Saturday, August 31, 2013

Case Wharncliffe Mini Copperhead

Amber bone wharncliffe slipjoint
Something about the Wharncliffe blade in a slipjoint knife pulls at my attention like no other knife. For one thing, I believe it might be the illusive nature of this quietly, but widely, coveted creation more than anything else. Many custom knife makers offer them and they are stunning, yet it would seem the production manufacturers don't have much interest in them and when they do, they don't quite capture the essence nearly as well. All the same, I needed to have one. Case, as near as I could tell in my searching, was the only company making one that looked right and could be afforded. Secondly I wanted this knife as a dedicated food knife and being a slipjoint I knew it would probably ride in the bottom of my pocket, something I don't especially care for. This dictated that the knife be small, or relatively small anyway. Lastly, it had to have these handles. I would go for other variations like stag or something else if done extremely well, but I wanted that classic amber jigged bone. Unless I've missed a gem out there somewhere, the Case Mini Copperhead is about it in my price range. However, I'm not sure Case actually makes this knife anymore but if they do it is number 62109w. Luckily I was able to find them and judging by the box I think mine was 10 years old when I got it, though still new in the box. So I have my Wharncliffe and it rides with me everyday and I do love it simply because of what it is. It's attractive and shiny, small, and the main blade has very satisfying walk and talk. That doesn't mean it's perfect. In fact, in my opinion, I don't think it is an especially good value at $50.00. I don't think much of the blade steel and the fit and finish could have been better, particularly when Case claims that so many skilled people touch each knife. It would seem that at least one of them would have touched it up here and there along the way. It wasn't at all sharp when I got it, and overall doesn't feel like much knife for the money. Still, I understand that while slipjoints aren't difficult to make, there is a lot of hand work that went into this knife and that is what I am paying for.
American made pocket knives
I also wonder why so much of the blade is ground away. You may notice that what I believe is called the ricasso is much wider than the blade and when I say wider, I mean the height or vertical measurement, not the thickness of the stock. I understand that it acts as the blade stop when the blade is closed, however it would appear that there is sufficient room in the handle to accommodate the extra millimeter or two without the edge contacting the inner surfaces. This may seem minor but it would have been enough material to create a finer edge, or at the very least improve the looks. If that material was never there to begin with as the blank was punched, that's one thing, but if it was I'd rather have it on my knife, than in a pile of steel dust on the floor at the Case factory. It must be worth something because most of the high end slipjoints I see address this specific feature as well as other Case patterns. That leads me to believe it is the result of careless grinding.
All the same if you love the looks of a Wharncliffe slipjoint like me, this knife is not overly pricey and gets most of the beauty points needed for a little knife you'll actually carry and use.
small slipjoint pocket knife
wharncliffe blade stainless steel Case Copperhead
WR Case and Sons model 62109w
Case and Buck knives
Two American made classics, Buck and Case knives. Modern and traditional styles.

My Leatherman Wave has done some work in its day and makes a strong contrast with its shiny new companion.

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