Anyone that knows me knows me as a carving tool freak. It seems that I am always in search for something better. For a long time, I have had my eyes on the Version II Oar Carver with the stag handle. And, recently Flexcut introduced its Whittlin’ Jack. I now own both and love them… but they are not quite perfect.
Flexcut Whittlin’ Jack
Out of the box, the Whittlin’ Jack is the sharpest knife I have ever experienced. As a previous owner of the Carvin Jacks, I expected “sharp” but this new knife gives “sharp” a whole new meaning. I have now used the knife on several small whittling projects and believe I can make some qualified comments.
My hands are a pretty average size large… at least, I wear size large gloves. Flexcut has made this knife to fit a larger hand. Of course, it will also fit a smaller hand. I have found that most folding whittling knives are just too small for my hands and I have heard similar comments from other whittlers. The well sized Carvin’ Jack has two blades; one large blade for “hogging” and a smaller detail blade. Both are equally sharp. I wonder if the large blade should be as sharp as it is. After doing some serious cutting on hard wood, I experienced a slight (micro) chipping in the blade which had to be touched up with a ceramic file. I doubt that the small blade will ever require anything more than stropping.
You might think that with two blades, the Whittlin’ Jack might be bulky but I find the knife to be comfortable in the pocket. I like the idea of being able to fold the knife shut and throw it in my whittling kit without having to worry about protecting the edge. I did notice that on the heel of each blade, the edge has been left squared off. It may be the way I hold my knives but on two occasions, my hand crept too close to this squared of area and made a small cut in my index finger. After that happening twice, I carefully ground the heel end of the blade to an angle and the issue went away. You can see in the photo what I did.
Like all Flexcut products, they are breaking the mold as far as appearance goes with their machined, modern look. Some folks don’t like that but it doesn’t bother others. Initially, it bothered me until I used a friend’s Carving Jack and I was instantly converted.
Flexcut’s steel is dang hard and it is easily maintained (typically) with simple stropping.
I like this knife a lot and highly recommend it. Its retail price is apparently $49.95 but right now several retailers are offering it at $39.95. I think that is an excellent price for the knife. I shopped around a bit and found the best price and shipping to come from Greg Dorrance Company. I was not familiar with the firm but I have learned through experience that they ship same day for a flat price of $6.50. They are in Massachusetts and I am in a small town in Central Washington State and I had the knife in two days. So, great service from these guys at a reasonable price.
Oar Carver, Version II with Stag Handle
Many years ago, I bought the original Oar Carver, Version I and have enjoyed it very much. It is one those many knives that are a bit too short but I can deal with it. These knives came with a chipped plastic handle with an attempt to look like something else but plastic is plastic. Version I has two large, well-shaped, blades. A few years later, Oar introduced the Version II which was one large blade and one small blade. Then, following that, the knives were offered with either wood or stage handles.
So, after drooling over this thing, I have finally stepped up to the plate and purchased the Version II with stag. From an appearance standpoint, this knife is a real beauty (a real bragging piece). It’s not cheap at $75.00 – $80.00. But, it will be the knife that I carry in my pocket.
Regrettably, it is a bit short, like its predecessor but it works okay. I would not consider its size to be a deal breaker. The knife is made by Queen City Cutlery and it is a high quality carbon steel blade. Like the Flexcut, it can easily be maintained with nothing more that stropping.
These knifes are offered with either the factory edge or a sharpened edge for a few dollars more. I chose the sharp edge but I wished I had not. I am pretty sure it was sharpened on a narrow belt… and not very carefully. Of all people, I should have known better as no one can sharpen a knife better than me (yes, I am bragging but it is the truth). So, I ended up squaring up and sharpening the blades properly. I am not sure it was the result of the initial sharpening or if it was an error in design, but the tip of the small blade has a slight up-swing to it. As a result, when the blade is closed, the tip of the blade protrudes up above brass liner/slot just enough to barely snag my hand when I am using the large blade.
I bought my knife from Statlander Carvings and again, I had the thing in two days from New York. Shipping was $5.00, which is actual cost. Fast, affordable service.
We have all experienced suppliers that use shipping as a profit center and that really bugs me. Both Dorrance and Stadtlander provide top notch service and have reasonable shipping rates.
Neither of the above knives have locking blades but they both have a solid catch when open. So, there you have it two great, albeit not quite perfect whittling knives.
Thanks for reading and a very Happy New Year to all.
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