OLFA - The Japanese Leading Tool Experts

Posted by Chris Sugden on

Millions of people reach for an OLFA blade or cutter every day. The quality and reliability of the simple construction is taken for granted. While cheap OLFA blades are commonplace now, before Yoshio Okada created the first snap-off blade the only option were blades that required frequent sharpening and had none of the safety features OLFA offers today.

Although a modern invention, your OLFA cutter calls on an old & rich heritage of blades and manufacture in Japan.

OLFA blades - Japanese swordsmithing

Japanese swordsmithing has a legendary reputation. The swords used by Japanese warriors were sharp and had such sheer strength. As well as the intricate detail that went into each one. The creation of these blades was perhaps closer to a religious process than it is to manufacturing. The swords used by Japanese warriors were sharp and had such sheer strength. As well as the intricate detail that went into each one.

One sword could take weeks to make. Specialist artists being involved at each stage make this process longer. While one smith might forge the basic sword, others would work on the main blade, while another sharpened the edge and yet others polished and decorated it. While this might seem inefficient it meant that craftsmen collectively developed a huge depth of knowledge about how to make strong, sharp blades. One sword could take weeks to make.

World-leading manufacture

This combines with the more recent pre-eminence of Japanese manufacturing. While there might not be the same scare-stories of Japanese manufacturing dominance that there were in the 1980s, this is because the rest of the world has learned from the Japanese approach. Many business schools throughout the world offer courses. Not just about manufacturing — that are derived from Japanese manufacturing processes.

Japan's manufacturing's ability was renowned. With the ability to mass-produce and maintain high levels of quality. This might seem contrary to the manpower intensive and lengthy swordsmithing process, but there were, in fact, many similarities. Even when plants were heavily automated, retained that swordsmithing culture. Workers were specialists and because of the collective commitment to quality almost beyond hierarchy. A factory-line worker could shut down production if they felt quality standards had slipped.

Tradition and technology together

So, what does this have to do with the cheap OLFA blade you are using? Well, it comes from a combination of both of those traditions. To have the same qualities like the swords, blades have been forged & tempered. Strong and sharp enough to cut, but, unlike the sword, retain just enough brittleness to allow for the precise snap when you need to a new cutting edge.

OLFA even use different techniques to manufacture their silver and black blades. A silver blade is a great all-rounder, balancing the sharpness of the edge with a long-life for each segment. But if you really need sharp, then the black blades have been forged to give a precise and sharp cut. And the manufacture follows the highest Japanese standards, with everyone, from top to bottom, committed to manufacturing the best possible blades so that every time you reach for your cheap OLFA cutter you are getting the best possible cut that combines the best of tradition and modern manufacturing.


Buy Olfa blades in our online shop here.

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