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Schatt & Morgan Swayback Clasp Knife

Discussion in 'Knife Reviews & Testing' started by lava_lamp, May 7, 2011.

  1. lava_lamp


    Oct 5, 2006
    Schatt & Morgan Swayback Clasp Knife - Part One



    I received a Schatt & Morgan File & Wire Swayback Clasp folder through the pass around here: http://www.bladeforums.com/forums/s...chatt-amp-Morgan-File-amp-Wire-Swayback-Clasp. According to http://www.allaboutpocketknives.com, the Schatt & Morgan Cutlery Company was founded in 1897, in Gowanda, NY. The company was subsequently acquired by The Queen Cutlery Company and the S&M brand ceased production in 1928.

    In 1991, however, Queen Cutlery, brought back the Schatt & Morgan name as part of its first Heritage Series. Since then, Queen has released a new series each year and recently reached #20 in 2010. The “File & Wire” brand is reserved for select Schatt & Morgan knives and harks back to testing S&M performed on their blades in the 1920’s where they would cut a blade’s edge with a file and then test its performance against cutting wire. These days, the knives are made in Titusville, PA. You can learn more about Schatt & Morgan here: http://www.schattandmorgan.com/


    The Swayback Clasp is about 4 1/8th inches long when closed and weighs 3 1/2 ounces. Here is how it compares to some of my favorite traditionals/slipjoints:



    The knives shown in the photo are from top to bottom, the Swayback Clasp, a Schrade Copperlock, the 2008 BladeForums Traditional Canittler by Canal Street, and the 2009 BladeForums Traditional Barlow by Queen/Schatt & Morgan.


    The Swayback Clasp has bone handles crafted in a Morning Ash Worm Groove style. The scales are nicely finished but I don’t find the worm groove style all that attractive. I do like the nickel silver bolsters and caps, though -- especially the three line front bolster. The shield is a signature File and Wire. The liners are brass. The workmanship looks good.



    The 3 1/4" blade is mirror polished in ATS-34 stainless at 59-61 Rockwell hardness. To me, the ATS-34 is a definite plus in the traditional knife world, where it seems like many nice knives have mystery steel, n unidentified carbon steel, or some version of 420 or 440. ATS-34 seems to hold a good edge, be reasonably easy to sharpen, and to resist corrosion. The Wharncliffe blade has a nice swedge at the top and an extra long nail nick.

    Wharncliffe blades are a modified version of a sheepsfoot and are valued for their extra thickness at the tip and blunted end that helps prevent accidental penetration. I think an added benefit of the Wharncliffe in a slipjoint is that it helps prevent the accidental closures that happen most often when thrusting the point into something. As a practical matter, the Wharncliffe blade seems to provide as much utility for most tasks as any clip or drop point blade. Sailors certainly thought so when Wharncliffe blades were in their heyday.

    As shown, the blade has as much graffitti as a New York City subway car in the 80's. The "Schatt & Morgan Cutlery Company, Titusville, PA" tang stamp competes with an etch on both sides of the blade. One side has a large "File & Wire" S&M logo and the other side has a smaller S&M logo with production date and serial number (along with another tang stamp). Overall, the writing is a little busy for me. I would prefer a cleaner look to the blade.

    Last edited: May 29, 2011
  2. lava_lamp


    Oct 5, 2006
    Schatt & Morgan Swayback Clasp Knife - Part Two



    The Swayback Clasp is well made. The blade is centered. The scales fit well with no gaps. The pull is strong with a very distinct half-stop. The top of the blade when closed sticks out far enough that it is easy to get a thumb and forefinger on it in a pinch grip to open it. The highly polished steel is a little slippery, though. It helps if you get part of the long nick is in your grip. The nail nick is accessible, but the pull on the knife makes it a bit of a nail breaker.


    The knife feels good in the hand with just the right amount of weight and heft. I have large hands and the tapered handle just seems to fit. The relatively slim design carries well in a pocket, too.

    • On day one, I was wearing nylon swim trunks working in the yard and forgot it was there. I cut two very thick zip ties, a 2 liter bottle, and a croissant. The zip ties cut easily, but I was worried about the blade closing. It turned out not to be a problem at all. I cut the bottle to make a bailer for the footwells on my waverunner and thought I might have a problem penetrating with the Wharncliffe blade. Again, no problem. The croissant didn't slice as well as I might have hoped, though. It seems like this is more of a utility working knife than slicer.
    • On day two, I cut a chicken sandwich, an apple, some grape stalks, a couple of plastic packages, and several bags of mulch. While it cut the food, the Swayback Clasp blade tended to stick more than I'm used to and the food tended to adhere to it. (I suspect that may be due to the etching.) The knife was perfect for opening the mulch bags, though, and felt as safe as any locking blade. Cleaning it up afterward, however, I found the blade extremely difficult to open or close when wet.
    • On day three, I was on an airplane and the Schatt & Morgan stayed at home.
    • On day four, I cut open several bags of top soil. Again, no problems with the blade staying open, but I accidentally dropped the knife when wearing soft cotton jersey gloves. The bone handles felt slick.I could open the knife easily while wearing the gloves, though. After several bags, I could feel the knife getting dull and starting to rip the plastic, rather than cut it. (I'll sharpen it tomorrow.) Again, when I rinsed it off, I couldn't open the blade very easily when wet. I tried the nail nick and actually did break the edge of my nail.
    • On day five, my attempts to restore a razor edge with my Spyderco Sharpmaker failed, no doubt due to my poor sharpening skills. I'm getting some help with that from Richard J. and the knife will be on the way to the next participant this weekend.
    Overall, I was impressed with the quality of this knife and it's ability to do some heavy work. Thanks to Jujigatame for lending me his knife and for BladeForums giving us a place for it to happen.

    Last edited: Nov 26, 2011
  3. knarfeng

    knarfeng senex morosus moderator Staff Member Super Mod Moderator

    Jul 30, 2006
    Thanks for the write-up. Looking forward to hearing more.
  4. neeman

    neeman Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 5, 2007
    Great review

    I also have one, and agree with what you have said

    It sharpens razor sharp, quite easily and you don't have to 'fight' the steel like D2
    By the looks of your photo of the blade, I have put on a more acute angle
    Once stropped it is wicked, and stays

    It pinchs opens very easily, and the springs are just right at medium, closes and opens well.
    I also pinch it closed to control the snap on the half stop

    The handle is very comfortable in the hand because of the forward belly
    I only draw cut with it, pulling back, and the handle is comfortable for that
    It slices vegtables very well indeed, but only by pulling not pushing, putting the tip on the board and pulling back

    An excellent knife with a heft to it
    A very good looking worker
  5. jujigatame


    Mar 21, 2005
    Nice pics. Look forward to your thoughts as you get a chance to use it more.
  6. Planterz

    Planterz Basic Member Basic Member

    Mar 26, 2004
    It doesn't really "sway back" though, does it?:confused:
  7. black mamba

    black mamba Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 21, 2009
    Queen/S&M have used this same frame on a number of different knives through the years and have always called it a "swaybelly", not a "swayback".

    A swayback curves the opposite way. Unfathomable why they would choose this incorrect nomenclature when they have gotten it right in the past.
  8. jujigatame


    Mar 21, 2005
    They also have that large F&W "saddlehorn" lockback that's nowhere close to what you'd call a saddlehorn frame shape. Their naming is indeed curious at times.
  9. neeman

    neeman Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 5, 2007
    What ever it is called, it remains a very good knife
  10. yablanowitz


    Apr 14, 2006
    Just a couple of comments from the peanut gallery. ;)

    That one was sharpened to approximately 40° included by request. The original factory edge was typical Queen, which was lopsided and over 50° total. It was done freehand on bench stones, so it might take a lot of work on a SharpMaker, since it did not have a sub 40° backbevel set. The one I purchased after handling that one now has about a 30° edge, and I'm happy to say it is holding up quite well. It looks like they got the heat treatment right on that ATS-34. :D

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