A Special Prototype

Former Schrade President Walley Gardner and principal Joe Hufnagel joined with nine master cutlers to form a group of US craftsmen with over 300 years of combined knife making experience to create Canal Street Cutlery. It was first located in upstate New York where a long and rich tradition of quality knife making dates back to the 19th century. Unfortunately, the company closed its doors in 2015, but not before making some great knives. The brand was resurrected in 2018 as Canal Street Cutlery Co-Op & focuses on making very small batches of high quality traditional knives. As a Co-Op, it is owned by the knife makers who work there.
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ea42
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A Special Prototype

Post by ea42 » Sun Aug 14, 2016 10:57 pm

Hey guys, got off from work a little early for a change so figured I'd take the opportunity to post this up. I was given the opportunity a couple of years ago to work with Dave Swinden on a prototype for the annual NRA Knife of the Year competition. I say competition because a number of cutlery companies (getting to be fewer every year :( ) submit knives and the NRA then votes on the winner. I worked with him at the shop for a number of years, but this was the first time I actually got to work on something with him personally. It was a fantastic experience, both in learning new tricks and listening to his stories about the old days at Schrade, something I'll cherish for as long as i live. The knife was completely hand made; cut out on the bandsaw, shaped on the belts, ground on the belts, and hand finished. A true one of a kind prototype. It was actually modeled on the old Schrade D'Holder knife from the 2002-03 era, only this one had hand made guards rather than the one piece integral forging that was the D'Holder. The brass escutcheon would have been an NRA engraved medallion had it been the winner, but unfortunately they went with something else.
So...according to Wally and Dave once the NRA guys got a hold of these knives they generally kept them, so I figured that'd be the last I'd seen of it. F fast forward to a month or so ago and while doing a little browsing on Ebay I spied the knife, only it was in the completed listings! I was crushed, figuring it was gone for good. But it turns out that it didn't sell, and it was our own Redtrout who had it! I got in touch with him and in his trademark generous way he agreed to sell it to me for a fantastic price, and I am forever grateful to him. This knife has incredible sentimental value to me, and I count my lucky stars that it somehow found its way to my door. I actually still had the drawing for it, along with a tracing on brass that would have been cut out and become the pattern master.

Eric
Canal Street NRA Prototype.jpg
Canal Street NRA Prototype.jpg

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Re: A Special Prototype

Post by bladehound » Mon Aug 15, 2016 12:40 am

What a nice knife and story.

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lbsmobile
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Re: A Special Prototype

Post by lbsmobile » Mon Aug 15, 2016 2:21 am

Thanks for Posting this, Eric!
I totally enjoy reading posts like this one and w/ you having all the pieces that go with the story is special.
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Re: A Special Prototype

Post by edge213 » Mon Aug 15, 2016 2:34 am

Great story.
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FRJ
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Re: A Special Prototype

Post by FRJ » Mon Aug 15, 2016 2:34 am

Eric, a great looking knife and a fantastic story. That must mean a lot to you. ::tu::
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Re: A Special Prototype

Post by orvet » Mon Aug 15, 2016 4:11 am

Awesome story Eric.
You are so fortunate to have worked with a legend!

I wished I could have talked to Dave Swinden, I have so many questions about the Swinden key system he developed for Schrade.
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Chase
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Re: A Special Prototype

Post by Chase » Mon Aug 15, 2016 10:54 am

Fantastic Eric!

It was obviously meant to be.....you being reunited with that Special Knife and to think that REDTROUT was holding the bait


What a reunion!

Tom

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Re: A Special Prototype

Post by kootenay joe » Mon Aug 15, 2016 10:50 pm

I consider Redtrout a friend as i have bought many knives from him & his wife. I wonder how this special knife went from the NRA to Redtrout ? and did he know it was a knife designed & built by Eric & Dave ?
It is a heart warming story and it would be interesting to add in these details and others as well to make it into a true short story of accomplishment followed by loss and finally justice as the knife returns to the one rightful owner.
kj

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Chase
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Re: A Special Prototype

Post by Chase » Tue Aug 16, 2016 12:47 am

Kj,

REDTROUT was a big buyer of Canal Street Knives. He had been to the factory on many occasions and knew everyone there very well. I am sure he more than likely bought that knife from Wally Gardiner.

Guess we'll have to wait and see what Eric finds out from Richard. I have also purchased knives from Richard and he is a great person!

Tom

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Re: A Special Prototype

Post by 1967redrider » Tue Aug 16, 2016 1:28 am

That's an awesome find and piece of knife history. ::tu:: ::tu::
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ea42
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Re: A Special Prototype

Post by ea42 » Tue Aug 16, 2016 3:08 am

Thanks for the compliments folks! Yes the knife actually was sent back to Canal Street some time ago. Wally wound up selling it and a number of other knives from the vault when we closed, and this one wound up going down south. Redtrout of course had no idea of its history or anyone's connection to it until I filled him in. He's definitely a great guy, and a good friend as well.

Dale, if you have any questions about the swinden system, drop me a line. I don't know every detail as I'm sure Dave did, but I picked up a few tidbits over the years. One thing I hear a lot of noise about is folks complaining about wobbly blades being the result of the swinden key method. Nine times out of ten it was the result of mismatched thicknesses in springs and blades due to the guys on the floor not quite understanding the mechanics of the system. It's an incredibly strong and durable method of attachment, but in order for it to work right there can't be more than .003 and .004 difference in thickness between the blade and spring. Oftentimes the springs were over .010 thicker or more than the blade tang. This would cause the tang to be pinched at the front edge, while there was a large gap at the back edge (backspring side) of the tang. When the knife was slackened, the blade wound up wobbling. They actually had to do a study of the knives being rejected in order to figure this out. I hope that makes at least a little sense lol.

Here are a couple more photos:
Attachments
Canal Street NRA Proto 3.jpg
Canal Street NRA Prototype 2.jpg

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Re: A Special Prototype

Post by glennbad » Wed Aug 17, 2016 1:42 am

What a wonderful piece of cutlery history, Eric! Thank you for sharing it with us.

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Re: A Special Prototype

Post by philco » Fri Aug 19, 2016 11:58 am

Eric I'm glad you got that knife. It's now where it belongs. ::tu::

I've wondered how you were getting along since Canal Street shut down. Are you still in the cutlery business or doing something else now ?
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Re: A Special Prototype

Post by kootenay joe » Fri Aug 19, 2016 12:26 pm

Eric, this is such an attractive knife that i would like to own one and i'm sure others would too.
Any chance you might make a few of these to sell ?
I have an "Eric's Jack" and would love to have an "Eric's Best Ever EDC" knife.
I am one who EDC's a small, belt carry fixed blade. There are others out there who do the same and i bet everyone of us who love to have one of these very fine knives.
kj

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Re: A Special Prototype

Post by JAMESC41001 » Tue Aug 30, 2016 12:05 am

Eric, real happy that knife made its way back to you. I like the pattern and handles. I f you can make one in your new shop I will buy one for sure.
Jay

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