Al Mar Knives are widely considered the father of specialty custom quality production cutlery and led the way for these trends in the cutlery industry by bringing production knife quality to a new level. As the company evolved, the knife designs merged and grew from gentleman's pocket, hunting, fishing and tactical to include martial, military, and eventually kitchen cutlery.
Today, they make fabulous blades which are a fusion of old-world steel practices and modern production. These blades have tight fit and finish, and rival hand-made custom knives, by design.
Al Mar was born in the United States, a son of Chinese immigrants. He joined the US Army after completing college and became a First Group Special Forces officer serving in Vietnam prior to 1960. After serving in the Army, Mar earned a Master’s Degree in Industrial Design from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. He also had extensive martial arts experience that would later lead designs that perfectly serve this niche.
He went on to become a packaging designer for Gerber Legendary Blades in 1968 and eventually the head of knife design in the 1970s. In 1979, he left Gerber to form his own company named Al Mar Knives.
In 1979, Al Mar established his company and designs that utilized the front lock. This modern interpretation and innovation of a century’s old invention, he credited both W.T. Fuller and Harvey McBurnette.
Incorporating Mar’s clean, simple lines, this new leap in precision and Japanese hand craftsmanship pushed the envelope and set the standard for ultra-quality folders that have followed.
Sadly, Al Mar died unexpectedly in 1992. His family continued the business until its sale to a friend, Gary Fadden, in 1996. Gary has worked diligently and successfully to revamp the entire line and adhere to the criteria of his mentor, friend, and predecessor. Al Mar still strives to produce high quality blades in the way their founder set out to do.
Al Mar may no longer be with us, but his company still follows his legacy. Using ancient steel techniques that add strength and beauty to the blades, these blades showcase the best aspects of mass production and hand-crafted quality.
Al Mar’s fusion of contemporary and traditional design, the use of state-of-the-art and natural materials, and use of the best exotic steels of the time, all contribute to his exquisite sense of form following function.
Al would be proud.
A: No, Al Mar Knives, originally made exclusively in Japan, are now manufactured in China and Taiwan. In 2019, Edge Technologies Engineering LLC acquired the knife brand. Gary Fadden announced that “Rumiko and I are happy to be working with ETE through the transition. The decision was made after an extensive search for a successor who would continue the four decade tradition of Al Mar’s innovation and excellence.” John Anthon, President of ETE is delighted with the opportunity to work with this Iconic brand and Gary as they build upon the existing product line and update classics. Today, they continue his mission to make knives with custom-quality design and innovation.
A: Al Mar knives are made with quality steel, but any metal that is not cared for will rust. Maintaining your blade properly, such as wiping down the blades and using a protectant when in humid environments, will help you avoid damaging your knife.
A: The best sharpening schedule for your knife is determined by how hard, how often, and what you use your knife for. We recommend regular, light touch-ups to keep your blade in top condition. If you want professional assistance in maintenance, click here to learn about how the experts at Country Knives can do it for you.