From a production engineer's point of view


Oct 8, 2004
I have several of the old 165OT's and last week, during "play time" ( :D ) I noticed quite a few differences between them. Out of curiosity, I laid them out and compared them closely. Some have blades slightly longer (5.00 - 5.3625), the brass guard varies in profile (earliest is curved to the rear on face, later straight on face), The tang stamp moves from the left side of the blade to the right and in one case is perpendicular to the blade instead of parallel like the others, the width of the blade varies slightly, and the grind on the top of the blade varies. One starts 1.25 from the guard and continues to the tip, another starts 2.25 from the guard and stops .5 shy of the tip, and yet another begins at 1.5625 and ends .5 from the tip.

I realize that I am seeing mass production variences over a period of 24 years, and changes in the machinery and operators, but am I also seeing ECO's? Engineering change orders are a way of life in manufacturing, I know. I have never seen a Schrade process sheet on these knives, so I have no idea of the number of processing steps involved, or tolerances allowed.

None of the differences affect function or appearance and are curiosities more than anything. They just made me wonder about how many hand and eye operations were involved in the production of the 165's. ;)

America Plays With Schrades :p
Don't have any definite answers for this one, but one educated guess would be that the evolution of Schrade probably had a lot to do with the differences. The very earliest 165 versions were made during the Schrade-Walden years, when most of the manufacturing and gauges were hand-eye operations by skilled craftsman. It wasn't until probably around the 80's when computerized engineering at Schrade really started to step-up, and a more formal method of making and recording gauges and tolerances started to be used. All processes tightened up with CAD-CAM and all of those new-fangled engineering tools. In addition, when ISO became popular, it became more necessary to keep detailed documentation, blueprints and engineering details. Before that time, most everything was kept in the heads and recreated from hand-made drawings, so there was room for human error. I suppose that the introduction of the latest technology in CNC and computerized production equipment in the 90's would have caused a variation from the hand-made processes too. How's that sound from a non-production novice's point of view?
That pretty much jives with my thinking Debbie. ISO and QS were a real pain to institute and maintain. But it made all the processes much more repeatable by the more "mobile" workforce of the 90's-00's. For our company at least, turnover of production workers was a part of the corporate stratagy for controlling payroll costs. A lot of fine old line craftsmen grew frustrated with the changeover and retired though. A part of my job was designing and purchasing robotics for our plant to do precise work that had been done by those guys. :(

For today's giggle, go to the schrade site, pick "about" at the bottom, and then try to find out about a discontinued knife. Surprise! You have mail! :D

Codger America scratches it's collective head over Schrade

p.s.- Pins and needles about the hints of something in the wind!