Category Archives: Weekly Update

Weekly Update 2.9.18

The weekly update is best summed up in one word.  COLD!  I’ll share a few pics below of how we celebrate the cold up here but business first.

The GEC 56’s two blade models have been coming through with regularity and have been well received.  As usual, the interest in the single blade version that’s coming seems to be drawing the most interest.

GEC 56 Mustard Jigged Bone

The 56 is a great knife but personally, I’ve always preferred a Wharncliffe, Drop Point, Sheepsfoot or Clip (in that order) for a day to day knife.  In fact, I’d like to see more Drop Points from GEC to lure me back into the fold.

Once the single blades are finished up in another week or so, I’m looking forward to the new #43.  I’m not sure if GEC will squeeze the 71 Bull Nose in front of the 43’s but that should be a pretty short run in any case.

I added a few more of the Blackjack Knives to the storefront and am getting some feedback from customers.  What I’m hearing is tracking pretty close to what I’ve felt.  It’s a great knife for the price.  I’ve played around with one a little but haven’t taken it outdoors to really put it through it’s paces.  I’m particularly happy with the way that blade quickly thins to a narrower cutting edge from about the midpoint on towards the tip.  What you might sacrifice in strength is more then made up for in utility.

Blackjack Mod 125

I was showing a friend the stag handled 124 (above) and she immediately grabbed it with her index finger in the ricasso and thumb on top of the blade.  Her first comment was how comfortable it felt.  Have to agree!

No news regarding Queen this week.  It seems that everything is still on hold and we all continue to wait to see what happens.

Now, regarding the cold weather….  I’ve been taking some pictures as our Ice Castle has been being built and last nite was the official lighting.  The Ice Castle is the center point of our annual winter Polar Fest.

The Polar Fest is an annual event that lasts for about a week in an attempt to distract us all from the miseries of a north country winter and to stall off the effects of cabin fever.  We’ve had sub-zero overnite temps since Christmas nearly every nite so we’re ready for a distraction.

Harvesting ice from Detroit Lake was the 2nd largest industry in our town.  The last commercial harvest was in the 1970’s.  Starting in the lat 1800’s, two competing ice companies harvested and sold ice to businesses from the midwest to the west coast and Texas with the Northern Pacific Railroad being the largest consumer.  At the peak, they harvested up to 200,000 pounds of ice employing as many as 180 men during the peak harvest.  There are some interesting video’s showing how the ice was harvested this winter and more info at this link if you’re interested:  Ice Harvest on Detroit Lakes

Here are a few pictures I’ve taken over the past few weeks chronicling the harvest and construction of the Ice Castle.

The harvest begins.

400-500 pound blocks are floated to a conveyor lifting them out of the water onto the ice

The blocks were lifted into place and fitted by hand

After several weeks, the structure is finished with parapets in place

Flags are put in place with the names of the sponsors responsible for making this happen.

Last nite, February 8th, 2018 was the official lighting of the castle kicking off the Polar Fest

Just to give you a better appreciation of this event, I took the color pix last nite around 7:45PM with an outside temp of -2F finishing up at -21F this morning.  We arrived late but evidently there was  a large crowd present earlier to kick things off.   All kinds of events occur during the next 10 days with a fireworks display set for February 19.  Then….we’re ready for spring!

 

Weekly Update Queen Revival?

I haven’t heard from Queen since last Fall but I’m getting reports from several customers that have talked to people that should know, it sounds like Queen is on its way back.  There haven’t been any definitive details I can repeat but the trickle of info is consistent and coming from multiple sources soooo…I’m left to believe there’s some hope.  Appreciate the info some of you have shared.

The Great Eastern  56 Trappers have been arriving and going out about as fast as they come in.  They’re every bit as nice as the original 56’s.  I talked to Chris earlier this week and tried to add a few more to my initial order with limited success.  My understanding is that some of the 56’s are being run in relatively small (100 pieces) numbers and as a result were actually ‘allocated’ to the dealers.

56 Natural Canvas

I know a lot of the runs are based on initial early dealer orders but sometimes it’s pretty obvious that the initial dealer interest may not reflect the demand.  Often dealer early orders have to be submitted before much buzz is created on an upcoming pattern.  In my case, I may order light based on early interest only to have my mail box fill up with requests for reserves after the info has spread.

When we get an early heads up (like we’re seeing more frequently) as in the case of the upcoming 43 Oregon Pattern it’s so much easier to anticipate interest.  And no doubt it makes life easier for production planning at GEC resulting in easier access to the consumer.

I had an email last night regarding a dealer that has set up some sort of lottery system for early reservations and the writer was poking fun at the matter.  I totally understand why the dealer might do it.  In the past I took reservations and ended up with more pissed off customers than you can imagine.  “Old” customers expected (rightly so)  to be put at the top of the list for any new releases.  Pretty soon it was only “Old” customers that were able to get on the reserved list.  Then you had 10 old customers and you’re only going to get 5 knives.  New customers were frustrated that they didn’t have a chance for some of the more difficult pieces.  I finally quit taking early orders on almost all releases just to avoid the frustration.

Lets face it, GEC has an allocation program that rewards larger dealers with discounts and the lions share of some runs.  Is that fair?  Probably so, but it sure makes life tough for anyone starting out trying to expand or build a legitimate full time business.

I’ve kind of gone off on a tangent but I like to be up front about what’s going on and sharing some of the frustrations dealers can run up against.   Be careful criticizing some of the efforts made to appease all of the consumers.  Trust me, give it time and some of these high demand knives that have ended up with hyper-inflated prices will come back to earth and be available on the secondary market.   When a $90 production knife turns into a $300+ collectible almost overnite, that’s not going to last.

The subject of these incredible prices for some of the GEC’s came up with a customer I have a high regard for in the knife industry.  He brought up the point (and I totally agree) that in the next 5-10 years we’re going to see some of the aging collectors start to liquidate their collections.  We were talking about collectors that have been acquiring since the 50’s and 60’s that hold some incredible older rare or interesting knives in their collections.  Right now the current group of collectors are attracted to the most recent shiny new releases and pay scant attention to these older treasures.  For now, historical interest or unique qualities aren’t a factor to many collectors.  It’ll be interesting to see what happens down the road.

 

New Products Updates

Today is the last day of the Shot Show in Las Vegas and the knife industry was well represented it sounds like!  You can always count on some exciting new products coming out of that show whether its new knives, guns or hunting socks!  A quick look at the web page for Knife News was pretty interesting seeing a few new products related to the knife industry.  I haven’t had time to go through all of the offerings, but here’s a link you might like to check out.  knife News

The have a ton of videos on the site with coverage of a lot of new releases.  At first glance it appears that most are tacticals with a few traditional folders and of course, the bushcraft hunting knives as well.  I like the videos because most are under a minute and give you a quick overview of the knife without a 10 minute sales pitch and 2 minutes of photos of the box from all different angles.  If it’s something that looks interesting, I can make notes and do more research later. The point is, if your into sharp things, there’s bound to be something that catches your eye!

It’s really interesting how so many of the folding knives are taking on what I call a European flair.  Let’s face it, there are a lot of knives coming in from overseas and the origins are reflected in the styles.  Some I like the looks of and others, not so much.  So much of it comes down to the blade steels and how it actually feels in the hand.  Many of them seem to have a very slim profile which is great if you have a smaller hand or want a knife that will disappear in your pocket.  Too often when it comes to using them they don’t feel comfortable.

A surprise arrived this morning in a box of Blackjack Knives I hadn’t anticipated seeing until next week.

Blackjack Knives Classics

As promised, I’ll get a few of these listed in the store hopefully yet today.  In the meantime, I refer anyone interested to a recent post where I spent a little time explaining what I liked about the Blackjack line.  In all honesty I haven’t spent a lot of time actually using one in the field and that’s going to change.

I like using the bigger knives like my trusty Fallkniven A1,  That knife is a handful, capable of most any serious work including splitting firewood.

Fallkniven A1

But I’m drawn to trying one of the Model 125 Blackjacks for a ‘medium’ sized work knife.

Blackjack Mod 125 & Fallkniven A1

The Blackjack 125 maintains that long handle I like plus the mid portion of the handle features a hand filling ‘swell’ that really feels good.  The long guard on the Blackjack combined with the long ricasso should really make for a ‘safe’ knife on detail work.  Another element I like about the Blackjack is the relatively rapid thinning of the blade as you move towards the tip.

Blackjack Mod 125

One of the dislikes I have of my A1 is the blade is quite thick it’s entire length.  While that’s not really a criticism, it means that thin slicing isn’t a strong point for that type of blade.  That thick blade is meant to split, not slice.

And I guess that’s why we need more than one knife, right?  At any rate, I plan on spending some time using one of the Blackjacks and really get a feel for it.  Always like a challenge!

Some of you have noticed I’ve been adding a few older GEC’s to the storefront this week.  I had a small collection come my way and there are/were a few real gems in the mix.  There will be a few more next week.  Always fun to get an opportunity to pick up a collection when I can.

A final note is I see the first of the GEC #56’s has shown up on their website.  Based on that, I’d anticipate we’ll see the first of them start to come through next week.

Weekly Update 1.20.17

The primary question of this weeks update is what’s happening with Queen Cutlery?  I don’t think most of us know anymore then we did a couple of weeks ago.  My hope is that within the next couple of weeks we get and update from Queen to give us a little idea what the future holds for all of us.

In the meantime, sales of Queen and Schatt & Morgan knives have noticeably picked up.  Some buyers admit they’ve never owned a Queen/S&M and figure they better grab one now if they’re ever going to get the one they want.  Others want a “pre-reorganization” knife.  And a few are speculating on a worst case scenario, buying in anticipation that the value of all of the Queen products to go up.  At any rate, I like to see the folks that have never owned a Queen give them a try.

Fixed blade knives have been selling well.  I’m not sure if it’s a growing interest in fixed blades due to the lack of ‘new’ traditional folders or if it’s just the time of year.  Spring is coming and along with it camping, hiking and fishing seasons. The Hess brand has always done well for me and their knives are a fantastic price point considering the quality.

Another line I’ve carried but neglected to give much attention are the Blackjack knives.  I keep a few of the #5’s (my most popular seller) listed in the store but for whatever reason, this has been a gunshow knife.  It seems to sell best when a customer has the chance to pick it up and actually handle it rather than just looking at pictures.

It’s a brand that’s been around since the late 80’s in one form or another and finally found it’s footing in the late 90’s.  Mike Stewart had started out with some of the Chris Reeve fixed blade patterns and finally settled on patterns with a strong influence of the original Bo Randall knives.  They’re not necessarily copies of Randall’s but they have a definite Randall influence.

Blackjack Model 5 Big Leaf Maple Burl Handle

Part of the appeal to me is the size of the handles.  I have a fairly large hand and like the extra long handle on a heavier duty work knife.

Another detail I appreciate on a larger knife is the long ricasso.  Using a large knife for ‘detail’ work can be hazardous and clumsy at best.  The ability to get your fingers closer to the working edge can be extremely helpful to maintain control when working on smaller projects.  That long guard is added insurance your hand isn’t going to slip allowing your fingers to slide up the blade. (important for guys like me)

And finally, it’s made in the USA from A2 Tool Steel with a convex grind.  Fit and finish on all of the knives I’ve handled has been excellent.  As far as the price goes, coming in well below the $200 mark,  they are priced right.  My current inventory of the Blackjacks is low but I have an order coming in for the next gunshow and I’ll try to share more of them in the store.

Right now I’m expecting to see the Blackjacks in about a week to 10 days.  Another couple dozen Hess‘ will be coming through in about 2 weeks.  I’m guessing we may see the first of the GEC 56’s starting to show up in another week as well.  In the mean time, let’s all hope we hear some good news out of Queen real soon.

 

 

 

 

Neat Old Knives From 2017

I’ve been bemoaning the fact that 2017 was pretty devoid of much ‘new’ in the way of NEW products.   So many of the new releases were just reworks of old knives we’ve seen before and the excitement level was pretty low.  I hope that’s not the way of the future.

Probably the most exciting truly new item was the release of the Schatt & Morgan Express Knives.  And in reality, this is a rework of another series of old knives but at least it was new to most of us.  The acceptance wasn’t as wide as a more conventional traditional folder, but the guys into collecting the old auto’s seemed to love it.

Schatt & Morgan Express

When I got to thinking about neat older knives, a couple of pieces I’ve acquired this past year came to mind.  Now they’re not necessarily anything I think needs to be re-released, their uniqueness is interesting.

The first piece that ranks high on the the cool list was the Cattaraugus King of the Woods “Yukon” that I picked up at an auction.  I sold it this fall to a collector that was thrilled to get his hands on it due to it’s rarity.  It was truly a big old workhorse of a knife.

Cattaraugus King of the Woods “Yukon”

Another work horse is the Western States lockback.  It’s lock mechanism is very similar to the more recent GEC Bull Lock.  Again, like the Cattaraugus, this is a big knife that was made to be used by the serious hunter, trapper and farmer.

I have to believe that in their day, these knives were met with wild enthusiasm by the serious outdoorsman.  Today, knives like these would immediately be popular sellers but unfortunately most would end up in display cases.  The world has changed and the need for a heavy duty work knife that will actually get used is rare.

From work knives, I have a couple of ‘fun’ knives.  I’ve always liked looking at some of the smaller, miniature knives.  This little hunter caught my eye primarily due to the chunk of stag used in the handle.  The overall quality of the knife is great.   The tang stamp is simply “Solingen”.  Wish I had the original sheath.  They may not be practical but I think it’s a holdover from my youth that they just looked cool.

Mini-Hunter

And speaking of original sheaths, this little Mora is a true gem.  I had a guy I’ve known for a number of years show up at a gun show and ask me if I was interested in buying it.  It didn’t take long to say yes.

Mora Fillet Knife

The quality of the embellishment on the sheath is fantastic.  The knife has obviously been used and put away wet more then once without a good cleaning.  It’s amazing the sheath is in the condition it is.  Someday I have to work on cleaning up the blade.  It’s not deeply pitted, just stained.

Not so long ago, I asked what would it take to create some excitement in the knife world like we saw 8 or 9 years ago.  Personally, as a huge fan of the of the premium steels, I hope we see  more manufacturers use them in more of the traditional patterns.

I hope the legislative changes that seem to be taking place across the country continues and we see a wider acceptance of practical auto’s.  There’s definitely a place for more reasonably priced, high quality auto’s that are built with the sportsman in mind.  I’m not talking about $250+ tactical style auto’s but how about a nice GEC #23 auto?  Congrats to Buck for taking the step they did.

Wouldn’t it also be great to see more companies take the lead from Spyderco’s Mule Team project and put out some ‘experimental’ blades for folks to try?  Spyderco deserves an award for taking the initiative and having the creativity they’ve shown with that project.  I know it’s given me the opportunity and motivation to try some different blade steels without spending a ton of cash.

There are so many other ideas that are possible.  All I can do is hope!!!!

Weekly Update 11.17.17

The big news for me in this weekly update is the article in Messermagazin.   It was great to have it coincide with the release of the Trestle Pine Gunflint.  I think I have some of each handle option listed in the store now and have been trying to fill in as knives have sold.  So far, I’ve only carried one for a few days and I like it.  Next week I’ll post a few more details and first impressions of the Gunflint.

Trestle Pine Gunflint Hawaiian Mango

The last of the GEC 81 Bull Moose came through this week and the Stag should wind up the run.  This seems to be one of the more popular ‘new’ releases from GEC in a while.  I know it was one of my recent favorites.  The size and feel just all seemed right.  Now we wait till the first of the year for the new #43 Oregon.  Just looking at the specs and initial drawings, I have a feeling that’s gonna be a good one.

And I finally there’s more 4 oz Frog Lube in stock.  There was a minor glitch.  I had put together an online order and failed to hit ‘submit’ order.  That doesn’t work.  While I’m on the subject of oil/lubes, I have a few samples of the Ballistol left.  I’ve been sending samples with orders if someone requests one so don’t hesitate to ask.

Next Thursday is Thanksgiving and there will be a gun show at the Moorhead, MN National Guard Armory Friday from 4-8PM and Saturday from 9-5.  I’ll have a full assortment of the Trestle Pine Gunflints with me so it’s a great time to check them out if you’re in the area.  Sounds like the weather will be nice so great opportunity to take a drive and drop in!

 

Weekly Update 11.10.17 & Thank You Veterans!

Tomorrow, November 11, is the traditional day set aside to salute our Veterans.   A tip of the hat and a sincere thanks to all of you that served and are serving is in order.  None of us would be enjoying the freedoms we have without your service.

Even though tomorrow is actually Veteran’s Day, the post office is closed today.  As a result, I had hoped we might see some more of the GEC Bull Moose arrive but it’s not gonna happen today!  It took a while for them to take off but once people had them in hand a couple of folks came back for seconds.  Nice pattern!  I was also hoping the first of the Trestle Pine Gunflints would be coming in this week, but no such luck.  On top of that, the Froglube liquid didn’t make it this week either!!!!

I’ll mention it again as the date gets closer that there is a gun show at the Moorhead, Minnesota National Guard Armory the Friday afternoon and Saturday following Thanksgiving.  This condensed time show has really proven popular for both exhibitors and attendees.  It goes from 4-8PM Friday afternoon and runs from 9-5 on Saturday.  There’s quite a bit of room to move around and the quality/mixture of knives and gun stuff covers a broad spectrum.  I’ll be there with three tables of assorted ‘stuff’.

The only other ‘news’ is we’ve officially iced in for the winter.  The lake we live on is one of the last to freeze over in our area and last nite it became official.  Wouldn’t recommend going ice fishing yet but with the way the weather has been I’m betting people will be on the ice Thanksgiving weekend.

I’ve been filling the feeders and this morning had Blue Jays, Cardinals, Nuthatches, Chickadees, the assorted Finch and a Pileated Woodpecker drop in.  The poor squirrels hardly had a chance.

 

 

Weekly Update 11.3.17 Winter is Here

This weeks update is a bit short on news to update!  Frankly, there hasn’t been a whole lot going on or much to update as far as knives go.  I’ve just been alternating between enjoying reflecting on the hunting trip to North Dakota and bemoaning the fact the ground is still white from our snow of a week ago and will most likely stay that way until Spring!

There have been a few more of the GEC Bull Moose arrive this week and I’ll guess they’ll probably finish them up in the next week or two.  Personally, I like the knife and am really glad to see GEC revert to building some larger knives.  Once the Bull Moose is finished GEC will start building the 78 American Jacks.  And there will be a bunch of them!  You’ll have a choice of 21 handle options from 9 different SFO’s and the ‘normal’ GEC runs.  This will be their only focus well into next January.

No word on the Trestle Pine Gunflint delivery date.  Last I heard it would be the second week in November and I’ve got my fingers crossed that will happen.  On a positive note, I had more blades run for the Trestle Pine fixed blade Buddy and will start working on handle material next week.  Based on the reaction to the knives I ran with the Mosaic Pins, I plan on having more built with them .  I’ve thought about just using them on the premium woods and leaving the brass pins in the Old Growth Handles.  I also added the option of either a plain sheath that can be worn on the left or right side OR the right handed sheath with the fire steel loop.  The loop adds to the cost and if you don’t plan on carrying a fire steel, no sense in paying for it.

I had to laugh this week as I was going through some pictures I’ve saved on my phone.  The first I had was how much we (I) relate food to good times in the outdoors.  There were a lot of ‘food’ pictures and they always had something to do with memorable moments in the outdoors.  I do enjoy good food!

Lunch
Campground Beef Stew
Hearty Breakfast!

Another picture I had meant to share earlier this year was a road sign I photographed.  It dawned on me that most road signs let you know how far it is between towns.  After all that’s usually the most important indication where you are physically in respect to the rest of the world.  When you get into northern Minnesota that changes.

It’s way more meaningful to know how far you are from the next lake.  Once you get familiar with the area, explaining where you saw the moose or wolves is best understood by telling folks what road you were on and how far and what direction you were from which lake.

In days long past, the Voyageurs measured distance in ‘pipes’ not miles.  A five minute pipe break was allowed once and hour so a 5 pipe trip was about 5 hours ‘distance’.  If there was a strong headwind on the lake or slippery trails underfoot, linear distance was far less meaningful then the ‘time’ required to travel a specific distance.  So a couple hundred years ago the above sign would have been marked and read totally differently.

Even today, portages between lakes are measured in ‘rods’ not feet, meters, yards or miles.  I suppose that’s because pipe smoking is no longer PC.  Now I know with my short legs a rod is about 6 normal, leisurely paces over relatively even ground.   If I know a portage is 80 rods and I want to keep track of where I’m at,  it’s pretty easy to do.  Time how many rods you can cover in a minute based on the terrain and you can come close to pinpointing where and how long the portage will take.

Now, I know none of this critical information in the last couple of paragraphs has a damned thing to do with knives…..BUT, I did have a knife with me on all of the aforementioned situations so that counts for something.

This is worrisome.  It’s not even the dead of winter and I’m starting to ramble.  Could be a tough winter folks, bear with me!!!

GEC Bull Moose, Trestle Pine Delay, Queen EDC Knives

It’s been an interesting week so let’s jump right into it!  First is the arrival of the GEC Bull Moose.  I like it.  At 4″ OAL closed it’s a good size for a serious ‘working’ EDC knife.  The first one is a Tidioute with Green Jigged Bone handles and it looks great and feels great in your hand.

811217 Tidioute Bull Moose

The last of the 351217 Churchill’s also arrived.  I was really surprised to see the short run Green Banana come through with the ‘banana’ shield.  GEC ran the “Tango” a few years ago with the Guitar shield which was interesting.

35 Churchill Green Banana

I should have shot a picture of the label on the tube with the monkey peeling a banana, but the banana shield…..not sure what I think of that.  You have to admit it is unique!

An interesting note is the new tang stamp “CKC” which replaces the traditional “TIW” (Tidioute Iron Works).  It’s meant to stand for “Carbon Keeps Cutting”.

New Tang Stamp

I had a phone call yesterday and two emails so far asking about the Queen EDC knives showing up on Ebay.  The blades have been etched EDC and it sounds like they have various cosmetic issues.  Until yesterday I wasn’t aware of them and it appears they’re not being sold through dealers.  About all I know is Queen has put up a disclaimer on their website regarding any warranty on them.

The last item deals with the Trestle Pine Gunflint.  I was promised and assured these would arrive no later then the 1st of November.  Yesterday I found out they’ll START shipping the second week of November.  The Topper was almost two months late so I guess 2 weeks late is an improvement!!!

But the real downer greeted me this morning with our first measurable snow.   Last night we had 40+mph winds, temps in the 20’s and icy roads.  It’s way too early for this kind of weather!

First Snow

 

Weekend Update 10.16.17

I participated in the Fergus Falls Show over the weekend and as a result, missed posting an update on Friday.  So this week, we’ll have a ‘weekend update’!  It wasn’t the biggest show they’ve had but it was a decent turnout.  Knife sales were good and I learned a few things.  Not a bad weekend!

But first, a quick review of last week.   It was a short work week for me as I spent 4 days in Trestle Pine Country.  This was the last camping trip for the season and we picked a fantastic time to go.  The weather was gorgeous and the leaves were really at their peak for color.

Every trip always seems to have it’s highlight and this time was no exception.  While we were cruising the back roads 3 timber wolves crossed the road in front of us.  The first one slowed down to check us out and two more came through behind him.  We’ve seen more timber wolves up there in the last 3 years than we saw in the prior 40!  It’s fun to see them but from talking to a few local residents, they’re also causing problems with livestock and pets.

I got back on Wednesday, just in time to pack up for the weekend show.  Now I play catch-up this week and get ready for a pheasant hunting trip next weekend in North Dakota and one last crack at the prairie dogs.  Then…. I’m done for a while.  Life is good!

Knives, let see, the first of the Northfield Churchills arrived last week and went out as quick as they went in the store.  The Smooth Yellow Bone is always a good seller and this one was no exception.  There are a couple more Northfields that will be showing up this week.

Northfield #35 Churchill Yellow Rose

The knife news that really caught my attention last week was the announcement of the GEC #43 Oregon available after the first of the year.

I’ll admit I’ve been pretty bored with the recent releases from GEC.  The Barlows have been beat to death.  While the small knives are popular, there’s an abundance of them in the marketplace.  We haven’t seen many big knives in a while from Great Eastern and this looks like a winner.

The first thing I thought was it looks like a large version of the #73.  The 73 was one of my first GEC’s and I really liked it.  The #43 is going to be a full 1/2″ longer at 4.25″,  so should put it in the size class of the #23 which measured 4.5″, or about a 1/4″ longer then the new #43.    My bet would be in the future we’ll see a locking version and possibly a 2 blade as well.  It sounds to me like it should be a great ‘work’ knife that’s not going to be overly heavy in the pocket.  Now, if we could just get GEC to upgrade it to a premium steel…..