Thursday, September 24, 2009

Traditional knives

Case XX 6332 Stockman (circa 1940-1964)

I came home feeling I should write about something yet I haven't been out fishing since my last trip a few weeks ago. We have thankfully been getting rain almost every other day so I am sort of excited to see what the rivers will look like soon. Maybe I can finally get out to target some wily carp! But until then I think I can talk about another favorite subject of mine, pocket knives.

Much in the same way that some time ago I gravitated from conventional tackle to fly tackle, in recent years I have gravitated from the one-handed "tactical" knives to the more traditional type; slipjoint knives to be more exact.

Case XX U.S.A. 6318 stockman (circa 1965-1969)

Nothing wrong with one-handed knives but just like there is a indescribable satisfaction to casting a fly and then some close quarter combat with a fish that just ate it, there is a satisfying feeling in using a traditional multi-bladed carbon steel slipjoint to, let's say, handle a mundane task such as slicing up an apple. The patina that develops on those blades along with the natural handle materials such as jigged bone also gives the knife a sense of "soul".

When I was 10 or 11 years old my dad got me my first pocket knife, a small Buck stockman. I loved that knife and one day I broke the main blade in half trying to use it to dig out some dirt clods.

Several years ago when we moved my dad into a retirement home, I ended up with the last pocket knife he carried which was an Schrade Old Timer 8OT stockman he purchased in the late 1980s. I cleaned the old knife up being careful not to remove the dark gray patina, sharpened and oiled it and placed it in a knife box for safe keeping though I have carried a couple of times for nostalgia sake.

I have several production traditional slipjoints from makers such as Queen, Case, Schrade and Great Eastern Cutlery. Most are three bladed stockman knives and some other patterns like trappers and canoes in carbon steel and one or two in stainless steel. All are users. I am also on the waiting list of a custom knifemaker now to get my first custom slipjoint made. I can't wait!

Charles May FireAnT fixed blade knife

Being outdoors when I can, I have also seen the need for a good fixed blade knife. I have had a couple of them but I recently received my first custom from a great knifemaker by the name of Charles May from Mississippi. I was looking for a small, high quality pocket sized fixed blade knife for every day use as well as for attaching to my lanyard. He had a model called the FireAnT that was perfect. I communicated some of my requirements (such as S30V stainless steel for when around saltwater) and waited over a year for my turn to come up. Besides being a great knifemaker, Mr. May is known to be a great outdoorsman, hunter and fisherman. I highly recommend his well thought out knives.

My hope is that one day I will pass on some of my well loved traditional slipjoints to my kids or grandkids and hope they experience the satisfaction of carrying and using a lovely old tool.

4 comments:

Fat Guy Alex said...

My father used to carry this old Case blade. I can't imagine how many apples it has halved or how many fingernails have been cleaned by the tip of its blade.

texasflyfisher said...

Hey Alex,

You know, all but the real "knife phobic" even bat an eye when you pull out and use a slipjoint in public. You do get comments sometimes like yours with "that reminds me of the pocket knife my grandpa carried" which is cool with me.

I know you are knife nut yourself so maybe one day when you are older you might give one a try, no?

Rick said...

Amigo,

Your comments about knives are dead on!!!

The Victorinox Swiss Army knives have been a favorite of mine for a long time. I like having the scissors in addition to the blades. My only complaint is how careful you have to be when you sharpen them, but then, thank God for ceramic stick sharpeners.

Pretty light weight, as long as you don't carry the model made popular on the old "McIver" TV show, the one with all the tools, flare gun, laser, telescope . . . darn thing is almost 2 inches wide!!

I only carry a Schrade filet type knife when I fish with cut bait. It's the only "sheath" knife I own. Otherwise . . . a good ol' pocket knife is good enough for me. Mine is always in my left front pocket. Used to be in the right front pocket, until I started carrying my iPhone there.

I carry the same Swiss Army Knife when I go hiking as well . . .

I appreciate you!

Rick said...

Amigo,

Your comments about knives are dead on!!!

The Victorinox Swiss Army knives have been a favorite of mine for a long time. I like having the scissors in addition to the blades. My only complaint is how careful you have to be when you sharpen them, but then, thank God for ceramic stick sharpeners.

Pretty light weight, as long as you don't carry the model made popular on the old "McIver" TV show, the one with all the tools, flare gun, laser, telescope . . . darn thing is almost 2 inches wide!!

I only carry a Schrade filet type knife when I fish with cut bait. It's the only "sheath" knife I own. Otherwise . . . a good ol' pocket knife is good enough for me. Mine is always in my left front pocket. Used to be in the right front pocket, until I started carrying my iPhone there.

I carry the same Swiss Army Knife when I go hiking as well . . .

I appreciate you!