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Random thoughts, a question and Happy New Year

Apr 8, 2006
I´ll make this thread about traditional folders. You see, I´ve never been much of a folder person. I use knives in the woods, and I simply did (or do) not trust folders. But lately I have being trying to change that, I ended up buying a few, and carrying them in my pocket.

From the start, I was only considering traditional style folders. I was attracted to the carbon steel blades, the richness of stag, and beautiful woods. That´s what I like on fixed blades, that´s what I like on folders. Tacticool folders are not exactly in my alley. They do not ring my bells very much. And I quickly discovered the kind of looks you get when you flip open a big, black, half-serrated blade in public.

Yet tacticool folders are generally stronger, beefier and have better locks than traditional folders.

You see, I am aware that, for a long time, a thin-bladed slipjoint was more than enough for any man. I am aware that it has to do with knowing how to use it, and knowing the limits of your knife. Keep in mind this is coming from a guy that has aways been wary of any folders. Please don´t think I´m trying to push any buttons.

It is a bummer really. The materials I consider worthy of my money are the ones commonly found on old-style slipjoints. I vastly prefer to carry a traditional knife, with a nice stag or ironwood handle. Yet I aways think that I could, maybe at an extreme situation, need the thick blade, the tight lock and one-handed opening of a modern knife. Specially the lock.

I am getting at the point where I am thinking any traditional folders I get will end up safe queens, things to fondle or show to friends and relatives, while the tacticals get pocket time. I know I am being a hard head, but I just can´t help it.

Which brings me to the question of this thread. What are the though traditional-style knives you know of?

There is the Kershaw 1050 that I know of, I even started a thread about it. Everybody agreed that the knife was overpriced (132$ for an AUS8 blade), but I confess what killed it for me was the plastic handles. If it was a natural material I would probably get one.

This is my first post on the traditional knives forum, but I like the atmosphere, the abundance of pictures and stories, and I aways read the thoughtful posts by the likes of Amos and Jackkinfe, posts which border on literature. BTW, a happy new year to everybody. May 2007 be a year full of joy and peace for us all.
personally, i think of my little slipjoint as my fine cutting tool. it is what i pull out when i want to cut thread to sew up that tear in my pants, or to pick a sliver from my knuckles (surprising how often this is...). it is not my big beefy go to knife. i have a cheapie tacticool folder for that (half serrated, false back, liner lock etc) that is made from liner lock steel no doubt, and that i would not use for anything that actually needed to be cut, i use it for cardboard and plastic, things that would dull my real knife.

then i have the fixed blade for the heavy work that i would need a beast of a folder for, because i don't want that kindof folder, seeing as how that is bordering on unreasonable in my opinion.

by the way, my slippie is a small bear & son. made from 440 (i couldn't tell you if it is A or C), a decent steel, with rosewood scales and nickel silver bolsters. i got it for $15 US at the local hardware store. it was not the knife i intended to buy, but when i opened the box, i decided that i would keep it. it is small, the blade edge is a little shy of 2 inches. one of the reasons that i bought this one was because i was tired of big heavy folders weighing my summer pants down to my ankles.

i appreciate your thoughts, and i wish you a happy new year as well.

EDIT: i just realized that my knife is really just a case peanut knockoff without the smaller blade (ie: only the main blade)
Hello Valle,

I hope we may be of help to you, and see you on a regular basis here. There are so many types, or patterns of traditional pocket knives it would be hard to name them all. Thats part of the alure of them, so much variety. Even in just one patern, there are different materials and finish. Alot of folks make a whole collection out of specializing in just one pattern of knife in all the differing sub=types. For example, if one wants to collect the stockman, there are the 3 7/8 stockman, the 4 1/4 stockman, or maybe they'll collect just the stockman with stag handles, or a stockman collection of as many different handle materials as they can find. Or a collection can get brand specific.

As for the different types of traditional style of knives?

Stockman, sodbusters, barlow, whittler, peanut, dogleg jack, equal end jack, harness jack, trapper, scout, sunfish, hawkbill, moose, Texas toothpick, copperhead, muskrat, are just some of the traditional patterns out there. You could probably spend the rest of your life tracking down and collecting variances in just one type, as some of these patterns have been made for over a hundred, or hundred and fifty years. Thats just part of what makes these knives so interesting to collect. They go way back to another era, where they were everyday tools for a lifestyle where a knife was needed on a daily basis. The patterns reflect this, like the leather punch tool on a stockman that makes it a real cowboy tool. Or like the harness jack.

In many ways the traditional patterns work so well because they were brought about by the needs of working men on the job. The cowboy out on the range had no knife magazines telling him what was the lastest cool knife to have, but he had a job to do. When he had to mend a bridle, castrate a steer, slice some bacon, or a myrid of other jobs, he just wanted a tool for the job. Different jobs sometime require a different blade shape, but they all have to preform. They have to cut well. A century and more ago, a working man would not have much patience for something that did not do the job. He could'nt afford to. A settler trying to farm his little homestead piece of Kansas prarrie did not have alot of money to waste on a fad. He selected his tools carefully. Hense the sodbuster, a pattern desended from the European peasents folder. Not much was spent polishing or use of fancy materials, but it had one simple blade of very good steel to cut well. The wide flat thin blade has exellent geometry to slice into the cut.

Almost all of your traditional patterns don't have a lock on a blade. As you said in your post, the people using these tools knew how to use them without cutting themselves. In the era I grew up in, I can't think of anyone I knew who had a locking blade knife. Most were hard working watermen or the workers at the seafood prossesing plant in Cambridge. They carried knives like simple barlows or plain two blade jacks. My own grandad carried a stockman for reasons of his own. Maybe he just liked having another blade. After my discharge from the service I carried a stockman in the machine shop, and it was nice to have a selection of blades on hand. But I never felt like I needed a lock on my knife. If things are getting so heavy duty a pocket knife won't handle it, thats what sheath knives and hatchets are for. Many, many of the watermen used a homemade sheath for a regular butcher knife. You can do alot of heavy duty cutting with a Russell/Dexter carbon steel 6 inch butcher pattern.

Do you think you really may need the one hand opening or thickblade in an exteme situation?

Take a moment to think of the soldiers, sailors, homesteaders, cowboys, of centuries past. At one time or another, on many occasions, they had to get it done under all conditions. Durring the Revelutionary war, the New York state militia made it one of the required items a citizen soldier had to have with him, a jacknife. Most of the samples dug up from encampment sites are of the single blade clasp knife pattern. No locks, or one hand opening. Same thing with sailors clasp knives of the 1700's, and all the rest. When General Washington crossed the Delaware river to storm the Hessian troops in the dead of winter that was pretty extreme conditions. Yet most soldiers just carried a simple jacknife for a cutting tool. When it came to cutting a piece of meat off a captured ham it did just fine. Soldiers in the civil war had some pretty extreme conditions to live in the field, on both the north and south side of the conflict. I'm fortunate to live in an area rich in civil war history. Most of the museums at the battlefields close by, like Antietum, Gettysburg, Balls Bluff, have displays of the stuff the soldiers carried at those places. Still, the simple slip joint pocket knife shows up again.

Tools generally evolve to the need. If we look back to the old days when a knife was a very important piece of gear, we see the traditional pocket knife. The modern tactical knife, with the thick locking blade, and one hand opening, is a product of modern big buisness and wide profit margins. It costs ALOT less to make a single blade knife than two or three blades. It costs ALOT less to make an injection molded synthetic handle than bone, wood, or stag. It costs ALOT less to tumble finish or beadblast a blade than to polish even a sattin finish. And it costs ALOT less to have semi-trained help assemble those knives with allen or torx screws than pay a skilled cuttler to hand set rivits and pins, and to "crink" the blades so they nest right. Add knife magazines fueling the fire with articles touting the new great knives, and you have an artificialy created market for these modern knife styles. Jeez, I feel a rant comming on.

Valle, I would like to welcome you to the world of traditional pocket knives. If you take the time to investigate the differing patterns I'm sure you will fine some that bake your cookie. You will also find a knife that is a pleasure to use and carry. Once you discover the joy of thin carbon steel in a nice flat ground blade that gets sharp enough to be a little scary, I do not think you will ever look at the "other" knives in the same way.

Sorry for the long post, I tend to ramble.
It is a bummer really. The materials I consider worthy of my money are the ones commonly found on old-style slipjoints. I vastly prefer to carry a traditional knife, with a nice stag or ironwood handle. Yet I aways think that I could, maybe at an extreme situation, need the thick blade, the tight lock and one-handed opening of a modern knife. Specially the lock.

If you can forgo the lock, you may find what you seek in the Mountain Man pattern from Queen (and others). They are large locking folders with generally beautiful natural material scales:


A search for the word "mountain" will reveal a number of threads for your research.

I used to carry a Ken Onion design Kershaw 1550 Blackout. I've mentioned it on here several times. It was an assisted opening, liner-lock. Not Sebenza level, but it worked hard for me the whole time I carried it. I finally set it aside for general carry after coming back to traditional knives. It took me a while to get used to using two hands to open my knife instead of just yanking it out of my pocket and flicking it open.

Now that I've been carrying and using my slippies, especially the ones that carry great in my pockets, the Kershaw feels bulky when I clip it into either my right front, or rear pocket. I've not really felt much worry about not having a locker anymore. Most of my slippies will handle most of what I can imagine needing. If I think I'll need anything heavier, I'd have a fixed blade about.

On the occasion when I want a locking, one-hand opener, I toss my Bone Stag, Russlock into my pocket. It may be stainless, but it came shaving sharp and I still haven't sharpened it. Even after driving it through cardboard and making big rips. I wouldn't want to get on the pointy, sharp end of it.

If you've perused the past posts, you've probably seen it, but here it is just in case.

Just make sure on any liner lock, you check to make sure the locking piece slips into place well.

A good trapper or large stockman is hard to beat for an all around, heavy duty, pocket knife. If you get into anything needing more, as Jackknife already said, grab a fixed blade or a hatchet. I love non-locking folding hunters, but these days the darn things seem just too heavy for me, even with a good belt pouch.

It takes time to readjust, but after spending a little time going traditional you find the thick blades and heavy locks don't really mean that much. I've been cut as much by lockblades as anyting else. I even had one that was a little too slick close on my fingers when I pressed the lock release with the blade pointing up. It also happened to be very sharp. Ouch.

Welcome, enjoy, and feel free to chime in. If you checked you would probably find that a few us still have a black knife or two around and aren't totally averse to picking up another or two if it appeals to us.
If you checked you would probably find that a few us still have a black knife or two around and aren't totally averse to picking up another or two if it appeals to us.

Amos, you worry me with treasonious statements like that. I suggest you go fondle some barlows and a stockman or two and talk to me in the morning!:D
Amos, you worry me with treasonious statements like that. I suggest you go fondle some barlows and a stockman or two and talk to me in the morning!:D

Hmmm treasonious statements and orders to fondle some barlows and a stockman or two...:mad:

If you keep dishing out that kind of punishment he won't ever stop saying stuff like that...:p :thumbup: :D
Heheheh. Don't worry, the little Boker, carbon steel, canoe went to work with me today.

Sigh, there is that terrible battle raging in me though. Do I trade a bolt action rifle or two off for a nicely priced Bushmaster AR-15 at my local shop (My version of Cheers, where everyone knows my name.) or just trade one for the Savage Model 24, .30-30 over 12 Ga.. It does have synthetic stocks (the 24) but is a good, feed you from birds to small bears tool. Like I really need either one. So what I do in this case? Sayve me! Heheh.
Unless you are going into serious harm's way, I'd stick with the bolt action, Amos! Simple/reliable being the key words, IMO. Besides, it's likely you can then afford another knife or two!
Happy New Year, BTW! Has the weather changed since last year??
That's probably the best idea and the one I keep returning to. Especially since it's a left-hand bolt in .308 Win. Darn trading bug gets rolling over now and then. LOL. I better go buy a new knife before I do something rash.

The weather here is actually pretty nice. That could change any moment.
Yeah but nothing beats the orange glow of an AR15 barrell after you just shot about 300 rounds..Ooohhh Ahhhh..I gotta go now and smoke a cigarette..Oohhhh :D