First traditional knife?

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Apr 17, 2011
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82
Hey all,

I've been on Bladeforums for a while now but I haven't visited the Traditional section until now. Viewing some of the threads has piqued my interest in acquiring a traditional, slipjoint folder as a more classy carry knife. The problem is that I have no idea what to get or even where to start. My budget isn't very big, about $35. Could you point me toward some good quality knives of interest? Thank you all so much!
 

black mamba

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An amber bone CV Texas Jack can be had for around that same money, if you prefer bone. It's a Case 62032CV.
 
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Hi,

Be careful, slip-joints are addictive.:D A Case CV bladed knife is always a great choice, no matter how many you may already own. Case or Queen Sod Busters are great knives too and wel within your budget.

I would just add for consideration to look at Rough Rider branded slip-joints. They have a large selection of different types and patterns. And they are well made working knives. Best of all, they are inexpensive for those us with limited budgets. You don't need to drop a lot of cash to try a pattern you might end up not being real fond of.

Dale
 

dannyp

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Some preferences would help us steer you in the right direction. Size, number of blades, and choice of stainless or carbon steel would be a good start at narrowing down the daunting number of options available.
 

arrowhd

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Apr 19, 2011
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Case peanut might be a good fit if your looking for something small.
 

NPE

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Jun 21, 2004
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Queen, Country Cousin Sodbuster w/ D2 blade & make sure it's yellow
 
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What do you do for a living, how do you dress most of the time, and what kind of clothing do you wear?

It all makes a difference in what kind of pocket knife you will be most comfortable with. There's a reason there's so many different kinds of traditional patterns to be had. A lot of the types have evolved from different trades and occupations, some ways of life that are no more. Try to match up a pattern with your way of life. A suit wearing guy in an office cubical may find a peanut or Eisenhower a good fit, while a warehouse worker may get better served by a barlow or stockman.

Carl.
 
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May 7, 2011
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The "make sure it's yellow" sounded definitive :)
As Dan said, you should give us more hints on which kind of knife you are looking for, otherwise you will get submerged with options.
Meanwhile, I'm throwing my 2 cents here. I know that maybe you are willing to buy some American traditional (like a Stockman, a Trapper, a Peanut and so on), but if you're not that strict on that, I suggest an Opinel. Classic quality that will make you happy.
Fausto
:cool:
 
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Jul 28, 2011
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Hey all,

I've been on Bladeforums for a while now but I haven't visited the Traditional section until now. Viewing some of the threads has piqued my interest in acquiring a traditional, slipjoint folder as a more classy carry knife. The problem is that I have no idea what to get or even where to start. My budget isn't very big, about $35. Could you point me toward some good quality knives of interest? Thank you all so much!

Fair question!

To my mind, one can start to navigate the waters with a series of questions...

Does traditional mean you want an older, vintage knife that was made "back then" (whatever that means) or a currently made knife that in some sense is made to look as if it could have been made "back then" (in a traditional style)?

Does country of origin or even region matter to you?

Different styles of knives are often tied to different (and often no longer active in the same way) work habits and traditions. Is there a particular work "tradition" that you find compelling?

What matters more? Getting a specific cutting or carrying function from the knife or the tradition that the knife represents?


For example, for me, place of origin matters to me at some emotional level. I'm a New Englander and prefer knives made in the Northeast of the US (including PA), or at least that have roots here in the Northeast. In this way, I prefer my old Ulster camping knife and Schrade lockback to my French Opinel. Nothing against France and the French, or against any knife made in any other place. But, when I open my old Ulster, I know the place it was made and I'm touching that place and its history and my loose connection with that place when I hold it in my hand.

For me, traditional means made back then, not made currently. Some incredible traditional knives being made, including some that I very badly want to own. But at the end of the day, I'm more moved by something old than by something new. YMMV territory.

Work or utility tradition matter to me. I camp, grew up fishing and hunting with my grandfather and Camper style knives and lockback hunters remind me of this. My brother in law is a sailor and an old rigging knife is more for him. If I grew up on a western ranch, I might be drawn to stockmen or such more. For me, I often prefer to carry my US/NY made Ulster camper knife instead of my Opinel despite the fact that the Opinel locks and is lighter in the pocket. So, to an extent, the history of the knife means more than the pure function. Again, YMMV.

Does the knife need to be old or can it be new?
Does it matter where it was made?
Is there a work tradition that speaks to your heart or your identity?
Do functional concerns (weight, blade shape) trump tradition for you?

Very personal questions. If you can provide info along these lines, people might be able to steer you towards knives that suit *you* other than just suggesting what *they* own.

Last thing, old knives need not cost you an arm and a leg. I paid around $15 for my Ulster off of the bay and around 10 for my opinel from a friend. My Schrade was less than $20.

Hope this helps,
 

midnight flyer

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Jan 12, 2009
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Fair question!

To my mind, one can start to navigate the waters with a series of questions...

Does traditional mean you want an older, vintage knife that was made "back then" (whatever that means) or a currently made knife that in some sense is made to look as if it could have been made "back then" (in a traditional style)?

*SNIP* for brevity

Last thing, old knives need not cost you an arm and a leg. I paid around $15 for my Ulster off of the bay and around 10 for my opinel from a friend. My Schrade was less than $20.

Hope this helps,


Great post! This question always generates a lot of good responses. One I think you touched on that often goes unnoticed, and that is the knife's utility value.

For the first half of my life, and to some extent now, I only buy knives that serve. The difference is now I can afford prettier knives! My knives need to be sturdy, made from a good steel, and have a useful shape. I have too many knives to say that I don't collect them, but I don't have any safe queens.

Here's my 0.02. Go to a knife shop and check out patterns you find attractive. Ask the attendant if you can see how the model you like rides and fits in your normally worn pants. Some of the larger patterns feel like a piece of rebar in your pocket, and the smaller ones can't be found amongst the change and "stuff".

There isn't a "one size fits all" knife, but some are close. That gives credence to the idea of buying more affordable models to test, especially if you live in an area that doesn't have a knife shop for you to look at and handle different patterns. In the end, if the bug bites you won't have just one anyway.

But there is always that affair with your first; I still have my very first knife, a Boy Scout edition of a Montgomery Ward folder given to me just about 50 years ago by my Dad.

Here's the tradition part of that knife.

He is now on the autumn road of his life in a rest home and has been bedridden for some time. While visiting him last week, something came up and I told him I still had that knife. You cannot imagine how happy that made him, or how he beamed from his bed. He told me that it really made his day to know that knife meant so much to me. All for a knife he probably paid $2 many decades ago.

That's my take on why traditionals become much more than just patterns, materials, place of origin, etc.

Have fun finding your first!

Robert
 
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Thanks to all for your helpful responses! Here are a few more details on my personal tastes:

I'm looking for something to carry with me on a daily basis. My environment can best be described as office-like, so I won't be doing any heavy duty work. The most the knife will have to do is cut cardboard once in a while or the occasional zip tie. This being said, elegance would be nice though not necessary, and I do not need a tank. Under this criterion, I do not need a knife that does a specific type of work; rather, I need a general purpose knife that will handle letter opening, light kitchen work, cutting strings and threads, opening packages, etc.

I've been looking at various Case knives and I have to say, with much sadness, that the clip blade does not hold any aesthetic appeal to me, especially in its lengthier iterations like the Trapper, Stockman, and Muskrat. I prefer a more modern look to the blade, like that of the Kershaw Skyline or Leek. (Blasphemy, I know. But I can't help it!)

I'm not looking for a particularly old knife. A modern Case or Queen will do (provided the price is low enough). I value quality, though I'm also looking for bang-for-the-buck since my budget is not that big. I suppose that for a traditional-style knife, I prefer American since the thought of buying a Chinese made traditional American-style knife is odd. Above all, I'm looking for an aesthetically pleasing knife that I will use over a knife bought for sentimentality. (If it gets passed down to any children I may have, all the better.)

I've been looking at the Case Canoe and Sway Back Jack. Any comments, concerns, or other suggestions?
 
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Jan 8, 2005
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Anything made by Case or Queen will be more than adequate. As others have said what you do and how you carry it makes the difference as far as what pattern. Back when I did more blue collar work I always carried a large Stockman, now I carry a small Stockman as I rarely do that sort of work anymore. For what you want the knife for you may want to also consider a Case Peanut or Pen knife. Also the Buck 309 or 303 (my personal favorite).

Don't have a Swayback Jack so I can't comment. I have carried various Canoe patterns over the years and it may be my next favorite pattern behind the Stockman. The Canoe carries very well in the pocket while provide a larger stouter main blade than most knives that carry as well, and Case makes a good one. Something to consider is current production Case Canoe have two thin backsprings and thin blades than more traditional Canoe patterns which feature thicker blades and one backspring like Queen and Boker. I don't think anyone has mentioned yet but although Queen makes great knives their D2 steel can make them harder to sharpen if you don't have any special equipment (diamond hones).
 
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300flagv.jpg

I recommend a Buck 301, or 303 or 307 etc. If you feel you must have something yellow, they make them that way too.
 
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To my eyes and hand the Case Swayback Jack is one of the prettiest traditional knives going. Fit and finish, walk and talk, are as good as Case gets. Do a search and you’ll find that many here agree with me.

If you want a traditional with blade similar to the Kershaw Skyline, take a look at the A.G. Russell 3” Lockback.

Neither knife meets your price point. The Case SBJ goes for around $70.00. The Russell with Quince scales for $55.00.
 
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Thanks to all for your helpful responses! Here are a few more details on my personal tastes:

I'm looking for something to carry with me on a daily basis. My environment can best be described as office-like, so I won't be doing any heavy duty work. The most the knife will have to do is cut cardboard once in a while or the occasional zip tie. This being said, elegance would be nice though not necessary, and I do not need a tank. Under this criterion, I do not need a knife that does a specific type of work; rather, I need a general purpose knife that will handle letter opening, light kitchen work, cutting strings and threads, opening packages, etc.

I've been looking at various Case knives and I have to say, with much sadness, that the clip blade does not hold any aesthetic appeal to me, especially in its lengthier iterations like the Trapper, Stockman, and Muskrat. I prefer a more modern look to the blade, like that of the Kershaw Skyline or Leek. (Blasphemy, I know. But I can't help it!)

I'm not looking for a particularly old knife. A modern Case or Queen will do (provided the price is low enough). I value quality, though I'm also looking for bang-for-the-buck since my budget is not that big. I suppose that for a traditional-style knife, I prefer American since the thought of buying a Chinese made traditional American-style knife is odd. Above all, I'm looking for an aesthetically pleasing knife that I will use over a knife bought for sentimentality. (If it gets passed down to any children I may have, all the better.)

I've been looking at the Case Canoe and Sway Back Jack. Any comments, concerns, or other suggestions?

Hi,

I don't have a Swayback, but I do like the looks. I do have the trio of Case Canoes though. The Butterbean, regular Canoe CV, and the Gunboat. It's a fine pattern. The regular Canoe is a part of my normal rotation. It's thin rounded profile fits well in the pocket and hand. And the thin blades slice like a laser while being very rugged.

The real problem may be your $35 budget. Many new Us or European made knives will tend to exceed that budget. To manage under that constraint, you may need to troll for a nice used knife on auctions sites. But the hunt can be very rewarding if you have patience. New Case or Queen Sodbusters will fit within budget. A Yeller Case Peanut might also squeak under. But the choices are pretty limited for new made slip-joints in your stated price range. Which is why I mentioned the RR's. Well made working knives for getting started with traditional patterns. I find their 440A blades to be as good as Case TruSharp for everyday use.

Gratuitous photo because I like my Case Canoes,
000_0132.jpg


Dale
 

Railsplitter

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Oct 31, 2010
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If you like the Stockman pattern but don't like clip blades, take a look at the Case Humpback patterns. They have a Spear master blade and there are Stockman and Whittler versions. Some nice handle scale options too.
 
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Jan 23, 2010
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As soon as you said that you preferred a more modern blade design, my first thought was...swayback jack! However, as previously mentioned...they are above your stated price point at around $60 +/-.

I was in your same predicament a couple months ago. I got bored with the modern locking folders as I pretty much have the ones I want (except for two that I have had on pre-order for quite a while)...so I decided to tip toe into this forum just to have a look see. I checked out a couple of the picture threads and just could NOT believe the craftsmanship of some of the customs as well as the overall beauty of the different patterns of stag and bone scales as well as the other materials used.

I was hooked and hadn't even made my first purchase, yet.

I got up on a Saturday morning and dropped by the hardware store and they just happened to have a small display of Case knives on the wall. I chose the yeller Penknife and that's all she wrote! My slip joint collection has grown quite a bit since then due to...as they say... "slip joints are addicting." They weren't joking...LOL.

Out of all my traditionals ...which consists of several Case, a few GEC, a couple Queens, Boker, H&R, Moore Maker, and of course Buck...my favorite is still that little yeller penknife.

Just take some time to look around and get familiar with what's available. Also, if you happen to have a hardware store nearby...drop by, as you may find your new favorite knife hanging in a case just waiting for a new pocket to live in.

Good luck and happy hunting!
 
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Jul 21, 2010
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599
I'm looking for something to carry with me on a daily basis. My environment can best be described as office-like, so I won't be doing any heavy duty work. The most the knife will have to do is cut cardboard once in a while or the occasional zip tie. This being said, elegance would be nice though not necessary, and I do not need a tank. Under this criterion, I do not need a knife that does a specific type of work; rather, I need a general purpose knife that will handle letter opening, light kitchen work, cutting strings and threads, opening packages, etc.I'm not looking for a particularly old knife. A modern Case or Queen will do (provided the price is low enough). I value quality, though I'm also looking for bang-for-the-buck since my budget is not that big. I suppose that for a traditional-style knife, I prefer American since the thought of buying a Chinese made traditional American-style knife is odd. Above all, I'm looking for an aesthetically pleasing knife that I will use over a knife bought for sentimentality. (If it gets passed down to any children I may have, all the better.)
I've been looking at the Case Canoe and Sway Back Jack. Any comments, concerns, or other suggestions?

Don't take this the wrong way but America does not have a lock on "traditional Slipjoint" knives IMO. I do prefer to buy American made slipjoints but, there are quite a few good traditionals that are made elsewhere.
The Case Canoe and SBJ are WAY over the budget and both are excellent. In fact, I think the SBJ is a must have slipjoint.
The traditional knife you have described in perfect detail is the SAK Cadet. Or, if you prefer, the Recruit. These are exactly the answer to the question and again, traditionals that one can consider must haves and they fall way below the budget. Give one a try. You will not be dissapointed.
 
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