When I sat down to type this weekly update it suddenly hit me that Christmas is just eight weeks from today???? Time flies when you’re having fun, eh?
News coming from Queen Cutlery is the upcoming Blade Show release of another Bill Ruple collaborative knife. There will be both a Jigged Bone and a Stag offering. These have been a popular series and I have no doubt the single blade trapper will be just as popular. I like the concept of the “special cut bolster lanyard’ and am anxious to see it in person.
Next week I’ll kick off a Wounded Warrior Project Auction for a special build Trestle Pine Knives Buddy.
I’ll get the details out next week, but basically I want to coordinate the auction with the upcoming Veteran’s Day. Dave Taylor donated the wood and mosaic pins which resulted in a great looking, practical sized knife for everyday carry. Hopefully, we can raise some money for our wounded vets.
Hunting season is getting underway in most parts of the country and knife sales are reflecting that. Fixed blades and larger folders are selling nicely. The Superior has been moving steadily and the inventory of Ash and Oak are both getting low. I brought in a few more of the Estwing hatchets and have more coming in next week as well as more of the Hess fixed Blades. All told, it’s been the second best October I’ve had in the last 10 years. No complaints!
Somebody commented earlier about the recent pictures in the storefront being better quality of recent. I picked up a new camera and am still learning but it was long overdue. I’d been getting by with my old Nikon Coolpix, but just barely. After seeing the moose and wolf earlier this fall, I decided it was time to take it up a notch. Bear with me as I learn how to use it, but in the meantime, anything is an improvement!
I’ve got some news to share about the Trestle Pine Knives project that I’ll share with you later on. I’d do it now, but gotta run!!!
I haven’t had a fund raiser for the Wounded Warrior Project since the Beer Glass sale and with Veteran’s Day coming up, it’s about time for one. When I had the Trestle Pine Knives Buddy built, there was a special knife in the group that was built specifically for a future Wounded Warrior Project Auction.
Our friend Dave from Knife Leather Traditions most generously donated some slabs of Exhibition Grade Desert Ironwood along with some mosaic pins to be used on a future project. Between the two of us, we thought having a knife built with the materials and auctioned off for our Wounded Warriors would be a worthy cause we both supported.
In the event you don’t know how expensive Exhibition Grade Desert Ironwood is, check it out on the google. It’s expensive and it’s gorgeous. Many thanks go to Dave for this gift.
Slabs are ‘book ended’ for a back to back match.
The pictures don’t do it just, but rest assured, it is a pretty knife. It’ll come boxed with a sheath and the winner will be the envy of the deer camp!
I’ll probably kick off an online auction sometime next week. There will be another post coming up with the rules and regs. This is just giving you a heads up if you’re looking for a nice gift for yourself while helping our wounded vets with a hand up.
Had to share a photo sent to me from Canada this past week that really belongs in the weekly update. As a fellow fisherman, I reealllly enjoyed this photo, (and not necessarily because of the knife in the photo!). Thanks Ron!!!
Had a conversation with a Hess Knife customer yesterday about sharpening. Specifically, we chatted about putting a convex grind on the blade(s) of a couple of his hunting knives. He had read the article on the TSA Blog that I posted back in August of 2012 and decided he wanted to try it out. Convex Grinds. He was familiar with the convex grind on the Bark River and Hess’ and really liked the fact they held an edge well under heavy use. I gave him a couple of tips and suggestions and he was ready to go. It was nice to talk to someone who wasn’t afraid to experiment.
It reminded me of an interaction I had with a young guy at the recent gun show. This particular teenager has been coming to shows with his dad for years and started hanging around my tables 4 or 5 years ago learning how to tie paracord bracelets, trading knives, etc. At an earlier show he watched me use the Edge Pro to sharpen some customer knives and was duly impressed. This time he showed up with a knife, a well used Lansky sharpener and asked me if I’d sharpen his knife.
After we talked for a while, it became obvious he really didn’t know how to use it properly. He had the basics, but the stones were loaded with metal and dry as a bone. We cleaned up the stones and put some honing oil on them. We talked about how to determine the existing bevel on the blade using a magic marker with the Lansky, using coarser grits to get started and switching to finer stones as the edge starts taking shape. With a little guidance, he made a few strokes on the blade and you could see him silently saying….I get it!!! I sent him on his way and back he came a 1/2 hour later with a grin on his face. The knife had a really decent edge on it.
Working and talking to these two fellas reminded me how important it is to share information and show interested people how to do things. One of the highlights of my summer was helping my 13 year old friend make his first knife. It’s so much fun to watch that look of puzzlement turn into a grin of understanding and personal achievement. One of the nice things about the knife community is it always seems like there’s somebody out there willing to lend a hand and an encouraging word. Right off the top of my head names like Donnie, Dave, Ken, Bob, Mike all come to mind. Thanks guys!
Sorry I didn’t get around to the Friday update, but I got caught up in getting ready for the Fergus Falls gun show. My intentions were good, but it time ran out.
The only real news last week was the release of the Schatt & Morgan Jumbo Carpenter Whittler. Really a hefty whittler and perfect for notching and trimming on a building project.
The other release from Queen was the Stag Bone Folding Hunter.
My understanding is that other then the SFO’s we can’t really anticipate anything new from GEC for the rest of the year. Right now they’re finishing up the run of 77 American Jacks. Next is another large SFO run, then a rerun of the Bullnose with a bunch of attached SFO’s, some more of the 25’s the first of the year and that’s about it. I’ve been accused of having a touch of ADD to begin with, and it might be justified as I’m reeeallly having trouble staying interested.
Otherwise, the gun show was obviously the highlight of the week. I was really interested to see what the feedback was going to be regarding the Trestle Pine Knives. The response was everything I could hope for and more. This was the first show that I had the knives available to show and the feedback was great. Sold a couple of knives, gave a couple away and came away really feeling good about the project.
Overall, the crowd was pretty sparse which all of us blamed on the weather. Even my wife was encouraging me to come home to go play golf. The whole weekend was gorgeous with temps in the mid to upper 60’s. On the upside, the sparse crowd made it made it possible to spend some time visiting with customers and lookers.
A dealer at the show said his knife sales have been fair this summer. A couple customers said there didn’t seem to be much interesting to buy and a longtime customer lamented the lack of product coming out of what used to be considered one of the most exciting new knife companies.
Personally, I sold a few knives but the accessory items drew a lot of customers this time. Sharpening stones/strops, oil and honing compound did well as did the Estwing Hatchets. And books, I can never understand why they don’t sell that well in the store but they’re one of the consist show sellers. I think it’s that ability to pick a book up, scan through it and make a decision. All in all, it was a good show. Made a little money, talked to some customers and made a couple of kids happy. About all you can ask for!!
A really brief history is the Estwing Company has been around for over 90 years making rugged tools for the craftsman and outdoorsman. Their all steel construction makes them virtually indestructible while the leather handles are not only comfortable but good looking too.
I’ve been familiar with their line of hammers for years and recently had an opportunity pick up one of the 14″ Sportsman Axes on a trade and immediately fell in love with it. I added them to the storefront a few weeks ago and decided to pick up a couple of the Fireside Friend Splitting Tools as well. Good decision.
The Estwing Hatchet is (Sportsmans Axe) is a slim trim hatchet with a relatively narrow head making it excellent for chopping small limbs.
The narrow edge eagerly bites into even a piece of oak with vigor.
The downside of the narrow head is it makes a lousy splitter. That’s where the Fireside Friend really shines.
I grabbed a well seasoned piece of oak about 8″ in diameter and one good whack did the job. No way would I have tried splitting this with a typical hatchet, but the 4 pound head of the Fireside Friend made easy work.
The Estwing Hatchet is great for an all around tool for cutting small limbs and even light splitting. It’s light weight, compact and easily fits under the seat of the Jeep. Personally, I found the Fireside Friend was absolutely perfect for splitting pieces of hardwood to fit into the smoker or splitting pieces down to cookfire size thickness. The wide head on the Fireside Friend is also perfect for driving stakes and the 4# weight makes it an easy job. Gonna be hard for me to get by with just one or the other.
They’re just another example of rediscovering old tools that still work the way they were designed to. Seems like we can get caught up with the latest gadget and over time forget about those old standbys . Sure glad I tripped across these two!
It’s been a great week. The weather has been cool but we’re heading into the 80’s for the weekend which is fantastic for this part of the world!! Leaves are turning and starting to fall and we’re loving it!!!!!
Really appreciate the positive feedback I’ve been getting on the Superior. I have been using and carrying one for the past week and am happy with the overall feel of the knife and edge retention. The 154CM has a great rep’ for holding an edge and so far, the Wharncliffe on the Superior has been everything I’d hoped for.
A couple of customers have commented that the knife is comfortable to carry but when the blade is deployed, it feels like a much more substantial knife then it feels with the blade closed. In my limited experience, I’ve always thought the Wharncliffe and Sheepsfoot blades have a way of conveying the feeling of holding a larger knife when opened. I think it’s particular noticeable when you handle some of the smaller Barlows.
Wish so bad I could make another fast trip to the Arrowhead but it’s just not in the cards. However, I wanted to share a few pix of the last trip. I posted some pictures going back into Trestle Pine, but I didn’t get a chance to show you a few sights we saw on the way.
I did find a boat I really liked, but we had a problem with the hitch on the Jeep. Turns out I had the wrong size ball on the hitch to pull it home. Maybe next year.
Just as we turned the corner to go down the Trestle Pine Road, we met a timber wolf coming up the road at us. By the time I got the camera out, he’d turned tail and headed down the road away from us. About three seconds later, he faded into the woods like a ghost.
You get to see the occasional coyote up there and while the timber wolf population is up, seeing one has always been pretty unusual. I had an interesting visit with a local that had a closeup encounter with a timber wolf while hiking one of the trails earlier this summer. The fellow had a small dog on a leash and the wolf hung around long enough to make it clear the dog looked like a potential snack.
The real treat came when we got to see a moose. Actually, we got to see 4 moose. These were the first moose we’ve seen in the last 5 years. Our moose population is way down in the NE part of the state and to see 4 on one trip…..unusual.
We had a pair of cows cross the road in front of us. I stopped, got out and took a couple of pictures from a distance. I have a lot more fear of moose in the wild than black bears and respect their personal space.
I was almost back to the Jeep when my wife told me there was another one coming out behind the cows. By the time I turned around, a decent sized bull was on the road looking at me. I managed to get a couple of pictures before he headed into the woods following the pair of cows. It’s amazing how an animal that big can just disappear in the woods in a matter of seconds.
About 20 miles down the road we had a second, smaller bull cross the road in front of us. It’s mating season and they are definitely on the move The moose were the highlight bracketed between sightings of the wolf, ruffed grouse and deer. Just an amazing morning cruising the back roads.
Getting to see all the wildlife and getting some pretty marginal pictures prompted me to order a new camera when we got home. I’ve been working with one of the sub $100 point and shoot camera’s with fair results. The camera on my phone is much better, but I don’t carry that with me unless I feel it’s absolutely necessary to my survival!!! So I guess it was about time to take it up a notch.
The last nite we were in town, the sunset was incredible. The fog moved in over the lake and the setting sun made it look like you were seeing the clouds actually laying below you. Perfect ending to a perfect weekend.
Last weekend we made our annual trip to the Grand Marais, MN area. Weather was gorgeous, the leaves were stunning and the wildlife cooperated! (more on that in another post) Part of the trip included driving back to the place that played a key role in the development of the Trestle Pine Knives concept.
Just up the road from Grand Marais is Trestle Pine Lake. Going back 40 years this is one of the first ‘remote’ lakes we fished. I haven’t dug out any old pictures yet, but when we first started going in, the road was nothing more then a trail that followed an old railroad right of way through the woods that was abandoned many, many years ago. Narrow and full of ruts, at that time it was definitely a 4×4 only proposition.
The low spots in the grade were corduroy which was simply a series of logs laid across those low, swampy areas to give you a solid surface to drive over when it was wet. It used to be interesting on the rare occasion you’d meet another vehicle and a decision had to be made who would back up to let the other one pass. Today, it’s damned near a highway. Well, a decent single lane road, for sure. Graveled and occasionally graded making it a lot less interesting a trip then it used to be.
The lake itself isn’t overly large and 40 years ago, there wasn’t a cabin on the lake. Today, there are a couple of summer homes, but for the most part the lake is still a pristine northern Minnesota lake. Just looking out over the lake conjures up the smell of fresh trout and fried potatoes over a campfire…..and memories of sore muscles from hours of paddling!
Straight out of a 1950’s Hamm’s beer commercial, From the Land of Sky Blue Waters! Trestle Pine Lake.
I could fill pages with stories of fishing on this lake with my wife, nephews, nieces, friends, family and even a few people I barely knew. One evening my wife and I were fishing in that far corner just as a mayfly hatch started. We had trout rising and taking small spinners on nearly every cast….. anyway. At the far end of the lake is a portage that will take you into another gem of a lake called Kemo.
Here is the famed ‘trestle’ for which the lake is named. In fact, on most maps it’s referred to as Pine Lake, but locally, every knows it as Trestle Pine Lake. Now you know why.
I have no idea when the train tracks were removed but it’s been a long time. The old piles look the same today as they did 40 years ago when I first saw them. What I do know is that it’s been many, many decades since any logs were carried by rail car over this bridge. I’d love to find an original photo from back in the day if any existed. Doubtful.
A couple of people have asked where the name for the first Trestle Pine Knives release came from. The Buddy. It isn’t one of those cute names I just pulled out of thin air trying to appeal to the consumer. As with this whole project, it has a special meaning to me.
Here’s the story……
This is the original Bud(dy). I got Bud (a well pedigreed AKC Brittany) back in the 80’s and spent many fabulous years hunting with this guy. Natural pointer, self taught retriever and a lot smarter in the field than I ever hoped to be. I’ve hunted over a few dogs and while I’m undeniably prejudiced, Bud was one of the smartest dogs I’ve hunted with and he taught me lot about dogs, life in general and myself in particular. As the saying goes, he just didn’t have any ‘quit’ in him. Cold, wet, freezing, no birds, didn’t matter. He lived to hunt and was always the last one give it up on a birdless day. And by the way, it’s not a Brittany Spaniel, it’s a Brittany….period.
When he was a pup, I worked with him on his pointing skills with a pheasant wing tied to a piece of fishing line that I drug around the ground until he learned how to hold solid on a point no matter how tempted he was to break. While he could care less about retrieving a stick or a ball, he’d point that wing by the hour and ask for more. When he discovered that fishing pole could be used for something other then dragging that inanimate wing around, things got really interesting for both of us. A live fish on the end of the line was waaaay more interesting. It got to the point he’d watch for any movement in the rod tip when you were fishing. He knew when you had a bite and let you know by coming in tight against you and leaning on you. As a result, whenever he saw the fishing pole come out he was just as excited as seeing the shotgun come out of the case. If you notice, the screen is open but he’s staying close to the fishing gear.
And while some pointers don’t like water, Bud loved it which made canoe trips into the North country trout fishing an interesting experience. Fishing from shore was always a competition to see who got to retrieve the fish. In the canoe, that sometimes became a more of a battle then a competition. After all the hours we spent together in that canoe, he never seemed to understand it would tip over if you leaned too far over the edge. We never capsized so maybe he knew what he was doing or just trusted me to keep things on an even keel. He never chewed the fish up, he just took an immense pride in helping out.
If you’ve ever had the good fortune to hunt over a good pointer, you know it’s almost poetry in motion. The shooting becomes secondary to watching the dog work. Watching them first catch the scent of a bird and starting to pinpoint their location. As they start closing in you can see them shut out everything around them putting 100% of their focus on the task at hand. And finally, all movement stops and they freeze, barely breathing. As I’d move up alongside to take the shot, Bud would glance at me without moving his head, almost trying to point the birds location by just moving his eyes between me and the bird. You got this telepathic message…‘over there, rightoverthere. And for crying out loud, don’t miss this one!’
This was back on Trestle Pine Road when he was in his prime. Grouse and Trout all in the same day, it doesn’t get any better then that for man or dog.
And when night came in camp, he knew where he wanted to be. Off the ground and out from under foot. If he couldn’t be near the fire, how about a blanket. Ever slept in a tent with a wet dog curled up in a ball, tight against you? As often as I complained about it, its hard to believe, but I’d give an awful lot to have that tired, wet, smelly dog curled up next to me one more time after a day of fishing and hunting together. Sometimes, if I close my eyes reeeal tight, I can almost…..
Bud and I spent 24/7 together. I worked from home and for twelve wonderful years we enjoyed hunting, fishing, hiking and camping in the north woods together. It was rare indeed I went up without him. So it just seemed appropriate that the first Trestle Pine Knives release should be in memory of a true Buddy that enjoyed that country every bit as much as I still do. Trestle Pine Lake and a Brittany named Bud. Believe me, it doesn’t get any better then that.
Big week this past week. It all started with a couple of days escaping to the North woods and coming home to the most recent Trestle Pine Knives release. I’ll cover the trip north in another post cause there’s just too much to tell and a number of pictures I want to share. For now I’ll just say it was a great two days and here’s a bit of a tease.
Fall is definitely in the air, small game hunting has opened up and the weather has been fantastic. Fixed blade sales have picked up and knife sales in general have been really good. Late last week I brought in around 20 new/old stock GEC’s to fill some holes and several sold immediately. The demand for the earlier releases is still there.
The Fergus Falls, MN gun show is coming up in just two more weeks and I’m anxious to bring the Trestle Pine Knives Superior and Buddy to the first show. The Buddy didn’t come out until the end of ‘show’ season for me so it’ll be interesting to get some hands on feedback on both knives.
As I said earlier, I’m really happy with the Superior and have just started hearing from a couple of folks that received their orders. Most started being delivered yesterday so if your pre-booking order hasn’t arrived yet, keep an eye on your mailboxes!
A week or so ago I talked to Dave about ‘tightening’ up an older sheath for one of my Bark Rivers. I store the knife in the sheath and after a number of years of use, the fit was getting pretty loose. Thanks to some advice from Dave, it was a quick and easy fix.
It took nothing more then running warm water over the exterior of the sheath for a few seconds (after removing the knife) just enough to wet the surface. DON’T submerge the sheath or fill it with water! Just dampen it from the exterior surface. Let the water soak in and repeat the process until the sheath gets to feeling a bit soft like damp clay. Put a good coat of oil on the knife and insert it into the sheath. With your fingers, shape the sheath around the blade and handle. After a couple of minutes, carefully remove the knife from the sheath. Set the sheath in the sun and let it thoroughly dry. When it’s completely dried, be sure to put a light coat of Neetsfoot or similar oil on the leather. Don’t soak it with oil as that can cause to the leather to soften to the point it’ll loosen up again.
In my case one treatment was enough to snug things back up to hold the knife securely once again. I also used the same process to loosen the fire steel loop on a new sheath. Some of the loops are so tight it’s really difficult to get a fire steel in the first time. A little warm water allowed the leather to stretch enough to fit it and once dry, held the fire steel in place very snugly.
And another tip this week from “3001 Questions & Answers”. If you had a supply of Rattlesnake venom and wondered where to sell it in the early 1900’s ….
“Boricke & Runyon are manufacturers of rattlesnake virus to cure epilepsy. Those wanting this information would do well, I think, to correspond with the above named medical firm.”
Finally tallied up the results on the knife design survey and the results were pretty clear. About 60% of the respondents would like to see a Barlow. Over half would prefer a 2 blade with the majority of those preferring a Sheepsfoot/ Pen (or Spear). And finally roughly 65% would like to see 154CM blades. The other steel choices were split with D2 falling in second place followed by 440C, D2 and 1095 falling dead last.
For the most part the results aren’t too shocking. The Barlow’s have been popular for quite some time and don’t show any sign of tapering off. The preference for a two blade rather then a single blade was kind of anticipated as well with the Sheepsfoot/Pen being a pretty standard combo. A couple of folks suggested a Drop Point which I find somewhat appealing as well.
The 154CM blade steel choice really confirmed what I’ve been hearing and thinking for a long time. While 1095 and 440C are great steels, there are better choices to be had. For Carbon, I’ve always liked D2. When it comes to Stainless, for the difference in price over 440C, I personally think the 154CM is a bargain.
At any rate, it gives me something to consider. Really appreciate the input you provided and it’s always interesting to hear what you’re really interested in.
A few weeks back I gave away a couple of the Queen 69 Workhorse Barlow special run knives and asked that the recipients take a few minutes to write a review on them after they had a chance to use them. The first review was posted and Tori just forwarded the following to me for posting. Really appreciate the time and thoughtful review.
“Sorry for the delay in getting this to you, I wanted to make sure that I really put this little workhorse through its paces in order to give it a thorough review. This is my first official review like this so sorry if it’s a bit rough.
First things first, many thanks to Greg at TSA knives for giving me the opportunity to try this knife out, I was actually eyeing it since I had no previous experience with the barlow pattern. I can happily report that it’s now one of my favorite patterns, and combined with the sheepsfoot blade it is hard to beat!
The Queen 69 Workhorse Barlow features a sheepsfoot blade in 1095 steel with a plumb-brown delrin handle. The delrin is surprisingly comfortable and the jigging makes it decently grippy, even in damp conditions. The sheepsfoot blade is excellent for a wide variety of tasks and is perfect for such a utilitarian design. The blade is thin enough to make it an excellent slicer, and after a few swipes on a stone even I managed to get it hair-popping sharp with my less than stellar sharpening skills. The size of the knife falls in that 3-3.5″ sweet spot where it’s hefty enough to handle slightly heavier tasks in the garden but is still small enough to ride well in the pocket and not be intimidating to most folks.
The nail knick is really more of a formality since the blade can be easily pinched open, and I would rate the pull at around a 7, leaning towards a 6.5. While this Queen is no safe queen (it’s not supposed to be!) the fit and finish are solid with the blade being well centered and no gaps between the delrin and the bolsters. There is the slightest of gaps on one side of the back spring but it’s only visible if you hold it up to a light, and I’ve had worse gaps on knives 3x the price. The walk and talk are decent and it snaps open quite nicely, though there is a bit of up and down wiggle in the half stop position, but who uses their knife like that anyway? For a “user” knife Queen really outdid themselves and I would rate the overall frame at an 8 out of 10, outstanding for a knife that’s less than $40.
My one (small) gripe with the knife is that the delrin around two of the pins in the covers/scales was rough immediately around the perimeter of the pins, which was pretty noticeable when holding the knife. However, after spending some time in the pocket of my jeans the roughness is wearing away, and I can only imagine that it will continue to improve over time. Seriously though, with such a low price and excellent build quality it’s hard to complain about small cosmetic issues.
Overall, the quality of the design and build are impressive for such an inexpensive knife, and I see this little workhorse toughing it out with me for many years to come. If you want to try out a barlow pattern or want a tough knife that’s not afraid to be used, the Queen 69 Workhorse Barlow is a great, affordable option. Thanks again to Greg for giving me a taste of this pattern, and my first Queen to boot!”