Monthly Archives: June 2016

S&M John Henry & More Good News

Good weekend for buying and some new knife additions from Queen arrived today.  The BIG news from Queen is the Schatt & Morgan John Henry.  And I mean big in every sense of the word.

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At 5.5″ closed, weighing almost 6 ounces, this is one big ‘pocket’ knife.  Blade steel is 1095 and the Stag is outstanding.  Only 30 were made in Stag.

Schatt & Morgan John Henry
Schatt & Morgan John Henry

The second John Henry is finished with Dark Curly Maple and again, the handle material is really nice.

S&M John Henry Dark Curly Maple
S&M John Henry Dark Curly Maple

The other good news was finally closing the deal on a pair of collections of 50+ knives.  Included in the two is an assortment of the recently released GEC 15’s and a few of the 74’s as well.  Better yet are the group of older GEC’s and an excellent collection of Cotton Samplers.

The Cotton Samplers include GEC’s, the GEC Krack a Jacks, Schatt & Morgan, Northwoods and some Tuna Valley’s.  A number of these were very limited run knives and the stags are all top quality.

It’s probably going to be late this week or even the first of next week before I get them in.  My guess is it’ll be after the 4th of July holiday before I get to sort things out and get any listed.  I’m really anxious to see what all is in the lots!!!

I feel lucky to have been able to pick up some really choice pieces from collections, but I’m always looking for more.  If you have a collection you’re thinking of parting with or know of anyone breaking up their collection, I’d really appreciate a chance to make an offer.  It’s easier to bid on a larger lot then two or three knives, but….. always interested in whatever you might have.

Weekly Update 6.24.16

This weekly update includes the latest from Queen in the form of the Schatt & Morgan 1215 Tear Drops.  They ran a short series of 30 each in Ebony Wood, Reverse Worm Groove Bone and Jigged White Bone.

Schatt & Morgan Tear Drop
Schatt & Morgan Tear Drop

Nice sized knife and comfortable to hold.  Blade steel is ATS34 which is a great steel for edge retention and low maintenance.

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On the Trestle Pine front, I added some more of the Grand Portages and there are more to come.  The best surprise was the Afzelia Wood and Bolivian Rosewood.

Grand Portage Afzelia Wood
Grand Portage Afzelia Wood

The coloration of the Afzelia wood was fantastic and the grain was even better then I had anticipated.  Great looking handle material and one I plan on repeating in the future.

Grand Portage Bolivian Rosewood
Grand Portage Bolivian Rosewood

The Bolivian Rosewood was an experiment and again, I’m really happy with the result.  Due to the oily nature of the wood, it doesn’t take well to stabilizing but the natural oils tend to be a natural preservative.  This is the perfect wood to use a product like Froglube or even Ballistol on to further protect the wood.

The concern I had about the Bolivian Rosewood is how it would look after it had been buffed.  With a stabilized wood, the resin/polymer/whatever in the stabilizing solution is the material that allows the wood to be buffed to a glossy or semi-glossy finish without the use of a varnish or sealer.  In a wood such as oak, the natural oils in the wood are virtually non-existent and buffing results in a very flat finish.  The Bolivian Rosewood has enough natural oil to buff out to a really pleasant soft finish that not only looks great but feels good as well.  I tried the same experiment with some Lacewood and am anxious to see how it buffs out as well.  Many thanks to Jennie Moore at Queen for being willing to experiment with me on this.

At the encouragement of a friend, I ventured onto one of the boards this week to see what was being said about the Trestle Pine Knives and the Grand Portage specifically.  I know it’s really early to be getting a lot of feedback but what I read was gratifying.  It wasn’t the comments about what a cool knife it was but rather the criticism.  And I don’t use the word criticism as a pejorative.

The observations of the doubters seemed to center around the fact that I’d ventured away from a truly genuine ‘traditional’ Barlow by using brass on the bolsters, a non traditional blade, a non traditional steel and a CAP LIFTER.  I couldn’t be happier with their observations!!!

I’m not trying to replicate anything.  I’m trying very hard not to simply do what’s already been done.  What would be the point?  It’s been done before and a lot better then I could probably do it anyway.  There are already dozens and dozens of genuine traditional Barlow clones to be had with more on the way on a regular basis.    If you’re looking for a single blade Barlow with a 1095 Spear Blade and jigged bone handles, your options are virtually limitless.   There are already Barlows with cap lifters but they use the same old traditional steels and handle materials.  The objective with the Trestle Pine Knives was to take a knife we’re all familiar with and create something just a bit different.

What some are finding wrong with the Grand Portage is exactly what I was reaching for.  The brass against the wood looks much richer then a light colored nickel silver bolster.  I’ve grown to love the Wharncliffe and Sheepsfoot blades in all kinds of frames for both their utility and ease of sharpening.  Since the first Swiss Army Knife I handled, I’ve broken enough blade tips to understand the practicality of a cap lifter/screwdriver blade in a knife.  Change is difficult but it can also be fun and instructive.

I’ve got a ton of respect for Ken Daniel’s knowledge about the knife industry and knives in general.  A true mentor, he’s helped me more then you’ll ever know.  I can never forget what he said when the Superior came off the line.  I called and in the course of the conversation I asked him how the Superior looked.  Both of us tend to be sometimes painfully honest with each other and when he said ‘…that blade looks kinda funny sitting so high above the frame‘ I had a moment of doubt.  I respect his opinion and really wondered if I had made a mistake, but once I had the knife in hand I knew it was exactly what I was shooting for.

Not everyone likes the same things and that variety of tastes is what keeps things interesting.  Think how boring it would be if somewhere along the line that first bold caveman hadn’t decided to try eating that piece of meat that had sat to close to the fire.   And think about that idiot that came up with the idea of having a knife that the blade folded into the handle.  I can imagine the conversations in the pub.  “You may not put your eye out but you’ll sure as hell cut your fingers off!!!” “You really want to put a knife in your pants pocket????”

Never being one to simply accept the status quo without asking why, that probably explains why I’ve been self employed for the last 30+ years.  I love mixing things up from time to time and so far the Trestle Pine Knives project is turning into an excellent outlet!!!

 

Sharpening Notes

I’m constantly trying to learn and the use of the 154 series of steels has definitely expanded my education when it comes to sharpening.  Actually, it’s knowledge I’ve had Dave tell me over and over in the past and if I paid closer attention to what John B has to say about sharpening, this wouldn’t be any real news to me.  Those two guys know what they’re talking about particularly about sharpening.

What I’ve figured out, is the powdered steels are incredible and if you want to maximize their potential, don’t rush the sharpening process.  As I touched up the CPM154 blade on my Portage, it seemed like It just didn’t want to take that razor sharp edge I was trying to get.  It also seemed like it was incredibly difficult to raise a burr (or a wire) on the edge.

I’ve sharpened more then my fair share of 1095, D2 and 440C.  On 1095 in particular, once you hit that point where you have that edge at the point you need to knock off that remaining burr, 99% of the time you can see it with your naked eye if the light is right and you can definitely feel it even with my numb fingers.  Then, it’s just a matter of a few strokes with a finishing stone and a final polish with some 2 or 3k tape.

With CPM154 and 154CM, it’s a little different.  It doesn’t take all that long to get the edge to the point of final honing, but then things change a bit.  These super fine grained, hard steels will develop a burr, but it is incredibly fine.  You don’t get this big old burr hanging there that you can literally bend back and forth with a finger nail.  The only way I can feel it on the CPM is lightly rubbing my finger nail perpendicular to the edge on each side to feel it and all I feel is the most minor bump.  I mean if you’re not paying attention you can miss it which is exactly what I’d done.

Once you reach that point with 1095, a half dozen strokes with a 660 stone on the Edge Pro with typically knock it off and then on to the polishing tape.  I found that with the CPM it takes several minutes of work with the 660 stone on each side to finally make that little bump disappear and all of a sudden there was an amazingly sharp edge.  Don’t let yourself stop short at that point figuring it’s good enough.  Stay with it until that burr is completely gone. Then, ten or twenty strokes on each side with the polishing tape and the edge is absolutely surgical sharp.

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Now you ask, is it worth the extra effort?  You’d better believe it.  Not only will it take one of the finest edges you could ask for, the big advantage is the edge doesn’t roll over the first time you cut a piece of hardwood or cut up a pile of cardboard.  You might take a few extra minutes sharpening it to a razor edge but I’ll guarantee you that edge will outlast any 1095 or 440C blade I’ve ever used.  If you’ve got a strop you’ll be amazed how easy it is to maintain that edge (regardless of the steel) with just a few quick hits on a regular basis.  If you don’t have a strop (and use it), you’re going to spend a lot more time sharpening then you need to.

I’ve gotten to really love these modern steels and the more I learn about working with them, the better I like them.

Weekly Update 6.17.16 Grand Portage

The big news of the week has been the arrival of the first of the Trestle Pine Grand Portage.  My first shipment was limited in quantity and the reception has been excellent.  More should arrive in the next day or two with the balance coming through next week. Lots more handle options are coming.

I started shipping knives early this past week and got my first, ‘hands on’ feedback yesterday.  A local customer has purchased the Superior, Portage and the Grand Portage as they were released.  The best way to sum up his comments is ‘…it perfectly fills the slot between the Superior and the Portage’.

L-R Grand Portage, Portage & Superior
L-R Grand Portage, Portage & Superior

I haven’t personally had the time to really put one to use, but it’s going to get a workout this summer.  There’s always a Swiss Army knife in my kit and the screwdrivers are probably one of the most frequently called upon tools.  The problem is I rarely carry it with me due to it’s bulk.  Problem solved!

There’s been interest in the Superior which sold out very quickly.  I decided to go ahead with another run using the CPM154 steel this time around.  The 154CM on the first release has gotten great reviews and the CPM series will take things up a notch.  The second run should be ready late this summer or early fall.

As interest in the Trestle Pine Knives has grown, there have been quite a few people not familiar with the Superior.  I’ve also been asked what the difference is between the three folders and why I did what I did so next week I’ll try to do a brief run down for you.  In the mean time, if you haven’t visited the Trestle Pine Knives website, check it out.

I also picked up some nice smooth Burnt Orange Bone Queen Barlows.  Great looking handle with a unique blade combo in D2.  It has the potential to be the perfect carving knife.  And the price is right!

Queen 69 Smooth Burnt Orange
Queen 69 Smooth Burnt Orange

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I’m not quite sure what’s driving it, but we’re back to the blade centering issue.  In the last couple of weeks I’ve had two GEC’s come back because the blades weren’t ‘perfectly’ centered.  One of the returns had a laundry list of issues which were totally and completely unfounded.  And when we’re talking centering, I mean within .0001 of an inch.  I understand why the customer didn’t send them back to GEC because there wasn’t a thing GEC would have done to them!  And its not just GEC.  Neither buyer was a repeat customer and one even admitted to having problems with another dealer not wanting to address similar issues.  No kidding?

I’ve replaced knives that were truly ‘defective’ in the past, refunded money and in several cases not only refunded their money, but told the customer to keep the knife and do with it what they wish only to have it blow up in my face.

Recently I’ve started to try and sort out potential complaints/returns before they happen.  When I hear or read the phrase “….I’m really particular about centering…”, we have a heart to heart discussion about the reality of production knife quality and expectations before the order is accepted.  In some cases I’m cancelling orders with that type of note attached and recommending they find a B&M store to physically check out the knife or to go directly to the manufacturer with their order.

While I’ve encouraged going back to the manufacturer with legitimate quality issues, I have no doubt why some of these complaints come back to the dealer instead.  The manufacturers are going to reply that there is no problem to be repaired.  And they are right.

My philosophy is that if a dealer is willing to ‘sort’ their inventory for a ‘perfectly’ centered blade, that seems to imply that someone else is going to get a substandard knife.  To insist that TSA Knives will only accept ‘perfectly’ centered blades from a manufacturer is an unreal demand.  If that were reality it would start to feel like a Monty Python skit with a Department of Ridiculously Perfectly Centered Blades.

I want to sell high quality knives that perform as promised in the field.  If I’m gutting a fish neither I nor that fish could give a damn if the blade is perfectly centered between the liners or not.  Likewise cutting a slice of salami for my lunch, the sandwich doesn’t taste any different.  I personally don’t have a 3 or 4 blade knife that probably doesn’t have rub marks on the blades, but let’s try to get a grip.

Sorry I had to drop this on all of you readers as this only applies to a very, very, small but growing minority.  All I can say is if you read on any of the discussion boards about ANY dealer that was a jerk to deal with over an issue on a knife, take it with a grain of salt and do your best to ignore it.  There’s always two sides to a story and the other side frequently goes unheard.

Trestle Pine Knives Grand Portage is Here!!

Finally, the Trestle Pine Knives Grand Portage as arrived.  And I couldn’t be happier with the result.

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This is a collage of the first group that came in.  The knives are coming in several groups which gives me a chance to list them as they arrive.   Today’s shipment include Black/Gold Boxelder Burl, Old Growth Maple and Ash, Honduran Rosewood.  There are around 7 more handle options coming but this is a start.

Trestle Pine Grand Portage
Trestle Pine Grand Portage

Details on the knife include a brass bolster, CPM154 blade, screwdriver caplifter, matchstrike, long pull.  There’s a ‘soft’ half stop (that no doubt will raise the ire of a few ‘experts‘).  Personally, I don’t see the purpose of a bear trap snap into the half stop position and you’ll find the second half of the opening process is when the tension increases for a secure lockup.

On the Portage and Superior I used 154CM steel for the blades and had people ask why I didn’t have it marked on the tang.  Point well taken.  On the Grand Portage not only did I add the steel type CPM154, but the fact the knives are proudly Made in the USA.

Grand Portage Tang Stamp
Grand Portage Tang Stamp

I’ve kept the original “Trestle Pine Knives” tang stamp and added the trademark logo pine tree to the brass bolster.

DSC_2975Brass Bolster

If you’ve read any of the back story on the Grand Portage, you might realize this was an effort to meld old and new.  I felt the matchstrike long pull and brass bolster lent a bit of an old time look to the knife.  The pine tree on the bolster is designed to give a ‘worn’ look to the bolster.  And the Old Growth Ash, Oak, Maple and Yellow Birch dating to the days of the Voyageurs really brings it together.

By the time you’re reading this, the first shipment has been listed in the store!

Weekly Update 6.10.16

I just checked the Production Schedule Update on the GEC website yesterday and it looks like there will be no shortage of options for everyone interested in the #14 Boy’s Knife.  By my count there are 9 different SFO’s coming through in addition to the regular run.  It appears I’m the only one that didn’t run one!

Evidently it’s going to take a while to run all of the them as the only other item on the schedule is the short run 74’s.  The info I got from Chris is that we’re looking at late October to early November before we’ll see the Beer Knives so what happens between 14’s and then….?????

I got a note from Queen earlier this week that they have  a short run of “John Henry’s” coming through in Stag and Dark Curly Maple.  It’ll be a big knife with a 4.25″ 1095 blade and an OAL of 9.75″.

Schatt & Morgan John Henry
Schatt & Morgan John Henry

Queen has been putting out some big knives which have gone over really well.  The Granddaddy Barlow of late being a prime example.  While GEC has hit a niche with one or two patterns they’ve had great success running over and over, it’s encouraging that Queen has been varying the patterns and giving us some different steels in traditional knives.  While I’d never wish to see Queen drop the 1095 or D2, I love being able to offer an option.

The fixed blade makers have been the leaders in the market for years using different and more modern steels.  In my estimation they tend to be the movers and shakers in the knife industry.  With the continuing growth of interest in the tacticals we’ve seen even more experimentation with these modern steels.  Hope it continues to bleed over into the traditional market.

A quick note regarding the Trestle Pine Grand Portage.  They should start arriving this weekend and showing up in the store next week.  We made a last minute adjustment to the production by dropping the mosaic pivot pin.  It was so small that it didn’t show up well and really didn’t add anything to the appearance.  For now, here’s a sneak peek.
Trestle Pine Knives Grand Portage
Trestle Pine Knives Grand Portage

They’ll be coming in two or three different lots.  This is great as it’ll give me a bit of time to get some of each posted as they come in.  There are a slew of handle options so it’s going to be difficult to get everything in the store at once, but I’ll try to keep a representative sample going up as they come in.  The Old Growth Ash, Oak, Maple and Yellow Birch will be limited to less then 30 pieces of each and most of the ‘exotic’ woods will be around 5-20 pieces.

GEC #15 & #74 Short Runs

I’ve been inundated with emails the last 24 hours requesting to be put on a reserve list for the short run #15’s coming through as well as the upcoming #74.  Sorry, but I didn’t have a clue yesterday what these even were.  Emailed GEC late last nite and found out this AM they’re a very short issue of knives that are being spread out on an allotment basis.

These won’t be going up for reserve based on the very limited quantity I’ll be getting, but it’s going to be on a first come first served basis.  Not sure when they’re shipping but they absolutely will not be coming in this week.