Knife Shop Tours: Fun and Educational

I’ve always wanted to see what it takes to make a knife in person, and I was lucky to get that opportunity not long ago at Medford Knife & Tool (MKT). My kids were out of school for a few days, and we wanted something fun and educational to do. I reached out to MKT and, within a few hours, we had a tour scheduled.

Are Knife Shops Too Macho for Family Tours? No

Medford Knife & Tool
Arriving at Medford Knife & Tool. (All photos by Jennifer Wood)

I wasn’t sure what to expect with our visit. I’ve seen videos from factory knife companies, showing huge facilities with hundreds of machines and employees. Most of these videos show men assembling knives through the filter of strength and masculinity. There is usually some heavy-metal music in the background with sparks flying like fireworks in the dark.

While this company isn’t lacking in masculinity, I must say that I was surprised at the size of the building upon arrival. Located in an average industrial park, the shop is in a medium-sized, one-story building with nothing too dramatic on the exterior. Modest and clean, the MKT shop boasts pride and precision. Walking in the front door, I noticed the attention to detail was carried over to the interior. Everything was neat and tidy.

Once inside, we were greeted warmly by the front staff. After putting on safety glasses, we were on our way through a glass door to the floor where Greg Medford and his talented group of employees create their magic.

Again, I couldn’t help but notice how neat and clean this facility was. Everything was in its proper place with labels and shelves and perfect stacks of steel. Everyone was working at their station with a black Medford t-shirt and jeans. Falling in line with attention to detail, there was a casual uniformity that embodied the whole company. I’m pretty sure this place was more organized than my house.

Meeting the Mastermind

After a quick safety briefing and shop overview we were introduced to Greg, who was dressed in the same black tee and jeans as his employees. He’s in the shop with his employees putting knives together one blade at a time.

When we met him, he was busy replacing a customer’s blade that had been damaged by incorrect sharpening. Working quickly, his hands guided the knife together with precision and accuracy. Once he felt it was perfectly in place, he took us to the blade sharpening room. As he sharpened the blade, he explained how the steel holds an edge. Everything but the U.S.-sourced steel, we learned, on every knife is created in the MKT shop.

The Tour

Medford Knife & Tool
Greg Medford

Greg lead our tour the way someone would guide you through their newly constructed house, touting the importance of craftsmanship and origin of materials.

There were many machines on the floor, but the main thing I noticed was that people did most of the work. Sure, there was steel ready for tumbling in a cylindrical machine, and steel being cut by automated machines, but human hands performed most of the work.

In one corner, we watched an employee create sheaths for a popular fixed blade. In a different area, someone worked to create a flame design featured on some knives. Behind him in a separate room with windows there were two men meticulously sharpening each knife by hand. Their job is to sharpen every blade.

Why Bother with a Tour? Perspective

Every knife you buy has a story. Often that story goes untold because you only see the end product in a knife display case or in a shiny box.

It’s a different experience on a tour. My kids and I were able to hold the raw steel that would become a USMC Fighter and then, a few minutes later, hold the finished product. It’s rare that you are able experience the hard work and dedication from start to finish, not to mention something made in America and assembled by hand.

“Better than a Trip to the Zoo”

After about an hour and a half our tour was complete. Filled to the brim with information and patriotism, my kids couldn’t contain their excitement once we got in the truck to leave. It was better than a trip to the zoo.

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