Monthly Archives: August 2015

Quality Survey

The suggestion of changing my return policy definitely caught the attention of more then a few folks.  Sunday alone there were over 170 hits on that single topic and it’s still getting hits this morning.  It’s not that I’m that important but thanks in part to Bob over at Old Hundred Collectibles bringing my post to everyone’s attention on his blog and the resulting emails I got, I’m finding out there’s a whole lot of people that feel this quality issue is getting overblown.  In a nutshell, what used to be accepted as normal is now more frequently considered to be an absolutely unacceptable flaw to some.

Is everything leaving the factories absolutely perfect?  Hell no, but I stand by my earlier comment that I think overall quality from most manufacturers ( I work with anyway) is steadily improving.

Just to satisfy my own curiosity about a few things,  I put together a survey this morning I’m inviting you to participate in.  There are just 11 multiple choice questions that are pretty simple and incredibly quick to complete.  The survey will be available through the weekend and I’ll share the results later next week.  Go to:  Quality Survey


Return Policy Changes Coming

As much as I hate to do it, I’m going to be changing my return policy which up till now has been pretty lax.   I’ve extended cash refunds without question for returns whether there were supposed quality issues or maybe the customer just didn’t like the knife.  No exchanges, no store credits, just an outright cash refund.  If I felt the reason for the return was partially or entirely my fault, I’d cover return shipping charges.  I’ve reserved the right to charge a restocking fee and have only imposed it a handful of times.

The Internet’s a wonderful bit of technological advancement, but there are aspects of it that aren’t.  I quit reading the boards on any sort of regular basis long ago,  having read too many posts presenting these mystical images of production knives that appeared to be created by almost mythical craftsman resulting in knives that seemed to be built only for the gods.  Good grief, it’s a freaking TOOL!!!!  I still laugh about the request a few months ago from a new customer looking for a specific knife and wanted it checked to assure that it was perfect in every respect because he wanted to do a ‘review’ on the internet.  My response was I didn’t have such a knife and if he wanted to do an ‘objective’ review, why not simply take a random knife from stock.  This,…. ‘my knife is better than your knife’…’she’s a beauty in every respect’… approach to ‘collecting’ has reached a ridiculous level.

I’ve been in this business roughly 15 years so I sure don’t have all the answers.  But what I do know is that I sincerely believe we’re at a point where we’re seeing some of the best quality coming out of most manufacturers that we’ve seen in just the last two or three years.  GEC has for some time been held up as the prime example of exemplary quality yet I had 4 GEC knives returned in the last 10 days with ‘problems’ that absolutely were not ‘problems’.  It’s ridiculous.

I haven’t made an absolute decision as to how I’m going to handle returns in the future, but will finalize it next week.  With great reluctance, I’m at the point of considering taking a hard line and referring customers with quality issues back to the manufacturers.  IF the customer doesn’t want to go that route, there’s a 15% restocking charge.  If you get a knife and want to return it because you just don’t like it, 15% restocking charge.  If you feel I misrepresented the knife and want to return it, I’ll deal with it on an individual basis.

Without a doubt I’ll lose some customers as a result and I sincerely regret that.  At the same time, from a financial standpoint, the value of that business is marginal at best to begin with.  And above all, you just get tired of getting beat up about real or perceived quality issues you don’t have a damned bit of control over.

So I’ll mull this over a bit this weekend.  It’s a change I’m really reluctant to make.  We’ll see.

TSA Knives Weekly Update 8.28.15

Can NOT believe its Friday already!!!  I swear the weeks are getting shorter.

It’s actually been a fairly quiet week for new knives.  Other then the constant flow of 83’s that’s been about it and I think we’ve finally hit the end of them.  Nice knives and they’ve been selling well.

Midweek I shared some info on the next Trestle Pine Knives release and based on email responses, I think you’ll like it.  I’ve been really pleased the reaction to the blade steel was so positive.  This morning I asked for a quote on another folder to follow up the “Superior” copperhead.  Probably shouldn’t even mention it yet as at this point it’s just an idea and we’re looking at later this year before it’d be ready, at best.

Next week I’ll be listing some more Bark River knives.  I’ll also fill in a few holes in the Hess Knife inventory.  This past week was active when it came to fixed blades and I have no doubt it’s due to the rapidly approaching hunting season.

In a couple more weeks I hope to make the annual trek to the northeast corner of the state for some field testing and much needed R&R.  I’m fearful the Trestle Pine Knives ‘Superior’ won’t be ready to make the trip so maybe I’ll have to plan another trip????  Works for me!

Trestle Pine Knives Update

As promised, here are the details on the next Trestle Pine Knives release.  I’m using a basic Copperhead pattern and upgrading it a bit.  Here’s the basic design.

Trestle Pine Knives Superior Copperhead
Trestle Pine Knives Superior Copperhead

I like the shape of the Copperhead as it feels good in the hand and fits comfortably in a pocket.  The shape fits my hand well for either push or pull cutting.  At 3.75″ closed with a 2.875″ blade, it’s a great midsize neither too light for a work knife yet a comfortable size for kit or pocket.

The handles will be made from the same recovered wood used on the Buddy.  It’s been interesting talking to ‘wood’ people that are involved in working with wood, making furniture and cabinets in particular, who know and understand what this wood is all about.  As soon as they find out the provenance of this wood, they look at the knife with a totally new appreciation.

In addition to the wood handles, a couple more changes were made to the ‘traditional’ copperhead to make it a Trestle Pine Knives “Superior” Copperhead.

First is the switch from the typical clip or drop point blade to a wharncliffe.  From a functional standpoint, I like the wharncliffe blade particularly for quick gut & gilling when I’m trout fishing over a clip or drop point.  Not the perfect size for filleting, but it works great on the size fish I usually catch!!  It’s also a practical blade for food prep, carving and light to medium cutting jobs around camp.

The second tweak is using 154CM rather then 440C, 1095 or D2 for the blade steel.  While I really like the characteristics of D2, considering this knife will most likely be used in a ‘wet’ environment involving water or blood, stainless steel makes the most sense.  440C is a good steel, but 154CM is a far better steel well worth the extra cost.

Last week I got confirmation that it’s scheduled to be built mid September.  I hope we’ve got them by late September in time for some fall fishing and prior to the small game season.  As things progress, I’ll pass on more info and pix.





Queen Cutlery Giveaway Winners

Drew a couple of names last evening and we came up with Tori B winning the Queen Cutlery Sheepsfoot Barlow and Steve D winning the Queen Cutlery Yankee Muskrat.  Congrats and I’ll get these out in the mail to you ASAP!!!!  Remember, part of the deal is we want to hear back from you regarding your impressions of the two knives.

Yankee Muskrat and Sheepsfoot Barlow
Yankee Muskrat and Sheepsfoot Barlow

TSA Knives Weekly Update 8.21.15

Sorry I didn’t get an update posted last week, but to be honest, I was too busy pulling my wife and a visiting 12 year old around the lake on a tube.   Gotta have your priorities in order!!

Over the last week and a half we saw the 835 GEC Tascosa’s finish up and the 831 Tascosa’s start to come in.  Nice knife and they’ve been selling through at a consistent rate.  For now, it looks like we’ll see GEC finish up the 831’s in the next week before they go back to running a couple of more SFO’s.  I’m guessing we should see some regular production knives mid to late September.

Queen hasn’t disappointed bringing out several new releases including the new Keystone Series #60 Stag Sow Belly (which I’ll get listed in the store today) and the 27 1/2 Yankee Muskrat.  I posted an offer  yesterday to give away a couple of Queens to try out and hopefully pass along to someone else.  It’s been rewarding to see a strong interest from individuals that haven’t had any experience with Queen and would like to check one out.

I got confirmation this week regarding the production schedule for the next Trestle Pine Knives release.  The fixed blade Buddy has been well received and sold about as anticipated.  Without going into a lot of detail, the next release is a folder and so far, interest has been great!!  Next week I’ll spend some time sharing the details with you.

Spending the past week with my 12 year old buddy from Iowa was incredibly rewarding.  I love kids, love to talk to them and just spend time doing things with them.  Two of my now adult nephews used to spend summers with us when they were teenagers and we built a close relationship that’s lasted over the years.  Hopefully, Isaiah and I started the same tradition.

Doesn’t matter if you’re eighteen or eighty, whether you have kids, had kids or never had any, spend some quality one on one time with a youngster.  You’ll be amazed how much they enjoy the attention.  And if you listen real close, you’ll be even more amazed how much you’ll learn about them and yourself.

First Knife Making Experience

Thought this was worth reposting:

A week ago last Wednesday, I had a good friend of mine come to visit for a week.  Isaiah is twelve years old (nearly 13) and was my dad’s ‘right hand man’ up till dad’s passing this spring.  Checking on dad several times a day, taking out garbage, getting the mail and doing the things a 90+ year old has trouble doing.  More importantly, they spent a lot of time together talking, telling each other stories and just being good buddies.  Dad told Isaiah many stories about the kinds of things we do up here and all the things to see.  We scheduled the visit before dad died and no doubt, he’d be happy to know Isaiah did indeed get to come up.

We had a great week that included tubing, shooting, tubing, fishing, tubing, golf, minor league baseball game, couple funny movies, a visit to the headwaters of the Mississippi and more tubing.  (notice a trend in there?)  One of the highlights of the week included building a knife, thanks to the generosity of Dave Taylor and Don Carter.

Now I’ve never built a knife before.  Always wanted to but just never took the time to do it.  Let me tell you, I didn’t build this one, but after watching Isaiah, I’m making my own!

With some counseling from both Dave and Donnie, we got started on a Green River blade donated by Dave.  First came laying out the handle material leaving a little excess material for final fitting.

Handle Layout
Handle Layout

Then some band saw work to rough out the handles.

Sawing the slabs
Sawing the slabs

After he glued the liner material to the slabs, it was time for contouring and buffing the tang end of the handles so they were equal on both sides.

Sanding and inspection
Contouring the handle
Buffing the end

Then came the process of applying epoxy to the handle to attach the panels, one side at a time.

Preparing the handle to be glued on
Preparing the handle to be glued on

Then we waited.  Once the first panel was set, we drilled the holes for the pins.  The second panel was glued on and the holes drilled through the second side the next day.  Then the pins driven in.

Pins are inserted
Pins are inserted

…and the sanding and shaping begins.

Final Sanding
Final Sanding

Finally, polishing.  This is where you find out just how good you did getting the flaws out of the wood and the pins flush.


And the final inspection results are…..


That my friends is the look of satisfaction only allowed to a first time knife maker.  And Isaiah has good reason to be proud.  That’s about as fine a looking knife as you can wish to complete on your first try.


Green Liner
Green Liner

If you’ve never built a knife, do it.  Better yet, find a youngster and spend some time with them and build it together.  I don’t really know how long it actually took cause it wasn’t a project we set aside a certain amount of time to finish.  Isaiah worked on it as time allowed and we didn’t rush anything.  Half hour here, 20 minutes there and so forth.  Before we  knew it, the project was done.

Now I contributed about 1% of the labor on this project and we learned together.  I just can’t tell you how satisfying the project was for both of us.  Isaiah was justifiably proud of accomplishing something he’d never really considered before, and for me, it was pure pleasure just being able to watch.

We emailed pictures to both Dave and Donnie after the project was finished and both of them responded by phone or email complimenting him on his work.  You can’t imagine how much that meant to him.

On the way back home, he asked me if next year we might be able to build a knife with stag handles.  He also told me he thought he might start collecting knives.  Not only because he’d made his first (and NOT his last) knife, but also because another knife friend in Olean, NY sent Isaiah a really nice SAK while he was here.  He sent it out of the goodness of his heart and a desire to encourage an interest in knives.  Ten or 20 years from now there’s probably going to be someone in Isaiah’s life asking the same questions most of us have been asked.  Why have you got all these knives laying all over the place?

Dave, Donnie, Brande….thanks.  Couldn’t and probably wouldn’t have done it without you guys.  Funny how these things get started, isn’t it?


Queen Cutlery Giveaway

It’s been a while since I’ve given away a knife so let’s do it.

I just put up a post regarding the new Queen City 27 1/2 Yankee Muskrat.  This is a stock item for Queen and I couldn’t help but be incredibly impressed with it after looking over the knife and the price.  I was also impressed with the run of Queen City 69 Barlows I had run with the Sheepsfoot blade earlier this summer.

Most folks familiar with Queen Cutlery know there were quality issues a few years ago, but what a lot of folks don’t know is that situation is changing radically.  Ken and Jennie made a commitment to bring back that old time quality and their definitely on target.


So here’s the deal.  I’ve got one of the new Queen City Yankee Muskrats and one of the 69 Sheepsfoot Barlows and I’d like to give both of them away.  If you’re not familiar with Queen, that’s even better.  Drop me an email at or reply to this post that you’re interested in trying one of the knives out and we’ll see what happens!

Remember, these are built to be used not locked up in a safe or a display case.  They’re a tool made to deliver years of service not sit and collect dust.  Rather then spending hours with a magnifying glass looking for flaws, take the damned thing out and actually USE IT!!!

Yankee Muskrat and Sheepsfoot Barlow
Yankee Muskrat and Sheepsfoot Barlow

Here’s the conditions.  You have to promise you’ll actually use the knife and tell us what you think of it.  Then, once you’ve tried it, pass it on to someone else, preferably a youngster.  So email me at or simply reply to this post with a comment!  Can’t make it any simpler then that!!!

Queen Cutlery Giveaway & GEC Releases

There are a couple more new posts coming this week to bring everyone up to date, but for now lets cover the latest releases from Queen Cutlery & GEC.

GEC finished up the 835115LB Tascosa drop points last week and the 831115LB Tascosa clip points started arriving this week.  As most of us anticipated, this has been a popular pattern.  The differences between the clip and drop points is pretty subtle, but there is a difference.

Clip Point (L) Drop Point (R)
Clip Point (L) Drop Point (R)

The Drop Point handle color is Autumn Leaf Jigged Bone and the Clip Point is Purple Sage Jigged Bone.  The two jigging patterns are distinctive, but the color is virtually identical.

Purple Sage (L), Autumn Leaf Jigged Bone (R)
Purple Sage (L), Autumn Leaf Jigged Bone (R)

Queen Cutlery released the Queen City 27 1/2 Yankee Muskrat this week and it is a gem.

Queen City 27 1/2 Yankee Muskrat
Queen City 27 1/2 Yankee Muskrat

Queen took some hits a regarding quality in the past and in some cases with good cause.  I talked to Ken about it over a year ago and he said quality was a primary issue that he was going to turn around.  We all knew it wasn’t going to happen over night and there were some hiccups on the way, but the quality & consistency is really becoming obvious.  The Yankee Muskrat is a classic example of the quality everyone associated with the Queen/Schatt & Morgan knives from days long past.  AND…. it’s $59.95

In fact, I’m so enthused about the quality and pricing I’m going to give one of the Yankee Muskrats away.  Watch for a separate blog post.

GEC 83 Tascosa Review

The GEC 83 Tascosa drop points arrived today and are in the store.  I have the Gabon Ebony (nice solid black, no brown), Purple Sage Jigged Bone, OD Green Linen Micarta, Tortoise Shell Acrylic and the Northfield Autumn Leaf Jigged Bone.  There are more to come.

My first impression is it’s a nice little knife, basically a third iteration of the #42 and 72 lockbacks.

#42 (L), #72 (C), #83 (R)
#42 (L), #72 (C), #83 (R)
#42 L, #72 Ctr, #83 R
#42 L, #72 Ctr, #83 R

It’s definitely the most pocket friendly of the three and feels like it would be up to most ‘normal’ cutting tasks.  My only concern is it’s just a little small for my hand and one of the first things I notice was my index finger creeping out onto the blade.


Moving my hand back kept my finger from harms way, but left me with about 2.5 fingers on the handle.  I think that’s probably due in part to the slim handle profile and thickness.  If it had a little more thickness, it’d feel a bit more comfortable in my hand.  But that defeats the purpose of a smaller knife, no?

Slim Handle
Slim Handle

I really like the drop point blade and was particularly happy to see that they moved that nail nick past the center point towards the blade tip to give you maximum leverage for opening.  The lockbacks aren’t particularly hard to open to begin with but I’ve always been perplexed with the mfgrs putting the nick closer to the pivot then the blade tip.   It’s interesting that when you look at the three knives, the bigger the knife, the closer the nail nick is to the pivot.  I know the low profile of 83 necessitates moving it forward or waaay back, glad they moved it forward….. and for the hundredth time, I’d like to see that blade brought back in the 25 barlow.

A small detail was why they kept the lanyard tube on a knife this small.  It’d probably be fine to add a dangler but this is one of those knives that are meant to ride in the bottom of your pocket, …. no strings attached.  Not a big deal either way.

#42 L, #72 Ctr, #83 R Nail Nick location.
#42 L, #72 Ctr, #83 R Nail Nick location

The GEC 83 Tascosa knife doesn’t fit me well and I wish it did.  It’s a great size for pocket carry.  It looks great.  It’s gonna do most of the chores I call on a pocket knife for during the day just fine.  But, just a tad small in my hand.  In spite of that, I have a feeling we’ll see this come through in many, many SFO’s in the near future.  I can envision a 2 blade version and of course, sooner or later they’ll put a wharncliffe blade in it.  It’s a nice size and should have a lot of appeal for anyone not needing a larger workhorse.