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Companies need to start issuing verified third-party HRC tests.

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by Comeuppance, Jun 27, 2019.

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  1. Skywalker31


    Feb 29, 2012
    I think your original question was about

    not "certificates", so maybe I misunderstand the level of documentation and evidence chain tied to a specific part you or others are proposing for HRC tests.

    However, for your laptop, yes, if you know what type of CPU is in it, you can view 3rd-party test results for its performance. For example, the last PC I built used an i5-6500. A site such as UserBenchmark writes a testing program, distributes it, and publishes the crowdsourced results for a specific processor. So I can view the aggregate results of that processor's performance before buying, as at https://cpu.userbenchmark.com/Intel-Core-i5-6500/Rating/3513. (Interestingly, I can also test my own processor to see how it compares after purchase, so this example isn't really 1:1 for HRC where there's special equipment needed.) From there it's just a question of how much you trust the third party... Is crowdsourced performance data good enough? Would you prefer Consumer Reports secret shoppers bought 30 of the CPUs and tested them all themselves? Or does NIST need to get involved and verify them with government backing?

    Note that I don't really have a strong position one way or the other for the specific case of knife blade HRC testing. I bought two of the M390 Delicas the day they were released, sight-, review-, and testing-unseen, because I do trust Spyderco to get it right.

    My point is simply that consumer goods do exist with documented, 3rd party confirmation of the performance of the product run. Which I think is what @FiveToes was suggesting, not certificates tied to tests run on specific, individual products.
    steff27 and sharp_edge like this.
  2. Ryanol


    Aug 24, 2011
    Third party testing.

    Yall know that the people that care about knives hrc are less than a blip of the knife buying public which is already a tiny blip of the consumer marketplace.

    Almost everbody has a car or a computer. Very few people have pocket knives anymore.

    Surely some small maker can cater to this but i certainly dont want to pay for it.
  3. Comeuppance

    Comeuppance Fixed Blade EDC Emisssary Gold Member

    Jan 12, 2013
    Here's the thing. Companies already directly advertise to people who -do- pay attention to HRC. If I said "ZDP-189" to 99% of the population, they would have no idea what I was talking about, and yet there is a sizeable industry directed at selling to people to whom those characters in that sequence represents something of value.

    And, my dude, you are already paying for it if you have purchased a knife with an advertised HRC range. That figure was likely borne from them making the knives and having them tested at some point. Also, how much do you think it costs a company to test HRC? HRC values can easily be tested on knives that were pulled from production for bad grinds or etc, so the end-product cost can be minimized with the barest effort. Accountancy is what is being asked, and it is mind-blowing that there is resistance to the notion. Given that we are talking about knives made with high-tech particle-metallurgy steels whose primary aspects depend entirely on how they are heat-treated, it seems just a matter of course that the results of the HT be documented and published.

    I am going to go out on a limb here and speculate that the reason people don't want to know if their knife has been properly prepared is because they would rather not know that they have been given undeserved confidence in their purchase.
    marrenmiller and Mo2 like this.
  4. shunsui

    shunsui Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 12, 2008
    The problem is no matter what the manufacturer says or prints on the box, no matter what any third party states about the product, the knife YOU get may not be in spec.

    What are you going to do ? Test every knife you buy ? Pay someone to double test every knife you're not sure of ? Engage the manufacturer ? Get a brand new knife and start all over again ?

    YOUR replacement knife might not meet spec.

    No matter what knife you buy, either it works for you and you like it, or NOT.

    If not, just sell it on the exchange, and buy another knife you fancy.

    Repeat as necessary.

    All the assurances in the world mean virtually nothing.

    Of course you can wait until someone else mentions a low reading and then scream like an idiot on every internet channel you can find.

    How's that working out ?
  5. Danke42


    Feb 10, 2015
    Just going out on a limb but I suspect as you drill down to simpler and more basic goods like that ball peen hammer or a pocket knife you won't find a qualified 3rd party verification process.

    But there is another avenue for those who have lost confidence in the knives they want to buy. In the US the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection does take the side of the little guys.
  6. AntDog

    AntDog Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 3, 2001
    Knife manufacturers don’t owe us third party HRC testing. They’re the same as any other manufacturer of anything - they produce a product and state the specs they aim for. If somebody chooses to test it, they can do what they want with their own property. If you feel something is out of range, that’s what warranties are for.
  7. knarfeng

    knarfeng senex morosus moderator Staff Member Super Mod Moderator

    Jul 30, 2006
    One post moved to the DA thread.
    Keep the cutsie comments in W&C. That's what it is there fore.
  8. Insipid Moniker

    Insipid Moniker Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 28, 2011
    Why don't you think it works for that even if it's the only method used? :p

    More seriously, I have no issues with accountability for manufacturers, I don't think what you're proposing is in any way a sound method to ensure that.

    I think a MUCH better solution is the one suggested earlier and one that some manufacturers already do. Pressure them to treat out of range blades as defective and replace them under warranty. Then, if you have a knife that doesn't perform, you can send it in, get it tested and potentially have it replaced. That's overall a much simpler and less expensive proposition for everyone involved.
    AntDog, SteelJunkee and danbot like this.
  9. knifeswapper

    knifeswapper Knife Peddler Dealer / Materials Provider

    Sep 3, 2004
    Two of my best sellers today are GEC and lionSteel.
    Both use an ISO9001 certified third party to heat treat / test their blades and both have a 1.5% validation on each run.

    Neither are compelled to bring heat treat in-house when they are located so near respective certified heat treat facilities. And both heat treat facilities service the big part of the regional cutlery peers. So it always seemed a bit standard to me.

    I think this is probably something that would be embraced by most makers. The two questions I have are: 1) Would the user be responsible for the shipping / testing costs if the blade tests within specifications? If yes, 2A) How many people would risk the testing costs which probably costs more than knife in many cases? If no, 2B) How many knives a year would the factory be responsible to eat shipping / testing costs after they pass factory specifications?

    If the factories were liable to test every blade that any customer wanted to send back for testing, it would end up built into the price of every knife sold. And if I had a $250 knife that something just didn't feel right so I sent it back and received a $100 invoice for tests / return shipping - I would not have a favorable response.
    steff27, AntDog, Eli Chaps and 3 others like this.
  10. Insipid Moniker

    Insipid Moniker Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 28, 2011
    If it were me, I would likely have some language that if a customer requested an Hrc test and it was within spec they may be responsible for $X for the testing and then keep that in my back pocket as a nuisance fee. Waive it if you think someone really does have a performance complaint and is acting in good faith and slap the folks with it who just want free Hrc testing on their knives.
    Edgy 1 likes this.
  11. danbot

    danbot Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 31, 2009
    Here's the other thing. These are reputable knife manufacturers we're talking about, not some Mickey Mouse, fly-by-nite, backyard Chinese cloners.
    I have no reason to doubt that they are serious about their HT protocols. If they are doing it in-house, then they have invested a considerable amount of money in high tech equipment to properly HT their steel. Why would they purposely HT outside of their own specs? :confused:
    And they know full well that anyone who is so inclined can have their blade independently tested. If it was out of spec, that's covered under warranty.
    AntDog, benchwarmer380 and Lesknife like this.
  12. SteelJunkee

    SteelJunkee Gold Member Gold Member

    May 6, 2018
    I think it's up to the manufacturer to decide to what extend his testing and how he publishes the results is done... Imagine asking Mora to independently test every blade they pull out... Lollll... I understand why a company making high end knives would do so, to enforce their status and customers confidence. But forcing the whole industry to do that is ridiculous. Like Insipid Moniker said in #248 under warranty testing is more adequate, if you keep the idea that the whole industry is forced to do so. Although HRC is not relevant of the quality of a blade, My best knife states 59-61 and my worst one states the same thing. But honestly coming from a renowned knife maker a HRC of "Hard Enough" is good for me.
    Lesknife likes this.
  13. FiveToes

    FiveToes Gold Member Gold Member

    May 22, 2019
    I'm not even asking for that. These manufacturers have manufacturing and test processes in place. Name them and laser cut them on the blade next the steel type. If Lionsteel releases five M390 folders, and they're listed as "M390 V1", consumers will know they should have similar cutting performance given similar blade geometry. The additional cost here is literally several additional characters being lasercut into the blade. You will not be able to compare between manufacturers but you will be able to within a manufacturers models. It's a first step that provides more information to the public and protects everyone's secret sauce IP.

    This is absolutely mind blowing. I'm wondering what other industries these people want to remain willfully ignorant of prior to purchase.

    The problem is they currently don't print this information on the box. Lemons are invariably an aspect of life we will never escape. How you can rationalize "I might get a bad one" with "I might as well have no/limited point of reference" is an unthinkable leap from my perspective. I might get a bad sandwich. I still want to know what's in it. I still want to know who made it. I still want to know that they washed their hands before making it. If a deli made you a sandwich but wouldn't tell you whether they washed their hands before making it, would you still eat it?

    Then why even print the blade steel on the blade? Why not simply buy knives based on pics with the only specs reading "KNIFE!"? It'll either work or it won't, correct?

    This is the most important post in this entire thread. These manufacturers already do they things I was literally guaranteed that "would come at a very significant cost increase. If you think it would be less than 1%, as you seem to imply, I can only assure you that you're badly mistaken." Yet these knives remain reasonably priced.

    Mike, I hope things work out for you in your family crisis and I hope the bickering and YouTube shenanigans don't cause your business harm. You seem like a stand up guy and given the circumstances have acted admirably.
    steff27 and Skywalker31 like this.
  14. Lesknife

    Lesknife Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Mar 31, 2018
    Exactly! Not everyone wants to pay $ 250 and upwards for a general usage knife even if is tested to the highest degree. And rarely do I go over $100 for a premium steel knife and I haven’t been disappointed yet.

    If someone has higher expectations than what is available then they can invest their own money, time, effort and reputation to see if they can meet everyone else’s expectations to that high level and maybe they can do better, maybe not.
  15. Eli Chaps

    Eli Chaps Basic Member Basic Member

    Apr 20, 2018
    Mike, I know about your family trouble and I am very sorry and you have my most sincere hopes that all will work out for you and yours.

    I was going to purchase a $75 knife today but I'm not going to now. I'm going to wait, save up another $50 and buy a Best Man.


    It's remarkable to me that one of the central figures in this debate made himself directly available and several pages passed with no one talking to him directly.
    jux t and palonej like this.
  16. Insipid Moniker

    Insipid Moniker Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 28, 2011
    Your suggestion that they test 100% of some batches? Seems a whole lot different than testing 1.5% consistently.
    craytab likes this.
  17. craytab

    craytab Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 26, 2012
    It certainly does.

    Okay, so big picture question, what exactly is the problem here? Are people not getting what they are paying for or is this a completely overblown non-issue? What does the end user say?
    Insipid Moniker and Lesknife like this.
  18. Banter 247

    Banter 247

    Feb 22, 2019
    As an end user, paying for a steel promising improved performance over less expensive options, I would like to get a return for the premium I pay. This is a feeling shared by many, while many others may debate it. The point of this reply is simply to provide a reminder.
  19. SteelJunkee

    SteelJunkee Gold Member Gold Member

    May 6, 2018
    It is not really an issue with good known manufacturers. The problem is more likely to happen with obscure knife makers with shady business models, doubtful steel sources and Subcontracting to cheap third world manufactures.... It has been proven more than once that ALL of these companies sell subpar product with no considerations.

    Now, if you state any kind of steel by it's name on the blade. Consumers should be able to assume that. It is the stated steel. It has been produced for optimum performance and the maker should be able to prove it is. The others, they should stick "No Name" on the blade and let you decide if it`s good.

    If I want to test a Dollar Store knife. I put it in a vise and use a pipe to bend the blade until it snaps then I can say it`s a good HT or not.
    danbot likes this.
  20. danbot

    danbot Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 31, 2009
    What kind of return for the premium you pay are you looking for? It must go beyond third party certification of HRC. Do you want micrographs from each batch? And spectrometer results too?
    When it comes to improved performance claims, the proof is in the pudding. Use the knife and determine for yourself if it's worth the premium or not.
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2019
    colin.p, palonej, Lesknife and 2 others like this.
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