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 step in the process. We use the best materials and equipment. We make world-class knives for world-class users.” So let’s take a look at their process to see just how they create such fantastic knives.
The very first step in this process is laser cutting. Each and 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. Measurements are taken every step of the manufacturing process to guarantee an impeccable knife and streamline production. 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. A surface grind technician places each blank in its rack by hand (racks vary by the number of blanks they can hold at one time), and each side is ground to its specified thickness. After grinding, the technician checks the thickness of each set of blanks. Tolerances are within the width of a human hair. Benchmade says, “Our knives have no room for error, and neither does a blank’s thickness.”
The third step is milling. This is where blade holes, handles and grooves are cut on high-speed mills. For every job (or batch), the blade milling technician programs the mill and measures the blade or handle to make sure it meets our precise tolerances. Blades and handles differ from knife to knife, so the technician gathers a specific set of measuring tools for each job. One of the holes that is cut here 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. Handles require the same precision in order to fit the liners and blades properly and ensure a smooth mechanism.
The fourth step is beveling. Up to this point, the two sides of the blade were essentially flat. This is the step where the blade really begins to take shape. 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. Once again, the 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.
The fifth step is back sanding, which is the first time that the back of the blade gets special attention. Up until this point, the back of the blade has been relatively untouched. This step is combined with the sixth step, which is finishing. Finishing gives the blade a more refined look. Once 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. Each and every Benchmade knife is assembled by hand. An assembly technician receives all of the components and carefully pieces them together. Sharpening takes longer to master than any of the other steps. Each blade is sharpened to a targeted 30-degree inclusive angle, 15 degrees on each side. Benchmade says, “The knife is sharp enough when it can cut through ultra-thin phonebook paper effortlessly without tearing. And only then is it truly a Benchmade.”
Today we will be discussing the Benchmade Impel.
The designer behind this knife is Matthew Lerch. He says, “Welcome to my web-site. I specialize in interframe and integral folders with each knife being individually crafted using the highest quality materials available.” He also believes that artistic carving is a skill that he uses to add dimension. He says that for steels and engravings, he looks for the finest artist in each of the individual crafts. Because of the time and skill, he puts into each of his knives, he has been able to provide knife users with truly unique pieces.
The blade on this knife is made out of CPM S30V steel. This steel is made and designed by Crucible Steel Industries, which is a US based steel manufacturer. They designed this steel with high end pocket knives and high end kitchen cutlery in mind, which means that you are going to get one of the most quality knife steels around. When Crucible is discussing this steel, they say, “CPM S30V is a martensitic stainless steel designed to offer the best combination of toughness, wear resistance and corrosion resistance. Its chemistry has been specially balanced to promote the formation of vanadium carbides which are harder and more effective than chromium carbides in providing wear resistance. CPM S30V offers substantial improvement in toughness over other high hardness steels such as 440C and D2, and its corrosion resistance is equal to or better than 440C in various environments.” The vanadium carbides are what introduces extreme hardness into the steel matrix, but it does not make the steel brittle either. They accomplished what they were going for, because this steel is known to have the perfect balance between hardness, toughness, and edge retention. One of the only drawbacks to this steel is that it does prove rather tricky to sharpen.
The blade has been finished with a satin finish, which is the most common blade finish on the market. This finish is created by repeatedly sanding the blade in one direction with an increasing level of a fine abrasive, which is normally sandpaper. As a key, the finer the abrasive and the more even the lines, the cleaner the finish is going to look. Because this is a Benchmade knife, you can expect the satin finish to look extremely clean. The satin finish is used to showcase the bevels of the blade and show off the fine lines of the steel. The satin finish also cuts down slightly on glares, reflections, and even corrosion a little bit. The satin finish is a very traditional finish that will help give your knife a classic look.
The blade has been carved into a drop point blade shape, which is one of the two most popular blade shapes that is used in the cutlery industry today. It is so popular because the drop point blade shape is both versatile and durable, which makes it a great option for a wide variety of styles of knives. This everyday carry knife with especially benefit from it. The blade shape is formed by having the spine of the blade run from the handle to the tip of the knife in a slow, curving manner. This creates a lowered point, which gives the user more control over their cuts. This lowered tip will allow you to perform fine detail work with this knife. The tip on this knife is also broad, which is what gives this knife its strength that it is known for. This broad tip is what makes this knife so durable. Lastly, this blade shape has a large belly, which will make slicing an absolute breeze. The only drawback that this blade shape really has is that because the tip is more broad, you do lose out on your piercing and stabbing capabilities. For the Impel, this shouldn’t be too big of a drawback, because it is an everyday carry knife.
The handle has been made out of 6061-T6 aluminum. Aluminum is one of the more low-density metals that is used in knife handles. This means that it will give you the heft that makes you feel like you can take on anything, without actually weighing the knife down. This steel is known for being extremely corrosion resistant. The most common type of aluminum is 6061-T6, which means the type of aluminum is 6061 and it is T6 tempered. This aluminum alloy has one of the highest yield and tensile strengths of all aluminum alloys. Aluminum alloy is cheaper to machine and produce than Titanium, and is lighter, weaker, and less resistant to wear. For the most part, Aluminum is an inferior metal to Titanium aside from its lightness. However, when producing complex knives that require a large amount of CNC machining, such as the case with automatic knives, aluminum is much cheaper to produce and the material costs less.
The handle on this knife is tapered, which means that it is much wider near the blade than at the butt of the handle. This will help you have a more secure grip on it. The spine curves from the blade to the butt, which will help the knife fit more easily in your palm. The Belly of the handle also curves from the blade to the butt, but it does have an elongated finger groove near the blade. The groove will give you a comfortable and safe grip on this knife. Near the handle hasn’t been textured a ton and is satin finished. Near the butt, the handle is black and heavily textured so that you can go about your daily chores without worrying about your knife slipping out of your hand. The handle has a very traditional look that pairs very well with the satin blade.
The Pocket Clip:
The pocket clip that is on this knife is not a deep carry pocket clip, which can be a drawback. This pocket clip is also not reversible for left or right hand carry, which means that it is not going to be an ambidextrous knife. The pocket clip has been designed to attach to the handle as a tip down pocket clip only. One of the little perks of a standard pocket clip is that some people believe it helps them to withdraw the knife more quickly than if it were a deep carry pocket clip.
This is an automatic knife. This mean that it is going to fall under some very strict laws in the United States. An automatic knife is not going to be legal in all states, cities, or areas of the United States. It is the users’ responsibility to know their local knife laws before purchasing. BladeOps is not responsible for consequences.
This is a type of knife with a folding blade contained in the handle. This type of knife is opened automatically by a spring when a button on the handle is activated. Automatic knives are more efficient to use because all you have to do is press a button and you have your blade to work with. This means that it is going to be easy to open, even with one hand. This is perfect in case you are working on a chore that requires both of your hands. However, automatic knives are a little trickier to maintain because the spring is such a vital component of the knife. If the spring isn’t well taken care of, it can easily break and ruin the mechanism.
The blade on this knife measures in at 1.98 inches long with a blade thickness of 0.100 inches. The handle on this knife measures in at 3.06 inches long with a handle thickness of 0.35 inches. The overall length of this knife is smaller, measuring in at only 5.03 inches long. Because this is a smaller knife, the Impel only weighs in at 1.39 ounces. This knife was made in the United States of America, so you can feel proud to own and use it.
When Benchmade is discussing this knife, they say, “At less than 2″ in blade length, this is our smallest automatic knife. Don’t be fooled though, this automatic gent knife is packed with premium features.” You can pick up this knife today at BladeOps.