Benchmade says, “Our knives are made of many things: steel, aluminum and titanium, to name a few. But perhaps the most important part of a Benchmade knife is expertise. We carefully measure every part at every tsp in the process. We use the best materials and equipment. We make world-class knives for world-class users and this is how.”
The first step in every blade is laser cutting, because every blade begins as a sheet of steel. A laser cutting technician programs the laser to cut the steel into blanks, giving the blade its basic profile. The blanks are hammered out of the sheet by hand, and for the first time, the steel begins to look like a knife. The blanks are measured to make sure they meet specifications. Measurement are taken every step of the manufacturing process to guarantee an impeccable knife and streamline production. Benchmade says that if a part isn’t up-to-spec, it doesn’t become a Benchmade.
The second step is surface grinding. This is where the blank is ground to its precise width. Benchmade has a surface grind technician place each blank in its rack by hand and each side is ground to its specified thickness. After grinding, the technician checks the thickness of each set of blanks. At this point in time, tolerances are within the width of a human hair. Benchmade says that their knives have no room for error, which means that neither does a blade’s thickness.
The third step is milling, which is where blade holes, handles, and grooves are cut on high-speed mills. One of the holes that is cut at this step is the blade pivot, which is crucial to the folding mechanism. The pivot tolerance is .0005 inches, because the slightest deviation there becomes exponential at the blade’s tip.
Fourth is beveling. Now the blade really starts to take shape. Up to this point, the two sides of the blade are essentially flat. A blade beveling technician bevels the knife blank one side at a time, and one of the most critical tasks here is to make sure the sides match perfectly. Of course, a technician measures the blade to verify that it meets the specified tolerances. An imprecise bevel can hamper the blade’s balance, sharpness, strength, and mechanism function.
Next is back sanding, which is where the back of the blade gets attention. The back sanding technician sands the back of the blade until it is smooth. Finishing is what gives the blade a more refined look. The finishing technician stone-washes the blades in a ceramic medium to remove any burrs and give the blades a clean, polished appearance. When the blade is cleaned up, it is taken to laser marking to receive its one-of-a-kind Benchmade mark.
Last is assembly and sharpening. Every Benchmade knife is assembled by hand. A sharpening technician puts a razor edge on the knife using a sanding belt sander. Each blade is sharpened to a targeted 30-degree inclusive angle, 15 degrees on each side. Benchmade says that the knife is sharp enough when it can cut through ultra-thin phonebook paper effortlessly without tearing.
Today we will talk about one of the newest Benchmade knives, the Foray.
This is a Gold Class knife. Benchmade says that a Gold Class knife is more than a knife. They say, “Go ahead and show off. Gold Class knives are a rare combination of materials, design and artistry. A knife this fine is hard to come by.”
The blade is made out of Loki pattern Damasteel that has been hardened to a 58-60 HRC. The traditional Damascus patterned steel is produced by welding two types of steel in typically seven layers. Then one forge out and fold the piece repeatedly until one gets over one hundred layers in their piece. Damasteel Steel Industries holds the international patent to manufacture Damascus patterned steel at Damasteel via modern powder metallurgy, which is a method with many advantages. This steel has high hardness, durability, and strength. Damasteel says, “This steel is created with gas atomization, which is a process to manufacture high quality metal powders. During the gas atomization process, molten steel is atomized by inert gas jets into fine metal droplets, which cool down during their decent in the atomizing tower. Metal powders obtained by gas-atomization offer a perfectly spherical shape combined with a high level of cleanliness. After the atomization process, powders are collected in a capsule, which is sealed and then compacted by Hot Isostatic Pressing. This is a process to densify gas-atomized metal powders, through the combination of high gas pressure and high temperature. The HIP process takes place in a HIP furnace where the gas pressure acts uniformly in all directions, hence providing isostatic properties and 100% densification.”
This Damasteel has a Loki pattern. After the rolling or forging the patterns are finished off by either twisting and or coining, the patterns will be visible after etching. This pattern is a unique pattern that you won’t often find.
The blade has been carved into a drop point blade shape. The drop point blade style is one of the most commonly found blade shape and it is popular for a reason. This is a tough and versatile blade shape. The style is formed by having the spine of the blade run straight from the handle to the tip of the blade in a slow, curving manner, which creates a lowered tip. The lowered tip gives you the ability to perform fine detail work while also giving you more control. The tip on this knife is also broad, which is where the strength of the drop point style blade comes from. This is such a versatile blade because the belly is very large. This belly is going to make slicing a breeze.
The handle on this knife is made out of marbled carbon fiber. Carbon fiber is a term that refers to a material that has been made of thin strands of carbon that have been tightly woven then set in a resin. This material is going to be tremendously strong, but still lightweight. Unfortunately, because of the labor that does go into it, it does tend to be pretty expensive. And while it is a strong material, it is definitely not indestructible and does tend to be pretty brittle. This is because all of the fibers in carbon fiber are woven together in a single direction. So while the material is entirely strong in that specific direction, as soon as they are stressed in a different direction they begin to break apart. And because it is a brittle material, it can crack if it is hit on a hard or sharp object. Because of the way that they weave carbon fiber, you can get an incredible wide array of options with how the handle is going to look. The pros of the carbon fiber handle are that the handle is going to be strong, not heavy, and have a unique look to it. The cons are that it is going to be extremely expensive and the handle is still known for being brittle.
On this specific knife, the carbon fiber is a dark grey and a lighter grey. The fibers have been woven together to look like the material is actually a marble. This look matches the mother of pearl inlay in the middle of the handle. Mother of pearl is a smooth, shining iridescent substance forming the inner layer of the shell of some mollusks, especially oysters and abalones, used in ornamentation, according to dictionary.com. The mother of pearl does gleam and have a unique pattern to it, which matches the handle and the swirled damasteel of the blade. The look of this knife is unique and classy—definitely a high class knife.
The handle itself has a pretty simple design to it. The spine of the handle is pretty straight, although still comfortable to hold. Towards the end of the spine, it curves to create a rounded butt. There is a slight finger guard to protect your fingers from slipping. There is also an average sized finger groove to comfortably hold onto this knife. The belly of the knife swells and falls to match the ergonomics of a palm. The Foray has been designed as an everyday knife and the handle does not lie—it will be very comfortable to use. And, it will draw some attention when you do use it.
The Pocket Clip:
The pocket clip on this knife is a tip-up pocket clip that is attached on the traditional side of the handle. This does reduce its ability to be a great ambidextrous knife. However, it is a deep carry pocket clip, which allows you to go about your day without worrying about the knife sliding out of your pocket.
All of the hardware is a dark grey. All of the hardware pieces have been coated with a diamond-like-carbon coating. This is a nanocomposite coating that has unique properties of natural diamond such as low friction, high hardness, and high corrosion resistance. And while most coatings do scratch off after long periods of time or even just heavy use, a DCL coating is one of the toughest coatings on the market and will take a lot more than just time or heavy use to come off.
This is a manual knife that has been equipped with an AXIS opening mechanism. A patented Benchmade exclusive, AXIS® has been turning heads and winning fans ever since its introduction. A 100 percent ambidextrous design, AXIS® gets its function from a small, hardened steel bar that rides forward and back in a slot machined into both steel liners. The bar extends to both sides of the knife, spans the liners and is positioned over the rear of the blade. It engages a ramped tang portion of the knife blade when it is opened. Two omega-style springs, one on each liner, give the locking bar its inertia to engage the knife tang. As a result, the tang is wedged solidly between a sizable stop pin and the AXIS® bar itself.
The knife has also been equipped with a thumb stud to help you open the knife. The thumb stud makes for an easy and common operation used to open up a folding knife. The thumb stud sits on the side of the blade near where the blade pivots on the handle. It makes for a comfortable way to use on hand to open the knife. However, it does put your hand very close to the blade itself when you are opening the knife. Keep this in mind and be cautious while you get used to opening the knife with a thumb stud. There have been plenty of stories of people moving too quickly and slicing their thumbs while they are opening their knife. One of the other complaints when it comes to a thumb stud is that because it does extend out of the blade, some people feel that it gets in the way while they are trying to use their knife. The thumb stud on this blade has been coated a bright blue, which does contrast with the neutral tones that the rest of the knife sports.
The blade on this knife measures in at 3.22 inches long with a blade thickness of 0.137 inches. The handle on this knife has a thickness of 0.56 inches. The overall length of this knife measures in at 7.34 inches long. The Foray weighs in at 3.46 ounces.
Benchmade says, “Producing high-quality, handcrafted products is a collaborative enterprise; marbled carbon fiber, mother of pearl, custom anodized accents, diamond-like-carbon coated hardware, and an exclusive Loki patterned Damasteel blade are brought together to form a beautiful and unique addition to our Gold Class line. “You can pick up this brand new Benchmade knife today at BladeOps. This everyday knife has a classy look that you won’t normally find in an EDC knife, but it still has the toughness, durability, and strength that you expect out of one.