From Gear Patrol: A guide to Portland’s Knifemakers

I forget the context, but a commenter once opined that Pennsylvania was the knife capital of the United States. I am guessing because of the steel-mills. I am not sure…he wasn’t very convincing. I would say if you were to limit the query to the Eastern U.S., Pennsylvania still finishes behind Upstate New York, and maybe even central Kentucky.

However it is a moot point. Portland, Oregon almost certainly takes the crown for the United States as a whole. In addition to beer and beards, blades are one of the cornerstones of the Portland area economy – employing more than 2000 people over the last decade.

From Gear Patrol:

Coast Cutlery was the first of the big outdoor knife makers to settle in Portland, in 1919. Twenty years later, Joseph R. Gerber formed Gerber Legendary Blades. Then in 1974, former Gerber employee Pete Kershaw left to form his own company, Kershaw. And, in 1994 Columbia River Knife & Tool (CRKT) was formed by Paul Gillespi and Rod Bremer, both former employees of Kershaw. Knife companies begat more knife companies, and eventually the city became home to around a quarter of America’s pocket knife brands.

As companies grew, so did the number of local parts suppliers and machining companies, offering a reliable and skilled vendor base to the industry. With a strong base of part suppliers, Portland became a viable option for burgeoning knife makers. Several companies like Benchmade — founded in L.A. by Les de Asis — have since relocated to Stumptown.

The article goes on to talk about smaller, artisinal makers as well. It highlights Murray Carter as an example of the independent and artistic spirit to be found in the area.

In my mind, there is no question that Portland is the Knifemaking capital of the US.

Any dissenting opinions?


  1. dph says:

    It may be the knife making center of the USA, but for sure it’s the crazy whacko capitol. They aren’t lying when they say “Keep Portland Weird”.

    1. Sam L. says:

      As they say in Texas, “Boy, Howdy!” Much of the craziness comes from the local politicians (many who have come form elsewhere to do their bit).

  2. Sam L. says:

    Just realized, they left out William Henry knives.

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

From Gear Patrol: A guide to Portland’s Knifemakers

button to share on facebook
button to tweet
button to share via email