The unique process to make a KA-BAR knife combines the talent of experienced craftspeople, expertise of knife enthusiasts, detailed finishing and rigorous inspection and testing.
Here are just a few of the steps it takes to make knives in our world-class facility, which we share with Cutco Corporation, our parent company and maker of the finest kitchen cutlery.
Blanking is a shearing process in which the blade of a knife is punched out of a larger piece of metal. Using a 100 ton blanking press, KA-BAR can blank out nearly 9,000 knife blades in one full day of operation.
After blanking out the blades, tang stamping is used to identify the knife. The manufacturer's name, the country in which the product is made, and an item number are stamped into the blade of the knife.
In the first phase of our well known heat treatment process, blades are run through a heat treating belt oven. This 70 foot conveyor oven is one of the largest in the country and takes a full hour to complete one cycle.
In the final phase of our heat treatment process, blades are tempered in a walk-in oven for several hours, enhancing steel toughness.
KA-BAR knives feature flat or hollow ground blades. Flat grinds are best for jobs with which there will be great lateral stress. Hollow grinds provide a fine, extremely sharp edge perfect for more delicate tasks.
Our eye for detail does not end with the blade; KA-BAR also takes great pride in the handle finishing process.
The oval-shaped leather handle construction on the famous USMC knife is made by first compressing leather washers onto the tang, shaping and coloring them, and then fastening them on with a pinned-on butt cap.
The butt cap or pommel is attached to the handle of a knife with a headed steel pin. The pin is inserted into the butt cap and driven part way through the tang.
Finally before being released for shipping, each KA-BAR knife is subject to a multiple step inspection guaranteeing the ergonomics, aesthetics, and functionality.
KA-BAR uses four different product tests to determine the sharpness, edge-holding ability, hardness, and edge angles of all knives:
Cutlery and Allied Trades Research Association (CATRA) Testing - One of a handful of machines like it in the world, the CATRA tester uses controlled pressure, stroke length, number of cycles and a certified sand-impregnated paper to determine the sharpness and edge-holding capabilities of a blade.
KA-BAR Rockwell tests knives to determine the hardness of the steel. A diamond brale presses into the blade and makes an indentation. The harder the steel is the higher the Rockwell reading.
A goniometer measures the edge angles of a KA-BAR knife by using a laser beam. The laser beam is aimed at the cutting edge of the blade and is split by the honed edge onto a protractor that reads the edge angle of each side of the blade.
KA-BAR puts prototype knives and sheaths through vigorous field tests to find and eliminate problems before introducing new products to the public.