What we Expect from Our Knives
Product development at North Arm has several drivers:
- superb level of function
- products that are bought once to last a lifetime
- beauty, style and uniqueness
- connection to the area where we live
We design and produce our products with the help of technology, including CAD (computer aided design) and CAM (computer aided manufacturing). Working with the appropriate raw sheet stock we cut both blades and handles in small batches using a CNC machine. Each blade coming off the mill proceeds through a multi-stage hand finishing process that involves deburring, polishing, heat treating, buffing, and sharpening before it is ready for assembly with the handle parts. We use only the best cutlery steels available on the market, and the most durable handle materials we can find. Our knives are designed to be technically advanced, functional and beautiful. We expect them to grow old gracefully with you while always being a pleasure to cut with.
The nature of our production methods and our relatively small production scale give us some advantages over large factories. Our production methods are relatively flexible compared to big companies whose processes are often tightly bound to specific material properties and for whom production line changes can require years of development. We can adapt our process to use new steels or handle materials with relative ease because we don’t have a massive capital cost commitment to recoup. Being as small as we are, we have decidedly more the feel of an all hand-made custom shop than that of an all-robot factory, while being in the position to satisfy a somewhat bigger market than the smallest makers. We are able to use superior materials that are less compatible with large scale productions techniques. A small production scale coupled with hand finishing means one knife is never quite identical to another of the same model. Small though these differences are, they do lend a surprising sense of uniqueness to each knife.
Choosing a Knife
Choosing a knife depends on what the user wishes to cut with it. Blade geometry plays a large role in the way a knife cuts. Geometry is the shape of the knife’s blade, namely the profile and cross section. A knife with a thin spine that tapers very gradually to a fine cutting edge will be an excellent slicer but also relatively delicate. On the other hand a knife with a thick spine which tapers to the cutting edge over a short distance will be very strong, but won’t be a good slicer. A knife’s intended use can be determined by observing its geometry so pay close attention to this aspect when knife shopping. Each of our knives has an intended use and blade geometry to match that use.
Look for a knife made from a high quality steel. If a manufacture won’t tell you what type of steel the knife is made of, or simply calls it “stainless steel” or “high carbon stainless steel,” it is almost certainly a poor one. “Stainless” and “high carbon stainless” are very loose terms which knife manufacturers use to make the sub-par steels in their knives sound high end. Any reputable knife manufacturer using high quality steels will advertise the specific grade of steel used in a knife as a point of pride. Steel is the heart of the knife; do some research on the steel in the knife before buying it. Carbon content is one of the best indicators of the quality of the steel, the best steels are made up of 1% carbon or more.
Our Lineup and Roadmap
We make knives for both the kitchen and the outdoors. Details on the specific models can be found in the product pages in our online store.
We’re always re-evaluating our product development plans, tweaking priorities based on customer demand and our own sense of what the market wants. As things look now, a smaller folder, or a bread knife are likely candidates for our next new knife.
You can also sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date with what we’re working on (we typically do mailings quarterly).