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Pocket Knife Manufacturing

Solingen has a long tradition of making knives and pocket knives. Even today you still find many manufacturers with roots far back in time. The OTTER-Messer company is definitely one of them. We manufacture our knives in a traditional way. An OTTER knife is therefore a great deal of handcraft.

In the following we will deliver insight into making of one of our classics, the Mercator knife.
The components
The path from Solingen steel to a Mercator knife leads via different components. In addition to a blade and a steel case, you also need a spring, a lever, a ring, a spacer and bilts.
The final touch
is given, now that the Mercator knife has been fully assembled. Its function and intact surface are tested. Then the edge is sharpened. The roughing is carried out with a grindstone and the finishing is done with a polishing wheel. This is where the sharpness that knives from Solingen are often praised for comes from. After a total of 42 work processes the Mercator knife is ready for sale and awaits its assignement.
The blade
is probably the first part of a pocket knife that comes to mind. In a single operation, at first, the blade before it then receives its nail-nick, the Mercator imprint and the blade hole. Afterwards the blade is hardened. For this purpose it is strongly heated and then cooled down rapidly in oil. Now the blade steel is very hard, but also brittle, which is why it is heated once more. Specialists refer to this as quenching and tempering. This decreases the hardness of the blade, but it also reduces the tension in the steel, which makes it less sensitive to shocks. The structure within the material becomes more homogeneous, that is, more uniform in its structure. This makes the steel itself more resilient, and no longer as brittle as before. The entire process of hardening and the subsequent quenching and tempering is referred to as heat-treatment. Now the blade is sharpened. At first it receives its thickness followed by the cutting edges. Once it’s basic form has been elaborated, the cutting edges are reground on a so-called „Blaupließter“ (a special machine for refinement of sharpening) in order to refine the surfaces. After that the back of the blade is refined and in doing so the sharp edges are removed and rounded.
The lever
enables the blade to lock, which makes cutting safer. Just as the blade it is punched out. This ensures invariable proportions/measurements. During the process of punching out the lever is also perforated. After that it is hardened and tempered. Afterwards are reground and they receive vibratory finishing.
The spring
is cut out and curved at the same time. The curve gives the spring a pre-load. Subsequent hardening does not only increase the strength of the steel, but also enables it to always return to its initial shape.
The handle
is also made of steel, when it comes to Mercator knives. At first the so-called tang is punched out. It require 8 holes for the rivets/bolts. The blanked edges are rounded. The next step is the curving where the steel case receives its typical Mercator shape. The recess is still missing. After it has also been punched out, the “Mercator Germany” imprint is added to the steel case. In the end the handle is furnished with a protective powder coating.
The ring
is cut to length by a round material. The surfaces are compressed to a plane and subsequently perforated and curved. In the next step the ring is nickel-plated, which protects it from rust.
The spacer
is actually a simple piece of moulded plastic. It seals the end of the handle which increases its form stability.
The assembly
is effected when all components have been prepared. The lever, the spring and the blade end up in the steel handle bar. So does the spacer. The ring is placed over the stamped holes. All components are firmly connected by rivets. They are mechanically shortened to the correct length and their heads are rounded.