That is a great question. In an ideal world, every new knife would come right from the factory with a razor sharp edge. The fact is they don't.
Let me explain. There are a couple factors here. None of these are reasons to excuse poor workmanship, but maybe they are good enough reasons to give a bit of grace.
- First, some knife companies are notorious for turning out dull knives. Great Eastern Cutlery and Queen Cutlery (and subsequently the knives they produce for Northwoods Knives) are horribly inconsistent. Sometimes the knives will shave hair out of the box and sometimes they are not sharp enough to cut anything. I don't excuse it, but I acknowledge it. They are trying hard and from time to time, they make improvements, but it is best to just realize they are inconsistent. They make fine knives, sometimes, they are not sharp.
- Second, what is sharp? If you hang out on forums and see people show off their mirror polished blades whittling hair, you might have an unrealistic expectation of factory sharpness. To the average person, knives like Benchmade, Zero Tolerance, Bark River Knives, Chris Reeve Knives, etc, come very sharp. To people who are real sharpness geeks (and I count myself among them), those edges can use some work. Check your expectations, they may be too high.
- Third, knives we sell are made by humans. The more human manufacturing is involved (i.e. slipjoints, customs, Bark River, etc.) the more room there is for some variance on the edge. One of my favorite parts of owning a hand made knife is its reflection of the people who made it.
From time to time we have people rant about how they bought a $XXX and can't believe we let it leave our store dull. While I can appreciate the disappointment, I do want to answer that question preemptively.
- We don't make the knives, we just sell them. That is not an excuse, it is a fact. We buy knives from these great manufacturers and sell them to you. We don't open every box. We don't check every edge.
- Understand you are buying more than an edge. Manufacturers put a lot into their knives and they make a great product. From time to time, they don't get it sharp. Judge a knife on the whole, not on one part.
- Without any disrespect, we are knife people. We have knives. We love knives. We use knives. For goodness sake, we should know how to sharpen a knife.
- Lastly, and again, this is not to excuse poor workmanship or a poor edge, I sharpen every knife I buy. It doesn't matter if it is a $1000 Alan Warren Knife or a $40 Buck, I sharpen it. It is part of the process I go through to make a knife my own. I actually enjoy my routine of getting a new knife, looking it over, sharpening it, lubricating it and making that first cut.
Need some help sharpening? No worries, we have a great primer on Knife Sharpening on our site.
Still not happy with your knife? Get in touch with us. We'll make it right for you.