Ontario Knife Co Knife Saved From Scrap Heap! (Pre "Old Hickory" and Nice "Kephart-Like" User Now!

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by joejeweler, Sep 6, 2017.

  1. joejeweler


    Jan 27, 2006
    Over a year ago I did a post on this before Photo Bucket burned everyone, but I came across the photos again today so thought I would present this again. It might just inspire some of you into saving what might at first glance appear a basket case!

    I believe this dates back a lot further than the "Old Hickory" labeled knives made by the Ontario Knife Co, and truth be told I haven't seen another blade labeled quite like this one in searching the net. If you see one in a garage sale or bargain store,..snap it up! You might just find a hidden Gem in all that apparent mess, and I hope this inspires you to take up the challenge!

    This was a $2.00 purchase at a local Salvation Army store, and I really liked the lovely patina on it and thin blade stock (FFG and just .065" thick!) The scales had huge gaps on both sides where moisture had gotten behind the scales over many decades of use, and obviously no interest by the previous owners to maintain the knife properly.

    This is how she looks before I gave her some much needed TLC, in rough shape as you will soon see. This was before I shortened it a little and reshaped the blade tip into a sort of Kephart style. [​IMG]
    ...scales had huge gaps and loads of crud, with some unintended beef jerky in there too I bet:) ....and lots of rust showing,....yuk!
    This is what I found behind each scale!
    Top scale before cleanup,...bottom scale after some TLC
    Both scales and sides of the (hand?) forged blade cleaned up pretty well, certainly better than I expected! And look at the rather weird pin cutouts in the blade! I think the front pin hole was originally a tight fit and main positioning point, the last pin tight into a "channel" horizontal plane, and the middle pin hole created larger so that old time factory construction methods could be quicker! How's THAT for tight tolerances! (and a far cry from today with CNC available, hehe)
    ....other side of the blade cleaned up with top of the scales showing too...
    And the blade shortened to about 4" and spine dropped into a sort of Kephart wide and less pointy tip. You don't want to risk piercing your lips when eating off it, now would ya?
    ....love the hard earned patina on this one....
    ....and nice color on this side too. Here is the more Kephart reshaped blade tip, after I took a little "off the top" and shortend it up a little too. I wanted to be able to use the tip much like Horace did,...EAT directly off of it with the tip acting much like a fork to pick up food, ...OR use the sharpened edge like a scoop (pushing into the food in an "away" direction),... and then eat directly off the dull spine side. Pretty neat actually, and Old School" for sure!
    Epoxy was used to seal it all up (and also filled that enlarged center hole!) I sanded the scales mostly around the pins to make them fairly flush, but tried to keep most of the original color where I could. A few coats of an oil finish applied to seal the wood....
    ....other side...
    Before the oil finish, I used a 1/2" drum sander in my flex shaft machine to smooth the blade edges fairly flush to the scales,...ALL the way around and it feels great now,....no sharp steel edges poking at ya in a solid grip!
    Top spine view..... got rid of the beef jerky too! :eek:

    A four inch food cutting and "eatin" off of machine now, with a hand filling comfortable handle. While there is no finger guard like on the original Kephart,....the grip is plenty solid for eating. If you NEED a finger guard for eating with your knife, you have real problems eating in social settings! :)
    ....and a real pleasure to carry and use at just over 3 ounces for a Fixed Blade!

    Old meets New,.... resides in a cast off from a knife I picked up a kydex sheath for

    ...So check out your local Sally's,...and save a knife! ;)
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2017
  2. afishhunter

    afishhunter Basic Member Basic Member

    Oct 21, 2014
    Very nice job, and a great writeup. :)
  3. GIRLYmann


    Nov 7, 2005
    nice refurb.
    not many would spend time and money for
    what would have been considered a disposable item.
    posting this thread is a great way to remind forumites
    about just how frugal past generations were
    and had put much care in maintaining the condition
    of their few material possessions.
  4. Roguer


    Jan 5, 2015
  5. JupiterPaladin

    JupiterPaladin Gold Member Gold Member

    May 4, 2016
    I picked up a similar old Hickory for like $2 or $3 to refurb. It's a little newer than this one but still old with a patina :)
  6. Hickory n steel

    Hickory n steel Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 11, 2016
    You did a great job on that one, I don't personally like the blade shape you gave it but that's only because I woulda went with a clip point.
    The small pins strikes me as turn of the century, but I don't know when Cutler's rivet's completely took over.
    Now if this knife is turn of the century it's such a shame that it ended up in a thrift store. Someone who took pride in their cooking probably used it daily to prepare meals for their family, they probably handed it down to their daughter to prepare meals for their family and the third generation who lives in the generation where everything has to be stainless steel got rid of it the first chance they got. At least it ended up with you where it will continue to be used on food.
    You're lucky to be able to find carbon steel kitchen Cutlery like this at second hand stores where you live.
    Around here at Goodwill...ect ( I've seen one salvation army store somewhere but that was a long time ago ) you just absolutely never see carbon steel so I'm starting to think that they get rid of all carbon steel Because knives they probably think they're no good anymore.
    There's one big thrift store that my grandmother loves which I've never been to so I may have to check it out with her sometime and see what they've got.
    I guess California is just too " progressive " ( not sure if that's politically correct, because they get offended by everything ) for someone like me.
  7. A.L.


    Jun 27, 2007
    Fantastic job! I love how you brought that knife back to it's glory without ruining the charm and value of old knife.
  8. Bladegunner


    Jul 28, 2016
    I have refurbed a few old one's like that but never thought about shortening them down as a utensil
    Very nice work.
  9. Hickory n steel

    Hickory n steel Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 11, 2016
    You know it just dawned on me that it's the same blade shape as the US m1918 mess knife,
  10. joejeweler


    Jan 27, 2006
    I didn't notice that but for sure this old thin .065" thick blade stock knife was made for food prep, especially at the original longer length of about 5-1/2 to 6" as I recall. After the work I've found it does actually take the place of a fork and spoon while in the woods, and it's kinda neat at home too using it as the sole utensil once in awhile.

    Horace Kephart was a practical man,...and every ounce of weight he carried regularly into the woods HAD to be essential and worth it's weight in functionality. I think he decided early on that a metal fork was not worth the weight, and a spoon could be made from wood in short order wherever he ended up IF he was planning on a soup or stew for dinner. For most everything else his preferred wide blade tip could safely "scoop" up most anything else he might want to eat! :cool:

    I kind of looked at it like I was following tradition of the old days, when steel was in much shorter supply and if a utensil broke a tip, or didn't particularly meet your needs or wants,..that it was repurposed.

    Obviously in this case I was really lucky too, because in it's condition in most cases it would have been thrown away long before reaching that point! (especially today with cheap stainless being so readily available)

    What struck me too was the fact that even though crud and rust had gotten behind the scales (as there was no epoxy back then I suppose?),....that the working part of the blade had absolutely NO Rust on it whatsoever! A full working patina helped for sure, but still even with that a carbon steel knife used in food prep will easily rust if the blade is not cared for. We all KNOW how quick it can happen too, if you regularly carry a carbon steel blade.

    That tells me it was cared for where it counted most, used and wiped down, and coated regularly with a light oil or grease. It HAD to have been important to a generation or two else it would have been a complete and rusty mess by now, and therefore never would have been available to me in the first place to salvage.
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2017
  11. Hickory n steel

    Hickory n steel Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 11, 2016
    I was saying the exact thing in my first post.

    It was probably used and well cared for by someone who was proud of their cooking, and handed it down to the next generation who they taught cook, then they did the same till it ended up with the 4th generation who just cast it off the first chance they got due to living in the modern world where carbon steel is often looked down on in the kitchen .
  12. The Whip

    The Whip

    Jan 28, 2007
    joejeweler, you did a tremendous job with both the knife and your photo essay! Thank you very much for sharing your efforts, your discoveries, and your thoughts with us. Posts like yours keep Blade Forums a place worth frequenting!


    P.S. - I missed this the first time you presented it, so I'm glad you decided to re-post with the restored pictures.
  13. CellerDrummer


    Aug 7, 2011
    Awesome job very nice work. I really like the "eating off of part". For my kayak camping trips a knife like that would be very handy and just about perfect.

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