How do you measure quality?

IMO, quality in a knife means solid, consistent unwanted looseness or slop, such as vertical or horizontal blade play, wobbly pivot, blade is centered in the handles when closed. Edge should be consistently sharp its whole length. I know many people say the edge is the easiest thing to fix, but out of box, it should be shaving sharp. Otherwise, it's like buying a car without air in the tires; you can always fill the tires, but you want/need to drive it now. Plus, proper edge geometry make it easier to resharpen later.

A folder should be able to stand up to repeated openings and closings for a long time with no appreciable sign of wear, so long as the knife isn't abused too badly. Heat treat should be such that the blade won't chip doing regular, unabusive cutting chores, and neither should it roll over from being too soft.

A lock that with proper care will not easily wear out (related to last paragraph, repetitive but important).

Blade should take/hold a good edge, but be easily touched up.

Action should be smooth. Opening hole or stud should be easily accessible and not require contortions of the hands to access.
I use several qualities of relatively equal weight to determine quality.
First- Good design. This includes the shape of both blade and handle and also the sheath. Are there any corners or edges on the handle? The KISS principle applies. I don't care for gimmickry or something that tries do do everything and winds up not being good for anything. Ergonomics are important, as is ambidexterity.
Second-Materials used and the way they are prepared. This includes not only the steel but also the heat treat, sturdiness of handle materials, etc.. If a knife isn't a reliable tool, it doesn't matter what else it does, it's a paperweight.
Third-Execution. This includes fit and finish of knife and carry system.
Fourth- How well the maker stands behind the product. Nobody is perfect and sometimes a less than perfect escapes its maker. If a company says, "We're sorry, but we'll take of it and make it right." is a company I like to do business with. This is partly because I like to form a relationship with the people I do business with. Buck and Spyderco come to mind with their excellent customer service. On the other hand, a maker who makes excuses for failure of his work and doesn't accept responsibility for it. (not naming any names) gets no respect regardless of the quality of his other work, and I simply won't do business with him. If the maker has doubts about his work sufficient for him to not stand behind it. that would ruin the joy and pride of ownership for me.
Sorry for the extra-long answer but I hope it answers your question.
edited for spelling
The thorn stands to defend the Rose, yet it is peaceful and does not seek conflict

[This message has been edited by fudo (edited 06-30-2000).]
I don't know anything about knives, but I've just received a Delica from your company.

Nobody can tell what is quality, it is too complicated to define. But it can be said that you know it, when you see it and feel it.

My last point is that the product and its design must stand the test of time.

Best wishes from SYK

[This message has been edited by SYK (edited 07-02-2000).]
When I'm browsing in a knife shop, the first thing I do is make a visual judgment of the various blades. I will ask to inspect closer the knife or knives that seem to look right for my intended purpose. My first and most important criterion at this point is blade shape and size.

Once the knife is in my hand, I'll notice if it feels especially good, awkward, or whatever. I don't worry too much about a slightly awkward feel, as long as the handle seems safe and functional. Experience tells me that a lot of great knives will feel a bit weird if I'm accustomed to carrying something else. Is it really worse, or just different? I can live with a slightly awkward handle if the blade is exceptional, e.g., the Calypso Jr. A handle that seems awkward might turn out to be great in some respect that didn't occur to me initially, and the opposite can also be true. At any rate, for me, the blade is more important than the handle, assuming that the latter is at least "good".

Next I inspect the construction, fit and general consistency of the knife. I always check the lock-up, applying pressure to the blade in all directions to see if I can wiggle it when open and locked. I will accept a tiny, almost imperceptible bit of vertical play in a lockback if the specimen is acceptable in every other respect. I may ask to see other specimens of the same model to select the best of the bunch. Liner locks have to be rock solid.

I also check the way the blade fits into the handle when closed; it should lie right in the middle, and the edge should not make contact with the spacer, even when pressure is applied to the spine. The ball detent, if there is one, should be at least as positive as a moderately weak refrigerator magnet, hopefully better.

And of course I inspect the edge. A knife should come from the factory very sharp. Sure, I can and certainly will sharpen it myself, and I'll probably have to re-profile it for optimal performance, but if it's already sharp from the factory, then at least I know that it CAN be made sharp.

Sharpness is a quality issue the importance of which must not be underestimated at the factory, and in my experience, Spyderco is generally very good in this respect. A new knife with a mediocre edge is evidence of a company's slovenly attitude. If they don't care about sharpness, maybe they don't care about other things too. While it may be true that the average consumer doesn't know the difference between sharp and really sharp, I expect the people who make knives for a living to know and care about the difference. And if the makers respect me, they will assume that I know and care.

And to you, in particular, Mr. Glesser, I'd like to say that one of the things I admire most about your approach to knifemaking is that you tend not to compromise on performance for the sake of appearances or mass-marketability. A lot of what makes your knives special is not obvious to the naked eye. It takes courage to invest in improvements that may not be noticed or appreciated by the public. You know, some products are so much ahead of their time that the manufacturer goes out of business before the consumers learn to appreciate it.

And finally, let me add that your presence here in these Forums is pretty good evidence of your commitment to quality.

David Rock

AKTI Member # A000846
Stop when you get to bone.
Thank you David.

I would also like to thank everyone that shared their thoughts and experiences. I'll be using this (and other info) to create the "Edge-U-cation" pamphlet on "What is quality and how to find quality in a knife?".


"There seems to be an amazing connection between what people do... and what happens to them"

If it says "Microtech", it's quality.
I just got my UDT, and it's awesome. Rather expensive though.

Chang and the Rebels of the East!
Southern Taiwan Will Rise Again!