Skip to content

Why Portland is the Knife-making Capital of the U.S.

Coast Cutlery and Gerber staked claims in Oregon in the first half of the 20th century. Kershaw, Leatherman, and Columbia River Knife & Tool followed their trail. Today, some of the United States’ most blade-friendly laws and a regional light-industrial-manufacturing and aerospace-industry supply chains (providing easy access to high-grade materials) have helped create the highest concentration of knife and hand-tool companies in the country—19 in the Portland metro area.
-- Chuck Thompson, Popular Mechanics

Craft beer isn't the only thing Portland is know for. Knife-making's "Widmere Brothers" was Joseph Gerber, who founded his company in 1939. Gerber would begat Kershaw Knives just 10 minutes down Upper Boones Ferry Road, and Kershaw would begat CRKT, 14 minutes down I-5, and so on. Like the Widmere Brothers, Gerber wasn't the first - but Gerber seeded an entire industry.