Tag Archives: Trestle Pine Knives

Queen Cutlery, Trestle Pine Knives…now what?

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.

Trestle Pine Knives Article in Messermagazin !!!

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.)

Trestle Pine Gunflint Has Arrived

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.

Trestle Pine Gunflint Blue Curly Maple

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.

Trestle Pine Gunflint Notes and Comments

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.

Trestle Pine Toppers

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.

Trestle Pine Gunflint Prototype

So here are the details of what to look forward to on the Trestle Pine Gunflint:

  • Gunstock Pattern
  • 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.

Wire Stripper Notch


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.

Weekly Update 8.27.17 Field Trip

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.

Rat Rod

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.

m Tyson Cronberg, Proprietor  of The Beaver House

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!!!

Burger on a Bagel Bun and Poutine

The one thing I specifically made time for was trying out the new Topper and a couple of old standbys.

So many choices in life…

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.

Trestle Pine Buddy

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.

Trestle Pine Topper

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.

Weekly Update 7.22.17 New Topper, Knife Laws, Etc

This has to be a short update as I’m leaving to pick up my buddy Isaiah when I’m done to spend a few days with me again this summer.  Its a chance to get him out of those steamy Iowa cornfields for a few days and let him soak in some northern lake water.

The big news this week was the arrival of the Trestle Pine Topper.  I only listed a couple of the knives to start off as I’m waiting for the rest of the labels.  Suppose I could ship them out in plain white tubes, but… think I’ll hold off for the labels.  About half of the knives came in this week and as I said, I’m really pleased with the end product.  Queen did an outstanding job finishing these.

I’ve had a number of nice messages/phone calls regarding the Trestle Pine’s in the last week and someone asked me if I had a dedicated Trestle Pine website.  Yes.  There’s a brief story about ‘why’ Trestle Pine knives and a bit of information about the knives.  You can check it out at: www.trestlepineknives.com

Another notable piece of news was an article Jan Carter over at the iKC site sent me.  John Bamford had posted a link regarding potential upcoming changes regarding knife purchasing regs in the UK.  In a nutshell, it sounds like they’re working on a law that would harshly restrict online sales of knives to UK residents.  If a UK resident were to purchase a knife through an online source, the buyer could only take possession of the knife if they were to physically pick it up from the seller.  John, I’d love to have you come to Minnesota to pick up your next knife purchase, but I can’t blame you if you opt out.  Ridiculous.

I’ve posted it before, but at times like this it bears repeating.

“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.”  Groucho Marx

It gets so frustrating watching these (supposedly) well meaning law makers come up with new laws that are totally ineffective.  I’ve watched it happen to the gun industry over the years and have spoken up and written letters to try and influence the outcome of some of the proposals.  Sometimes our voices are heard and I sincerely hope our friends in the UK speak loudly with a single voice to try and stop the passage of the proposal

Gotta run, but watch for more of the Trestle Pine Toppers to show up on the website next week!!!


Trestle Pine Topper Update

The first lot of the Trestle Pine Topper arrived today!  I am happy with everything about them.  They look GREAT, feel great and hit the mark I was hoping for.

Black Ash Burl above.

The feel of the Gunstock pattern has always appealed to me.  It’s full enough to fill my hand without feeling like I’m holding a club.

There are a number of ‘exotic’ handle materials including the stunning Curly Maple above.  I dont’ have all of the handle options in stock yet so there are more to come!


The match strike pull came out better then I had hoped.  I was asked not to request a match strike in the future on the S30V blade as it is evidently hard to stamp.  On the upside, it results in an incredible nice, crisp match strike that would actually work!

I dressed the knife up a bit this time with the Saber Grind, a match strike pull and lined bolsters.  While I don’t want to turn the Trestle Pine’s into a knife that only gets ‘looked at’ and never used, I did want to offer something for everyone.  And yup, I’m sticking with the brass bolsters/end caps.

While so many of the traditional folders continue to be made with the standard 1095 or 400 series stainless blades, I wanted the S30V mark to stand out so there’s no mistaking the Topper as just ‘another traditional folder’.

If you’re interested in reading more about where the name came from, you can check out the Trestle Pine Knives website at:  The Trestle Pine Topper

Here’s a short excerpt from the website:

The name, Topper, is derived from a trout lake in North Eastern Minnesota of the same name.  It’s not a large lake by any means and requires a bit of a hike to get into and a fairly steep carry down to the lake with the canoe.  You don’t drive up to the lakes edge and drop your canoe in.  Over the years there were many great memories mentally recorded.  

One of my favorites involved a friend …………………”

As I mentioned, I have more Toppers coming in different handle materials.  I had hoped to start listing them on the website immediately, but ran into a snag getting my labels for the tubes.  And….., in a couple more weeks I’ll have another version of the Topper to show you that may be in the future.   For the time being, It will be limited and it is cool.

Trestle Pine Blade Steels

Thirty plus years ago I had a B&M sporting goods store.  Hunting and fishing were the main lines and pocket, hunting and fishing knives were also a part of the inventory.  The fishing fillet knives were almost exclusively limited to the tried and true Rapala line.  Hunters and pocket knives were primarily a mix of #1 Buck, #2 Schrade #3 Case.

My personal carry choice was a Buck 110 that was used for everything including opening mail, boxes, dressing game including fish and deer.  Whatever needed cutting, this is the knife that did it.  It was an all around EDC knife that saw a ton of use over the years.

I checked the tang stamp this morning and it was built sometime between 1974-1980.  As I recall, I picked it up around ’78.

As a side note, today, this knife probably would have been returned as ‘defective’ by some.  The blade isn’t perfectly centered and you can actually move it between the liners when it’s closed.  Lock up is solid but the blade is slightly off center with the spring.  But ya know, I didn’t know any different at the time and it’s worked out just fine.

This was the first knife I had that I really started to understand the difference in blade steels.  There were blades much easier to sharpen but the Bos heat treated 420HC was one tough steel.  It took an edge and held it.

The 110 wasn’t the cheapest option in a folding hunter at the time but if someone started using the 110, they usually appreciated the steel and didn’t complain about the cost.  The biggest problem I encountered was if you didn’t have some sharpening skills, it could be a bear to maintain the edge.  This was in the days when the Crock Sticks were all the rage.  Stay on top of things and you were fine, but let it get dull and you had a project on your hands that went beyond a touch up with Crock Sticks.

Over the next 20+ years I rotated through a variety of smaller Buck folders until I started carrying the GEC line.  I’d used 1095 steel before and had an appreciation how easy it was to put an edge on the GEC’s even if you had to touch it up more frequently then my old 110.  The GEC’s were a constant companion until I started carrying a Queen with a D2 blade.  The D2 made me sit up and start paying attention to blade steels.  That stuff is tough!

The D2 started my flirtation with the Fallknivens and their laminated, cobalt and powdered steels.  I broke out of that $65 price limit and found out there was a whole ‘nother world of knives out there.  A friend introduced me to the 154 series of steels.  My knife carrying habits would never be the same.

When I originally started working out the details of what I wanted to do with the Trestle Pine Knives, my concern was that I’d be limited to the standard 1095, 440C and maybe a D2 blade.  The Old Growth Wood was a central part of the equation, but I wanted something…more.  After numerous conversations with Ken Daniels, I was thrilled to find out there were all kinds of blade options I previously, hadn’t even hoped for (both profile and steel type).  When I found out the 154 series of steels were possible it was a go. No looking back, absolutely no regrets.

In the last few years I’ve become more interested in the high tech powdered steels and the 154 series caught my attention.  There are newer steels that have been developed, but the 154’s are just incredibly good, reasonably priced blade steels.  High stain resistance, good chip resistance, takes a fine edge and holds it AND relatively easy to sharpen or reprofile.  I’ll guarantee that if you don’t let the 154’s get dull, it’ doesn’t take much maintenance to keep them sharp.  I’m not saying it’s as easy to work as 1095 but it will hold a fine edge waaaay longer.

There are a number of really good articles on line about the powdered steel process and the 154 steels in particular.  Spyderco has probably one of the best reference libraries regarding different all kinds of blade steels and it’s easy to understand:  Spyderco Edge U Cation

The Trestle Pine Superior, Portage and Grand Portage carried either 154CM or CPM 154 blades.   My personal experience with the blades has been excellent and the face to face feedback I’ve had is the same.  It would have been less expensive to go with 1095, but  the price differential is well worth it in my estimation which leads me to the blade choice on the upcoming Trestle Pine “Topper“.

As I said in an earlier post, the Topper will be based on the Gunstock pattern with a traditional Clip and Screwdriver/Cap lifter blades.  I opted to go with an S30V Clip blade in the Topper.  S30V steel is heralded as one of the best blade steels offered developed by Crucible Industries and Chris Reeves.  It contains higher amounts of Carbon and Vanadium which means while you still retain good stain resistance, you realize increased resistance to wear and abrasion resistance (better edge retention).  The more I read about the steel the more excited I get about actually getting a Topper in my hands.  I’ve not used a smaller pocket knife with S30V but it sure seems to make sense to me.

I’m anxious to see what the response is the the Topper not only because of the blade steel, but the screwdriver is something I don’t think has ever been put in a Gunstock frame.  What’s the point of just building another Gunstock and expecting it to be something unique?  There are just so many really great knife patterns out there that can be expanded upon.

I had to laugh when the first of the Superiors came through with the high standing Wharncliffe sitting in the Copperhead frame.  Someone was bemoaning the fact it didn’t look like a ‘traditional’ Copperhead.  Mission accomplished.  None of the Trestle Pines are meant to strictly follow the rules of a traditional folder.  I like to think of them as “Neo-Traditional” folders.

Thanks Al, couldn’t have said it better myself!!!

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.