For many years, my wife has been involved in the real estate business. Every one of her clients wants to get the best price possible, as well as selling quickly. To facilitate those desires, the first piece of advice she gives is to enhance the “curb appeal” of their home. The philosophy behind this is: if the outside of your house is attractive to prospective buyers, then it says a lot about what they will most likely find on the inside. Someone who cares for their yard and exterior surfaces of their home will, in all likelihood, also exercise similar care on the interior.

The same thing is true in the cutlery business. Since most knife customers are unable to see inside of a knife, what garners their attention is the fit and finish on the outside. One of the marks of a custom or handmade knife has long been a mirror-finished blade. Since it takes an enormous amount of hand labor to achieve such a finish, along with putting the maker into direct contact with the most dangerous pieces of equipment in his shop (grinding belts and buffing wheels), the mirror-finished blade speaks to the care, skill and dedication of the maker.

The Best Of The Best

Since the very beginnings of metalwork, a high gloss or mirror finish has set apart the very best of the best. For example: highly polished jewelry is a standard in that particular industry. Can you imagine trying to sell gold, silver or platinum with a dull or scratched finish? We all know and expect a high gloss or mirror finish on our personal jewelry. If you’re not in that crowd, then try giving your spouse or “significant other” a diamond ring with visible imperfections and a less than adequate final finish. After you see the frown on her face, you’ll quickly become a true believer in a lustrous finish.

At first glance, any knife blade will appear to be smooth. However, what the surface appears to be isn’t the actual reality. As smooth as any steel surface may look to the human eye, at the microscopic level it is a maze of canyons, hills and valleys. And these irregularities allow chemicals and moisture to gain a foothold, setting up the pathway for stain, rust and pitting. The only way to eliminate these potential detriments is to remove them through careful polishing to a mirror surface. Such a surface has no place for destructive elements to be deposited, let alone gain traction.

For more on this pick up the May 2013 issue of Tactical Knives!

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