If you haven’t noticed from the contents here at SmoothingIt.com, I am an avid knife enthusiast. I collect useful knives (I have little use for pretty knives that aren’t functional.) I use them daily for tasks ranging from opening the mail to cleaning fish. I’m trained in handling a knife for self defense. And I’ve abused knives beyond their breaking point. I’m always looking for new and interesting knives to add to the collection.
For several years, my winter knife (yes, I have a separate knife for summer and winter) was a Boker Treebrand stockman style knife. It was elegant but incredibly useful. I enjoyed the handiness of three separate blades; I eventually determined specific uses for each blade. It was durable. It felt sturdy when in use. It took and held an edge well. And it seemed to take considerable abuse. In addition to all of this, the stockman design is a classic pocket knife design. In an age when clip knives, multi-tools, and modern materials and designs rule the market, the stockman exudes nostalgia.
The only downfall to this knife was its history. This knife was passed from my grandfather to my father and then to me. This history didn’t concern me much until a couple of years ago. I’m not sure what needed the edge of a razor-sharp blade, but as I reached into my pocket, the Boker wasn’t there. In haste, I searched every pocket, retraced my previous steps, combed every nook and cranny of my Land Rover, but found no indication of my beloved pocket knife. Luckily, I had an additional knife (actually, about seven) in my tool box. I carried on with my business trying to ignore the aching in my stomach from losing one of the few artifacts of my paternal family heritage. Nearly a month went by when a friend called to tell me that he had found my knife in his yard and that he had cleaned it up, sharpened it, and put it aside for me to retrieve on my next visit. I was elated that he had found it. But I realized then that I needed a different Boker to carry to ensure that I didn’t lose this one.
That Christmas, my children (via my loving wife) purchased a new Boker Treebrand whittler for me. It seemed quite similar to my family heirloom except for minor details and that it was an anniversary edition and had somewhat different scales and graphics on the largest of the three blades. It looked beautiful and handled well. It went with me as I journeyed through my days of knife use and abuse. Initially, I was quite happy with the knife and even left a wonderful review of it on the website where it was purchased.
Boker’s have a small graphic embedded in one scale of the handle. This fell out shortly after receiving this knife. Luckily, it fell out while in my pocket so I kept the graphic and later glued it back in place. I didn’t consider this a big deal but was still somewhat of an annoyance.
During a camping trip sometime later, I used it for light whittling and carving as well as countless other camping related needs. That is when I became dissatisfied with the new Bokers. The springs and joints at either end became loose and incredibly sloppy. The blades now feel fragile and nearly useless for anything more than light indoor work. Overall, I am deeply disappointed with what Boker has produced.
I am still convinced that whittlers and stockmans are outstanding knife designs regardless of manufacturer. With their small size and three separately shaped blades, they may not work well as a survival tool or self defense weapon, but are still extremely useful for a variety of cutting needs. I’ve considered moving to a trapper design but am still compelled to return to the classic whittler or stockman.
I am not providing a recommendation for Boker Treebrand knives unless you are able to find an older one that is made with quality materials and craftsmanship. However, I still recommend the whittler and stockman designs as a companion to your other inventory of bladed tools.
If anyone has found a quality whittler or stockman-style knife, I’d love to hear about it and share it with my readers.