Amherst Gentleman’s Double Bolster Folder & Straight Carver
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- Last updated: 14/12/2016
Although I’ve been interested in knives all my adult life, it would be fair to say that there are still a few brands out there that I’ve never heard of, let alone seen. Amherst Cutlery is just one of them, brought to my attention by Mike’s Knives, yet the two examples he has sent to me – a Gentleman’s pocket knife and a Gentleman’s carver - have left me wondering why I haven’t seen them before…
Apparently Amherst Cutlery is a fairly new American company – they were founded 4 years ago (2006) - but they have some very traditional ideas about designing and manufacturing knives. This is reflected in the ‘golden age’ Sheffield-style patterns that they adopt (and adapt), along with the high quality materials that they choose – especially for their handles – and their manner of production which basically hark back to the ‘handmade’ methods of the little meisters with a little high tech thrown, as and when it can improve the finished piece.
Production is relatively limited, and when surfing the web you will often find a ‘Sold’ sign against many of the individual Amherst knives on offer, and that has to tell you something.
Stag Do? It’ll Do Me!
The first of the supplied knives is a Gentleman’s Double Bolster folding pocket knife (TK13 DB). It has a slip-joint mechanism – like a pen knife – with no separate locking mechanism to engage or disengage; just pull the blade by its nail nick to open, then push on the blade’s spine to shut. Operation is both crisp and slick, while the back-spring holds the blade securely in the open and closed positions without going loose or stiff at the 90º (half open) position.
The 154 CM Stainless Steel blade is 2.5” long with a cutting edge of 2.3”. There’s a small choil (c-shaped cut out) in front of the ‘kick’ (the extended edge of the blade’s shoulder), and the ricasso is stamped “Amherst Cutlery”. The edge side of the pivot bolster protrudes slightly, presumably to act as a guard and give greater hand purchase. The liners and both bolsters are made of stainless steel, while the grips scales are of well marked sambar stag antler. Fit and finish of all the components is impeccable.
The knife comes with a short braided leather lanyard and a neat looking, cast metal ‘windmill’ bead, and is supplied with an open leather pouch that features a sprung steel belt or pocket clip on one side.
The price is £200, which may sound a lot, but you are buying an item of exceptional quality, which really should last a lifetime.
Walking With Mammoths – Well a Bit of One…
The second knife is also a folder and is listed as a ‘Straight Carver’ (TK43), and in my opinion is even more special than the first. It’s unusual in that it has a Wharnecliff style blade which seems to have gone out of fashion of late, although it’s flat edge gives it great cutting power (when compared to a ‘bellied’ edge of the same length) for ‘straight and level’ cutting tasks. This seems particularly true when compared to other relatively short bladed knives. The Wharnecliff design is also easy to sharpen and makes a good whittler and eating knife. In addition the slim tip makes it a great borer (awl) for leather, canvas, light wood, etc. and a fine ‘stitch picker’ too! This particular blade is 2.7” long with a 2.3” edge, and is made from tough D2 tool steel – so it’s made to do a day’s work. In all other respects this blade has all the features of the model reviewed above – nail nick, choil, etc.
Once again this is a slip joint knife with a stainless steel liner, but this time with a single bolster. The grip scales are simply superb, being made from a good grade of fossilised mammoth ivory. The two scales have distinct patterns and colourings – one light and one dark – but in my opinion this in no way detracts from their appearance, in fact it adds interest. The lanyard is the same as on the previous knife, but this time with a metal bead that looks like a miniature copy of the head from a ‘battle mace’. At £250 – even complete with a fleece lined, zip fastening carry case - this again isn’t a budget folder… but it is a very special knife, and one that would sit well in any collection.
I make no bones about the fact that I particularly like well made folding knives, and in this case I’m going to find it very hard returning the pair of them!
The look and feel of these Amherst knives is evidence that they are high quality, well made tools with a definite air of refinement. They are not ‘objets d’art’, and I wouldn’t want them to be, but they would certainly give that satisfying feeling of ‘pride of ownership’.
PRICE: £200 / £250