It’s a common weekend ritual for my family, heading to the southern end of Grayson County to visit my father-in-law, Pat Lovera.
On our visits during the autumn months, Pappy as my father-in-law is known to many in the Tom Bean area, usually has his big screen television tuned into some sort of football game.
But when pigskins aren’t flying through the air, the TV is often tuned into the Discovery Channel and it’s long running show How It’s Made.
After final video editing is completed in a few more weeks, that show will feature one of Texomaland’s top outdoor-related businesses, Charles Allen’s DiamondBlade Knives, located at North Texas Regional Airport in Denison.
According to a DiamondBlade news release, the filming of the company’s patented “Friction Forging” knife making process took place on Sept. 29 at the Denison factory after the show contacted Allen several months ago.
Known for featuring a variety of unique manufacturing and engineering processes for numerous products across North America, the local company will soon be introduced to the Discovery Channel world.
“We are certainly honored to be featured by How It’s Made showing how our Friction Forging process creates the sharpest, toughest, and longest lasting shaving knife edge known”, said Allen.
According to the news release, the show’s four-man film crew took an entire day to video every aspect of DiamondBlade’s knife making process at the local facility located at 3100 Airport Drive (www.diamondbladeknives.com; 903-786-7366).
That manufacturing process creates what is arguably the world’s best overall hunting knife, one that Allen and a couple of his Brigham Young University metallurgy friends, Dr. Tracy Nelson and Dr. Carl Sorensen, designed more than a decade ago.
When Allen first introduced me to the DiamondBlade knives he was making back in 2006, it didn’t take long to figure out that the local D-Town company had hit not only a home run, but a walk-off grand slam in the knife making industry.
Based upon the Friction Stir Processing (FSP) of hard metals, the technology was applied to knife making, resulting in one of the biggest — if not the biggest — revolutions in the knife-making industry in several decades.
But don’t take my word for it. Instead, take extensive testing — including hundreds of repetitive cuts on 1/2-inch manila rope with the CATRA (Cutlery Allied Trade Research Association) Razor Edge Sharpness Tester — as proof.
A decade ago, Allen and Nelson showed me a variety of such tests being conducted with the CATRA machinery, along with various other testing procedures that included the use of 100% nitric acid, days-long saltwater immersion, and exercises designed to beat standards from the American Bladesmith Society.
Why all of the knife abuse and careful testing, much of it at the Alaska Expedition Company hunting and fishing lodge that Allen and his wife Jody operate seasonally on the 49th State’s silver salmon rich Tsiu River?
Simple — the Denison businessman, who is also an Alaskan bush pilot and owner of the companion knife making company, Knives of Alaska (www.knivesofalaska.com) — was hunting for knife making perfection.
“Our goal was to construct a blade with a super-sharp, long-lasting, corrosion-proof edge that also had an extremely tough spine, which makes breakage difficult,” Allen said after the product’s initial release.
“Simply put, we wanted to produce high performance blades that are superior to anything on the market,” he added.
From where I sit, Allen has done so, thanks in part to the company’s exclusive “Friction Forging®” process (U.S. Patent #8,186,561).
A by-product of technology developed for the space program and the oil and gas industry, the process joins together exotic, high strength materials as the localized forging process concentrates in the edge zone of the knife blade.
Utilizing high pressure and frictional heat, the company’s use of the process produces “nanosized” steel grain micro-structures and results in one of the toughest, longest lasting, sharpest cutting edges ever made available on a hunting knife.
“The key to the blade’s extremely sharp and long-lasting edge characteristics result from the very fine, hard grain structures created within the steel by controlled frictional heat and extreme forging pressures,” said Allen.
Did Allen and his scientific pals from BYU meet their goal?
Well, a variety of standardized, hands-free testing and a decade plus of market success would seem to indicate so. And that’s not to mention the U.S. Patent and numerous awards, including several “Best of the Best” awards from Field & Stream magazine over the years.
How do Allen’s DiamondBlade knives perform outside of the laboratory?
From cutting through rope to chopping through 2x4 boards to being bent in a vise to 115 degrees without any cracking or evidence of edge failure, I’d say pretty well.
What about out in the field? I’ve seen them perform quite well on everything from trimming shooting lanes to field dressing and caping big game animals to cutting through wing bones of ducks and geese, all without even a hint of the blade getting dull.
So much so that on more than one occasion, I’ve drawn blood from my own hands due to the scary sharp blades that make quick and precise cuts my other hunting knives never have.
And afterwards, if I want to, I can still shave hair from my arm.
Allen’s own in-the-field testing is even more rigorous, thanks to the various chores of filleting fresh caught silver salmon to field dressing a huge Alaska Yukon moose to caping a sand-encrusted hide from a brown bear taken by a hunter along the shores of the Gulf of Alaska.
All of that is impressive knife making technology and in-the-field ability, something that has attracted well deserved attention from numerous members of the outdoor media — including Field & Stream’s iconic gun writer Dave Petzal to name one — along with many other people in far flung corners of the hunting and outdoors world.
What Allen has done — which is to revolutionize a longtime industry that had gone for many years without much in the way of real, substantial advancement — is nothing short of amazing in my book.
And it’s even more amazing that it’s all happened right here in Denison, Texas, a corner of the world that isn’t well known to many who live outside of the Red River Valley.
But thanks to the local knife making company, it soon will be as plenty of outside residents discover Allen’s technologically advanced hunting knives.
And how they are made.