Canal Street Cutlery Boy’s Knife Review
Tony Sculimbrene 03.30.16
The Canal Street Cutlery Boys Knife is traditional slipjoint folder. The term “Boys Knife” references a smaller than average knife in the Barlow style. Canal Street Cutlery is (or was) a company that made traditional folders and fixed blades in New York state. Unfortunately, they went out of business in late 2015, succumbing to competition from Great Eastern Cutlery and Queen, as well as traditional knife stalwart Case. This version of the Boys Knife has brilliant gold G10 (or translucent yellow) handle scales.
The blade is made of 440C. The blade is just over 2.25 inches long with a 2 inch cutting edge. The knife weighs 2.0 ounces. The gold G10 version is an AG Russell exclusive, but Canal Street put out a wide variety of other versions of the Boys Knife with different handle scales for other retailers.
I did lots of EDC tasks with it–some whittling around the camp fire (thanks to an abnormally warm January), some food prep, and traditional package opening tasks. The knife was exceptional at fine slicing tasks, which I found out after skinning grapes for my 1 year old son every night for about a month. It deftly moved through most materials and showed no signs of wear. Its size limits its capacity to do hard work like breaking down large boxes.
As a refinement on the Barlow, the Canal Street’s Boys Knife is superb. The tear drop handle is still there, making the knife wonderful in the hand, but the long bolster, no longer serving its original function (strengthening a poorly made pivot), is gone. Finally the normally heavily pronounced exposed rear tang has tapered to something barely noticeable.
These design cues are all greatly appreciated and modernize the knife while not depriving it of its traditional look and feel. Canal Street did a great job with this knife. Even the shrinking size is appreciated. This is a wonderful EDC knife, with our without a pocket sheath. It also happens to be about as people friendly as it gets. No one freaks out at a knife this size and shape with a traditional nail nick opener.
I have handled and owned other CSC knives before. All were masterfully finished. This knife is no different, and the end result is a blade that is simply among the best in the production world. All of the rivets are finger flush. The bolsters can be snagged, but just barely, when passed over by a finger nail. The spine’s edges are eased but not chamfered. Everything is smooth, clean, polished, and glossy. The blade is called a satin finish, but it is just a few steps away from a full mirror polish, and if fingerprints didn’t drive me crazy I might attempt those final steps myself. It’s clear a lot of time went into this knife.
But more than machined perfection, this knife have a real human touch to it–a warmth that is missing from some the technically perfect modern knives, especially those made with CNC machines and other high tech processes. ZT makes some of the best production folders ever, but they all lack that river rock feel that the CSC Boys Knife has in spades. This is a blade that conveys a sense of human involvement.
Even if you get hyper picky (Grayson, raise your hand), you’ll still be satisfied. Often traditionals have brass liners (and brass is much softer than stainless) so it is not uncommon to see minor imperfections or burrs on the spine where the two different metals struck each other in the assembly process. All of my GECs have had this, even my Tom’s Choice Barlow. Every Queen knife I have had has had this issue. But here, on this knife you get the quintessence of perfection:
It was clean and smooth to the touch from the box. This is a resplendent knife in terms of fit and finish, comparing favorably with any production knife I have handled. Only a few truly elite blades, like an Al Mar, a Chris Reeve, some of the knives I have seen from Perceval, and the very very best stuff from GEC stands on par with this knife.
As one of the last, if not the last knife to come out of Canal Street Cutlery, this AG Russell exclusive Gold G10 Boys Knife is one of the finest production knives I have ever had the pleasure of holding. It is as much eye candy as it is hand candy. To see it, to hold it, and to revel in its craftsmanship is one of the pleasure of knife ownership. To have all of this available at $95 is insane. This knife was clearly better than my Tom’s Choice Barlow from GEC. It was leagues better than my Northwoods Knives Barlow. It is just a superior human crafted object.
But aside from marveling at it, it is also a damn good EDC. It slices like a demon thanks to a meticulous grind and thin blade stock (two primary reasons to buy a traditional). It also carries supremely well thanks to the Barlow tear drop shape. I like the changes from the stock pattern as well. There is just nothing I don’t like. Even the 440C steel, which is by no means bad, is polished and honed to perfection. It might need sharpening sooner than ZDP-189, but for EDC tasks, especially when it has been doted on to this degree, it is quite good.
It’s a shame that Canal Street is done because they made great knives. Perhaps it is a case of too much attention detail. Maybe they couldn’t make enough to turn a profit or they spent too much time finishing the blades to justify their margins. Whatever the reason, this knife, among others they made, is a lasting legacy. These were great cutlers. It’s sad to see them go. Raise a beer to them and go buy this knife. You won’t be disappointed. In fact, every time it slides into your pocket you’ll smile a little bit. It’s a ray of sunshine that peels an apple with aplomb.