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One Man’s Trash, Is Another Man’s Treasure

March 9, 2013
By Denny Fetty - OVO Pro Staff , Ohio Valley Outdoors

Several years ago, I was helping my dad get ready to move. A lifetime of things boxed up and packed, and it was during my many trips to the dumpster, I discovered his old hunting knife. It sure didn't look like the knife I had admired for so many years. It was in a box that had gotten damp from the basement and it had mildew all over the sheath. The knife itself looked even worse.

The years of being in that damp basement had caused some serious rust and tarnish to the knive. The leather handle was as mildewed as the sheath. It was bad to say the least.

In my mind, I could see a stag horn handle being put on it with a few dozen hours of polishing the metal to bring it back to life. The problem was finding someone to do that.

Article Photos

The author's father, Frank Fetty, with his old Army knife, which was refurbished by Blind Horse Knives of Wintersville, OH.

Fast forward to 2012, and my association with Ohio Valley Outdoors magazine. A tour of the new shop of Blind Horse Knives, in Wintersville, OH, and thoughts of Dad's old knife came to mind. Blind Horse co-owner, LT, and staff gave us a tour of the facility and we met the craftsmen who were turning out some awesome products. I then queried LT about refurbishing the old knife. He said he would be glad to take a look at it and see what if anything could be done to make it look like a working knife again.

Another trip to Wintersville later, I dropped the knife off to LT. He assured me it was not a lost cause. I can only imagine what he was thinking in his mind. LT asked me if my dad was left handed. I told him "no". He described to me that the curve of the blade and the sheath were designed so that it was "left handed" or worn on the left side. This was very interesting to a person who knows very little about knives.

LT described what they would do to restore the knife. It would be sent to their Cambridge location for a custom sheath. When it came back, they would oil the leather handle to expand the leather parts and get it close to original. They also would tighten the handle up, and finally polish, oil, and sharpen the blade and other metal. I was more than happy to see it restored to what it was, and not my original idea of a stag horn grip.

Fact Box

"Well.it's pretty dang sharp!" Dad said. "Did they sharpen it for you?"

I was excited to get a call that the knife was ready. I had no idea what to expect, but felt confident the folks at Blind Horse would impress me. As I made another drive to Wintersville, I had butterflies in my stomach.

The finished product? I was amazed at how it looked! It was better than I had anticipated, and the custom sheathwow! The folks at Blind Horse could see by my reaction that I was pleased. "Well, what do you think?" said LT with a smile. I was almost speechless, and for me that is saying something.

LT told me they were glad to do this project, and I'm glad they did such a great job. I left there all pumped up and wondering what my dad would think of his old knife. I wanted to wait for a good time to give it to him. His birthday is in July, Father's Day is in June and there was no way I was going to wait that long.

The next day I was off from work and Dad invited me to breakfast. I had just finished mine but figured I could go hang with him and when we got back home, I'd surprise him with the knife.

We came back to the house and while he was still in the kitchen taking off his coat, I went to get the knife. I asked him, "do you remember me telling you about the tour of Blind Horse Knives?" "Yeah," he said. "What did you do, get ya one?" "Kind of," I said. And I put the bag on the counter. "Look inside," I told him.

I whipped out my phone and started to record his reaction. He pulled out the old rotten and mildewed sheath. "This looks like my old scabbard," he said. "Yeah it is dad," I said.

Then he pulled out the knife in its new sheath. He paused a second and then pulled the refurbished knife out. "Is this my old knife?" "Yes it is!" I answered. "What do you think about that?" "Well.it's pretty dang sharp!" Dad said. "Did they sharpen it for you?" "Of course they did! I can't sharpen nothin! You know that!" I said.

It is a fact that when my dad passes, so will the legacy of the Fetty's that can sharpen a knife! I have tried for years and have spent a small fortune on foolproof knife sharpening materials to no avail.

From there, I learned how my dad acquired the knife. It was around 1950. He was 14 years old. He was working on his grandfather's farm in Middlebourne, WV. His uncle, Ira Haught was there. He gave him his knife that had been issued to him when he joined the US Army. He was in World War II and this knife had been with him when he was stationed in New Guinea and Borneo. The knife stayed in his gear and was as good as the day it was issued.

This knife has been in quite a few countries, and has been used for cutting up just about every creature you can imagine. Countless deer and elk have seen the business end of the knife. And in his words, "It's a mighty good knife for scrapin a hog!" Having never scraped a hog, I guess it can be messy and tedious and that a good knife is needed.

I cleaned off the old sheath and found that it was a PAL brand. On the base of the blade, Made in USA and the number 38 are stamped. The overall length is 11". The blade is 6 1/2" long, 1 1/2" wide, and the handle is 4 1/2". It's bigger than most any knife I would consider carrying. But the Army issued it for defense, not to scrape hogs and field dress deer.

Dad also informed me that the knife is one of the hardest to dress, or sharpen.

So, from Borneo and New Guinea, the Rocky Mountains and the hills of West Virginia - the old PAL has been reborn. Dad doesn't hunt anymore but his knife has earned its place of honor, along with all his guns in the safe. I hope to pass it on to my grandsons when I get older. And they will learn all the stories of Pappy Frank's trusty PAL knife. You can scrape a hog with it boys!

 
 

 

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