Center Cross Auto's and Scale Release

Ken Cox

Dec 11, 1998

This review has a short introduction.
You can scroll down and look at the pictures of the knives, first, if you would like.

Not too long ago I discovered the Automatic Knife Forum over in BladeForums.
I had a some questions about the different types of releases, specifically the Scale Release, which no one answered quite to my satisfaction.
So, I asked Gene Osborn of Center Cross Metal Works to explain them to me.
Gene offered to send me samples of the different releases and I in turn offered to write a review of his knives as a "thank you" for his kindness.

Only after Gene had his knives in the mail did it occur to me I might have done both of us a disservice by offering to write a review.
What if I didn't like Gene's knives?
The plot thickens: Gene has the knife of my dreams, my life's vision in his shop where he has undertaken to transform my design from bar steel to Sword.
I found myself in an ethical and political dilemma of my own making.
I did not want to lie or gloss around the subject, nor could I bring myself to offend an artisan whom I not only admired and trusted, but upon whom I depended to make my dream come true.

I wrote to Joe Talmadge about it and asked for guidance.
Joe gave me sound advice, helped me relax a little, and I resolved to either write the truth as I saw it or write nothing at all, with the possible exception of apologies to Gene.

I had one other concern, really, the biggest one: I worried that in my attempt to examine Gene's work objectively, I might over-compensate and see little, meaningless blemishes as gigantic, huge ones; like a teenager who looks at a tiny pimple on his own face (my apologies to teenagers, everywhere) and sees a mountain.

At that very same time, knifemaker Tom Mayo posted the topic Imperfections.
You might want to read that thread and see how it applies to this one.
Thanks, Tom, for your timeliness.

When the knives arrived, I took them to work with me in order to show them to two experts in my workplace.
I call them experts because they have both earned Federal Certification as Aircraft Inspectors.
Aircraft Inspectors inspect the work of other certified Aviation Technicians (super mechanics) in order to determine its airworthiness.
The Federal Government places so much trust in these guys, they have the privilege to inspect their own work.
Typically, they don't inspect their own work but, legally, they can.

My point: these guys have a sharp eye for imperfections.

Furthermore, one of these AI's collects custom rifles and pre-'64 Winchester Model 70's.
He understands fine custom work, and the importance of design and detail.

Well, I laid out the knives on their work bench and told my story.
I asked them to look at these knives just as they would the helicopter or an expensive custom rifle they intended to buy.
I told them I didn't want my name attached to anything less than excellence, and they understood: they sign their names to everything they do.

It took them awhile to say anything.
Then they went "oooohh" and "aaaahhh"; turned the knives over and inside out; pointed out little features and things to each other that they liked; and mostly grinned and chuckled 'til I thought they'd burst out laughing with appreciation.

One of them found a place on the manual folder where you could tell that Gene had not carved the bolster and liner out of a single piece of steel and had, in fact, made them out of two pieces of steel.

The other AI didn't see it.

They pronounced the knives "Excellent".

Now that we have that out of the way, I'll tell you about the knives.

The first knife I'll call Pat's Knife.
One of the AI's called it a "work of love."


Gene made this knife for his wife, Pat.
It has mother-of-pearl inlays, beautiful file work and a toggle release.
Here you can see a detail of the toggle and the file work.

You will notice it has a left handed toggle.
It pushes up, towards the spine, rather than in, and it releases the blade when folded and unlocks it when extended.
The picture cannot convey the beauty of the file work.
It feels good, looks rich and sculpted, and has no sharp edges, only a pleasant texture.
In addition, you cannot see where the blade joins the spine, even if you think you can in the photo.
The two AI's could not detect it even under the powerful lights they use for inspections.

The knife release works beautifully.
I would call it a satisfying non-event: push the button and you have an open knife in your hand.
I have to tell you, it feels too small for my hands, but Gene made it for his wife and so it fits her.
In fact, all three of these knives seem a little small to me, and I think Gene intended them as true pocket knives.
They seem big and small at the same time, sort of like a Staffordshire Bull Terrier I once owned.
They fit in the pocket flat and light, and very forgettable in their compactness.

One other thing, the blade of Pat's knife has a symmetry and subtleness of shape that just fascinates me.
I found myself looking at it in different light and from different angles just to appreciate it.

The next knife I call a folding bowie, 'cause it has a clip point and Gene calls it a bowie.
He describes it as one of his most requested blade shapes, and our senior AI took a real liking to it.

This knife opens pleasantly.
The geometry of the pin and stud encourage a forward movement with the thumb more than the circular and forward movement I normally associate with this type of manual folder.

It locks with a quiet certainty.
I have never held or examined a Scale Release folder before.
If I handed it to you open, and without a demonstration, it would take you a long time to figure out how to close it.
It has no visible clues and feels as solid as a single piece of metal in the hand.
Only the hollow place in the handle gives it away as a folder.
More impressively, though, I do not think it possible to inadvertently close this knife, even in an extreme situation.

And to address extreme situations for a moment, any of these blades would serve well in a self defense situation.
Pat's knife doesn't leave much for me to hold, but the blade makes up for the lack of gripping surface for someone with my size hands.

Anyway, to release the invisible lock, you hold the knife's spine against your palm with the bolster pinched between thumb and index finger; then, with the ring finger and pinky, you press down on the scale directly under those fingers.
The blade folds without much fuss.

Looking inside with good light, I cannot quite figure out how it works.
Apparently, the entire scale pivots around some point a little forward of center, and this allows the blade, which has a lock back type notch in the top of the pivot, to fold.

More interestingly, though, as you examine the insides of the knife, you can see that Gene knew you would look in there and he has taken pains to make sure you would like what you saw.

Gene polished everything.
Even the springs shine.

This manual bowie folder with scale release lock has some interesting filing on the back of the blade and spine.

The overall impression of polka dots doesn't come across as well in the detail photo as it does in real life.
It embarrasses me to say it, but I would describe it as "charming".
It has a nice, masculine decorative effect.

Again, this knife lies flat and unobtrusive in the pocket, and yet fills the hand.
If I ordered it from Gene, I might ask for a little more grip area, but then I might regret it after living with it in my pocket for awhile.
It works in its present size and proportions and maybe that says it all.

I call the last knife a Wharncliffe Scale Release Automatic Knife.
What a hoot!
This one you have to see and hold in order to appreciate.
Our senior AI could not stop playing with it and chuckling to himself.
We suggested to him that he might develop an unwholesome habit, there, if he didn't watch it.



The file work, in real life, comes across as a living thing, like the segments on a hornet.

This knife has it all.

Despite its smallness, it naturally fits very far forward in the hand, with the toe of the scales resting in the natural space between the pinky and ring finger.
It rotates in the hand without need for thought, so that you can push down on the spine with your thumb, or you can lay the knife flat, with your thumb on the bolster and slice towards yourself, comfortably.
The angle of the edge in relation to the grip makes it a natural carving knife and a precision tool.
As a self defense knife, it has a meanness to it out of proportion to its size.

Glad you asked.
Seven inches open and three and 7/8's closed.
That sounds like a small knife in print, but it feels and looks substantial in the hand.

This knife also looks especially beautiful closed.
I wish I had a picture of it closed for you to see.

The knife opens with understated authority.
Swift, silent, deadly, as they used to say in Force Recon.
It uses a scale release to both open and unlock.
It took some time for me, as a left hander to get used to it, but now it takes no thought or effort to open or close, even right handed.
I have complete and total confidence that the knife would never fire inadvertently in the pocket, or fold inadvertently in the hand.
In fact, I see this as the real justification for this type of release.
Someone else may see the lack of visible release, meaning it would pass casual inspection by the wrong person, as the reason.

I think my two AI's saw it instantly as the premier mechanic's tool because of its truly single handed ease of opening and closing.
As I wrapped it up and put it back in the shipping box, they looked longingly at the box, as if savoring the memory of this knife.

If you gave a hornet angel wings and combined it with a machine, like Terminator, you might have something which conveys the incomprehensible combination of lightness and substance which this knife conveys.

Forget the beautiful workmanship, the exotic wood, the tasteful filing, the handmade allen head screws and the polished guts of this knife.
The design, the proportions and the feel make it worth saving up every cent you can stash away for a year in order to buy it.

I can't stop: I need to tell you about this wharncliffe blade.
I have thrown out everything I ever thought I knew about this blade shape.
As I sit here turning the blade in the light, the play of strong curves against the straight, razor edge makes perfect sense.

Well, all good things must come to an end, and it looks like time for me to wrap these beauties up and send them back to Gene.
If you have any questions, drop me or Gene a line.

Luke 22:36, John 18:6-11

It was my pleasure to read your review.

You communicate the subtleties well.

Clear details, little words, I like that.

Maybe I will have him make me something...

Marion David Poff aka Eye, one can msg me at If I fail to check back with this thread and you want some info, email me.

My site is at: Including my review of the Kasper AFCK, thougths on the AFCK and interview of Bob Kasper.

I just hapened to be at Gene Osborn's house this afternoon as he is going to help me with some of the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts I work with. We should have quite a few of them with father son projects (fixed blades... autos will take a while!)
Anyway, I got a chance to see and play with a few of his knives including the scale lock manuals and autos! Woo hoo! I need to get me one. However, Gene's diligence has really started to pay off and someone just bought his entire inventory. This just means I will be waiting for my scale release auto.... Please read the review, but I've got to tell you it is a slick idea.

You just hold that knife in your hand and push the scale with your little finger perpendicularly to your palm and it fires! I am sure a lot of people would not ever know how to open or close it.

What a pleasure to deal with him.

(sorry for the duplication)

Dances with lemmings

I, too, will, be reciving an auto knife fom Gene soon. I've driven him crazy with questions and concerns that I know will seem silly when the knife is finally in my hand. I'm handicapped, and need an auto that is easy to open if it is to any use to me. I know Gene's knife will do what it has to do. There will be no problem with an Osborne knife, it just doesn't ever happen.

An important thing to keep in mind when considering the purchase of one of Gene's knives is how good a person Gene is to talk with. You'll be glad you got one of his knives, and show it off to everyone you know.

I never thought I'd find a maker who made knives like this. I can say without any hesitation that this is a maker who everyone should own a knife from. You will be very happy when you have it and feel the "walk and talk" of these small works of art.

This thread within a thread thing is almost beyond me.
I recieved my scale release from Gene yesterday. A warncliff blade that tops all warncliffs- and I'm a warncliff fan. Very sharp and ..slicCKK! -the sound it makes is precision singing.
The workmanship is everything hoped for and it was a pleasure doing business with Center Cross.
Somebody bought out his stock? Can't say I'm surprised.
I wondered when I saw SOLD on everything that was available few days ago. Oh well, one in my pocket and one on order.
Greetings and thanks for taking the time to review my work. A few fellow knife lovers added kind words to boot! Some are customers among you and some are already future customers. My point here is to simply say thank you for supporting me in what I truly love doing. Making knives is fun; making people's dreams come true by the works of my hands is priceless. Custom work is special. You have enriched my life, talents and abilities - and my spirit. God does truly want to give us the desires of our hearts.
Thanks to all who support custom and handmade knives.
May God bless each of you dearly.


I Carry My Crosses for Christ to Give any Glory to God.

Thanks so much for the review. It's been nice getting to see more of Gene's work.

Gene, it's always nice to see someone who is straightforward in what he believes. Let your light shine.


For most of us, I think the opportunity to have a custom knife made to our specifications may come only once in a lifetime.
Perhaps the availability of money limits us or the business of everyday life preoccupies us and, for those reasons, the opportunity never presents itself or we simply fail to notice it.
And so, at some time in our lives we may need to reach out and knock on the door ourselves if we expect our dreams to have any possibility of entering reality.

If you have the slightest inclination, the beginnings of a dream or just the vague yearning for a personal knife which reflects your style and meets your needs, I strongly recommend you contact a knife maker and share your ideas with him.
In hardly any other arena of life can you get as much return and satisfaction for your dollar as you will from having a custom knife made.

I suggest you give Gene Osborn a call.

For those of you who have little spiritual inclination, or perhaps have different beliefs from Gene's, don't let that come between you and your knife.
Give Gene a call and you will find in his beliefs a refreshing assurance of rock solid integrity, guaranteed customer satisfaction and sound business practice.
You will also find Gene encouraging and accepting.
He has a very comfortable and relaxing style.

For those of you who believe in God's loving provision for your salvation through the redemptive sacrifice of His Son on the cross, who better to make your personal, one-of-a-kind knife than the saint with a Texas Ranger voice?

I don't know if you have heard the story which ends "one riot, one Texas Ranger".
To my knowledge, Gene never served as a Texas Ranger but, after you listen to his gentle Texas drawl for awhile and get a feel for the man, you might come to understand how that one riot and one Ranger logic works.

When I pay the money it takes to get a hand made custom knife (not as much as I thought), I not only expect a beautiful and unique knife in return, I need to like and respect the man who made it.
That way, I'll forever enjoy looking at it, using it and showing it to friends.

"Oh, this? Gene Osborn made it for me."

Luke 22:36, John 18:6-11
Gene built me two beautiful and functional knives, one toggle, one scale release. I agree in a big way with everything positive posted in this review and this thread. I feel lucky and happy to have two genuine Gene Osborn CenterCross productions.