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A question to our foreign cutlery connoisseurs...

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by SurfingSalmon, Aug 2, 2012.

  1. SurfingSalmon


    Jan 11, 2011
    How do you all feel about where a particular knife or tool is made? If something is labeled "made in USA," does that convey a sense of workmanship? Being a US citizen, I enjoy seeing knives made in my own country, but have no problem buying from overseas as long as quality control is superb (or if I just really want the knife).

    For some reason, the made in USA gives me a sense of pride of ownership, but I'm not exactly sure why. Great knives can be made anywhere, for example Germany or Japan.

    So what say you, my global knife lovers? Does "made in USA" matter to you at all?
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2012
  2. Magnaminous_G


    Jul 13, 2011
    I think it does. When something is made locally, the makers live or die based on their reputation. People pay extra money for quality. If the quality drops, they will not pay. In the U.S., Germany, France, and Sweden, they have the highest standards of quality. Workers are more educated, better trained, better paid, and better equipped. That usually means you get a better knife. They have to make a better knife, since they can't compete with the prices of Chinese knives.

    Do they make good knives in Taiwan and China? Sure they do, but it is important to understand who is making those knives and why. For the most part, they are making them from contracts based in other countries. A factory owner agrees to make X amount of knives, and he wins the contract by doing it as cheaply as possible. That means paying his workers less, which means hiring less-educated, less-trained people. To keep costs as low as possible, that also means trying to save money in the manufacturing process, materials procurement, and quality control. The goal of making a knife in China is to reduce costs, get the price as low as possible, and undercut the competition for cheap stuff.

    Look at Boker, for example. They have their Boker line (made in Solingen, Germany). They have their Boker plus line (made in China). They have their Boker Arbelito line (made in Argentina). The Bokers from Solingen are more expensive. Are they better? Well... I'm sure if you visited their Solingen factory and walked around, inspected the equipment, and talked to the technicians, you would get a picture of the knowledge and skill in that factory. If you went to their contract factory in China (where they make Boker plus knives), and had the same experience, you would get a different picture. The question is, is the difference worth the price difference?

    Spyderco fiercely defends their Taiwan and China contract factories. They publicly state that the knives made there are just as good as--if not better than--knives made in the USA. That said, they still proudly emblazon their USA knives with their signature "Golden, CO, USA, Earth" stamp and proudly advertise these knives as made in USA. Are they saying such knives are "better?" Who knows... The question is, is the difference worth the price difference? That's the debate.

    I EDC a Case Mini Copperlock. It is a beautiful little knife. The blade is centered, the lock is smooth and clicks authoritatively. Everything is smooth and beautiful, and the lockbar sits flush with the scales in open or closed position. I know it was made with an immense deal of pride by American craftsmen who would never, ever compromise. It is a $50.00 knife. I could get something similar, made in Pakistan, for literally $5.00... 1/10 the cost. That is a huge difference. It might even be a good knife, but... can I be 100% confident about how they made that knife in Pakistan? Can I be 100% confident about how they chose or heat-treat their steel? Did they use a cheaper epoxy on the handles (which might even be toxic or come apart eventually)? Did they make sure the bone/horn they made the scales with was properly dried/treated (and won't crack in a few years)? Those questions would linger in my mind every day that I carried that $5.00 Pakistan knife. So the $50 Case is worth it to me.
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2012
  3. Neo


    Sep 12, 2002
    I have knives from all over the world.
    Knives can be made with an excellent quality everywhere, of course you need to consider the price.
    Comparing a $10 to a $200 knife is pointless.

    So I don't care about the "made in" label.

    What's kind of unique to America is the warranty you get.
    This is something we don't see in Europe, not that the knives are not good but it's just not a part of our "culture" (by lack of a better word)
    This is a big plus but in the end it doesn't change much for international buyers.
    In the custom department the makers in Europe also warrant their products.

    Maybe it's typical for my country but Belgians seem to have almost no patriotic feelings.
    Not that we don't like our country but in our view to the world patriotism seems to be replaced by "sober realism".
  4. Haze


    Aug 2, 2004
    The US is the same as any country in that there are good and bad products being produced there. The fact that an item is from the US doesn't mean it will be good any more than it would if it was from Europe, Asia or any where else. So no, to me it matters not, but....
    The US is seen to have a history of knives and guns in the international community, even though that history is in fact rather shorter than a lot of the rest of the world it's a strong one. I think that's one reason why people look to the US as a front runner in the knife world as well as many of the best well known knife companies being American and making the new cool knives of course. That along with the custom knife scene in the US must be a lot of the reason why the US is seen as such a "knifey" place.
    As far as I can see it people in Asia, Europe and else where in the world want to buy those high end American made knives more than anything else. Those high end knives be it production or custom are known world wide for good design, good quality materials and good workmanship as well as bringing new materials, designs and features in to play. The US does have a lot to be proud of as far as knives but just don't get carried away. :p:thumbup:
  5. FortyTwoBlades

    FortyTwoBlades Baryonyx walkeri Dealer / Materials Provider

    Mar 8, 2008
    Good knives can, and are, made all over the world. So are crappy ones. The question to me is not so much WHERE was a knife made, as much as BY WHOM? The US has a large concentration of quality knife makers, both production and custom, and has had a strong history of producing quality edged tools, which is why the label "Made in USA" carries such weight. But that doesn't mean that mark guarantees quality, just like "Made in China" does not guarantee low quality. I buy knives from all over the world, including a large number of them from the USA, but am selective about the specific manufacturer and model when making a purchase and do my research ahead of time.
  6. Skywalker1


    Jul 13, 2012
    I don' t really care too much about where my knives are made. Much more important than where a knife is made is the quality/materials/etc and also the ethics of the company that makes it. I do enjoy having German-made knives though. I guess you could sort of call that patriotic haha:D
    But I' m totally fine if my knives are made in other countries.
  7. bh49

    bh49 Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 27, 2005
    IMHO good or poor quality knives can be made in any industrial country, which has access to proper material. There are many reasons why I prefer to buy good quality knives made in US. Pride of ownership is one of them. There are countries of origin I will have no problem to buy knives from and there are countries I will not, for the reasons, which cannot be discussed on this forum.
  8. Art_Vandeley


    Jul 22, 2009
    Well I buy US made blades, because the brands I prefer are in the US. Emerson, Hinderer, Spyderco, Case, GEC all the good stuff. It kinda matters to me, but more for the "Made in USA" stamp than for customer service or something like that. Pride of ownership I guess.
  9. Indianbladenoob


    Feb 8, 2012
    I always ask "BY WHOM". I do believe that a significant portion of the made-in-america craze is patriotism rather than any objective criterion but that doesn't mean its not justified. More often than not American knifemakers HAVE to make a better blade as they cannot afford a cheaper blade.
    IMHO I also would not buy a knife from a gun brand. Statistically they seem to simply sell their brands to the highest bidder who then proceeds to bang out as many cheap knives as they can with the gun brand.
  10. marcinek


    Jan 9, 2007
    If any country can make a profit making cheap stuff....they will make and sell that cheap stuff.

    If the same country can make a bigger profit selling higher quality stuff....they will make that.

    It's got nothing to do with "countries" and everything to do with simple economics.


    Aug 26, 2006
    I prefer " Made in the USA" knives. I can' t explain why, just have a bunch of Spydies and CRK and really enjoy them. Also enjoy knives from other places but skip china.
  12. bonzodog

    bonzodog Basic Member Basic Member

    Dec 3, 2011
    my small collection are all made in the u.s.a
  13. CWL


    Sep 15, 2002
    Television, movies and video games influence people everywhere in the world. Certain American goods do get a boost from their portrayal in entertainment. This isn't just true for knives, but firearms and replica airsoft items.
  14. Humppa

    Humppa Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 25, 2010
    I´ve been waiting long for this question :D

    I own knives from a lot of parts of the world. Being a german, we have a great history in cutlery. A lot of old and traditional cutlery companies (Böker, Robert Klaas, Eickhorn etc etc). I´m a little proud of my german knives. I made a lot of trades from overseas. Mostly with the US. I own a couple of GECs and other traditional american cutlery companies. "Made in USA" is a matter for me. The knives I have, US-made, are well made. Most of them are great made. The QC is something you can´t find on many other countries. The F&F is most of the time also quiete a looker. So "made in USA" means the same to me, like "made in Germany". Both stand for quality and durabilty.

    Kind regards
  15. SurfingSalmon


    Jan 11, 2011
    Thanks for your responses everybody! I was sitting around with my Sebenza taking note of the "Made in Idaho" stamp on the scales and I wondered for a second, say if I was Canadian, if that would bear any significance to me.

    Magnaminous_G, thanks for your response, I enjoyed reading it! Also, FortyTwoBlades, I really like your idea of "not so much where, but whom!" The manufacturer definitely any particular knife helps set that product from another similar one.

    Ah yes, this was a type of response I really want to read. Thanks for sharing your insights on quality!
  16. kirko


    Dec 4, 2004
    Great thread! I have always wondered what other countries thought of MY country's knives. Its nice to know that it SEEMS other countries feel like we make a good product. I feel the same for many other countries as well. Japan, Sweden, Germany, Europe, Taiwan, just to name a few.
  17. BladeChick777


    Jun 20, 2011
    I could really care less where a knife is made.
    I have US made knives that are great quality but I also own Taiwan, Japan, and even China made knives that are awesome quality as well.
    I agree that it has to do with price as well though.
    Say, a $30 USA made Leek(no offense to Kershaw, I love them but this is an example) is Not as well made as a $100+ Spyderco Chokwe made in Taiwan.
    And then a $30 Taiwan made Boker is not as well made as a $100 USA Kershaw.
    It's not so much where a knife is made that speaks quality. I mean, the $30 Spyderco Tenacious is built like a knife that costs $60+.
    So, no, I don't think where a knife is made is going to speak of the quality.

    This is of course if we're talking good brand name knives. Bring Frost or other brands in here and it's a whole different story. But, even if Frost was made in the USA they are cheap knives you can buy for $2 - $5 and I doubt the quality of them would be any better no matter where they're made.
  18. Goosey


    Mar 19, 2012
    I don't care where it's made as long as it's good quality. I'm not even American so "made in USA" holds no special meaning for me... I'd rather have "made in USA" than "made in China" on my knife, because it seems more prestigious, but it's not a deciding factor. I sometimes get annoyed by people who absolutely refuse to buy products that aren't made in the US... it just seems close-minded to apply that policy to every purchase!
  19. Jack Black

    Jack Black Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 2, 2005
    Totally agree.

    At least with buying US-made knives you know that those making them are being paid a decent rate for their work. Well, I'd like to think so.

    Sheffield-made knives hold a special place in my heart because I was born there, but in truth I've not come across many Sheffield-made knives that were really worth loving. It saddens me every time I see a piece of junk on sale bearing one of the old Sheffield cutlers' marks.
  20. Rapt_up


    May 4, 2012
    Being as I work in an industry that has parts made all over than then built into products it definitely is not so much where but by whom... :) I will say that in generall a less expensive location means greater effort must be made to ensure careful quality control. Especially if you're building to the lowest possible price. But superb quality products can come from anywhere. The best inidicator is pride in manufacture, this will translate to high quality products.

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