The founder of Benchmade Les de Asis fell in love with knives in childhood when his uncle gave him a balisong from the Philippines. That time, butterfly knives that were available in the USA were of disgusting quality, so Les decided to start his own production of balisongs using modern technologies. After graduating from high school, Asis began to make his dreams come true: he worked as a mechanic in the workshop in the afternoon, and after he created the design of his future knives in the evenings.
In 1979, Les met a skilled knife-maker Victor Anselmo, who helped him to polish the blade of the first prototype of the famous knife Benchmade Bali-Song. Les de Asis himself designed handles and build the final version. When he finished his first balisong in the garage, the guy took it to the knife store. The owner of the shop bought a knife and ordered another 100 pieces.
Inspired by success, in 1980, Les incorporated as Bali-Song®, Inc, rented a shop, bought the original equipment from the retiring owner of a California manufacture. Utilizing the rudimentary technology Les created the first production: The Model 68. Company's product was not limited to balisongs. Over the next seven years, they added common folding knives and fixed blades. Also, the brand was renamed to Pacific Cutlery Corp.
De Asis persistently was looking for methods to reduce the cost of production and decided to place manufacturer's segment outside the United States. Pacific Cutlery Corp has lost control over product quality and delivery. After the failure of several important contracts, the company filed for bankruptcy. But the knife maker didn’t give up. In 1988, Les reintroduced a new company. While there was “handmade” and “factory-made”, Les wanted the name of the company to reflect the essence of its production: knives made on machines, but assembled by hand. He joined “bench” operation and custom part to Benchmade.
Due to the mild law regard to carry knives, Oregon became the epicenter of American manufacturing. In 1990, Benchmade also moved to a factory in Clackamas, Oregon. Les de Asis focused on the equipment. Benchmade was the first knife company to own a high-power laser cutter, allowing for work with steels too hard to stamp. Also, Benchmade began to supply military units.
After 6 years Benchmade moved from Clackamas factory to new large place in Oregon City to be able to satisfy the growing customer demand.
During its existence, Benchmade has collaborated with a number of custom knife makers: Jody Samson, Ernest Emerson, Allen Elishewitz, Mel Pardue, Bill McHenry, Mike Snowy, Jason Williams, Warren Osborne and Bob Lam. But the most successful was a collaboration with Bill McHenry and Jason Williams. They invented the famous AXIS® lock, used in the vast majority of Benchmade folders. Several models with this locking mechanism are presented on our site, for example, Benchmade 581-131 Gold knife.
Up to these days Benchmade continues to improve and constantly update its equipment. Using high technology, Benchmade can create blades from steels M2 and CPM M4. Benchmade sees its products as “workaholic knives made by workaholic people”. Absolutely every knife at each stage goes through a manual measurement procedure. For example, the maximum blade axis tolerance does not exceed 0.013 mm. Benchmade knives are also assembled and sharpened manually.
You can purchase original models of the legendary Benchmade company here on the Maria Stalina’s Knives online-store by using the feedback form.