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 and this is how.”
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.
After laser cutting 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. Benchmade says, “Tolerances are within the width of a human hair. Our knives have no room for error, and neither does a blank’s thickness.”
Next is milling. 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.
Following milling is beveling. Benchmade says, “Now the blade starts to really 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. 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.”
Finally comes back sanding and finishing. Back sanding is where the back of the blade finally gets its special attention. Up until this point, it has remained almost untouched. Last is finishing, which gives the blade a more refined look.
Last is assembly and sharpening. Each Benchmade knife is assembled by hand. An assembly technician receives all of the components — blade, liner, handle, hardware — and carefully pieces them together. The technician checks the knife for blade play (movement from side-to-side and up-and-down), and the result is a knife just waiting to be sharpened. Very last is when the blade gets sharpened. 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 Valet.
The blade on this knife is made out of M390 steel. This steel is one of the newer super steels that has gained popularity in the past couple of years. This steel was made and designed by Bohler-Uddeholm. They created this steel by using third generation powder metal technology. They developed this steel specifically for knives, especially knives that require high corrosion resistance levels and high hardness which leads to high wear resistance. Bohler-Uddeholm added in chromium, molybdenum, vanadium, and tungsten, which all work to promote the sharpness of the blade as well as the high edge retention that this steel is known for. This steel is also extremely corrosion resistant because most of the carbides are formed by vanadium and molybdenum, which leaves more “free chromium” to fight corrosion. This steel can be hardened to 60-62 HRC. Something that is unique about this steel is that the manufacturer calls it “Microclean” which means that it can be polished to a complete mirror finish, which is rare. This steel is a little bit complicated to sharpen, but not even as hard as S90V, to put it in perspective.
The blade on this knife has been finished satin, which is the most popular blade finish on the market today. The satin finish is created by the manufacturer repeatedly sanding the blade in one direction with an increasing level of a fine abrasive, which is normally a sandpaper. As a key, the finer the sandpaper and the more even the lines, the cleaner that the satin finish is going to look. Because this is a Benchmade knife, you can expect a very clean satin finish. The satin finish is used to showcase the fine lines of the steel as well as frame the bevels of the blade. Some of the other benefits to this type of finish is that it is going to cut down on glares, reflections, and even some corrosion. The satin finish gives the knife a very traditional look, which is perfect for this everyday carry blade.
The blade has been carved into a drop point blade shape. This is one of the two most popular blade shapes on the market today. The shape is both versatile as well as tough, which makes it the perfect option for your everyday carry knives. The shape is designed by having the spine of the blade run from the handle to the tip in a slow curve, which creates a lowered point. The lowered point is going to give you more control over your cuts, which allows you to perform fine detail work with this knife. The lowered point is also very broad, which is where the knife gets its high levels of strength from. The strength of this knife is what the drop point is known for and what lets the user really use this knife for almost anything. The broad point is also one of its biggest disadvantages, because it does take away a lot of your stabbing or piercing capabilities. Lastly, the drop point blade shape has a very large belly, which helps to make slicing a breeze. If you are anything like me, you are going to be slicing the most with your everyday carry blade, which is another reason the drop point is such an ideal blade shape for the Valet.
The handle is made out of black G10, which is a synthetic material. This is a laminate composite made out of fiberglass. G10 has very similar properties to carbon fiber, although it is slightly inferior and can be made and purchased for a fraction of the cost. Although it is cheaper to manufacture than carbon fiber, it does still have to be cut and machined into shape, so it is going to be a lot pricier than FRN/Zytel.
To create this material, the manufacturer takes layers of fiberglass cloth and soaks them in a resin. The material is then compressed and baked under pressure. This creates a very hard, tough, strong, and still very lightweight material that is perfect for an everyday carry knife. Out of all the fiberglass resin laminates (which includes Micarta, carbon fiber, and FRN), G10 is considered to be the toughest. It is also known as begin stronger than Micarta, but with the extra strength does comes the extra brittleness.
This folding knife is going to benefit from G10 because it is durable and lightweight, so it is going to be able to take a beating throughout its lifetime. It is also lightweight enough that you are not going to notice that it is in your pocket every day. Plus, G10 is non-porous, which helps to reduce maintenance because it is not going to rust or corrode.
The handle on the Valet is pretty simple. The spine of the knife curves slowly from the blade to the butt of the handle. The belly of the knife is pretty much entirely straight, although it does have a very small indent and groove for you to rest your finger in. The handle has enough added texture that you will be able to have a solid grip on this knife. Plus, the handle has been equipped with a lanyard hole.
The Pocket Clip:
The pocket clip is not a deep carry clip, which can be viewed as a definite drawback to the knife. Especially since this is an everyday carry knife. The clip is also not reversible, which does bother many people. The clip is designed to be attached in tip-up carry only.
This is a manual opening knife, which means that there is not a mechanism that is inside the knife to help it open. This means that the knife is not going to be as efficient as an automatic or even a spring assisted knife would be. That being said, it is going to be a little bit safer because it is harder to open. This is especially nice because the clip only attaches for tip up carry. Tip up carry can be more dangerous because if the knife accidently opens inside your pocket, it could cut your hand when you reach in your pocket. Because it is a manual knife, you won’t have to worry about this.
The Valet has been equipped with a thumb stud, which is one of the more common blade opening mechanisms available. This is a small barrel that sits on the blade near where the blade begins and the handle ends. The thumb stud replaces the nail nick that is found on older knives as well as more traditional knives. The thumb stud is a fan favorite because it allows you to easily open your knife with just one hand. That being said, some people don’t love how it puts your hand dangerously close to the blade during opening. And, some people complain that the thumb stud gets in the way even once the blade is opened. Overall, more people enjoy the thumb stud than don’t.
The knife has also been equipped with the AXIS locking 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 blade on this knife measures in at 2.96 inches long with a blade thickness of 0.099 inches. The handle on this knife measures in at 3.73 inches long with a handle thickness of 0.45 inches. When the Valet is opened, it measures in at an overall length of 6.69 inches long. This knife weighs in at a mere 2.18 ounces, which is ideal for your everyday knife, because you aren’t even going to notice it in your pocket. The Valet was made in the United States of America with Austrian blade steel.
When Benchmade is describing this knife, they say, “A Benchmade designed, AXIS® gent knife, the Valet is comfortable to carry in slacks and ready to get the job done when called upon for bigger tasks.” You can pick up this blade today at BladeOps and have yourself your brand new favorite everyday carry knife.