One to Watch: Northwoods Knives Big Bay
Tony Sculimbrene 04.03.18
By “watch” in the title of this post, I mean “watch as the secondary market prices skyrocket.” The Big Bay was released Tuesday March 14 and sold out that day. Its stunning when you think about it–this knife of humble materials, nothing more high tech than what could have been made 150 years ago, is gone.
In case you are unaware, Northwoods Knives is a brand owned by Knives Ship Free. Derrick Bohn, owner of Knives Ship Free, bought the brand from its founder and promised to breathe new life into the label after a period of dormancy. It was, apparently, one mighty breath.
Northwoods Knives has been at the vanguard of the market’s return to traditionals for five years now. Their flagship design, the Indian River Jack, is one of the best traditionals available, and one of very few traditionals that sports powder metal blades. Northwoods has used a couple different companies to brings it designs to life, Queen, before they folded, and GEC. The GEC made Northwoods Knives have better fit and finish, but the Queen made blades sported higher end steel. Most if not all of the Northwoods blades sold out very quickly, usually under a week. The Big Bay was no different. In fact, it seems to have sold out even faster.
The Big Bay is a single bladed knife with a clip point blade. The blade is made of 1095 steel and is 2.75 inches long, an idea length for general utility tasks. The knife has a single bolster, the Northwoods arrowhead shield, and a variety of handle materials. The handle materials are, in large part, what made the Big Bay stand out. There are, of course, the usual suspects black micarta and wood. But the unusual materials are really striking.
First there was a high end version with ancient mammoth ivory. It was significantly more expensive, but the warmth the material conveys in pictures tells you why mammoth ivory is such a sought after material. But the other two materials are even more interesting. Both are burlap micarta, one in red and one in a greenish blue. These scales looked stunning and they represent the first time that this kind of material has been used on a production folder.
The high end fixed blade market has become positively obsessed with burlap micarta, especially since the emergence of Fiddleback Forge. Fiddleback’s simple rustic looking, high performance fixed blades have been incredibly hot, with a Pokemon-like Gotta Catch Em All fever coming over Fiddleback fans. In part, its their look and their look is defined by this burlap micarta material. It not only looks ole timey and rustic, its has a good deal of texture and grip. Seeing this material on a folder is a great thing. Its a sign that even now, more than 100 years since the form became popular, we are still seeing innovations on traditional knives.
The Big Bay is gone from retail, but you might be able to find one on the secondary market. I can’t imagine anyone being dissatisfied with the red burlap micarta version.
What: Northwoods Knives Big Bay
Price: Secondary Market prices
When: Sold out as of March 2018
Made in the USA? Yes
Highlights: Classic traditional knife design, excellent fit and finish, burlap micarta handle scales