Buck Factory Tour
While in North Idaho last month, my wife and I took the tour of the Buck Knives factory in Post Falls. They have a state of the art facility that they moved to from California a couple years ago. They offer several tours a day, several days a week... free of charge, but you do need reservations and closed shoes.
We arrived about 20 minutes early as instructed, and looked around the very relaxing, outdoor themed lobby and in the gift shop while the rest of our tour group arrived. We signed waivers, then were issued a headset so we could hear the tour guide in the noisy factory.
We first saw where the blanks are made. The 420 stainless comes in on giant 4 ft. tall rolls, about 4 or 5 inches wide. That is all stamped out mechanically. The higher grade steel comes in sheets and is cut out by laser. All scraps are sent off for recycling. If I interpret my notes correctly, 14% of their steel still comes from China, but more is of US origin each year. Next, we moved through all the machines and workers who take the rough blank and turn it into the finished product. It's a pretty good combination of craftsman and computers. We even saw a stack of Ron Hood Hoodlum knives being produced. The final assembly, fitting, sharpening and testing is all done by hand.
There is one five man crew that does nothing but handmade knives for their special projects and custom shop. The factory turns out 6,500 - 12,000 knives a day, but this crew does about 20 works of usable art a day.
There is also a separate section that makes nothing but the venerable Buck 110 and 112 folders that the company is so well known for. Another section does fixed blades and another does other folders.
Buck has a lifetime warranty on their knives and has a section that does all the repair and resharpening work. That crew has one guy who has been with the company for 35 years and made the move to Idaho with them. Let's say you break the tip off of your 110 and the scales have come loose, so you send it back. They may repair it or replace it. If they replace it, they save the bad one for a while in case you get your new one and then call because your grandpa gave you that broken 110 right before he died or something. They can then pull it out and send it back to you. All the others get a quick fix and are sent to missionaries in third world countries who might use them as gifts or barter items. That's a pretty cool program I think.
The tour ended, and of course, we bought a couple of knives in the gift shop. The VP of Marketing wanted to catch up with me, but he had prior commitments. I was supposed to give him a call to do a phone interview when we got back to Virginia, but earthquakes and hurricanes got in the way. I'll get that done this week.
The folks at Buck were really nice; the factory tour is a lot of fun and very informative; and they make a great line of knives. If you are ever in North Idaho or Eastern Washington, take the time to go visit... you won't regret it!
Tonight I am going to be interviewed by Carolyn Nicolaysen on the "Ready or Not" show on The Preparedness Radio Network on BlogTalkRadio. I'll be on at 9 p.m. Eastern, and we will talk about Hurricane Irene and my experiences with her. I think you'll be able to call in or ask questions in the chat room. Tune in and check it out!