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New Snake Brand Butcher Knife
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Greenhorn
posted
Does anyone have a new Snake Brand Butcher Knife as sold by Crazy Crow Trading Post? It is only $26, but that is $26 I would rather not throw out. I would like to know the relative quality as compared to a new Old Hickory Butcher Knife. I have bought a few new Old Hickory's through Amazon and the quality has been terrible to be kind. They make good project knives because you have no sentimental feelings toward your new knife AT ALL, and dont mind cutting, filing, staining or whatever your mind is after on your brand new kife. Ive been rather dissapointed. The Snake Brand Butcher from Crazy Crow looks to be a small upgrade according to the the tiny picture. I really like the look with the small pins. Any information would be appreciated.

Also, any history of the Snake Brand would be welcome.

Thanks,
Patrick


"...having Providence for their founder and Nature for shepherd, gardener, and historian."
 
Posts: 44 | Location: Alabama | Registered: 01 May 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Booshway
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They are probably decent. CC does not say which steel they are, but probably comparable in service to Old Hickory. The Hunter model has rivets not used until the 1870's however, and the rivet pins in the butcher really would have been better in iron.
 
Posts: 557 | Location: geneva,fl | Registered: 29 March 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Booshway
Picture of Sage Rider
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Might give them a call and make sure the blade is not made in India....made that mistake!!!


"Don't Retreat, just reload"
 
Posts: 411 | Location: Oregon Territory | Registered: 26 February 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Booshway
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Green River butcher knives are good, for little money. I get the blades and put handles on with pins, but if you don't mind the appearance of the rivets the complete knives are inexpensive.
 
Posts: 507 | Registered: 14 August 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Booshway
Picture of andy*
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Excellent advice on going with a Green River knife. They are great quality and easy to work on...blade and handle wise.
I would get a Green River kit and pin the handle....and maybe buff off the etching on the blade depending on what time frame I am wanting the knife to be from.
Andy


Follow me I am the Infantry
 
Posts: 668 | Location: Everson, Washington | Registered: 27 June 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Booshway
Picture of Notchy Bob
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I don't own one of the "Snake Brand" butchers, but it looks like a good deal for the money. The logo is authentic, and was used by a Sheffield cutler named Kitchin. Check it out here: Trademarks on Base Metal Tableware This is a big PDF document, but it has a lot of the trademarks that interest us.

The logo on the Snake Brand knife appears to be stamped, also, rather than etched. This is a nice touch, as the etched logos are of more recent vintage.

I can't tell if the pins are brass or iron. We know that brass pins were used on some of the more expensive grades of trade knives, although I suspect iron pins may have been more common. Either would be preferable to the brass "cutler's rivets" or compression rivets that are most often used on knives now. I have not been able to confirm a date when these were first used, but it is my understanding this was some time in the 1890's.

I can't comment on the quality of steel, either, but it may not really matter that much. While it has been suggested that "Indians would not accept junk from the traders," we do know that various grades of knives were available, and Edwin Thompson Denig (one of the traders at Fort Union in North Dakota from about 1835 into the 1850s) described the typical trade knife as having a "soft steel blade about eight inches long."

I have assembled several knives on the current production Green River blade blanks. After a good deal of experimentation, the process that works best for me is to drive the blade into soft ground with a mallet with just the tang sticking out. Figure out where you want your pins, and spot anneal those places with a propane torch to a dull red, and leave the blade where it is until it cools. The ground acts as a heat sink, and if you do it right, the blade is not heated enough to disturb the temper. I use a 7/64" drill for the tang and 8d finish nails for pins. I brown or blue the blade before installing the scales, then buff it back some with a ScotchBrite pad or coarse steel wool. This obliterates the etched Green River logo, gives the blade a nice color, and if you let a little heat get down past the choil during your spot annealing, and leave a blue line, this will hide it. For a first-class job, the tang should be tapered in thickness, but I have not worked out a practical way to accomplish this yet. I suppose a belt sander with metal-cutting abrasive would do the job, but I don't have one.

The best source for handle material I have found is 1½" "turning squares" or "spindle stock" from Constantine's or Woodcraft Supply. I rip 5/16" "planks" from the squares with my bandsaw for scales. The pins do not need to be peened. Just drill holes in the wood .002" - .004" smaller than the pins. They'll hold.

The Old Hickory knives are not really appropriate for the time frame that interests us, although they are an excellent value. The famous "tire tread" forgemarks on the Old Hickory blades are for the purpose of stiffening the blade. They are not "fake forge marks," meant to dupe people. They increase the ratio of surface area to mass slightly, so the thin blade is stiffer than it would be otherwise.

There was an article in either Field & Stream or Outdoor Life a couple of years ago about a journalist who went to stay with some native Athabaskan caribou hunters. The natives all used Old Hickory knives. These were not people going after a backstrap and some antlers... They wanted to fill an 18" johnboat to the gunwales with meat. I think that says a lot for Old Hickory knives. However, these knives are not authentic for the era that interests most of us, and for the cost of an Old Hickory butcher, you can get a Green River butcher blade and modify it as described above, or for the cost of two Old Hickorys, you can get one of the Snake Brand/Kitchin butchers and be about as authentic as you can get.

Regardless of your choice, I hope you'll end up with a knife you like. That's the bottom line.

Best regards,

Notchy Bob


"Should have kept the old ways just as much as I could, and the tradition that guarded us. Should have rode horses. Kept dogs."

from The Antelope Wife
 
Posts: 332 | Location: Florida | Registered: 24 May 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Booshway
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All of the repro Snake brand knives are from India and/or Pakistan. If you need a knife for a re-enactment they are OK, but if you need something that you will use as a real knife, not so much.
 
Posts: 332 | Location: South Coast (MS) | Registered: 16 September 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Booshway
Picture of Notchy Bob
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quote:
Originally posted by Pete G:
All of the repro Snake brand knives are from India and/or Pakistan.


The knife from Crazy Crow does have *SHEFFIELD* stamped on the choil: Snake Brand Butcher Knife

I don't know the rules for international trade, but I thought imported manufactured goods were supposed to be marked with the country of origin. I thought "faking" the country of origin was a violation.

Notchy Bob


"Should have kept the old ways just as much as I could, and the tradition that guarded us. Should have rode horses. Kept dogs."

from The Antelope Wife
 
Posts: 332 | Location: Florida | Registered: 24 May 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Booshway
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I looked at the knife !!!!!why is the stamp "Snake Brand" all messed up??????? Stamp over stamp,,looks kind of !!!!!!???out of place and poorly done..
Might check out this site, www.KennesawCutlery.com some nice looking blades,, look at ON7150 \
or spend some money go to mlknives.com some sweet cuttlery there.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: Walking Crow,
 
Posts: 1839 | Registered: 11 February 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Greenhorn
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Thank you everyone for the replies and advise. Thank you Notchy Bob for the great history of the Snake Brand.

I have purchased a "Cabbage" knife, a "Hop" knife, and a "Skinner" knife by Old Hickory through Amazon (Free Shipping). These knives are thinner than the OH butchers, but do not have the forge marks on the blades. The Cabbage knife is a 3/4 version of the butcher knife. It is 6" I think. I really like it. I also got a copy of "The Knife in Homespun America" by Madison Grant for Christmas. I will look into the Green River blades. Right now, I am in the learning phase as pertaining to knives. When I get real serious I plan on buying a ML Knives butcher. They are the best that I have found so far.

Again, thank you for all of the insight.


"...having Providence for their founder and Nature for shepherd, gardener, and historian."
 
Posts: 44 | Location: Alabama | Registered: 01 May 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Factor
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You might also want to check out a classic Mora brand knife. I get mine from Ragweed Forge. (Scroll down to the "classic Mora Knives" section.) They are carbon steel, and really take an edge, and are very inexpensive. The handles are not HC, but I take a rasp to mine and reshape them for historic use and make a leather sheath.

LD


It's not what you know, it's what you can prove
 
Posts: 3843 | Location: People's Republic of Maryland | Registered: 10 November 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Booshway
Picture of Night Owl
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I agree with Dave...those Mora knives are awesome. I own four of them myself.
 
Posts: 265 | Location: Upper Peninsula of Michigan | Registered: 03 June 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Greenhorn
Picture of Stophel
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I'm still not a fan of the "Scandinavian grind". Oh, it looks neat, the knives are fine quality, and the edges would work fantastic as wood carving knives (it's somewhat like a chisel), but if you ever get a nick in the edge you have a LOT of metal to grind off to reestablish the edge. To me, that is just entirely impractical. The blades are also THICK.

Of course, they are entirely non-historical for America of the 18th and 19th centuries. Maybe if you were a recent Swedish or Norwegian immigrant in the 1860's...

The Old Hickory/Ontario knives are of good, old fashioned 1095 steel, but are not particularly hard. I have some. Turned one into an 18th century type "red handled scalper". They will take a good edge, and may hold it for a while, but I don't know how long they will hold that edge in real use. Of course, I can imagine that the quality of the average cheap butcher knife of the 18th/early 19th century was probably not even this good.
 
Posts: 48 | Location: Kentucky | Registered: 02 August 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Booshway
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I agree with Stophel on all points mentioned.
 
Posts: 557 | Location: geneva,fl | Registered: 29 March 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Greenhorn
Picture of Stophel
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Patrick, is there something particular you are wanting to go for with your knife? A time period or region? Or just a good quality, old fashioned knife?
 
Posts: 48 | Location: Kentucky | Registered: 02 August 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Greenhorn
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Stophel,
I was mainly looking for an old style butcher similar to the Old Hickorys, that didnt cost very much money. I know there are some beautiful, high quality, period correct knives out there, but they seem to carry beautiful, high quality prices. I am going to look at Dexter Russell knives too. I thought the Snake Brand from CC was really nice looking for the price. I probably need to just get one and write a review on here for you guys. Thanks.


"...having Providence for their founder and Nature for shepherd, gardener, and historian."
 
Posts: 44 | Location: Alabama | Registered: 01 May 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Greenhorn
Picture of Stophel
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The Russell Green River knives would be the way to go.

I only have one G.R. knife, and that is the little "Pacific Paring" knife. It seems quite fine enough quality, and is a handy little thing, though I rarely actually use it (I have SO many knives.. I almost never use one more than twice in a row! Big Grin )
 
Posts: 48 | Location: Kentucky | Registered: 02 August 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Booshway
Picture of Notchy Bob
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Well, if you just want a butcher knife, the Old Hickory knives should be fine. You might try flea markets or antique or junk stores, too, to see what's available. You might find a real old timer that has some life left in it, but some real character, too.

If you want something maybe a little higher grade than Old Hickory, the current Dexter-Russell "Green River" knives are of good quality steel, and were manufactured by the company that acquired the original Russell Green River trademark. You can get these from many of the traders and blackpowder vendors, or you can order direct: Dexter/Russell.

Another option is R. Murphy Knives. These are the folks who actually made the old Herters knives, and they still have a few in stock. They are closing out their traditional butcher knives (scroll down the page in the link). Not cheap at $36.00, but Murphy has a great reputation for quality and you get a choice of maple or rosewood handles.

Cold Steel made a traditional 8" butcher out of their famous Carbon V steel some years ago. They called it the "Cold Steel Hudson Bay Knife," which will aggravate some of the members of this board because it was just a butcher knife, but that's what they called it. The best thing about it was the steel in the blade. Otherwise, it was kind of crude. I can attest to this, because I have one. These are out of production and you may have a hard time finding one if you want one, but here is a review with some pictures if you are interested: Cold Steel Hudson Bay Butcher Knife.

All of these have brass compression rivets. As discussed at some length above, compression rivets are not authentic for the era that interests most of the participants on this board. If you want factory made knives with pins, you still have some options. The Snake Brand knife from Crazy Crow is one. Another would be the John Nowill & Sons knives from England. The price of £23.90 for the 8" butcher comes to about $40.00 USD, which is pretty reasonable, really. I am utterly amazed that the American blackpowder suppliers do not carry these knives. They have pin-fastened beechwood scales, stamped markings, and carbon steel blades. They may not be exact reproductions of historical knives, but they are closer than anything else on the market, and they have been available for years.

Finally, the best deal may be from the Fort Union Association. Scroll down the page in the link to "Edge Tools and Ironmongery." They have a butcher with pin-fastened scales listed for $28.00, but I don't think they have updated the website in a while and you should probably contact them to be sure they still have these, and to confirm the price.

I think the Mora knives mentioned in a couple of posts above are good knives for the money, but I don't think they were typical of knives on the American frontiers. I have seen photos of some 19th century knives collected from native people in Siberia that were similar to the Mora knives, but not the same. The older knives seemed to have straight tapered handles, larger at the butt, while the Moras have a more barrel-shaped handle. Otherwise, they seem similar, with a plain wooden handle, stick tang, metal ferrule, and simple blade. Again, I don't think these were typical of knives in 18th or 19th century America.

In any event, I hope you find something you like.

Notchy Bob


"Should have kept the old ways just as much as I could, and the tradition that guarded us. Should have rode horses. Kept dogs."

from The Antelope Wife
 
Posts: 332 | Location: Florida | Registered: 24 May 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Greenhorn
Picture of Stophel
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Years ago, when they had just quit making them, someone was offering their remaining stock of blades. I bought two of the Cold Steel Carbon V frontier-whatever-they're-called blades, and two of the Hudson's Bay butcher blades. I made a knife out of one of the Frontier blades and gave it to my then-girlfriend. The other I have made into a French style "Boucheron", complete with antler handle. One of the butcher blades I unfortunately cut down short (like 4"), but have yet to haft (it was a long time ago.. I didn't know what I was doing!). The other butcher blade I recently made into an English scalper.




I don't have photos of the French type yet. I REALLY like these blades, wish I had two dozen of them.
 
Posts: 48 | Location: Kentucky | Registered: 02 August 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Booshway
Picture of Notchy Bob
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You did a good job with that scalper, Stophel. We look forward to pictures of the other knives.

Notchy Bob


"Should have kept the old ways just as much as I could, and the tradition that guarded us. Should have rode horses. Kept dogs."

from The Antelope Wife
 
Posts: 332 | Location: Florida | Registered: 24 May 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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