1. Welcome to the New & Improved BladeForums. New software info here. Please report problems in Tech Support, and read existing threads before posting! - Spark
  2. I've changed the default forum style to Flat Awesome based on feedback. Don't like it? Click here to change how the forums look Feedback on this is welcome here.

a "CASE" of Titanic

Discussion in 'Traditional Folders and Fixed Blades' started by shrapne1, Sep 26, 2012.

  1. shrapne1


    Aug 17, 2012
    Everyone knows about Case knives and everyone knows about the Titanic. I would like to start a discussion or conversation on whats going on with Case these days, and I'd like to provide a theory and comparison.

    The Titanic was obviously a passenger liner, and like all ships it had an engine. The titanic had several floors, the bottom of which was occupied by the propulsion system in which the engine was fueled by a furnace where several workers tirelessly shoveled coal into the fire day and night. It was hot, muggy, dirty exhausting work. It just so happens that on this same floor was where the poorest class of people were. They occupied cramped, noisy, dirty quarters, often two or more families sharing the same tiny room with no amenities and the worst food. Conversely, the top floor was inhabited by the creme dela creme; the rich, the famous. They got luxurious spacious rooms, were catered the best food, and they expected it to be the best of the best.

    Now you're wondering what Titanic has anything to do with Case knives? Well, Case production (for reasons i shall theorize later) has taken the same mindset as the Titanic. They cater to the "poor" and the "rich," with no middle class. Most people (as well as I) start small and move their way up. You don't buy a Lamborghini first and then a Pinto; you start with the Pinto first and then buy something nicer. Same thing with knives. There's always exceptions, but i have been working with case knives for a long time, the most popular low-budget knife being the Sodbuster (among others, but i will use the soddie in my example). Ive been through about 20 of these knives, and they all exhibited at least three or four of the six cardinal sins of knife-making. Wavy-uneven terrible grinds, off-center blades \ blade rub, unfinished blades and handles (not polished and or not ground backsprings and blades), gaps between the liner and handle \ gaps between liner and bolster, and finally underblading or space where tang meets backspring.

    If you're thinking about test driving a cheaper knife before you pull the trigger on a more expensive one, this lack of quality will deter you from doing so. This leads one to believe that this company is simply unable to produce a quality knife, but thats just not the case (no pun intended), they are doing it on purpose. Therein lies the problem. If you didn't like the cheaper knives (bottom floor of the Titanic), you're led to believe the more expensive knives will exhibit the same problems, but the higher end of Case knives (top floor of Titanic) can be breathtaking.

    Almost everyone i talked to on this site started with Case knives but moved to Great Eastern Cutlery, and this is where Case shot themselves in the foot, so to speak. They put out odious lower-budget knives, and lose profit, therefore looking to cut costs by cutting corners, and therefore producing more undesirable products. A vicious never-ending cycle. Their higher end models (although hit-and-miss) tend to be of really good quality, which just goes to show that they are capable of doing a good job, they just choose not to.

    This is where GEC capitalizes; they put out a consistent product. It just so happens that their knives ARE excellent, and the customer knows his knife will be equal to every other knife they put out.

    Any comments?
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2012
  2. Zidfeldts

    Zidfeldts Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 28, 2010
    I have only had one GEC knife and it's quality is not equal to the Case knives that I have so I guess I am not the one to prove your point. I like the bone on Case knive and their steel seems to be enough for my needs. I have about 50 Case knives and I have never had one with the issues that are mentioned.
  3. matt


    Oct 24, 1998
    I have 1 gec knife,it's not perfect,it's equal to most of my case knives,I have 200 case xx knives so I guess I can't support your argument. If you like gec more power to you,I might even buy another gec some day myself.
  4. jth250


    Jun 27, 2011
    I have some nice knives from Case and Gec and I have had some not so good knives from both. Overall I like the Blade shapes and size of Case knives better. Gec knives are a little to bulky for me.
  5. hank_rearden


    Jun 7, 2002
    i have issues with GEC styles. or is it because i grew up seeing adults having case knives. it seems every grown man back then had a pocket knife. twas their standard 'gadget.' the last media figure to have a pocket knife as a main gadget was Macyver (well not case but a SAK.)
  6. jackknife

    jackknife Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 2, 2004
    Well, Case sure ain't a pinto, and GEC sure ain't a lamborghini. The Case's I have had all were good knives with only an exception on two of them, Those were sent back and Case made it right. On the other hand I've checked out the GEC's at knife/gun shows, and found a few flaws, including some I flat out couldn't open without breaking a thumbnail.

    If you've been through about 20 of the odious knives from Case, you must like them, you sure keep coming back for more of them. The sodbuster is a popular knife in thier line for a very good reason, it's a work knife. The people who buy them are out for a rugged cutting tool, and the sodbuster delivers in that arena. In fact, I dare say they have a cult following by themselves. There's not a lot of time spent on fine finish on a sodbuster for much the same reason fine finish is not spent on a tractor vs a car. The sodbuster is sheer working knife, and serves a particular notch in knifed. Much the same as the tractor vs a car. It's a work tool, and there is a beauty in that too. Kind of like an AK-47 vs a CZ rifle. Each has a role.

    The midrange Case knives like the Texas jack, and stockman have very good fit and finish, and many here carry them as their edc pocketknives. And this is a tough crowd. Case makes a fine middle range knife.

    I'd buy a Case before many other brands based on past experience as well as reputation of the product.

  7. Bowman1911


    Dec 12, 2010
    I've only had 1 GEC, and as purdy as it is, it came about 2 inches too small and as stated above, it's a nail breaker. Havin' said that, I'll probably get another, the bullet ends lookin' mighty temptin'! I own a slew of Case knives & will own a plenty more. As it stands, I've got a Sebenza, & a ZT 0561 (about $650 in 2 knives) on my nightstand & a mini Trapper in my pocket. That little SOB bit me good last night too!:mad:
  8. richstag


    Feb 22, 2007

    Maybe I am mistaken but I think Case's standard production are pinto's and the Case/Bose line are the Lamborghini's.

    Anyhow, there is no arguing that there is a dramatic difference between standard production and Case/Bose.

    I personally would put GEC right in the middle of the two. I have a few spot on GEC's that rival my Case/Bose aside from mill relieved liners.

    I also have had some issues with my GEC knives. At the end of the day I will pick GEC over Case ever single time for regular production.

    I wouldn't consider Case the bottom of the barrel though. Not even close. I wouldn't put them as pinto's.

  9. shrapne1


    Aug 17, 2012
    I wasnt dissing case knives. I absolutely love them, maybe i didnt get my point across the way i wanted, i simply wanted to say that that they CAN make good quality knives and they do, but sometimes they cut corners on the lower budget ones.

    as for the pinto lamborghini thing....what i meant by that was that a plain black delrin scale (although i like them) has nothing on a beautifully burned natural stag perfectly hafted...


    May 30, 2007
    well thats certainly one way of looking at it or it just could be they are producing massive quantities of knives and their QC isnt what it could be?
    I guess im confused by the fact that you seem to be insinuating they are cutting corners on their budget line intentionally and its screwing them up in future sales of high end patterns??? Sometimes poor QC is just that, from my understanding alot of the knife companies go through periods of it
    Sorry your soddies werent good, i guess i lucked out, centered no play and just a tiny gap in the liner... perfect to me
    pintos were ugly and lamborghini has made some equally ugly cars :) its in the eye of the beholder
    forgive me but i'm all tuckered out from battling in another Case thread in general
  11. richstag


    Feb 22, 2007
    I had to look. Possibly the most unfounded comments I have ever seen in that thread.

    Just to be clear, I am not bashing Case. But like many have stated, preferring a brand is personal. I do realize I may have gone off track though. This thread is more about Case's strategies I suppose.

  12. knarfeng

    knarfeng senex morosus moderator Staff Member Super Mod Moderator

    Jul 30, 2006
    Not to worry Gene, "The fungee is no longer among ye."

    I dunno. I don't think I agree with the OP's theory. Case has focused for years on the collector for their repeat business. They have catered to the collector by varying cover colors and releasing sets. GEC also caters to collectors. I'm guessing that there are a lot of Case collectors who have as much money tied up in their collections as many GEC collectors do. The Case collectors just have more knives for the amount of money they spent.
  13. NirreBosse


    Jan 7, 2003
    Of the american slipjoints I struggled to get around the planet I have 5 cases and I have never seen another one in person as they seldom come here so my reference is thin but I believe them to be good knifes. Nice medium pulls on all of them (the pull is very important to me and of course personal taste) Nicely put together but not perfect, good easy to maintain steels (I have bouth SS and CV) I have trapper, minitrapper, medium stockman, scout jr and sodbuster jr, and I believe all of them being controlled the same way. Good enough but a few minor issues was let through, For mee they are Volvos or Volkswagon compared to cars. The knifes Ive seen that would travel in the boutom of titanic is of a completly different type than the cases I reference to.

  14. goodeyesniper


    Aug 31, 2009
    The Cases and GECs I have handled I would put about even in fit and finish. possibly even Case higher than GEC, at least for what is important to me. All have been sharp enough to work, but not sharp enough for a knife knut. All have had too obtuse edge grinds over 40 degrees inclusive. But were easily fixed because of a nice thin grind.... Only the GECs have had too strong of a pull. Case is usually just right for me....

    a few blemishes on the blade, bolster, or scales finish is nothing to me. as they get put in the pocket and used.
  15. Pipeman


    Dec 2, 2004
    I have 5 Case knife all purchased online and all are great knives, well centered no rubs, clean F and F. I have one GEC. blades rub the liners (all three) The tip of the wharnecliff master is almost out of it's slot, the pull is soft on all three blades, the coping blade has virtually no snap opening or closing. Pretty sure a Case or GEC would sink if it hit an iceberg:D


  16. tomsch

    tomsch Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 31, 2004
    I see the mid-line Case and GEC knives as pretty similar. My most used traditional is a Case SBJ which is nearly perfect. From my GEC collection I use a 62 Easy Pocket and it does have blade rub enough to leave scratches on the main Wharncliffe blade. Does not really bother me because it is a user. I have also heard of off center Case SBJ blades lately so it looks like both companies are falling into similar QC levels.

    Speaking of the Case/Bose collabs I've been through six. Two of them had blade wobble, one of which went back to the dealer and the other one I still have. Great steel and construction but blade wobble in that price range is difficult to swallow. I've come to the conclusion that it is simply difficult to produce a mainstream production level slipjoint that is flawless and just live with the issues as long as 1) they are not too severe, and 2) the style fits my needs.
  17. pinnah


    Jul 28, 2011
    Do they? I don't own any so I'm judging entirely from watching comments on this board (which verges on a GEC collectors forum at times) and I'm not sure they are free from QC issues.

    I admit being very jaded by my experience in the bicycle world where this same exact debate has been raging since the 70s when I started following. The core of the debate is how to compared the quality of low volume producers who rely more on quasi-custom production processes and higher volume producers who rely more on automated processes. It's very hard to make generalized statements because QC can vary at particular manufacturer over time for a whole bunch of reasons.

    But, in general, my experience has been that low volume, quasi-custom shops hit higher levels of quality but have larger swings in QC (core people leave, business folds entirely) while high volume, more automate shops have less fit and finish but smaller swings in QC (more related to aging equipment and eroding business practices).

    To mind, value is in the eye of the beholder. Low-volume manufacturers tend to thrive on premium pricing and the perceived quality increase that brings (regardless of whether or not its true) and high-volume makers tend to be willing to trade profit margin for market share and volume at the risk of a dilution of brand value.

    You can drop Case and GEC into this discussion and I could easily drop several different bike or bike component makers in and the observations still hold. Same circus, different clowns. Same fight, different boxers.

    My 2 cents on it is that I almost always prefer lower-cost, high-volume things to higher-cost, low-volume things. To my mind, low cost, high volume goods are the hall mark of the middle class. It's a Ford in every driveway thing. I'm very happy to see Case continue on it's path of producing $40 slip joints. I'm much more likely to be buying those (or Bucks) as gifts than higher priced GECs. I simply can't afford those prices on a regular basis.

    My suggestion to Case/Zippo is to create a small display of small knives for placement in stores like Macys or jewelry stores and to go after the small gift market. My tag line would be:

    "Do you remember when men were men? We do. Classic American pocket knives since 1900."

    GEC can't make that claim. Nice knives. Glad they're around, same as I'm glad Lincoln exists. But when I see a GEC working knife, I think of a Lincoln pickup truck. Nice, but...
  18. DrPenguin


    Mar 2, 2005
    No surer way of getting a man angry than by insulting his wife. Or his dog. Or his pickup. Or his knife. :)

    It is hard to come to 100% certain conclusions based on "one of these and one of those" type buying. You just don't cover enough ground to get a statistical certainty. And I tend to run in cycles, I'll sit tight for a few years then buy for a while and then go back into hibernation. If someone has better luck with this knife or that knife I say more power to them.

    I will say this, I have found a difference in fit and function between Case and GEC. The pieces seem to fit together better with fewer and smaller gaps on GEC knives. Their materials are top drawer. If GEC has one area it really needs to work on it has to be consistent pull. Especially on their one spring knives. But by and large GEC is a good bit higher quality within the context of a man who doesn't buy 20 of each every year and I may be wrong. That's just what I have encountered.

    Further, I'll state that the last Case I handled and sharpened (as a gift) was an absolute abomination. Gaps on the springs. Gaps at the handle material to bolster joint. The blades didn't rub they slammed into each other. Seriously, it took a while for me to figure out whether to even sharpen one of the blades because when it closed it actually hit the edge bevel on the top of the other blade. I ended up spending quite a while ironing that knife into usable shape. It shouldn't have come to that and I've never seen a GEC come that way. But you never know when you are going to get one, my next GEC maybe as bad or worse.

    But no knife maker is perfect. Each and every one of them have peculiar flaws that they seem to produce in their knives. If you like Case or Queen or GEC or Uncle Henry or whatever I say carry on. And if a man tells me that his Case knives have been higher quality than what he got with GEC who am I to tell him what he has experienced?

  19. Lycosa


    Aug 24, 2007
    I do believe Case is on the ball and well aware of what woks for them and what doesn't. Case has started to expand their horizons with new designs. This is good. "Give the people what they want." Case knows this.
  20. jackknife

    jackknife Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 2, 2004
    I can agree with that. I actually think the tan caliber models may be step in the right direction. A line of lower priced knives for the working man or beginner. I think they should have much more entries with CV available. If there's one single thing I wish Case would do, it would be totally forgeting the Elvis commemoratives, the John Deer commemoratives, the country western star of the month commemoratives, and leave that crap for the Franklin Mint. Get back to making good working pocket knives for normal people whose spouses don't collect beenie babies.

    All too damm often I've taken out my peanut to cut something, and someone will ask 'what's that pretty little thing?" When I say Case, I hear a comment like' Case, yeah they used to make good stuff before they became a collector thing." Really, I've got that more than a couple times. There's a perception out there with a number of people that Case does not make a serious using pocket knife anymore. They need to do something abut that soon.

    Two of my favorite knife companies, Victorinox and Opinel, have both been in business since 1890. Ther's still an Elsner at the head of the table in Switzerland, and an Opinel in the head chair in France. Niether has frgoten the core target and mission of thier product, and both have survived world wide depressions, wars, polititical upheaval and economic adapting. Schrade didn't adapt, nor did Camillus. I hope Case fares better.


Share This Page