom makers. The process is interesting and the finished products are incredible.
Mike was kind enough to spend a couple of hours on Saturday walking me through the entire stabilizing process. While the concept seems relatively simple, once it was explained it became obvious the actual process is something of an art.
I wish I’d taken photo’s of some of the finished exotic woods Mike has processed and in stock, but….. pictures just don’t do justice to the actual product. What I did find interesting was getting into the ‘wood room’. Mike has a pile of burls of various woods just waiting to be cut.
That monster on the left top corner of the photo that’s crushing the pallet is an 800 pounder. I can’t imagine how exciting it has to be to run these through the saw to see what might be hidden inside. There is also a flare side wagon you can just barely see on the left side of the photo that’s full of ‘scrap’. Understand, when I say ‘scrap’, don’t misinterpret that to mean ‘junk’. Just a quick glance at the contents and there’s no doubt it’s full of diamonds in the rough just waiting to be worked.
Just want to say a special thanks to Mike for taking the time out of his busy schedule to explain the business to us. Really enjoyed it and plan to make another trip down to visit in the future!
To the point, I picked up the Trestle Pine Knives wood from WSSI during my visit. The pix don’t tell the whole story, but this will give you an idea.
You’re looking at Yellow Birch (top left), Black Ash (top right), Maple (lower left) and Oak (lower right). The pieces need buffing to bring up the grain, but I’m really happy with the outcome.
These pieces are specifically for the upcoming folders but came from the same lot of wood being used on the “Buddy” fixed blade. The latest info is that the “Buddy” should be ready for release around the end of June. The folder will be sometime in July to early August.