Great Eastern Cutlery Tidioute #15 Huckleberry Boys Knife
By Gary Zinn
Image courtesy of knivesshipfree.com
When I was six years old, my father gave me my first pocket knife for Christmas. It was a typical jack knife, with clip and pen blades and an unadorned jigged bone handle. It was very much like the knife pictured above. I chose this for my first Great Eastern Cutlery (GEC) knife, because of nostalgia, pure and simple. It will not be my last one.
I first saw this knife on the KnivesShipFree (www.knivesshipfree.com) website and that is where I bought it. Thanks to KnivesShipFree proprietor Derrick Bohn for permission to use the images of the knives shown here. The images on his website are photos of the actual knives he stocks and sells, so what you see is what you get.
This knife did not need a second chance to make a first impression. When I removed it from its packing tube and oiled paper, I was holding a neat jack knife that looked like the image above; simple, clean and sharp. The first thing that caught my eye was the rich caramel color of the handle scales, edged in antique yellow. Then, I admired the highly polished stainless steel bolsters, the smooth contours of the handle and the precise pickbone jigging on the scales.
I scored the fit and finish of this knife at 99 percent. Really. The only thing I found that approached a blip was a one-half inch line along one edge of a handle scale where the ridges of the jigging were not quite smooth. I would probably not have noticed this, but I was looking hard for something to criticize. Every other aspect of fit and finish was spot on.
The fit between springs, liners, bolsters and scales is totally even and smooth. The center cut is the same height as the bolsters, a quality detail seldom seen. The back springs were exactly flush with the liners and center cut, both with the blades closed and open. The blades were highly and evenly polished, showing only very faint polishing marks. I cannot remember the last time I saw a slip joint knife with better fit and finish.
The handle scales are very nicely dyed and jigged. I do not know how the two layer caramel over antique yellow dyeing is done, but I like the visual effect. The pickbone jigging is well executed, with the slab-sided scales radiused just enough on the edges to make them comfortable in the hand. The scale pins fit flush with the surface of the scales.
The frame of this two-blade knife is 1/4-inch thick and the handle scales add enough bulk to bring the overall handle thickness up to about 7/16 inches. The 3-1/2 inch long handle is just adequate for me to get a four finger grip on it.
A hard core traditionalist might object to the liners, pins and bolsters being made of stainless steel, instead of the usual brass and nickel silver. Although I am totally comfortable with brass liners, nickel silver bolsters and pins of either material, I have no quarrel with the substitution of stainless steel. It makes the knife stronger and more durable.
Turning to function, the blades cycle tightly, but smoothly, with a very satisfying walk and talk. There is a firm half stop, which is top dead center on both blades. The nail nicks on both blades are easily accessible and are far enough up on the blades to give good leverage for opening. My daughter, who knows her way around pocket knives, tried this one out and said, "Hey, a girl with nails can open this knife okay. Put that in your review." She also liked that the blades half stop and admired the aesthetics of the knife.
Several reviews I found mentioned that GEC knives have a hard pull. I found the pull of both blades on my knife quite firm, but I would not call it hard. A so-called hard pull is usually indicative of strong back springs, which is good in my world. If the pull is light, the spring is too weak and will only get weaker with time and use. Conversely, if the tangs and working ends of the springs are well polished and properly mated, a strong back spring will seem less so, because the blades will move smoothly. This is exactly what I feel when I open and close the blades on my knife; i.e., firm but smooth blade movement. Remember, my daughter says that even a girl with nails can open this knife.
The blades are flat ground and came with factory edges that I would call very good, but not quite up to my PDS (pretty darn sharp) standard. The main blade was very close, but the pen blade was a bit toothy when I sliced paper with it. I gave both blades ten alternating strokes on a set of fine grit crock sticks and a few passes on a butchers steel; they came right up to PDS condition. It took three minutes.
A GEC blade grinder added some nice detailing to the blades. The main blade spine is lightly swaged from the tip back to just behind the spine peak and the pen blade has a narrow swage along the entire length of the spine on the side opposite the nail nick. These are small touches that show attention to detail and add aesthetic class to the knife.
Finally, I want to discuss the style of this knife. The shape and proportions of the handle, along with the short front bolsters, clearly put this knife into the style category traditionally called a "sleeveboard." The sleeveboard is closely related to the Barlow style, with the distinction being that a Barlow handle is typically wider relative to its length than a sleeveboard and has longer front bolsters (about one-third of the total handle length). Think of a Barlow as a pudgy sleeveboard style with extra long bolsters.
However, there are no hard and fast style rules in the knife world. GEC shows several specific knives it calls Barlows on its website, which are built on the #15 factory pattern and have long Barlow-style bolsters. Other than the bolster length, they are the same as the Huckleberry Boys Knife models.
In summary, I was totally impressed with this simple knife. I found much to like and nothing that I could object to or question. It may be called a Boys Knife, but this old boy is delighted to own one. There are definitely more GEC knives in my future.
Copyright 2015 by Gary Zinn and/or chuckhawks.com. All rights reserved.