Benchmade Knives Story of Success and Factory Tour

I was shocked to see that some old time Bencfhmade employees put the edge on every Benchmade knife by hand. That takes skill!
I was shocked to see that some old-time Benchmade employees put the edge on every Benchmade knife by hand. That takes skill!

U.S.A.-(AmmoLand.com)- Everyone should love hearing stories about people who took hold of the opportunities offered by the American Dream. Too many people nowadays think that this is something given to them by the government. That’s not it at all. America is different from all other countries in that whether you come from a rich background or are a brand-new immigrant, the sky is the limit if you hustle.

I was reminded of the above after recently visiting the Benchmade knife factory. I thought that you might enjoy hearing their success story. To begin, let me give a brief historical line:

  • It all began in a small shop rented in a second-story mezzanine in California in 1980 by Les De Asis under the name of Bali-Song. They started off making butterfly knives (Hence, the butterfly logo). Over the next 8-years, they grew in fame and changed their name to Pacific Cutlery Corp.
  • In 1990 they moved to Clackamas, OR to be in knife country and changed their name to Benchmade Inc. They were the first knife company to employ laser cutters. They then became the world leader in automatic knife manufacturing and began supplying military units. (I didn’t realize it but Oregon is the knife capital of the world. Portland alone has 19 knife manufacturers).
  • Due to massive expansion, in 1996 they moved from the 15,000 sq. ft. shop in Clackamas to their current location in Oregon City which is 144,000 sq. ft.

I arrived at the Benchmade factory early so I could take pictures of the outside and visit the retail store in the front of the building. On a story of this nature, I like to talk to the employees and get a feel for the culture of the company.

Right off I was impressed. Everyone I talked to in the retail store was friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable. Matt Glass their marketing guru was driving down from Seattle. Upon arriving, Matt introduced me to Alti Einarsson, one of the Benchmade Manufacturing engineers. To begin, I love that Benchmade is an American company and uses American parts. After talking with employees and finding out that there were quite a few with over 20 years of seniority I was impressed. That tells you that it’s a good company to work for.

The tour began with Alti showing me the sheets of metal they used to produce the knives. They receive sheets of various grades of metal. They are flat sheets somewhat similar to a sheet of plywood. Since the metal is too hard to stamp, they laser cut the knife blanks. The blanks then pass through the various departments. If I remember correctly after laser cutting the blank it is then transferred to the next department which puts the hollow grind on the blank, next it is polished smooth to remove any grinding marks and so forth. The metal is tempered and on and on the process goes.

To some degree, it is space-age technology with computers guiding some of the processes and yet some of the processes are done by hand. I was surprised to see that the actual cutting edge is not put on by a machine but is hand-ground on a grinding belt guided by the operator’s hands and eyes. Wow, they have to be (and are) good to be able to apply different angles to each model of knife strictly by intuition.

Another step that impressed me is how they assemble the knives. They have a few in-line work stations and as one worker completes a task, they pass it on to the next co-worker. But one thing that really stood out to me was the making of their custom knives. One employee with 23 years of seniority sat at a bench assembling knives one at a time according to the order. It was cool to see some old-time workmanship.

The last step is one of the girls inspects every knife to ensure that it is sharp and functions as designed. Knives are then stored in a warehouse and segregated by orders. Every Benchmade knife is made in this factory.

Wow, impressive tour. I see why Matt and the Benchmade team is so proud and wants to get their story out there.

A few comments from Benchmade:

In addition to the knives being made in the USA, Benchmade is committed to sourcing materials from domestic vendors of the highest caliber. Most of the blade steels, from stalwarts like CPM-S30V to the new CPM-S45VN, are produced by Crucible Industries, a leader in U.S. steel manufacturing. Those rigorous standards also extend to other materials, such as titanium. While imported titanium is less expensive than its U.S. counterpart, Benchmade has refused to compromise on the commitment to domestic producers. With demand at historic levels, their dedication to 100% U.S. production remains the backbone of our business.

Oregon remains to be the hotbed for knife producers and Benchmade is setting the standard for adapting and overcoming. They also know that the future of the industry is dependent on the people of Oregon. Les de Asis was a strong proponent of educating skilled trades. As such, they have a strong commitment to Clackamas Community College (their local community college) to support a new maker space where students and community members could use digital tools and manufacturing equipment. The company also has a long history of hiring CCC students for their manufacturing workforce and this space is a resource for the next generation to learn and experiment with cutting-edge technology.
And as we come to a close, I have to say, great visit and great company!

P.s. – Check out their 9070SBK-1 Claymore. It is the slickest assisted opening knife that I’ve seen!


About Tom Claycomb

Tom Claycomb has been an avid hunter/fisherman throughout his life as well as an outdoor writer with outdoor columns in the magazine Hunt Alaska, Bass Pro Shops, Bowhunter.net, and freelances for numerous magazines and newspapers. “To properly skin your animal, you will need a sharp knife. I have an e-article on Amazon Kindle titled Knife Sharpening #ad for $.99 if you’re having trouble.”

Tom Claycomb

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Jeffersonian

I’m please to see I’m not the… “only one”… who remembers Benchmade helping the enforcers destroy confiscated firearms.

Now how many here remember all those Gun Rights Examiner articles by Dave Workman, trying to whitewash Alan Gottlieb after he co-wrote the Toomey-Manchin universal gun registration bill?

lynnard

i wanted one of their knives until they did that. why would you have a company that pays taxes to a state that wants to take away your freedom?

Cappy

It’s important to note Hazcat’s comment above. We should support pro-2A companies. Not those who have been consistently anti-2A.

Henry Bowman

I concur with you and Hazcat. Boycotting antigun businesses and “buycotting” pro-2A businesses and orgs is just one tool in a large bag available to 2A activists. For all of Harold’s fuddery and cheap soundbites, his talk of “FuLL sPeCtRuM” activism (without giving acknowledgement to his failed strategies) actually points out what we need to think of: How many different ways where we can bring lawfare both inside and outside courtrooms to bear on the dirty tricks, legally questionable practices and influences that the domestic enemies of liberty are engaging in. Until the balloon goes up (SHTF) and a shooting… Read more »

Henry Bowman

Ammoland needs to cut out this free advertising for companies and organizations that don’t support 2A!

Those of us who take 2A seriously will boycott every company that supports the confiscation & destruction of guns, and yes that includes Benchmade. Also, Yeti, Dicks, Levi jeans, etc!

If you can’t differentiate between companies that support taking our gun rights vs. those that support our 2A, then YOU may be a FUDD!!

Finnky

On flip side – this article provides great forum for spreading info about bad actors. I had not known about benchmade and might otherwise have bought one of their products. Now I won’t.

Hazcat
OlTrailDog

As an owner of Benchmade, and US made Gerber, knives I appreciate both the article on a US based knife maker. I didn’t have any idea about OR being the “knife capitol of the world”. I also appreciate the information holding Benchmade’s feet to the fire regarding the 2A. I hope they take this under consideration. What is missing from the comments pointing out Benchmade deficiencies are recommendations for US made knives by companies that are pro-2A in order to be part of the solution.

Dogma Factor

Isn’t this the very same company that destroyed guns for a local law agency, yes I believe so! So why is any 2A support still supporting this company? There’s better companies out there making better knives that support 2A.

Last edited 1 year ago by Dogma Factor
Stag

A company that helps government thugs destroy guns and donates to anti-2A politicians? Hard pass.

https://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/does-benchmade-knives-support-second-amendment-rights/

Wild Bill

Tom is giving a seminar at the Dallas Safari Club on the 3,4 and 5 of January 2022.

nature223

these butt bungs will *NEVER* get a dime out of me with this cut the guns gambit they did for the local PD.
destroying guns and AMMOLAND gives them free press?
I’ll quote greta pantybunch
“HOW DARE YOU.”

Wild Bill

Good review. See you at the DSC convention!

swmft

I have a bench made that is 30+ years old holds an edge so well you can shave with it, have some old Japanese ww2 bring backs that are good , but opening wise is a german spring assist from ww1 wont stay sharp but does not need to be

nature223

why you gave a free pass to their gun destroying selves I will never know.. but AMMOLAND just lost some major points with me, for supporting an ANTI GUN Knife company. *AND* I will remember that when you try to shill some stuff that will only engender MORE gun control.

Henry Bowman

What, like shilling for the Wayne LaPierre NRA? That’s Harold’s department.

LGB

I don’t give my money to Benchmade anymore. I do not care to read these fluff pieces. I, like many others, have a long memory. Don’t p*ss down my back and tell me it’s raining.