After the announcement was official from Queen Cutlery on Wednesday regarding their cessation of operations I received a couple of emails and phone calls asking me did this affect Trestle Pine Knives and if so… now what? The short answer is I don’t know.
First, I hope they come out of this reorganization whole and can continue operations. The knife industry has changed dramatically in the last 10 years making it harder for everyone to maintain a big enough share of a shrinking market to survive. When I say ‘shrinking market’ I mean there are more and more products vying for a limited number of consumers. Queen had a unique niche manufacturing an old name representing a quality product that I hope they can focus on again.
Obviously, the fortunes of Trestle Pine Knives was/is tied to the ongoing operations of Queen Cutlery. I haven’t had any substantive conversation with anyone from Queen since the first part of October. Emails and text messages have gone unanswered or only vague replies were made. More recently, I sent in several customer knives for repair/replacement which were returned to me marked “delivery refused”. There are other personal and financial issues that make this particularly disappointing to me. In brief, I’m totally in the dark as to the future of Trestle Pine Knives. It all depends on Queens ability to recover.
I’ve been asked if I would work with another manufacturer. IF it were possible, I’d consider it. One of the problems is that the Trestle Pine’s are built using only premium blade steels which some manufacturers can’t or won’t work with. Second, not everyone is willing to work with some of the exotic woods that I’ve used with Queen. That leaves the option of following the market and building another traditional bone handled folder. Not an option for me.
It was a hope that I would continue to scale back the business this year and focus almost exclusively on the Trestle Pine Knives going forward. I had really hoped to have another knife released by now. The acceptance of the line has been steadily growing and Sven’s efforts in Germany has been great. But for now….. I don’t have a clue what’s going to happen.
I’ve had a chance to carry one of the new Trestle Pine Gunflint knives for about a week now and wanted to share a few notes about the knife. The Gunflint just came out about a week ago and I’m anxious to get some feedback from folks that have purchased them.
Here’s a really brief explanation of the name. The Gunflint Trail passes through the middle of some of the area that I’ve enjoyed for 40 plus years. The GunflintTrail has it origins on the shores of Lake Superiorand lies south of the Grand Portage. It passes a few miles to the north of Trestle Pine Lakeand lies just south of Topper Lake. See a pattern yet?
The Gunflint was derived from the original Topper. The key differences are as follows, the Topper had a secondary screwdriver blade and the saber ground clip blade was S30V on the Topper. The Gunflint has a single CPM154 Wharncliffe blade. The biggest difference is most noticeable when you look a the overall thickness.
The original Topper measures approximately .55″ thick at 2.8 ounces compared to the Gunflint at .42″ thick and 2.1 ounces. At first glance, the numbers don’t seem very significant until you drop both knives in your pocket. While the Topper isn’t overly large or heavy, thin the handle down about an 1/8 of an inch and the Gunflint seems to virtually disappear in your pocket.
Both knives are a comfortable fit in my hand but the difference when you remove the screwdriver blade is noticeable. While I’ve never found it to be an issue, when you’re using the blade for cutting you feel the screwdriver blade. The new Gunflint has a smoother feel when the blade is open but personally, I miss that screwdriver blade on the Topper.
Another minor change in the two knives is the use of slightly smaller end pins in the Gunflint. I feel the smaller pins tend to distract less from the wood grain. The center pin is the same size due to the additional stress on it.
I grabbed one of the Prototype Toppers with the Wharncliffe blade and have been using it for several months. The Wharncliffe is a favorite blade profile of mine so in my comparison of the two knives, the only real difference was in the feel. Both blades are 154 series steels which is a fantastic blade steel. There’s a noticeable difference between the 1095 and 154 steels and the extra cost of the 154 is worth it in my opinion. The 1095 takes a fine edge but there is no comparison when it comes to edge retention. I find I’m touching up the edge of the 154 every few weeks instead of weekly for the 1095.
In all honesty, I miss the screwdriver more then I thought I might. In the time I’ve carried the Topper I’ve gotten very used to having that mini-pry bar on my knife. It’s amazing how often I use it for all sorts of tasks. On the other hand, I do like the slim profile of the Gunflint and if you don’t like/want/use a screwdriver blade, you’ll like the Gunflint.
I’ll admit to an obvious prejudice when I look at the Trestle Pine Knives and am always anxious to hear from other ‘users’. In fact, I’m really looking forward to the Moorhead Gun Show this weekend in Moorhead, MN to get some feed back. It makes all the difference when you get to hold the knife in your hand and actually get the feel of it. The show is at the Moorhead, MN National Guard Armory from 4-8PM Friday and 9-5 on Saturday. If you’re in the area this Friday afternoon or Saturday following Thanksgiving stop by and at least say hi!!!
I was thrilled to get a note today from Sven Kinast at Messerdepot in Solingen, Germany that an article by Stefan Schmalhaus had been published in Messermagazin featuring the Trestle Pine Knives. Messermagazin is a high quality German based knife mag that I would compare to the US version of Blade. Sven handles the Trestle Pine Knives for me in his part of the world in addition to some other very high quality cutlery, including his own creations. Sven’s a talented knife maker, photographer and works miracles with Kydex!
The front page of the magazine features a picture of the Topper and Superior. It is the bottom center photo.
The author/photographer Stefan Schmalhaus did a great job giving a brief genesis of the Trestle Pine line and explanation of what I’m doing. He brought out the point that it’s not a copy of the Case, Great Eastern or Queen product lines, but rather my own interpretation of a better mouse trap. The story behind the old growth wood handles brought it all together. Due to copy write constraints, I can’t republish the article. For all practical purposes, the article was very positive with only one minor criticism that the base of the blade is a touch to high when closed on the Superior.
Overall, I’m incredibly flattered to have received the attention. Since I started the Trestle Pine Knives project it hasn’t been about the money, but rather challenging myself to see if I really had a better idea. And if I did, would people buy it? Recognition in a major knife magazine like this for a small player like me is worth more than words can express.
(Disclaimer: For the record, I am not an advertiser in the magazine.)
Yesterday the first of the Trestle Pine Gunflint knives arrived. It’s everything I hoped for and was worth the wait! I plan on working on starting to get them listed in the store later today but here’s a quick preview.
There are some stag and a few more wood stragglers that should arrive next week to finish up the run. The Gunflint is a single blade version of the Topper. I changed the S30V Clip blade on the Topper to a CPM154 Wharncliffe in the Gunflint. And I dropped the screwdriver on the Gunflint.
As I said, I’ll get some knives in the store today and post a little more info on Friday.
Busy week this week with a number of new knives from Queen and a couple more GEC Calf Pens. I also added a few more Trestle Pine Toppers to fill some inventory holes.
Since I posted the pictures of some samples of wood that will be available on the Trestle Pine Gunflint, I’ve been asked if those will be the only handle options available. In short, no. There will also be the Old Growth Ash, Oak, Maple and Yellow Birch. Plus, there are several more premium woods like a premium Curly Koa and Old Growth Redwood. And no doubt a few other choices as well will turn up as well.
Interest in the Blue Dyed Curly Maple has been high. On the last run of Trestle Pine’s the Blue Curly Maple sold out immediately. Sven at the Messer Depot in Germany was lamenting the fact he didn’t order more. This time, there will be more Blue available on the Gunflint and this lot of Curly Maple is outstanding.
On this run of the Gunflint I’m having to saw all of the wood panels. In the past, at least half of them came to me pre-sawed which saved a bunch of time. I was working with a 9″ band saw and it seemed like I was constantly fighting it to keep a consistent thickness. I found a good buy on a 14″ and oh what a difference it makes. When you’re trying to make consistent cuts through stabilized 1″ stock that are .20″ thick the slightest flex in the blade raises hell with the finished slab. The new saw is going to pay for itself real fast by dramatically reducing material loss. It just doesn’t pay to go the less expensive route.
I hope that by late next week I’ll have some of the ‘new’ wood in stock to saw, sand and buff. I’m really anxious to see what the finished panels will look like.
A couple of weeks ago I had a brief post about sharpening and mentioned our friend Dave using a slight micro bevel when he finished up. The idea being that a few final strokes at an increased angle will result in a micro bevel that would actually add some strength to the the edge, however minor. I tried it and I think Dave may have something. If nothing else, I think it’s effectively making sure that ‘wire’ is removed in its entirety. It’s been about two weeks since I last touched up my blade and it’s still in great shape.
Next weekend I’m heading out to North Dakota for one more go at the Prairie Dogs. For you other ‘shootists’ out there, I bought a Savage Predator in 6.5 Creedmoor and can’t wait to try it out. I’ve worked up some 107 gr reloads that should be able to buck that North Dakota ‘breeze’ a little better and make more of those 400+ yd shots possible. Should be interesting!!!
I received a photo of some of the wood that will be used on the upcoming Trestle Pine Gunflint. This is dyed Curly Maple with some of the nicest grain you could ask for. The wood in the photo has just been sanded with 120 grit and will have a finishing 4-600 grit finish and polish. That should really make that grain pop!
Below are a few pieces of Natural Curly Maple and Walnut.
There will be some other handle options as well. I was really happy when I got the pix this morning and can’t wait to see what the finished product will look like.
Speaking of wood, some Schatt & Morgan #22 Medium Coke Bottles arrived yesterday with “Lightning Wood” handles. Fantastic looking wood. It looks a bit like stag but has some incredibly unique texture. Queen has really expanded their willingness to use some unique and great looking wood handle material and the Lightning Wood is a stand out!
As anticipated there were a number of new arrivals that came in this week. The first were a couple of the GEC Farm & Field Calf Pen knives. I’m not to sure what to say about the name “Calf Pen” but it conjures up some back breaking memories of my youth working on a farm involving hot summer days and a pitch fork. That being said, fortunately, the knife is a bit more pleasant to handle then the ‘calf pens’ I recall.
I’m not a huge fan of the ‘one arm’ opening blades, but the linerlock on the Wharncliffe makes up for it.
And to round things out are a group of Schatt & Morgan #66 Turkish Muskrats that came in at some super pricing. These normally list in the mid $80 price range but I put them in the store for $69.95-74.95. The Italian Jigged Bone are part of a run of 30 knives while the Acrylics were run in lots of 10. All have 1095 blades.
A pleasant surprise was finding 6 Burnt Stag “Prototype” Gunflints in the box. I didn’t get any of them listed today but will try to get them up over the weekend. My understanding was that I had all of the Proto’s so this was truly a surprise. Great looking stag.
Just a brief note regarding the “Prototype” designation. I refer to these as a Prototype of the upcoming Gunflint but understand, the final Gunflint will be a SINGLE blade knife without the screwdriver/caplifter. We wanted to see what the pattern would look like with the Wharncliffe and I requested they just build them up on the Toppers that were in process.
The last gems were some Schatt & Morgan #3EXP’s in Burnt Stag. Ken brought in some premium stag for these knives and it is incredible nice. It’s tough to find slabs of stag this uniform.
There will be more of the GEC’s coming through next week and no doubt Queen will have a few additions as well.
I hadn’t intended to start sharing too much about the next Trestle Pine Knife, but after a brief mention in a previous post, questions have been coming in. Based on the Topper the Trestle Pine Gunflint will share the frame and that’s about it. So here’s some details to ponder.
The above knife (on the left) is the current Trestle Pine Topper. The knife on the right with the Wharncliffe blade is the ‘prototype’ for the upcoming Gunflint. All I had done was installing a Wharncliffe blade in place of the Clip just to see how it would look/feel.
So here are the details of what to look forward to on the Trestle Pine Gunflint:
Flat Lined Brass Bolsters
Brass Pins & Liners
Wood Handles (some Stag)
CPM154 Wharncliffe Blade
No secondary blade/cap lifter
After the Topper came out, a friend forwarded a link to one of the discussion boards that had a chat going on about the Trestle Pine Knives. I know I should pay more attention to the discussion boards but sometimes it’s better not to let ‘constructive’ criticism and suggestions get in the way of creativity. I will say I was happy to read some of the comments from people that are actually using the knives and not just commenting based solely on pictures or hearsay.
It made me feel good to read a few comments that the Trestle Pine’s aren’t ‘traditional’ enough. What a relief. The last thing I’m trying for is building another traditional slip joint with the traditional 1095 clip blade with traditional nickel silver bolsters and traditional bone handles. Case, GEC and Queen have that market pretty well saturated. If that were my goal, I could tag onto any of a number of SFO’s coming through on a regular basis OR easier yet, just keep selling what’s already out there.
It’s also worth mentioning the screw driver / caplifter ‘blade’. I wasn’t thinking of just a caplifter when I had this added to the Grand Portage and the Topper. Actually, one of my first thoughts was being able to use the ‘top’ edge as a striking tool with the FireSteel. It works great. I haven’t shared the photo below as it demonstrates a total lack of skill with power tools on my part. What you’re seeing is a beveled notched filed into the caplifter that functions as a wire stripper as well as a fishing line cutter.
I’ll admit to succumbing to a bit of peer pressure in the design of the Gunflint. But I didn’t sell out my principals completely.
Why brass bolsters instead of nickel silver? Brass isn’t traditional, I like the look of it with the wood handles and it doesn’t wear like nickel silver. I don’t particularly like the look of Nickel Silver after a few months in my pocket competing for space with pocket change and keys. If you don’t like the patina that brass develops a couple drops of Brasso or a quick touch up with a cotton wheel makes things shine like a new penny.
I’ve been a fan of the Gunstock pattern for a long time and like that substantial feel in my hand with either a single or two blades. The Clip blade is pretty standard in the Gunstocks so I originally went with a Saber Ground Clip (for a heftier blade) on the Topper and upped the game with S30V (to toughen things up).
On the Gunflint I’m going back to the CPM154 steel with a Wharncliffe. I like S30V but there seem to be more then a few folks that prefer the CPM series steels. Honestly, I’m not sophisticated enough to be able to tell much difference between the CPM154 and S30V when it comes to every day use. The S30V will take a helluva fine razor edge and holds it incredibly well. How much better then CPM154? I can’t quantify it. The point being, I’m happy with the performance of CPM154 and sure don’t feel its any sort of compromise. I have dropped the caplifter on the Gunflint. It should be a nice, slim single blade yet still have the hand filling feel of a decent sized work knife.
The Wharncliffe seems to be a universally accepted blade by most everyone. Personally, its everything I can ask for in an EDC knife for my purposes. I just can’t think of any tasks a drop point or clip could do better. Actually, a drop point does do a better job gutting but I don’t do any hunting anymore anyway. I really like the drop point for general use but I like the high riding Wharncliffe for easy access. There’s nothing I hate more then having to take a pair of gloves off in cold/wet weather to open my pocket knife. On a future project, I may take a look at a Sheepsfoot instead of a Wharncliffe.
Now we wait. The Gunflint is scheduled to be shipped by the first of November and have been assured that will happen. I’ve had great feedback on the Topper and I think the single blade Gunflint will be a great companion knife.
This morning I listed 4 Trestle Pine Prototype knives. These are not part of a regular production run but were built to see how the Wharncliffe Blade fit into the Gunstock frame of the Topper. The regular production Toppers have Saber Ground S30V Clip blades. The Prototypes have Wharncliffe CPM154 blades.
I’ll let you know that there is a single blade Gunstock pattern coming later this fall with a CPM154 Wharncliffe blade and no cap lifter. This will be the Gunflint. The Wharncliffe works fantastic in the Gunstock frame and I had an opportunity to try one of the Proto’s out last week. While I really like the Gunstock pattern, I don’t recall handling one before with a Wharncliffe blade but I will tell you it works really nice.
Yesterday I listed some S&M 99 Executive Jacks in Burnt Stag at special pricing. These are knives I had picked up earlier this summer and never got around to listing. They were part of a ‘cleanup’ project and some had CPM154 Drop Point blades and a few had 1095 Clip blades. Pricing is outstanding.
My post yesterday regarding the upcoming GEC 78’s resulted in a phone call and a couple of emails from customers. Let me explain a little further. GEC required dealers to place orders roughly 4 months in advance without having a firm price or a full listing of handle options (standard operating procedures) and….once the dealers place the orders, as of closing time today, GEC won’t let the dealer lower/cancel their order quantity. So if GEC decides on hot pink bone… suck it up and swallow hard. That’s arrogance at its best.
I talked to Chris this morning and confirmed that I wanted to cancel my early orders on both the single and two blade versions. It appears that a couple of the SFO’s that were placed had also been cancelled. My gut feeling is a few folks saw the projected production numbers and SFO’s deciding it might be best to sit this one out. Me too.
I don’t mean to take anything from GEC as they build an excellent knife, but I have a problem being force fed. I’m not trying to punish GEC and won’t be depriving any customers as there should be an abundance of the 78’s available from a variety of sources. There’s just too many other good things going on.
Great week last week even if it was too short!!! Actually, my field trip lasted 5 days in the North Woods and that’s the longest we’ve gotten away from the office in many years. Gonna have to do that more often. The weather was great with a few showers thrown in but nothing of any consequence.
I didn’t get a chance to play any golf but we did some roaming around. All in all, not a bad week. In fact, we met some really incredibly friendly folks this trip and spent a fair amount of time just visiting with people from around the country.
One of the highlights was a group from Canada coming through with their Rat Rods on the way to a show. Wish I would have shot more pix. The ingenuity the builders of the Rat Rods have just never ceases to amaze me. I’m kind of a fan of the Steam Punk art and the Rube Goldberg machines so I guess my interest in Rat Rods would be natural.
And it’s always good to meet up with an old friend, Tyson Cronberg, owner of the famous Beaver House tackle shop in Grand Marais. I’ve know Tyson before he could see over the counter top and it’s always great to catch up with each other. In fact, if you travel to Grand Marais, Ty is carrying the Trestle Pine knives so stop by and check them out.
And of course everyday was started out with ….
On a couple of mornings we also ventured into town to have a breakfast from the World’s Best Donuts. If you’ve never been to Grand Marais, WBD’s is known literally worldwide for their incredible donuts and rolls. The line will form early in the morning and extend into the street. This day they had a traveling minstrel entertaining the crowd as they waited in line.
And of course there was time set aside for a little….
And for sure, some good eats…. For the uninitiated, Poutine is probably the most effective method I’ve come across for increasing your cholesterol 10-15 points at a sitting. French Fries smothered in Cheese Curds and Brown Gravy. ….OMG!!!
The one thing I specifically made time for was trying out the new Topper and a couple of old standbys.
A chore I find makes for a great comparison of blades is fire starting. I use the Fallkniven A1 in the picture above for splitting kindling but the true test comes in the detail work.
The Trestle Pine Buddy is the perfect choice for a little coarser ‘shaving’ of my kindling. It’s also my go to knife when it comes to kitchen work or other ‘medium’ sized camp chores. What I was really interested in was the difference between the new Trestle Pine Topper with the Saber Ground Clip blade and the Prototype with the Wharncliffe blade.
It’s a little difficult to see but the Wharncliffe was great for cutting thin shavings while the Saber/Clip was a bit more aggressive. While I wasn’t surprised it was interesting to work with the two side by side in the same medium. The slightly thicker clip blade acts a bit as a ‘wedge’ resulting in a thicker slice. The slimmer profile of the Wharncliffe allows for delicate, slim shavings to be created.
The Wharncliffe is a 154 blade and the Clip is an S30V. I didn’t use either of them enough to make a fair comparison as to which held an edge better. All I can say is that both of them were used and neither show any sign of losing their edge. I’ve had several customers tell me they prefer the CPM steels over the S30V primarily due to the feeling the CPM is a bit more user friendly when it comes time to touch up the blade and I’ll probably take that into consideration on the next knife.
Personally, I really like the Gunstock pattern the Topper is based on. It rides comfortably in the pocket, provides plenty of handle to grip and is a comfortable size for general use. If you feel the corners on the screwdriver are a bit to sharp in the hand, use a file to knock the corners off. This knife is meant to be used so don’t be afraid to personalize it a bit.
The last day of the field trip we stopped at a home East of Grand Marais on the main highway. Last year I posted a couple of roadside pix but this year we got out of the truck and spent some time wandering through this ‘creation’. It is nothing short of amazing.
This individual has spent years hauling, piling and arranging rocks in some interesting patterns. Then, they enhanced them with little details to make you stop and look and look and the more you look the more you see. Very cool.
And now, it’s back to reality. Queen is releasing a couple of orders that will be arriving next week. I’ll also be filling in some empty spots in the Hess inventory as well as uploading some more Trestle Pine’s. By the way, there’s a new Trestle Pine in the works for later this Fall.