• New Laser Marker

    This Spring we purchased a new laser marker for marking our knife blades.  We have had our blades laser marked for over ten years but the new marker allows us to do the work in house.   It also allows a lot of additional options for custom marking, numbering and marking the steel type we are using.  As we have always made our knives to last a lifetime, we have always thought it was important to have a permanent mark on our blades.  Most cutlery companies’ use a cheaper electro etch that wears off in a few years.

    Laser Marker

     

    One cool discovery we made in setting the marker is that Lego’s are the perfect tool to make a temporary fixture to hold the knives in place while being marked.  Having small children, I have had a growing appreciation of the Lego as the greatest child’s toy ever invented.  It was my favorite as a child and it is my children’s favorite toy.  I never even considered that it could be a great tool for knife manufacturing as well.

     

     Laser Mark

  • Leftovers to make a sweet grill.

    Last Summer, I hosted a wedding rehearsal dinner for my longtime friend, Jessica, and her fiancee' Gant.  Jessica and I worked as whitewater raft guides together in our early twenties and shared a near drowning experience in a rafting accident.  Over the years Jessica has moonlighted at the knifeworks doing shipping and customer service and even a short stint way back in the day making knives when we were working out of the garage.  Today she owns an interior design firm and does super cool work.  She designed the retail space in our current store and is helping with our new space that opens in May on the Jackson Hole Town Square.

    For the party, I made a mixed grill of local lamb and chicken and some delicious handmade sausages that Joel at the Aspen's Market made in a large coil for ease of cooking.  The challenge was that my standard Weber grill wouldn't hold all the meats.  I'd been holding on the a pile of leftover knife skeletons for a while and this was the perfect use for them.

    A "knife skeleton" is the remnant of a sheet of steel after we laser out the knives.  In the old days knives were forged usually from a rod of steel but today with modern high performance knife steels, they are best cut out of a sheet and precision heat treated.  Normally, we just recycle the sheets but we have lately been investigating other uses for them.  It's painful to get pennies a pound for recycling steel that costs upwards of $15 per pound in the sheet.

     

     

     The knife grill I made with the skeletons made cooking a ton of meat a snap.  Two courses of concrete blocks in a rectangle was all it took.  I turned a few of the blocks on their side on the bottom row to allow the fire to breath.  I also made the rectangle larger than the two skeletons to allow room on one end to burn wood into charcoal before shoveling it under the grill.  We have lots of skeletons, so if you have a use for one, we will be happy to sell it to you

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  • Flood at the Knife Factory

    On August 28, around noon, after receiving upwards of 12 inches of rain in Western Massachutes in the previous 12 hours, the Deerfield River breached the dam above our factory in Shelburne Falls, Mass. Being as Shelburne Falls is on the Massachusetts western boarder and hundreds of miles from the coast, the magnitude of the flooding caught everyone by surprise.

    With all the power and phone coverage knocked out and everyone scrambling to asses the damage, at our headquarters in Jackson Hole, we had no way of knowing how extensive the damage was. All we could do is search youtube and Internet for reporting. Here is an example of video that was available. This video shows a pink building floating downstream towards the factory which is off to the left.

    Youtube Flood video1

    This one shows later in the day when the water had come down a bit. Water flowing right into the L&G Headquarters.

    After two years of struggling to bring manufacturing back to the USA, it looked like New West KnifeWorks had just washed down the river.

    When we finally got a hold of the factory on Tuesday morning things looked grim. On a positive side no one was injured and the majority of the water had carved a trench on the upstream side of the factory back into the river channel. The 170 year old buildings had taken on water but remained intact. On the downside, all power had been stripped away and a 40'wide x 30' deep trench had been carved through the parking lot along the upstream side of two buildings.

    The folks at the factory had no idea how long it would take to get things back online. For our manufacturing partners, Lamson and Goodnow, this looked like this could be a death blow to a company that has struggled over the last decade in adapting to the economic pressures of a global economy. This being the peak of manufacturing time for New West KnifeWorks in preparation for the Holiday season, which represents 40% of our annual business, this could have spelled our demise as well.

    With nothing to do but press on, the boys rolled up there sleeves and got to work putting the factory back in order.

    The fact that entire area was devastated by the flooding compounded the problem of getting up in running. Fortunately, the hydroelectric plant just downstream of the factory was mostly undamaged. The largest challenge was replacing all of the electrical wiring and transformers that had been washed downstream.

    After three weeks, of hard work the power began to come back on. After four weeks the factory is up and running again. Thanks to disaster assistance loans from the State of Massachusetts and a lot of hard work by the folks at Lamson Goodnow; they are still slugging it out in the battle to survive in the global economy. At New West, it will be a struggle to meet all of our Holiday orders but, hallelujah, Christmas will come again. You might want to get your holiday orders in early as we are sure to run out of knives.

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