GOLDEN HOURS

A MAG­I­CAL TOUR IN­SIDE SPYDERCO RE­VEALS A STRONG SENSE OF PRIDE AND OVER­WHELM­ING QUAL­ITY

Knives Illustrated - - Contents - STORY AND PHO­TOS BY JOSHUA SWANAGON

From be­gin­ning to end, Spyderco Knives demon­strates what makes them one of the most rec­og­nized names in the knife in­dus­try. BY JOSHUA SWANAGON

“IT WAS VERY AP­PAR­ENT THAT SPYDERCO HAS SPENT MANY YEARS DEVELOPING PRO­CESSES AND PRO­CE­DURES THAT MAKE THEM ONE OF THE BEST KNIFE COM­PA­NIES IN THE IN­DUS­TRY.”

Iad­mit it. As a Colorado na­tive, I have a bit of a soft spot for Spyderco Knives. Af­ter all, their fac­tory is in Golden, just a short drive from where I grew up, in the Den­ver area. So, you can imag­ine my ex­cite­ment when my brother and I re­ceived a tour of the fa­cil­ity last sum­mer. Sure, Spyderco, founded in 1976 by Sal and Gail Glesser, has fac­to­ries over­seas, but this is their head­quar­ters.

Dur­ing the visit, we had the op­por­tu­nity to wit­ness the pro­duc­tion steps used in mak­ing the Para Mil­i­tary 2, cur­rently one of Spyderco’s most pop­u­lar knives. It wasn’t hard to see why it is such a pop­u­lar knife … or why it’s a pop­u­lar place to work.

First Impressions

As we ap­proached the red brick build­ing, adorned with their fa­mil­iar name and logo across the top, I men­tioned to my brother that I couldn’t think of any way a per­son could work all day with knives and not be happy, and my line of think­ing was not in­cor­rect.

As soon as we walked in the door, we were taken up­stairs, where the of­fice

walls are adorned with pho­tos of happy em­ploy­ees. It felt very much like a fam­ily-type at­mos­phere. I pointed out that most com­pa­nies put pho­tos of their em­ploy­ees on the walls for some form of recognition. Spyderco just seems glad to have them as em­ploy­ees.

As we walked through the sec­ond floor with the pub­lic and me­dia re­la­tions rep­re­sen­ta­tive, a tight bond was ap­par­ent every­where. The ca­ma­raderie be­tween her and the team mem­bers was strong and ob­vi­ous. I was very im­pressed with the over­all sense of sat­is­fac­tion I got from ev­ery­body.

The num­ber of patents and trade­marks cov­er­ing the hall­way walls was also im­pres­sive, as was the dis­play of steel from the World Trade Cen­ter, which sat in a cor­ner, ad­ja­cent to an Amer­i­can flag. That touch­ing trib­ute to Amer­ica re­flects the qual­ity of Spyderco’s man­age­ment team. Next, we got to see the qual­ity of Spyderco’s product line.

“… IT WAS VERY EV­I­DENT TO ME THAT SPYDERCO TAKES THE QUAL­ITY OF THEIR STEEL, HEAT TREAT­ING AND DE­SIGNS VERY SE­RI­OUSLY.”

Walk­through

We were taken down to the fac­tory, and im­me­di­ately we were in­tro­duced to their qual­ity con­trol team, where we learned that ev­ery Spyderco knife (in­clud­ing those from the over­seas op­er­a­tions) is hand-in­spected be­fore be­ing boxed and shipped to distributors—this en­sures that each knife meets Spyderco’s qual­ity spec­i­fi­ca­tions. I found the hands-on ap­proach to be a very solid step in en­sur­ing a qual­ity product ev­ery time. Just off the Qual­ity Con­trol and Ship­ping area is the war­ranty depart­ment, run by two in­di­vid­u­als that take their job very se­ri­ously and pride them­selves in friendly service and a very rea­son­able turn­around time.

It was very ap­par­ent that Spyderco has spent many years developing pro­cesses and pro­ce­dures that make them one of the best knife com­pa­nies in the in­dus­try. For that rea­son, I need to tread lightly with any de­tails of the ac­tual steps we were shown, be­cause it is pro­pri­etary in­for­ma­tion. So, I will only be giv­ing a gen­eral overview here.

Mak­ing a Blade

Al­though a lot of the steps in the process are au­to­mated, each step is over­seen and con­trolled by an em­ployee to ensure that every­thing op­er­ates at max­i­mum ef­fi­ciency. The blanks are cut by a ni­tro­gen-cooled laser out of CPM S30V steel, where it is then moved to heat treat­ing. Once the heat treat­ing is com­plete, they are moved to a flat grinder and the pri­mary bevel is added to each blade. Af­ter it moves through a few more

pro­pri­etary steps, it goes on to re­ceive a hand-ground edge. Once the blades are com­plete, they re­ceive the laser etch­ing and coat­ing (if needed) and continue on to be as­sem­bled by hand. Fi­nally, they are pack­aged and ready to move to Qual­ity Con­trol for fi­nal in­spec­tion and ship­ping.

“IN THE COR­NER OF THE STORE, YOU CAN FIND AN EX­HIBIT CRE­ATED FROM STEEL GIRD­ERS FROM THE WORLD TRADE CEN­TER, TOWER #1 …”

Al­though I am not at lib­erty to talk about the de­tails of what we saw while in the Re­search and De­vel­op­ment depart­ment, I can say that it was very ev­i­dent to me that Spyderco takes the qual­ity of their steel, heat treat­ing and de­signs very se­ri­ously. When I left the R&D depart­ment, I had a new­found respect for Spyderco and their prod­ucts as a whole.

Fi­nal Impressions

I know that it may seem as though my impressions of Spyderco could be at­trib­uted to the adu­la­tions of a home­town boy, but when it comes to knives and knife com­pa­nies, I take what I do very se­ri­ously, and I put aside fa­voritism in the in­ter­est of search­ing out qual­ity prod­ucts.

From their per­son­al­ized, hands-on ap­proach in the de­tails of each knife, to the in­di­vid­ual qual­ity con­trol given to each piece, I can hon­estly say that I was im­pressed with the Spyderco brand. Ev­ery­one I met seemed gen­uinely proud to be a part of the Spyderco team, and that can be rare in any com­pany. KI

3. An ex­hibit of steel gird­ers from World Trade Cen­ter, Tower #1, on dis­play in the re­tail store (Spyderco Fac­tory Out­let). 02

1. Nes­tled in the foothills of the Rocky Moun­tains, the Golden, Colorado head­quar­ters of Spyderco Knives is a very invit­ing por­tal into a world of high-qual­ity cut­lery.

2. Spyderco Qual­ity Con­trol—the QC team— checks every­thing that comes through the fac­tory and into the dis­tri­bu­tion cen­ter from over­seas. Cus­tomers might be sur­prised just how many times hu­man hands are on a knife as it goes from man­u­fac­ture to QC to boxing and ship­ping. 01

07 4. A ni­tro­gen-cooled laser, cutting Para Mil­i­tary 2 blades from CPM S30V steel.

5. Rough cut blades from the laser, wait­ing to go onto the next step in man­u­fac­tur­ing; heat treat­ing, grind­ing and sharp­en­ing. Note the bump at the tip is where the laser be­gins its cut.

6. A flat grinder work­ing on Para Mil­i­tary 2 blades.

7. Para Mil­i­tary 2 blade as it heads through the man­u­fac­tur­ing process. Once the blade is ready, it will join the rest of its parts in as­sem­bly and then head off to fin­ish­ing, QC and into a box for ship­ment.

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08 8. The hands-on per­sonal touch, made in Amer­ica.

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11. Ready for the box.

12: It was re­ally hard to be­lieve some of the knives that the war­ranty depart­ment had re­ceived over the years.

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9. Satin fin­ish or DLC (Di­a­mond Like Coat­ing) coated blade? Yin and Yang.

10. A Para Mil­i­tary be­ing hand as­sem­bled. Crafts­man­ship in ev­ery part!

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