We have been having some in depth discussion in the shop recently after seeing a trend in the different forums we frequent and just talking to folks in general.
This is the Question : Why are good folks who are spending good Money on cutlery products so often having to , once they get certain specific knives having to take them apart upon receiving them to get them to function properly ?
I have seen specifically,,, the Pivot is to tight, the blade doesn't lay centered, the lock up isn't tight, etc... on folders.
On Fixed blades we have noticed folks complaining the grinds aren't symmetrical, the edge isn't consistent, blades arrive dull, even some have reported blades have arrived chipped!
My Question is , is this acceptable and why would folks put up with such shoddy workmanship in a product reported to be at the top of its class?
It seems to me and this is my opinion only that just because ( Insert Knife maker or company ) is a known commodity that these types of things are swept under the rug and not talked about. I've heard so many times, the pivot was tight and the action was rough, but AFTER I tore the knife apart, lubed it and reassembled it , it worked OK. Shouldn't a Client or customer expect a fully functional and operational product right out of the gate? And if not what has happened to this Industry when its accepted that you may just have to do some tweaking yourself to get a product to perform the way it should have arrived from the start able to perform?
I'm hoping that just because a Maker or company gets well known for its products that production and the all mighty dollar doesn't take precedent over creating a product, that it first and foremost ready to go once its shipped. And that from the time the customer opens the package the product will perform and function as advertised. Having a name in the industry is great, but not at the expense of quality that was once there but isn't there any longer due to increased popularity and the need to kick out product at the expense of quality assurance.
Last edited by VelocityMfg; 09-09-2012 at 07:14 PM. Reason: spelling
My best guess is that for 99% of the cases, it's just knife nut OCD and there really isn't anything wrong with the knife. The other 1% is just summed up to production error that shouldn't happen with good quality control. People seriously obsess over these things and see very unreasonable imperfections where most normal individuals wouldn't even notice a problem.
But who knows...
It might be a helpful point here to consider who we are that are making these complaints. We're the 5% (or less) of all the knife buyers and users out there for whom a knife is not just another tool or another "something" to be bought as cheaply as possible and used/used up/thrown away. In one way or another, those of us on forums like BF have a real interest in knives. That means that we also have very specific ideas of what we want and how we want it to work, and all of our ideas are a bit different here. What I might consider to be just right, someone else would want to tinker with to make it suit her or him. No company can make a knife that suits all of us. The best they can do is to set some standards of performance and F&F that seem to satisfy many or most of their customers, and try to meet those standards.
I've been a knife afi for many years now (58 or 59 out of my 64 years) and I can recall the earliest knives that I ever saw (some from the WW 1 era) as well as many of the production slipjoints and fixed blades from the '40s and '50s having the same issues that we see today. Grinds weren't symmetrical on the German made fixed blades that my granddad and dad brought back from the two world wars. The slipjoints that I had and that they carried in the '50s didn't have centered blades and the springs were a little weak compared to what I like. The Bucks and Brownings that I could afford in the '70s and '80s had blades that weren't centered when closed and they had some vertical blade movement when locked open (the nature of early lockbacks). The first what I would call "perfect" folder I ever found was a small Cold Steel Clipmate. Strong spring, centered blade, solid lockup when open. I carried that thing for years and beat it up regularly in a cabinet workshop and warehouse. Still have it and it's still as solid and centered as day 1. But it was one of many folders and fixed blades that I had before it came along. The others all had some of the same issues that you've pointed out in your OP.
I think that, in my case anyway, I've changed, not the knife companies. I just expect a higher standard because knives are something that I'm passionate about.
My thoughts, anyway.
"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." - Will Rogers 1879-1935
In my case, since I live far from the US, I can't handle most knives before buying them and returning a faulty one is a pain in the butt. So I try to fix small flaws myself, just because I don't have much of a choice. If I lived in the US I'd return anything that I feel is not up to the proper quality level.
I've stopped buying from some brands because I wasn't willing to spend the time needed to fix their slip-ups. For instance, all the D2 Queen knives I bought had to be sent to a local knifemaker because they came dull with VERY thick edges (they needed grinding, not just sharpening).
Price is something I take into account as well. I'm willing to work a bit on an $10 Mora and I won't demand flawless fit and finish on a Douk-Douk.
I wish all knife companies were as consistent as Victorinox.
All the posts above i can understand,,,,, Customer preference, customizing etc.. I can see the occasional slip up, but i guess i am wondering if these companies built there reputations on making the best knives on the planet , which some have claimed, do not these same companies have a quality control division of folks inspecting each knife that goes out the door for these kinds of issues. Or is it that they factor in the return rate of there product and consider that overlooking issues in quality at the expense of getting the highest amount of product out the door outweighs the return rate.
I do understand that individual makers have a higher standard of quality control, or should have anyway being they may work on one or so knives at a time in there shop and can control there quality of workmanship. But I would think even a production company selling products that usually are in the ball park of cost for there products that could be considered upscale for production type cutlery should have some type of safeguards in place to assure inferior products are caught prior to shipment.
People like their knives differently. Some like a tight pivot. Others like it loose so it can be easily flicked. Some people are OCD and need a perfectly centered knife. Others have probably never even considered if a blade is centered or not and could care less. Unless the blade hits the scale, it does not effect the function of the knife. I have handled a lot of knives and there is usually nothing to complain about. Rarely there is something minor that I would tweak but I'm a bit anal and most people wouldn't give it a second thought. You usually hear about the problems, not all the knives that come perfect. Plus the members of Bladeforums are most likely a lot more picky than the average knife user. I don't think there is some industry wide problem occuring.
Last edited by FlaMtnBkr; 09-10-2012 at 12:33 PM. Reason: dumb phone predictions
I'm a little anal when it comes to my knives.
All have solid lock up.
All blades are centered(except one).
All knives are blade play free.
All have buttery smooth action.
But I'm a knife nut, therefore I'm a bit more anal than my dad would be.
I just got my Para2 this morning and it came with a bit of blade play. I wasn't angry, I just tightened the pivot.
It had some kind of mark on the G-10, all I had to do was wipe it off.
Most issues can be fixed with little work at all. If the issue is bad, you probably got a lemon, so send it back for warranty.
If you feel the manufacturer has continually let you down, don't buy them and move onto something else you like.
I do not feel like there is any huge relapse in quality happening.
I asked the very same question recently:
Although the general consensus was that QC issues were about the same as they always have been, my personal opinion is that manufactures and to some extent consumers have become somewhat complacent and on a whole QC as of late has declined overall.
If the company stands behind their product via warranty service most seemed satisfied.
As long as the customer is willing to accept the occasional defect the motivation for the company to do better just isn't there.
I don't think 100% defect free QC is realistic but I do think they can do better.
Loose or overly tight pivots are a non-issue as far as I'm concerned but uneven grinds, blade play and sloppy lock up are and I do think I've noticed more of that lately.
But that's just me.
when you are running production, parts in the 100's or 1000's, you only check a percentage of the parts that come out the machine. most places check about 20%, so there is room for defects to slip by. it happens, its just part of manufacturing.
Specifically I can address the tight pivot issue. I know Emerson cranks their pivots down to avoid customs issues...
None of those "flaws" affect the ability of the knife to perform its intended function. To the vast majority of users, myself included, the "flaws" are non-existent. We do not care. For those who require absolute perfection, it is possible to tweak a production knife of moderate cost. It is also possible to buy a high end knife such as a Chris Reeve or to go a step further and buy a custom.
... Still looking for a vorpal blade.
(op cit Lewis Carroll)
List of BF Dealer Members
What he said.I think that, in my case anyway, I've changed, not the knife companies. I just expect a higher standard because knives are something that I'm passionate about.
One question. If Victorinox can have the tolerance very tight, why other major brand cannot?
Is it because of pin vs screw construction? All their blades are FFG. IIRC some forumite said FFG is harder to make well than hollow ground.
Most I have sampled, if they are of same model, they are almost identical.
I go for the two factors combined. They are mass producing knives at a retail price point. We are basically knife nerds for whom that perfect edge, that Bentley glove compartment lock-up, and perfect symetry when held against a mirror means something...and is seldom achieved.
I recently got a Spyderco Paramilitary - 2. The thing was freaking perfect people...lockup, centering, the sound that the lock makes when it engages, the characteristics of the pivot...heck, even the pattern on the digital camo looked good. This thing was so perfect they probably should have charged me twice or thrice what I paid for it. BUT...the thing quite frankly was not very sharp at all...probably the dullest out of the box Spyderco I've ever had. So I sharpened it and it is now 100% perfect. It happens and you deal.
I have got about 200 folders stuck in boxes at home. I have got probably another 100 give or take that I have bought and sold later. And I cannot remember a single knife which would require "re-manufacturing" at the time I've got it. There were some issues, but none I remember that actually affected knife's function. Some of the knives I did not like at all and thought they were crap: but they worked. I took apart a few and have sharpened many: but that was by my own choice and never a big deal.
And I do not think that knife being dull is a defect: that kind of talk really amazes me. Dull is a condition, every knife becomes dull if it is used and have to be sharpened. So it does not make it any worse. As for being dull right out of the box: do you remember that woman that has successfully sued McDonalds for her coffee being hot? The consumer gets what he asks for: if you want something different just do it yourself or buy custom.
It seems too-often forgot that major knife manufacturers pump out thousands of manufactured products that require relatively tight tolerances and more than a few misses are going to slip through the cracks. The best companies simply have the greatest 'perfect to lemon' ratio coupled with exceptional customer service. To believe that one can manufacture as many knives as Spyderco, Kershaw, etc. at a comparable end-price with the same level of overall quality and not have some knives slip through the cracks is simply naive. Further, with the sheer volume of customers buying up those types of knives, you're bound to have far more complaining on a public forum about having to take a new knife apart rather than simply return it to the dealer or contact the manufacturer for a warranty repair. If you have a small company with 100 regular customers and 1 idiotic customer, you'll only hear 1 idiotic complaint. If you have 10,000 regular customers and 100 idiotic, you'll likely hear a lot more complaints...
I don't know if anyone has asked you yet but what company or companies do you manufacture for?
Final thought: I've always believed the following quote to be the most true about business and seems to be very true with knife manufacturers.
Cheap, fast, quality... choose two.
Last edited by Blais; 09-10-2012 at 09:53 AM.
I would say for the most part the better manufacturers put out consistent products that function as a knife should right out of the box.
Fit and finish, blade centering and even grinds for the most part are good depending on the price point of the given knives, although every now and then something slips through the cracks as with any mass produced product.
With the trend lately of OCD type buyers who tend to go over their $50 folder with a microscope looking for something wrong and expecting absolute perfection in that $50 folder will be disappointed more so than not. That's not to say $50 is the bottom, even in the $100 range the same could be true, or even $200 range. Most of this is unrealistic expectations in the price ranges of the knives in question and with more experience and knowledge that comes over time people learn or for some don't learn what to expect based on price point.
Don't expect a $50 knife to be just like a $400 knife and that $400 knife won't be 8 times better than that $50 knife.
The knives today as good as they really are, and they are for the most part excellent and keep getting better sometimes one just happens to slip through the cracks and gets into the hands of a buyer.
One has to pay for perfection, the closer to perfection we get the higher the price tag will tend to be, the reason why a CRK Umnumzaan is $400+ instead of $125.
Perception, HYPE and lack of overall knowledge combined with today's something for nothing, gold for the price of lead mentality some will just complain about anything and everything.
Last edited by Ankerson; 09-10-2012 at 09:37 AM.
P.S. This example, lacking even a locking mechanism or complex blade geometry and utilizing ridiculously over-sized hardware, does not appear to require anywhere near the same level of quality control as something from Spyderco that costs a fraction of your $200 price tag.
That's a neat knife Blais!
I agree with Ankerson; too many folks get nuttier than squirrel shit about perceived "issues" with a knife and have heard too much complaining in general especially for sub $150 regular production knives. If people are so worried about Q.C why don't they go to a dealer and hand pick their knife purchases themselves?
I've had a few issues here and there with folders however, I'm only really picky about things that effect functionality and safety ( i.e: lock-up issues) and not things like extremely perfect grinds, quadruple zero tolerances on scales to frame etc. I've been able to fix most issues I've had with folders myself thankfully...
The usual grips & gripes:
My Knife's not sharp enough on arrival? Sharpen it!
MY Knife's too sharp? Dull it by using it!
My Blade's not centered when closed? Doesn't matter as long as it's not rubbing the liners. (*usually, this can be fixed as well!)
My Pivot's too loose? Buy some allen/torx bits!
My Pivot's too tight? See above answer.
My blah, blah, etc., etc...
YMMV, however, I reject your reality and substitute my own...
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