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Thread: Traditional turkey carver. What's in your hand?

  1. #1
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    Traditional turkey carver. What's in your hand?


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    This year like alot of other thanksgivings, we'll be going down to Karen's cousin's place just outside Richmond Virginia. Every year it's my assigned duty, to bring a good sharp knife and carve the turkey. I look over my knife block in the kitchen, and make a choice. So far, the choice is none of the ones in my knife block.

    I've got this nice block with Victorinox/Forschner kitchen cutlery, and I like them. A lot. There's a nice 7 inch chefs knife that will slice anything a cook needs to slice, a nice 8inch serrated edge bread knife that whispers through a fresh hot loaf of bread with no tearing. A couple of Vic paring knives. But none of them make the cut. No pun intended. Well, maybe a little one.

    I go up in the cabent over the fridge and take down a package of rolled up newspaper with duct tape around the one end and the middle. I take out my knives.

    I guess by modern standards, they're pretty underrated. Two knives, both identical, both 8 inch slim carving/butcher patterns from another time in America. No stainless steel, firbrox or other synthetic handles, no Japanese blade style that seems to be popular these days with cable TV chefs.

    The carbon blades are sort of grey/blue irridesent color, and the walnut handles have seen so many rub downs with linseed oil, they are a golden brown with dark streaks of grain running through. Both are samples of Case Old Forge that I got sometimes around the early 70's. Plain carbon steel, I guess they may be CV, I'm not sure if they used that on the kitchen stuff. They've carved a lot of thanksgiving turkey and Christmas ham in thier day.

    Yes, they are old, out of style, but they are my special ones for times like these. I figure thanksgiving is sort of a ultimate traditonal holiday, a traditional knife should be used. I like the 8 inch slim blade profile, it gets in among the carcass contours nicely. I like to carve the breast off the bird, and the long slim blade works like a fillet knife. Once I have both halves of the breast off, I can make nice uniform slices.

    This afternoon I touched up the knives. I've always loved the feel of old carbon steel on a stone. For some reason it feels different to me than the new stainless of the month. The "grabby" sharp edge seems to work better on meat than the smooth polished edge. At least to me.

    But I guess most of all I just like the look. All my memories of thanksgiving, dad always used this old butcher knife he'd had for God knows how long. Dad was a real creature of habit, once selecting a piece of equiptment, he'd never give it up. New fancy carving set for those special occasions? Nope, forget it. It will sit there on the shelf, a little dusty, while the 40 year old knife/whatever gets it done. Maybe I inherited a little of that. So much kitchen stuff has come and gone over the years, but these old carbon steel knives have outlived alot of their competitors. Especially after Karen and I downsized. This year, like the rest of the times, I'll carve the holiday meal with the same old knives. There's sort of a symmetry about that.

    On one of the few times a year when all the family will be together, its nice to have a constant. Something with lots of old memories with it. Theres always a new little face or two, as new arrivals to the family make a first apperance. Sometimes, sadly, an old familiar face is missing, mortality being what it is. It's nice to hold the old oil finished walnut, guide the time darkend carbon blade in the task of serving the family a thanksgiving day meal. And while doing so, remember those who aren't here anymore, and how the sacrafices they made, made it better for us. We wouldn't have it as good as we got, if not for all the dad's, granddads, and Mr. Van's that have been in our lives.

    And as we serve our family, look down the table at them, and remind ourselves that we owe them at least as much.

    Okay, now that I've told you what I'm carving with in my usual long winded way, what are you guys using?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
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    I use an old knife probably similar to yours. Its been around for years.
    It is what looks to be black Walnut with an aged and well used carbon blade.
    I don't even remember if there is a stamp on the blade anywhere, but it slices through a bird like that was the one thing it was made for...
    There are some incredible new cuttin tools for the kitchen available, but I would still prefer to use the old friend.

  3. #3
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    I'll probably be using my old yeller-handle Case Trapper. Thanksgiving this year will be just me and my dad, so we're doing two Cornish game hens instead of a turkey. The littler birds don't really need a long blade.

  4. #4
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    I will be using a set that my grandfather brought out of germany in the 30s, Stag handled, carbon blades, very well worn from years of use.

  5. #5
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    This year I am going to use an old Lamson and Goodnow carving knife. A good friend gave it to me along with a wagner dutch oven and a single shot 12ga, after his grand father passed away. It has a blue and grey blade that is pretty worn, but still razor sharp. The handles are beautifull old stag, gold and brown and well worn, with slight crack from drying out. Every time I take it out to carve a bird with it, I think about the rugged old korean war vet that taught me so much about firearms, hunting, fishing, and how to be a "frugal yankee". joe

  6. #6
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    Oct 2001
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    I bought this Henckels set last year before Christmas on an online auction site:



    The silver was black and the stag was dry as a desert in summer. You can rest the knife on top of the fork.

    I've used it on prime rib and a turkey will be next.

  7. #7
    Mike, I really like that set. Be some fancy carving at the Robuck estate this thanksgiving.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2000
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    A Florida Cracker in Europe
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    For the third year in a row, I'll cut up my bird with the old carbon steel Dexter boning knife that was my Grandad's. My dad gave it to me three years ago and it's been a main-stay in our kitchen ever since. It's our go-to knife when there's a job that calls for a REALLY sharp blade.

  9. #9
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    I bring a Murray Carter to carve the bird. It is so sharp, it cuts the turkey very thin, and does a very good job of it. It is a Muteki by Carter. I bought it from Kellam Knives.

  10. #10
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    Old Hickory 7" butcher's knife. Nicely patina'ed.

  11. #11
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    That is an amazing set Mike!
    I would love one like that. Our family silver has a carving knife that must have been one of the first stainless steel blades on the market. It is thin and scratched and looks quite crappy but has a beautiful silver handle that matches the rest of the set.

  12. #12
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    Thanks George and Unsub. It doesn't seem like carving sets are in high demand so they're not that hard to find.

    I have a minty Case one somewhere.
    Last edited by Mike Robuck; 11-24-2008 at 08:23 PM.

  13. #13
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    I'll be using this Case that I've had for 20 years? I take it out on Thanksgiving to carve the bird, then it gets put away until the next year.

  14. #14
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    Dec 2004
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    Two Rivers/Fairbanks Area, AK
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    +1 from me! that set is great Mike!

    It'll most likely be an old hickory carving/butcher knife we have... my folks have had it since the 60s, lots of wear, and patina, and life(its survived California then Oregon, then 15+ years of the Alaskan bush, and almost 20 years of rural AK...) shown in it.

    Nothing different though, I use it daily.

    Otherwise, I got a custom Nessmuk I got in a trade a couple years back that has dedicated kitchen duty, no doubt it will get some use too.



    Made by Bobby Keller

  15. #15
    I don’t know if my carving set counts as traditional or not. It’s not a depression special, passed down from generation to generation. On the other hand, there is no micarta or G-10 in its makeup and I’ve used it for more than thirty years.

    In the early 70’s I bought a Randall carving set. Steel, fork, and 9” carving knife, all with Sambar stag handles. They’ve given good service ever since. Not as part of my regular kitchen cutlery. It’s mostly used during holidays, or formal meals when carving a bird or a roast at the table was obligatory.

    The set has served me well. I’ve never looked for anything better. I’m not convinced that there is anything better, though there are probably carving sets that are as good. In any case there are three generations of siblings, nieces and nephews, and their offspring, who will remember that Randall carving knife.

  16. #16
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    I'd like to see a picture of that Randall set!

  17. #17
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    Wisconsin
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    This knife plugs into the wall and has two sarrated blades that move back and forth. It's loud and big and clunky but those moving blades sure do rip into the meet.
    For real, I'll use a old boning Chicago Cutlery knife I really like alot.

  18. #18
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    Jan 2008
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    Indiana
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    Most likely I will use the same Rimpler filet knife I have used for years...lol.

  19. #19
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    Russell Green River Works 9.5" blade 15 3/8" overall. Amber popcorn stag handle.
    2toes
    jH

  20. #20
    I guess I'm a little late on posting this, and I'm something of an outlier here, but the best thing, for me, to carve a turkey with, is a simple electric knife.
    No, it's not very nostalgic, or all that traditional, but it works darn well. To me, that is the essence of why traditional stuff becomes traditional- because it works so darn well.
    I'll probably use the same knife to break down the Christmas standing rib roast if we have one.

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