Bark River Quality Control

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gra_farmer

Settler
Mar 29, 2016
602
343
Kent
So after seeing the new Bark River Aurora 2 in Cpm3v on knivesandtools.co.uk, I thought I would jump on the chance to buy an long awaited brand new purchase of a Bark River, and before zero customs trading with the EU stops.

Now I have never bought a new Bark River before, but have heard a few stories of Bark River Quality Control nightmares, so although I was hoping for perfection, I knew that there would be a small compromise somewhere?

So after a weeks wait, I had my possible bushcraft beater grail knife. Upon opening the knife, all wrapped up, I noticed that the blade has a different grind on either side of the knife, a high sabre grind with a convex edge (as it should be) and a flat convex on the other. Looking at the tip, you could also see it was off to one side, on the flat ground side, looking like the final shaping was still to happen.
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I have emailed knivesandtools.co.uk, and as always there customer service is great, but with brexit, customs issues to come and borders closed/delays, plus no replacements in stock, it makes it difficult to resolve.

This is obviously to a customer a production error, a so called Friday afternoon piece, and makes me wonder on others experiences in realation to Bark River Quality Control?

Are things like this normal?
 

Billy-o

Native
Apr 19, 2018
1,613
704
Canada
Sad to see, gra_farmer. That is, well, I was going to say awful, which it is, but really it is (curse word) comical. Maybe post on Blade Forums to get a clearer picture of what's going on generally with BRKT's QC. It'll certainly make them sit up and do something about it. Though I think it is good faith protocol to hear what BRKT will do to rectify things. Go 'public opinion' if they don't give themselves an absolute hernia trying to put the matter right.
 

Nice65

Full Member
Apr 16, 2009
4,985
1,543
W.Sussex
Had a Canadian with Desert Ironwood and mosaic pin handles from them. It was the most expensive of the custom handle options, cost me well over £200. The pin holes had had so much chatter from the drill, there were very obvious glue filled gaps.

They didn’t even want to know when I complained. I kept at it and was eventually asked to return it, but they wouldn’t be sourcing any more Ironwood for a few months. I did eventually get my knife, but it wasn’t a good experience, not for what was my grail knife. Also I sent it off with another DI handled BRKT that needed some TLC and bought the double sheath. Both came back with a secondary bevel instead of full convex.

It‘s unfortunate. When they get it right, they really do make a nice knife, but I had mine properly convexed by someone UK and sold them both because the whole experience left a bad taste.
 

gra_farmer

Settler
Mar 29, 2016
602
343
Kent
Sad to see, gra_farmer. That is, well, I was going to say awful, which it is, but really it is (curse word) comical. Maybe post on Blade Forums to get a clearer picture of what's going on generally with BRKT's QC. It'll certainly make them sit up and do something about it. Though I think it is good faith protocol to hear what BRKT will do to rectify things. Go 'public opinion' if they don't give themselves an absolute hernia trying to put the matter right.
Emailed them, both USA and EU contacts. Let's see what they say....?
 
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gra_farmer

Settler
Mar 29, 2016
602
343
Kent
Knivesandtools.co.uk, where I bought it, are great and I could just return it for a full refund. This problem is that I would not be able to replace it, as they are completely out of stock, and the price steps up a bit elsewhere.

So was thinking of doing similar to @Nice65, and seeing about getting it ground correctly, but this would be at cost. Or I could just use it as intended, sharpen on the thicker side and over a few years, it should even out...to be honest as a knife it works, and would do everything you want it too.

But the question is, if this was my company, I would be embarrassed to send out a knife like this.
 
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chimpy leon

Full Member
Jul 29, 2013
424
78
staffordshire
It’s not just your Friday afternoon knife, There’s loads of stuff on Bark Rivers questionable QC on the other side of the pond. They have developed a reputation for miss-selling steels; Premium stainless steels rusting like tool steels etc and having less than great customer service.
I don’t doubt they do make good knives when the mood takes them and many customers are satisfied, but it does seem like there’s a lot of shoddy rubbish getting through. It shouldn’t be happening at their price point in the knife market.
 

Erbswurst

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Mar 5, 2018
2,357
892
Berlin
Don't you get for this price a nice British custom made knife? Don't these Dutch offer other products too, probably of better quality?

Today it's the grind. Tomorrow perhaps the heat treatment. In such cases I stop the relation with the maker. If they like to drink at work, why should you finance it?
 

gra_farmer

Settler
Mar 29, 2016
602
343
Kent
Had a Canadian with Desert Ironwood and mosaic pin handles from them. It was the most expensive of the custom handle options, cost me well over £200. The pin holes had had so much chatter from the drill, there were very obvious glue filled gaps.

They didn’t even want to know when I complained. I kept at it and was eventually asked to return it, but they wouldn’t be sourcing any more Ironwood for a few months. I did eventually get my knife, but it wasn’t a good experience, not for what was my grail knife. Also I sent it off with another DI handled BRKT that needed some TLC and bought the double sheath. Both came back with a secondary bevel instead of full convex.

It‘s unfortunate. When they get it right, they really do make a nice knife, but I had mine properly convexed by someone UK and sold them both because the whole experience left a bad taste.
I know about your issues with your knife, but forgot to ask whom you sent your knife too, to get the grind corrected?
 

gra_farmer

Settler
Mar 29, 2016
602
343
Kent
Don't you get for this price a nice British custom made knife? Don't these Dutch offer other products too, probably of better quality?

Today it's the grind. Tomorrow perhaps the heat treatment. In such cases I stop the relation with the maker. If they like to drink at work, why should you finance it?
That's the other possible issue, when you buy a knife, it is on faith that the heat treat is correct, as it is impossible check that out of the box, or even the correct steel?
 

Erbswurst

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Mar 5, 2018
2,357
892
Berlin
Yes, and what you got from them shows very well that they aren't serious makers.
They just ask for a horrible amount of money, that's all.

I don't see any reason to buy a survival knife from people who obviously don't care about the quality they deliver.

In a serious work shop the boss would have a look at the knives before they come into the box.

I wouldn't trust them.
 

Nice65

Full Member
Apr 16, 2009
4,985
1,543
W.Sussex
I know about your issues with your knife, but forgot to ask whom you sent your knife too, to get the grind corrected?

I honestly can’t remember, may have been Longstrider.

Thinking back, as it all happened a long time ago, the issue with the pin holes was unrelated to the sharpening. The pin hole issue was difficult to sort out, I suspect because of the cost of well figured Desert Ironwood and the work involved.

Sometime later I was a batoning the knife, hit a knot, and felt a ping. I’d chipped the blade so asked to send it in for a regrind along with another. These came back with a tiny secondary bevel. After that, I’m not sure what I did, but my man to go to for correcting grinds has always been Longstrider.
 

TLM

Native
Nov 16, 2019
1,477
636
Vantaa, Finland
That's the other possible issue, when you buy a knife, it is on faith that the heat treat is correct, as it is impossible check that out of the box, or even the correct steel?
While checking the hardness and material are not very difficult it is expensive are one should not need to do it, the maker does have the responsibility of checking and not just receiving the payment.
 
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C_Claycomb

Mod
Mod
Oct 6, 2003
6,243
1,241
Bedfordshire
Yes, and what you got from them shows very well that they aren't serious makers.
They just ask for a horrible amount of money, that's all.

I don't see any reason to buy a survival knife from people who obviously don't care about the quality they deliver.

In a serious work shop the boss would have a look at the knives before they come into the box.

I wouldn't trust them.
I cannot believe I am standing up for Mike Stewart, especially when there is no question that his company has been mentioned multiple times on multiple forums for quality problems, but the highlighted sentence is not fair or correct.

The founders and owners of companies that have production quantities at this level most certainly do not inspect all the product. They have employees to do that. You can pin the blame on the guy at the top if the system is letting too many errors through, but you cannot reasonably expect him to check all the product himself.

I also disagree with your assertion that this example shows "they aren't serious makers." No one lasts nearly 20 years, employs 10-50 people (depending on where you get your evidence) and ships over 40,000 knives a year without being serious.

There are some good videos out there that show their factory, and explain the number of processes, people who handle the knife, and time it takes to make each one.

The problems that I think that Bark River have, that many other manufacturers do not have, is that they use a lot of a hands-on-process, they work with a very wide range of designs, and work with a very wide range of handle materials (many natural ones). Their knife style is also aimed at a hand-made level of finish. What I mean is that they hand grind and finish blades, and many handles are hand ground to shape, then hand polished, whereas many other companies mould or machine and assemble which takes some variables out of the process. In this regard they are very much more like a single knife maker, but writ large. I think this approach has some inherent challenges for quality control.

My impression from all the forum threads, videos, private conversations and my own phone call with Mike some years ago, is that they have a manufacturing system that they like and they accept the challenge of maintaining quality with that approach. They mitigate the problem with their warranty, which on paper is very good. Like many US companies, their biggest market is in the US, where the warranty works best. Changing their process or product range to reduce the small number of warranty claims from outside the US isn't on the cards. Even if I found one of their knives that I liked (handled over a dozen and hasn't happened yet), this would make me very hesitant to buy one.

There are some good videos out there that show their factory, and explain the number of processes, people who handle the knife, and time it takes to make each one.
 

Billy-o

Native
Apr 19, 2018
1,613
704
Canada
I think treat it lightheartedly at first, at least. It'd be a collector's item but for the fact that I bet it's not the first time it has happened. :lol:
 

Erbswurst

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Mar 5, 2018
2,357
892
Berlin
Yes I agree.
We don't know the reason why the quality control failed. Also serious people can get serious problems. And we shouldn't assume anything.

But I have to tell you that I would expect for such an amount of money a properly made knive. And if they know that they have a quality problem I simply would expect the responsible owners to do this job themselves as long as they find somebody who can do it for them correctly. These knives are emergency equipment! We don't talk here about neck ties or whatever.

When I discovered many years ago that my German made Vaude mountain tent was delivered with an uncoated floor, I did change it in the shop against a Hilleberg tent and never more bought even the smallest stuff bag from Vaude. I simply don't want dangerous equipment and I simply don't buy bad quality stuff.

Maybe they think it doesn't matter.
I think that it matters indeed.
 

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