Country of origin?

Discussion in 'Knife Dogs Main Forum' started by Self Made Knives, Sep 29, 2017.

  1. Self Made Knives

    Self Made Knives Well-Known Member

    So far, in my short knife making career, I have been very diligent to try and only use materials that were Made in the USA. I'm very proud of that, I'm a veteran and more patriotic than most.

    So, today I needed to order some steel. I bought about 16 feet of AEBL-L from NJSB. I tried researching where it might have produced, but apparently Uddeholm has mills all over. Anybody know where it was likely produced?
  2. Rick Otts

    Rick Otts Well-Known Member

    I can see where you are coming from buying American I use to be the same way.I did 9 yrs in the USMC then moved to Sheveport La and got a job at GE.Never in my life have I seen so many lazy people in one place and not only that they thought the company owed them.I watched people work slow just so they could get over time and with all the senior people on 1st shift very little got done and all the while crying for more money when we were paid well.Sorry for this rant but I can see why companys moved out of this country and me personally I buy the best I can afford where ever it's made beacuse the few yrs I worked there and the stories I heard about the GM plant I am surprised we make anything in America anymore Sorry it's the way I feel.
  3. Self Made Knives

    Self Made Knives Well-Known Member

    I also served in the USMC, and I noticed the relative scarcity of American goods overseas. We import too much, don't make enough here. Funny you mention GE, I actually have some history with a division of theirs too. I think it's more of a company problem or culture. I'm hoping this AEB-L was made here, even if it's parent company is foreign.
  4. John Wilson

    John Wilson Well-Known Member

    You know, I believe in buying American when possible. I also believe that the item needs to justify the cost. If American made is better I can justify the cost increase for quality. All to often, that isn't the case. I'll buy a better mousetrap, but I'm not paying extra for me-too crap. I did six in the USN and then a couple more in the reserves.

    Here's the thing: If I buy something that was manufactured overseas I still bought it from an American distributor who employs American staff. It was delivered by an American trucker. The truck was loaded by an American warehouse worker, who received shipment from an American port staffed by an American stevedore at the docks who may or may not have unloaded it from a ship crewed by Americans. The only piece in the chain that isn't supporting Americans is the factory.

    I have spent my entire adult life (after the service) in factories. Factories where the company worked tirelessly to engineer the quality OUT of the product to get the cost down, instead of building in more quality to increase the value. It is a very conscious decision to lower quality and compete on price, and that way lies madness.

    I will gladly buy American, but I will not pay more if the quality is not better.
    Smallshop likes this.
  5. scott.livesey

    scott.livesey Dealer - Purveyor

    I am retired USN and worked factories after that, the longest time at Precision Forming of GKN Driveline(the folks who invented CV joints). Our emphasis was on quality and productivity. We forged the piece that drives the wheel and the piece that goes in the transaxle. we were able to hold such tight tolerances (+/-0.075mm) that the insides of certain parts only needed to be washed before final assembly. Our productivity was high enough and our scrap percentage low enough that we could make parts cheaper than Mexico even though labor costs were higher.
    It is hard to tell where the steel comes from. I use a lot of Starrett O1 and know that is was processed and ground in the US, but I don't know where the steel was made. Maybe Boss Dog can weigh in here since he sells all sorts of steel on his site.
  6. EdCaffreyMS

    EdCaffreyMS Forum Owner - Moderator

    Coming from another retired military guy......... As far as I know, Aldo has the majority of his steel produced in Germany. It's not that he doesn't want it produced in the U.S...... it because he cannot find anywhere in the U.S. to have it produced. In the U.S. we have almost no facilities that are producing "new" steel.... and particularly specific grades of steel that we would use in Bladesmithing/Knifemaking. With a few exceptions for the "specialty" knife steel (mostly the stainless varieties/CPM) you can bet it was produced outside the U.S. Way back when Aldo first got into the steel business, it was a time when many steel producers in this country were shutting down/going out of business. Aldo went around to these companies, and purchase the "melts" (these are usually 30,000lb "blocks" of steel) they had in their storage yards. He then contracted facilities to roll those "blocks" into sizes usable for knifemakers. Somewhere in that time frame I found out what he was doing, and ordered 1,000lbs of 1084 in various sizes. Every since, Aldo has been one of my "trusted" sources, simply because I am confident that when I purchase from him, I'm getting the best steel quality I can.

    I've been around this business long enough to be able to tell you, it has never been more difficult to find/procure quality steel for Bladesmithing/Knifemaking than right now. It's even more difficult to cultivate a "trusted" source. Over the last decade, I've tried various "sources" for steel, and more times then not, have been fleeced. I've received steel that wasn't what I ordered, and in a couple of instances, received steel that I found was intentionally misrepresented as being something it wasn't. For one reason or another, I've pretty much eliminated all but two sources for the steel I use. The part that has always staggered me is the number of Makers who simply look for the cheapest price on a given steel, and pay no heed to the quality of that steel, or how it affects their end product. An example is a company who will remain unnamed, that was offering what many called "incredible" prices on ATS34...... long story short, the company was selling "seconds".....steel that contained voids and/or slag inclusions. As Bladesmiths/Knifemakers, it's simply foolish to assume that no matter where you acquire steel, that it's going to be quality steel.

    The vast majority of steel sources/distributors in the U.S. sell steel that's produced outside this country, simply because it's not being produced domestically.

    I have to echo the "quality" call. Speaking only for myself, I consider Aldo the ONLY source to go to when I want top quality steel (of the forging variety).... which is the majority of the time.

    Honestly, my advice to anyone who's looking to buy "knife" steel is...... when you find a trusted source, that offers quality steel, buy as much as you can possibly afford. It's never going to be any cheaper, and it's not going to "go bad" on the shelf. It really comes down to a choice. At one time I insisted that all the steel I use was "made in the USA"......but my choices came down to..... stick to those guns and not have steel to use, or purchase the best quality steel I could/can, regardless of where it was produced. Some might view it as "caving in" but I chose the later. :)
    Smallshop likes this.
  7. Self Made Knives

    Self Made Knives Well-Known Member

    I was waiting on a reply from NJSB before replying to this thread. I had emailed them and asked about my recent order, but never got a response. I accept the fact that I can't always get Made in the USA blade steel, but I still like to know where it came from. I'm funny like that I guess. Maybe next time I see him at a show I'll strike up the conversation.
    Smallshop likes this.
  8. Smallshop

    Smallshop KNIFE MAKER

    If you bought 16 feet of steel...that shop must be finished. Do we get a virtual tour? Or perhaps I missed it? (sorry to thread jack;))
  9. Self Made Knives

    Self Made Knives Well-Known Member

    Well...... no. I keep getting myself into new projects and changing things. I've made a bunch of progress on the shop, but still not quite there. I had promised a little boy a knife a long time ago and started feeling guilty. He came to my shop with his parents and looked at patterns and tools and was really excited. When I saw him again a few weeks ago he ran up to me and asked if I had worked on his knife. Made me feel like crap! So, I made a promise to myself that I would deliver him a knife by Christmas, no matter the progress on the shop. When you order from NJSB the shipping is about $33 for a Fedex tube. It's about the same whether you buy one stick or four or five, so I went ahead and ordered four. Spreading that shipping across 4 makes it a lot more cost effective. I'll use it eventually.

    One thing that is killing my on shop progress is wiring. I had a good start on it and then decided I was converting to 3 phase. I recently bought a Bridgeport, a 24" vertical metal bandsaw, another surface grinder, an iron worker, etc. at an auction. All 3 phase. I already had one 3 phase surface grinder and a 3 phase plasma cutter, so midstream I made the call to change the shop to 3 phase. Stuff like that just keeps me backtracking!
    Smallshop likes this.
  10. Smallshop

    Smallshop KNIFE MAKER

    Just after WWII a young Japanese businessman named Akio Morita (co-founder of SONY corp) had the opportunity to tour American steel mills (and other MFG) teaching japan's business class new methods was to help pull Japan up by their bootstraps....

    He was ASTOUNDED by the advanced technology of our steel mills. In the late 1970s he (a much older man now) had the opportunity to tour our steel mills again (sony was opening a plant in San Diego area and looking for resources) Once again he was ASTOUNDED....

    We were using the exact same machines that he had seen in the '40s...

    When doing aerospace machining, much of the double vac melt stainless we bought was from Japan....Their foundries are very advanced and could provide the necessary purity at a reasonable cost.

    I'm sure we've upgraded by now....but,the short term focus on quarterly profits has about ruined us.....

    Perhaps this is one of the reasons it's hard to find good cheap US made steel.
  11. Smallshop

    Smallshop KNIFE MAKER

    I'm in almost the same situation...I'm embarrassed when people ask to see my shop as it is STILL not in final set up....but I've made some decent

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