I think we can finally start the 2018 Ice Out Contest. The snow is over and we’re supposed to start warming up later this week and see overnight temps above freezing!!! Hooorah! Let the contest begin.
First the Contest Rules. Pretty straightforward. Submit your entry by Responding To This POST between now and Monday, April 23 . PLEASE don’t send me an email with your entry. I need a Name, Date, and Time (AM or PM, CST) that’s your best guess we will see the ice completely leave Detroit Lake. ONLY ONE ENTRY PER CONTESTANT. Be sure to enter AM or PM as two o’clock doesn’t mean much. AND we’ve seen past contests decided by less then a 24 hour window.
Feel free to do some research on your own. Check on previous contests for a little help if you’d like but remember, last year the ice was already gone by now. As of yesterday, we had between 30″ and 36″ of ice on a lot of our lakes. It’s going to take some warm weather to get it gone.
So what’s in it for the winner? This year I’m adding a second prize for the next closest guess. First prize will be a Trestle Pine Topper with a Black Ash Burl handle and S30V clip blade.
Second Prize are a pair of Victorinox Swiss Army Knives consisting of a Tinker and a Classic both in Red.
Remember, to enter By Midnite CST, Monday, April 23:
Reply to this post
Time (AM/PM CST)
Good Luck and I’ll post occasional updates to the ice conditions!!
Let me start by saying I was a little overwhelmed by the response to starting up the early order program again. I had discontinued it last year for a number of reasons, the major one being it can be a real PITA to keep up with. Even with the requisite deposit there were still a surprising number of ‘no pays’. Orders come through without the deposit, etc, etc. In addition, we saw the quantities (i.e. availability) of regular production knives increase substantially reducing the need to order early.
As soon as it became official the Whalers were going to be run once again, there was no doubt the interest was going to be sky high. For that reason I thought I’d try the early order system one more time and include the new 44 Gunstock and 15 Boys Knives. The volume of orders has been almost triple what I anticipated and the number of ‘thank you’ for reinstating the early order program comments was a surprise. Feedback like that is what helps steer the direction of TSA Knives. Going forward, you’ll see more Early Order offers.
I put a limited number of the Whalers up for early order and held some back in reserve until next Monday. Chris will have the final numbers on dealer orders and I’ll get confirmation on exactly how many Whalers I’m getting. Once I know where I stand, I hope to be able to offer a few more Whalers for sale but I don’t want to get overbooked. At this writing there are still both handle options available but only a few. If they sell out, check back Monday afternoon as I’m hoping I can release a few more.
I’ve been asked if the Desert Ironwood or the Muscle Bone Whalers has been selling better. Right now the Ironwood has a very slight edge over the Bone. Part of that is no doubt due to people not knowing what to expect with the “Muscle Bone”. Until you actually see it….??? As in the past, after we actually saw the Percheron Bone and early Primitive Bone, interest increased. I’m willing to bet we’ll similarly see interest grow for the Muscle Bone.
Early Orders for the new 44 Gunstock has the Northfield Autumn Gold running 2:1 over the Cocobolo and Stag. Cocobolo is running 3:2 over the Sambar Stag. The Northfields in total are out booking the Tidioutes 20:1. I’m betting the Cocobolo is going to look fantastic next to the Brass.
Over 60% of the early orders are for one of each handle in the Whaler. Almost 90%+ of the orders are for more then one knife. That may be 2 or more Whalers on an order or a mixture of 46’s, 44’s and 15’s.
Understand, the above numbers are my numbers. I have no idea what the mix is for anyone else.
It’s sounding more doubtful that we’ll see Queen revived any time soon. A number of people have continued to ask about the future of the Trestle Pine Knives. I’m exploring some options but am a very long way from anything certain. While I’m not getting my hopes up, I’m definitely not giving up just yet.
Hard to believe we’re on the verge of closing the books on 2017 and looking at another New Year. What started off to be what appeared to be another mild winter took a turn Christmas day that dropped our temperatures into the subzero range for the past week with no promise of a break until the ‘New Year’. Can’t wait!!! But 2017 has been a year to remember.
From a business standpoint, knife sales held steady all year with some nice surprises. The biggest surprise was the article in Messer Magazin featuring the Trestle Pine Knives. Sven Kinast at Messerdepot has done a fantastic job with the Trestle Pine Knives in Solingen, Germany. The feedback from overseas has been gratifying and to get that kind of positive feedback from the heart of knife country in Europe is incredibly gratifying. For a player as small as Trestle Pine Knives to get this kind of recognition was fantastic.
On a personal level, it was a year packed with memorable moments.
A few new stitches to kick off 2017
Add to these memorable moments the recent news that one of our nephews has been appointed District Judge in Minnesota and you have rounded out one incredible year!
Its gonna be tough to top 2017 in a lot of respects but we’re sure gonna try! My wife is going to retire next spring ( I think ) meaning time for more camping, a new hunting partner, golfing, entertaining and spending more time on the water. I’ve scaled back the knife business and plan to spend more time going to local shows and doing more of the things I really enjoy.
Thanks to all of you that contributed to making 2017 a great year for TSA Knives! Hope you had a full and eventful year and wish you all nothing but the best for 2018!!!
Sorry I missed posting a Friday update so I’ll try to make up with a few Monday notes. How’s that?
Actually, last week was relatively quiet as far as ‘new’ stuff showing up was concerned. I filled some inventory holes in the Swiss Army Knives and added some more Trestle Pine’s to fill in some voids as well. I’ve been waiting on some Queen #9 Stockman and 29 English Jack’s that were ordered about 3 weeks ago. Nothing yet!
I had hoped to get some more of the the Trestle Pine Buddy’s finished before Christmas with the Mosaic pins but it’s just not gonna happen. It’s a matter of making some decisions on handle material. To my friends in Germany and the surrounding area, I just checked the tracking information and a shipment of Trestle Pine Gunflint’s departed Frankfurt yesterday on their way to Sven Kinast at Messerdepot in Solingen. They should be showing up soon!
Great Eastern is in the midst of a massive run of the 78 American Jacks. That has to be a major Christmas present for GEC. Last count was 22 different versions of the 78’s coming through. To the best of my knowledge that has to be one of the largest runs of a pattern in one group that I can recall. As long as you like Spear blades, there’s gotta be something in there for handle material to appeal to everyone.
Christmas knife sales have been strong with over half of the orders for 2+ knives per order. What’s selling? Just about everything. It’s been interesting as a lot of the orders are for 2 identical pattern’s/handle materials. Gifts for the kids I assume. The Swiss Army Knives have been popular and make great stocking stuffers. A number of years ago we gave a Swiss Army Climber to the daughter of friends on her way to Europe for a semester of school. I don’t think she was overly impressed when she got it but sent us a note several weeks later telling us it was the handiest ‘tool’ she had in her kit.
Speaking of multiple orders of the same knife. When you go to a product page such as the Victorinox Swiss Army knives, ignore the ‘qty’ shown below the small index photos at the top of the page. That has nothing to do with the quantity available. I just noticed all of the SAK’s show “1” below the photos. Ignore it.
It’s been a little hard to get into Christmas mode up here as the weather just doesn’t look and feel like Christmas! Talked to my friends in Georgia this week and they’ve both had more snow in the last week then we’ve had all winter! Not complaining but it’s been mild and today I see we have an area about the size of two football fields with open water on our lake. I’ve never witnessed that this time of year. Our lake is about 65′ deep at max depth and is spring fed but we’re usually froze up tight by now. Keep your sled off the ice Santa!!
A key point in making the Trestle Pine Knives has been the use of premium blade steels. Every now and then I hear from a customer regarding the steel and it’s always gratifying to hear it’s as good as I hoped. This week I got an email from a customer with a Superior and he expressed how well the steel performed. At the show last weekend, two customers dropped by the tables to give their feedback.
One of the guys at the show brought up the point that while the 154 series will hold an edge like crazy, there’s a price to be paid when sharpening it, although its worth it. That price involves a bit more time sharpening if you neglect the edge.
Personally, I use the Edge Pro sharpener and admit to staying on top of things. Every couple of weeks I’ll take a few swipes over the edge to keep things shaving sharp. It only takes a few minutes and the payoff is worth it. Yesterday I took touched my Gunflint up and checked the condition of the stones I’m using.
This is a look at the thickness of the mounted stone and the cupping in the middle of the stone is pretty obvious. I can’t really quantify it, but this stone is about a year old and has sharpened, many, many knives, including 1095, D2, S30V and 154. I’ve dressed it once before but the wear is more noticeable since I’ve primarily been using it on the harder steels. Time to dress the stone.
I’ve found one of the simplest methods to dress a stone is using wet and dry sandpaper. In this case, I’m using a 220 grit wet and dry.
After just a few circular strokes on the sandpaper, you can start to see the effect on the ends of the stone as they’re smoothed down.
A couple more minutes and it’s really apparent that its having the desired effect.
And after less then 5 minutes the surface is dressed to level. The stone is thinner then a new one, but I’ve just stretched the life of that stone by several months and many sharpening sessions.
In the past I’ve also used the 2000 grit diamond tape to finish the edge to a mirror polish resulting in an incredible sharp edge. Edge Pro has a 4000 grit stone that I just started using and it puts a fantastic finished edge on things. The texture of the 4000 stone is so smooth you question whether it’ll actually do anything or not. Trust me, it does.
The true test is in how thin a sliver of paper I can shave and the effort to cut through the paper requires the slightest pressure. Add to that the fact I have an edge that will hold up extremely well and I’ve got a winning combination.
I’m just starting to get feedback on the Gunflint and the comments have been positive. One criticism (?) I have heard from a couple of people is I failed to have the blade steel stamped on the tang of the Gunflint. I’ll admit it was an oversight on my part and wish I’d had it marked. The tube label is marked and the COA’s are marked, but the tang…..
Somebody asked me which of the Trestle Pine series do I personally like the most. That’s a tough question. I tend to rotate my way through them and every time I do, I think I’ve found my favorite. Until I switch models.
I’ve got a few weeks of pocket time on mine and really like the Gunflint. The screwdriver I still miss but I can always go back to the Topper when I need it. The shape of the handle fits my hand well and seems to work with the Wharncliff blade.
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!!!
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.
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!
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!
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!!!
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.
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.
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”.
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!
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!