Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Stuff Worth Owning: Bear & Son Cutlery

Last summer I had the chance to visit my grandmother, whom I love very dearly.  Gram is getting up there in years, closer to 100 than 80, I think.  And yet even though she can't get around quite as well as she used to, she's still Grandma, and only getting to see her for a single afternoon would have been worth the trip.

We got to see her much more than just the once, of course.  We even went to church with her, the first time I'd been to church with my grandmother since one late Christmas Eve service when I was about four years old.  And I very much enjoyed that.

But to get to see Grandma means taking a flight.  It could mean driving for two days, but we took the flight instead.  Flying ain't cheap, but it has its upsides - avoiding two days of driving being chief among them.  But there are other encumbrances that go along with flying.

You can't take your pocketknife with you.  The TSA has their own idea of what is and isn't acceptable aboard a domestic flight from East Tennessee to Minnesota, two hotspots of insurgent violence to be sure, but they're also pretty intractable when you try to challenge them on their mission, and things can get ugly.  So my pocketknife, keys, Leatherman multitool and even my nicer hat all had to stay behind.  I had the very basic-est of possessions in my carry-on bag and as little metal as I could possibly have.  And even so I wound having to pause while the agent waved his wand over me.  Rivets on the jeans, forgot about those.  Ah well.

Get to Minnesota, connect with my dad with whom we were staying (Gram has moved to an assisted-living apartment and has no room for guests), and kept feeling like I'd left something on the plane.

I hadn't, of course.  But the feeling stuck with me until two days later when I finally decided my entire problem was the utter emptiness of my pockets.

Well.  Can't have that.  While visiting Gram, I popped downtown (this requires walking three blocks in Grandma's little town) to the local Hardware Hank store and bought a knife.

My computer's card reader isn't behaving, so I can't upload pictures of the knife, but let's go to the manufacturer.
That's the one.
This is the Bear and Son Cutlery Model 247R, the rosewood-handled "Large Stockman."  And I like it.  It's in the current catalog as the 47R, but it's the same knife.

It's actually a decently large pocketknife, 4" long and pleasantly heavy.  I don't have especially large hands but some of those cute little Swiss Army pocketknives are just too small.  You don't handle them as much as finger them; this knife you can hold and know you've got a decent grip on it.  And with that in my pocket, I could relax.

I think part of the discomfort of having nothing in my pockets is that I'm a handyman.  As a handyman, having no tools is like having a hand tied behind my back.  Now, with a tool on hand, I was suddenly much more capable.

Straight out of the box, it was wicked sharp and even now, six months later, I haven't had to sharpen it.  Bear & Son uses a high-carbon stainless steel, the higher carbon content makes it a harder steel that can be a bit of a pain to sharpen...but you don't need to sharpen it very often, so it's a wash.  And it's still stainless enough that owning it isn't an exercise in rust prevention.

Now that I've had the knife for six months, I find myself making room in my pocket for it, even though I'm back home and have my Leatherman on my belt.  It's not that much extra weight, most days if I don't need it I won't even remember it's there...but there are those rare occasions when you need an extra knife - or I have a helper who is using the Leatherman, and then I need a knife.

If I have any complaints, it's this: the spay blade is pretty darned stiff.  Opening that out felt like I was going to fold my fingernails backwards, and it hasn't loosened up much.  I don't do much animal spaying so getting that blade out is a deliberate act, a choice to work the blade against its resistance in the hope of having it available when needed.

That's it.  Folding it back up, back onto the "pocket shelf," where all my pocket and belt gear waits until the morning loadout.

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