Tag Archives: Grand Portage

Trestle Pine Knives Update & Commentary

Earlier in the week I posted a brief comment that I really liked my Trestle Pine Knives Grand Portage.  And a month or two ago Dave had posted a comment that we should list all the uses of the Screwdriver/Cap Lifter blade on the Grand Portage.  With all the ‘projects’ that I’ve had to work on this week, it was interesting how many times I pulled the GP out of my pocket to use that screwdriver blade.

For years, I got by with a standard folder with one or two blades and everything seemed to work fine.  For a couple of years I had either a SAK or one of the Leathermen at my side.  I kind of abandoned carrying a belt knife as I found that carrying too many things on your belt made me lean to one side.  Over time, I found I really missed not having at least a screwdriver in addition to a sharp edge readily available.

Trestle Pine Knives Grand Portage
Trestle Pine Knives Grand Portage

Yesterday, our washing machine died and while I didn’t get any photo’s, the screwdriver was at hand when I disconnected the power cord from the dryer to use on the new one.  (IF you didn’t know, you can’t replace a washing machine without a matching dryer.  Or so I’m told)

Popping the lid on a can of Poly
Popping the lid on a can of Poly
Adjusting my scope
Adjusting my scope
Tighenting pistol grip
Tightening pistol grip
Adjusting sights
Adjusting sights
Using the FireSteel
Using the FireSteel
A little help lifting the tab
A little help lifting the tab
Prying the lid off the pickled Jalapeno's
Prying the lid off the pickled Jalapeno’s for lunch
And finishing up the day!
And finishing up the day!

And in between the blade was used for all the standard cutting chores you’d expect.  Stripping wire, cutting dock lines, etc.  I honestly can’t imagine how anyone can function without a knife!!

Everytime I look at the choil on the blade, all I can see is a potential wire stripper.

Possible Wire Stripper???
Possible Wire Stripper???

It wouldn’t take much to take a small round file and open the choil up a bit and sharpen it enough to cut through the insulation on electrical wiring.  I have a bad habit of laying the wire on top of the blade edge and rolling it with my thumb to cut through the insulation.  It works fine but I usually end up slicing my thumb as well.  Just so many possibilities.  I’m thinking if the choil was sharpened, I could keep my thumb a little further from the blade edge.

There’s another run of the original Superior coming through around the first of the year and I thought about adding a screwdriver blade to it as well.  As successful as the first run was, I’m not convinced I want to mess with it, but I’m going to keep it in mind.

The Trestle Pine Knives were built with utility in mind and for me, it’s working.

 

 

What’s been happening….

I know it’s been quiet the last week and had an email yesterday asking me what’s been happening with the usual updates.  It may have been quiet, but it’s been busy.

For the last month my computer’s been acting up and I finally decided it was time to upgrade.   I started late Thursday uploading software and spent the weekend sorting through pertinent files and trying to clean things up before transferring them.  AND of course, no matter how much attention you pay to detail, there’s always the occasional fubar, so yesterday was cleanup day.  I’m still tweaking a few programs but it’s looking like things are gonna work as intended.

In between trying to get things up and running again and a little golf, this was what the front yard looked like Saturday afternoon.

img_20161002_142352458_hdr

It’s Fall in Minnesota meaning that sooner or later the summer stuff has to be put away for the winter.  Not something I look forward to but that’s part of the program, like it or not.   Clean it up, cover it up and find a place to park it.

Saturday I also had a box of knives show up from Queen and today, finally got around to putting them in the store.  The first one that’s pretty neat is a old traditional pattern they’re calling the Forest Ranger.

Schatt & Morgan 69B Forest Ranger
Schatt & Morgan 69B Forest Ranger

From left to right they’re offered in Reverse Worm Groove Bone, Black Curly Maple and Burnt White Bone.  Blade steel is 420 HC and just a great looking knife.  Just 30 of each made.

The next release was a #60 Sowbelly.

Schatt & Morgan #60 Sowbelly
Schatt & Morgan #60 Sowbelly

The Sowbelly has 1095 blades and from left to right, Reverse Worm Groove, Moss Green Bone and Elk Antler handles.  I’m not a huge fan of the Sowbelly pattern as it always feels a bit awkward to me, but they’re great looking knives.

The third release is the traditional Queen 69 Barlow and the #69 1/2 two blade version.  Handle options were stag bone.  The blade steel is D2.

Queen #69 Barlow Stag Bone
Queen #69 Barlow Stag Bone
Queen 69 1/2 Barlow Stag Bone
Queen 69 1/2 Barlow Stag Bone

There’s lots more to look forward to from Queen before year end.  It’s been interesting seeing some of the short run patterns coming through and it appears we’ll most likely see more!

So that’s what’s been happening in this part of the country.  Fall is sliding in and the nights are getting cooler.   That change in the seasons means I spend more time working on boats, trailers, wiring, cleaning up fishing equipment and all sorts of tasks requiring a pocket knife.  Over the summer it’s gotten pretty predictable which EDC is in my pocket.   I love that Grand Portage!!

Grand Portage In Stock!

I got around to starting on listing more of the Grand Portage knives this morning.  There are lots more to come but I started with some of the Black/Gold Boxelder, Old Growth Ash and the Lacewood.

Trestle Pine Grand Portage Black Gold Boxelder
Trestle Pine Grand Portage Black Gold Boxelder
Trestle Pine Grand Portage Old Growth Ash
Trestle Pine Grand Portage Old Growth Ash
Trestle Pine Grand Portage Lacewood
Trestle Pine Grand Portage Lacewood

The Lacewood was a bit of an experiment and I’m really pleased with the look.  I had the opportunity to hand pick a couple of really highly figured pieces of wood, and based on the way it came out, I’ll definitely use it again!

I have more of the Grand Portages in Oak, Maple, Birch, Rosewood, Circassian Walnut, Sapele and I don’t recall what else to get listed as well.  There are also going to be more of the Portage and the Buddy’s added as well.  My intent is to try and list a few more every day until they’re all up.

A minor change in packaging will take place with the latest laser etched knives.  Due to the delay in shipping and just getting everything lined up, I decided to bring in some padded vinyl, zippered pouches.  These are lined with a fleece type material to protect the knives and thought I’d see what the response was.

Padded Zipper Pouch
Padded Zipper Pouch

DSC_4030

The COA’s will go in the pouch with the knives, rather than being boxed.  As I said, interested to see what the response is.

Overall, the Grand Portage has been really well received.  Personally, it’s become my ‘go to’ knife for EDC.  It gets rotated with the Portage if I’m looking for something just a bit slimmer in my pocket.  The only time I’ve had a screwdriver on a knife are my SAK’s.   Always thought it was a practical tool, but the SAK gets a bit bulky in your pocket.  I’ve used the screwdriver tip on everything from scope adjustments, opening paint cans and even as a screwdriver.  The bottom edge of the screwdriver also works great as a striker for the FireSteel which is rather handy.

When I get a bit more time I’ll go into a little more detail about using the Grand Portage as well as the Spyderco Mule Team knives I took along on the recent field trip.  Interesting to use!!

 

 

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.

DSC_3182

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!!!

 

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

DSC_3072

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.

DSC_2979

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!

Trestle Pine Knives Grand Portage Update

I just received confirmation the Trestle Pine Knives Grand Portage is scheduled to ship the end of this week.  As soon as I get a picture, I’ll get it up on the blog.  I have some other business I need to attend to but hope by the end of next week I can start getting them listed in the store.

Also wanted to let everyone know there will be a delay in shipping orders placed 6-2-16 thru 6-5-16.  And there may be a day or two next week as well, but it won’t be too noticeable.  I bring this up as I usually ship 2-3 times each day and the expectation for lightening fast deliveries has become the norm.

Update 5.13.16

Friday the 13th, 38 degrees, cold and windy.  That was one short summer!

I finally have a picture of the Schatt & Morgan Mini Barlow in Gold Lip Pearl.  Great little pocket knife for the office and 1 of just 30 built.  There will be a matching Black Lip Pearl coming in as well.

Schatt & Morgan Mini Gold Lip Pearl
Schatt & Morgan Mini Gold Lip Pearl

It seems like we’re close to done with the 18 Canine series of Coyotes and Beagles.  Everyone’s been hounding me about the 15 Boy’s knife series and all I can say is they are coming.  I know there’s a number of SFO’s that have to squeezed in and no doubt it’s going to take some time for all of the 15’s to get run.  I’m still taking reservations on them and have most options still available.

Just received an update on the 15’s and it appears their production has been pushed back to ‘around’ October, 2016.

Folks have also been asking about the upcoming Trestle Pine Knives “Grand Portage”.  Far as I know, we’re still on schedule for an early June delivery.  I’ve resisted taking reservations on the Grand Portage primarily because of the very limited quantities of some of the handle options.  Several are limited to 5 or 6 pieces and how many make it through assembly is always a guess.  I did put up a little background on what the Grand Portage is and the thought process behind the knife.  You can check it out on the Trestle Pine Knives website which is: www.trestlepineknives.com

If you’re not familiar with Voyageurs and the early history of the fur trade, there’s some interesting reading available online about the Grand Portage area.  Our friend Dave and I have exchanged numerous emails and books about that period and both of us are in awe of what a rugged group the Voyageurs were.

Many times exploring that country I’ve whined and complained about the bugs and rain for three or four days.  To think of enduring those conditions for several months without my lightweight tent, Gortex, UnderArmour, waterproof lightweight hikers, bug repellent, freeze dried meals, 42# canoe, etc, etc.  And oh, the misery of having to tote that canoe and gear over a rock strewn 10 rod portage to the next lake full of hungry fish.

But then, I read about the Voyageurs paddling their canoe for up to 18 hours a day with several TONS of furs and gear in it.  Loading and unloading it to make countless portages each day.  Toting two 90 pound bundles of furs at a time across the portage.  Eating the most meager of rations consisting of pemmican or dried peas boiled with a bit of salt pork in it.  Then finally (hopefully) reaching your destination only to turn around and do it all over again.  I can only imagine the relief it must have been to reach the Depot at Grand Portage and enjoy the events at the Rendezvous, collect your pay and most likely spend all of it on a little fun and necessities for the next trip.

As I said, Dave and I had numerous email exchanges during the development of the Grand Portage knife which were as enjoyable as putting the concept together.  We both have a deep appreciation for history and are convinced we’ve most likely both lived in an earlier time.

Considering the heyday of the Voyageurs was in the 1700 to early 1800’s no doubt many of the logs that were recovered and will be handles on the Grand Portage knives were mature trees at that time.  Not only that, the trees came from the very area the Voyageurs traveled.  Both Dave and I are absolutely convinced that more then one of the Voyageurs took a break or slept under the very trees used to make the handle of the knives.  Maybe,…..just maybe even carved their name in the very tree!  That’s our story and we’re sticking to it!!!!

More Beagles & Cattle Knives

Another bunch of the Beagles and Cattle Knives landed on the doorstep today.  The Beagles are the Tidioute  Red Linen Micarta and Cola Jigged Bone.  Not being a small knife guy, I have to admit they do grow on you!  And a quick reminder, I have more of the Red/White Acrylics coming in later this week.

#18 Beagle Red Linen Micarta
#18 Beagle Red Linen Micarta

I also received some more of the 98 Texas Cattle knives in Kingwood.  Just like the Beagles, the 98 series appeals to a certain group of buyers and the folks buying them really like ’em.

98 Texas Cattle Knife Kingwood
98 Texas Cattle Knife Kingwood

I also had an update on the anticipated ship date for the Trestle Pine Knives ‘Grand Portage’.  Right now it looks like early June which is perfect timing.  It will give us something new to slide into summer with.

Weekly Update 3.25.16

Let’s start the weekly update with an ice out update.  The ice continues to disappear in spite of some over-nite temps in the teens.  I’m still betting this weekend could bring things to a conclusion.  I was going to post a new pic of the progress but it’s a dreary, gray day with a little precip in the air and frankly….everything (water and ice) look the same.  Grey.

Everyone started posting their pre-booking pages for the upcoming run of Beer Scouts, Boys Knives and Navy Knives this week.  My orders for the Beer Scouts are off the chart as I’m sure is the case for everyone else.  I’ve had orders for up to 10 knives per individual and numerous orders for 2+ per handle material.  The Boys Knives are booking strong and the big surprise has been the Navy Knife.  That’s had the lowest early order activity which I had anticipated would be stronger due to the 440C blade.  Maybe the other two knives have just sucked all the oxygen out of the room.

The Trestle Pine Portage has been steadily selling and the reception of the high end woods was a pleasant surprise.  I had also put a few of the fixed blade Buddy’s in the store which sold out within hours of being added.  So…. next round you’ll see more of the ‘exotics’ added.

I used the drop point in the single blade Portage and a few people were wishing I had stayed with the traditional sheepsfoot or wharncliffe.  Personally, my feeling is there are a lot of knives already out there with a sheepsfoot or wharncliffe.  Also, I wanted a low profile knife and in some applications, just prefer a drop point but I do like the Barlow pattern.

Here’s the breakdown on handle quantities for the Portage;

Recovered Old Growth

  • 26 Oak
  • 27 Maple
  • 29 Yellow Birch
  • 32 Ash

Exotic

  • 10 KOA Wood
  • 5 Black/Gold Box Elder Burl
  • 11 Black Ash
  • 2 Redwood Burl
  • 5 Circassian Walnut

And speaking of the next round, another Trestle Pine Knives project is on the production schedule for May/June.  The next knife will have a wharncliffe….and a cap lifter… and a few other tweaks.  Like a CPM154 blade instead of 154CM.  And a couple other features you don’t usually see on a ‘traditional’ folder.  In fact, it’ll be called the “Grand Portage”.  The Grand Portage has a story behind it that I’ll share later on and I promise you, a lot of thought went into the knife.

It’s been interesting getting feedback on the Superior now that it’s been out there for a while.  Everyone likes the fact it was built with a 154CM blade instead of the traditional carbon or 400 series stainless blades.  When I put the Wharncliffe blade in the Copperhead frame, even one of the principals at Queen thought that might be a bit odd looking.  The feedback has been positive and I really like the ability to grab that blade with gloves on.  They have sold out and inquiries have come in asking if I’ll be running that knife again and the answer is yes.

Thanks to Queen Cutlery and the customers willing to try something different, the Trestle Pine Knives venture has been a dream come true.   Being able to put a blade pattern in a frame that hasn’t been done for years or possibly never opens possibilities beyond my imagination.  Using different blade steels to modernize an old design is something I’ve wanted to see for years.  Even if it’s nothing more then using a wood rarely/never seen on a traditional folder before…. that’s what I want to do.  Guess I never have been very good at following the crowd.