View Full Version : Best "custom maker" in history ...? Answer


CKDadmin
03-19-2001, 12:15 AM
Gentlemen ...

The answer I promised ...

"Show me the man or woman who is the least willing to accept "anything less than personal perfection" in their creation over the life of their career and I'll show you the person who history "will" define as the "best" custom maker ever born!"

Names like Warenski, Johnson, Fogg, Loveless and any others who have excelled to the level that they would warrant your vote as to their personal achievements are defined by the degree to which they have followed the above formula in their quest for "personal high-performance" in this art!

Now ... you might wonder, why would I start something as ambiguous as to ask a question that has such an open-ended answer as this. Well, understand that I care about what happens to "you", to "us" and to this industry we are creating together. I proposed this question to all of us in order to open a line of thought that might create a profound result in one of us if we understand the point, and understand it clearly!

The "best" custom maker in history, literally "CAN BE YOU", but only if you understand what it means and how to go about it's pursuit. Here's another piece of fundamental law: "This world will pay us exactly what we ask of it ... but, nothing more!"

Now, let's all seek out maximum personal high-performance in what we do and to each man's degree of consistency, let him be judged.

But, I'm here to tell you that no man can hold that reward from "you", if you desire it the most! No man ...!

Now, let's get busy...
The next time you make a knife, try this: Start out knowing that you will be unwilling to accept anything on this one piece that is not your personal best performance ever. I don't care what it takes. Lay it down, if you get tired and frustrated. Pick it back up when you feel that you can resume the process. But, go in with the knowledge that "absolute perfection" is the only goal you will accept before you call it "finished". If you will do this and stick to this creative goal with absolution, I assure you that you will suddenly realize what it "is" that separates the "big boys" from everyone else. Not only that, but you will create the "best" work you have ever produced as a result ... a personal "Masterpiece", in fact!

The "best" is not a talent that has to be granted by God at birth. The "best" is a reward for the willingness to tap, within ourselves, the ability to bring forth with our hands only that which our minds can conceive ... "Perfection". Understand that no man is condemned to the inability to see flaws in their work. We are only condemned to be willing to accept them, if we so choose! To the level at which you are willing to abandon the pursuit, is the level at which you define your existence.

Anyone willing to disagree?
:smokin:

Alex

Les Robertson
03-19-2001, 08:33 AM
Alex,

I disagree. Your plan is great in a perfect world. It is not a perfect world.

There are deadlines and bills to be paid. If you are doing this for a living you can simply not "put it down and come back to it later". That is not real.

Additionally, you forgot to add willingness to try new techniques, new materials. Not to simply be a sheep that follows the herd. Too many knife makers, hell to many people are like that.

You will not attain perfection on each knife. It is not a realistic goal.

However, putting into practice what the Japanese call Kai Zen (continous improvement) is realistic. Every knife is a little better than the last.

The makers I listed will tell you that they have yet to make a perfect knife. Some of these guys have been at it for 40 years. However, they get better every knife.

Alex, too many makers out there settle for their postion in the custom knife market. They whine and snivel about others getting press, more money for their knives, favoritism from judges, etc. All the while they do nothing to improve their abilities or their position in the market.

With the custom knife market being the way it is today, most of these makers careers as custom knife makers is short lived. In the slower paced days before so many shows and the Internet, poor to mid-range makers could hang around for years. That is no longer the case.

Want proof pull out any two Knives Annual's that are 5 years apart and go through them. Look at how many names have changed.

Alex, every knife maker will tell you there are mistakes on their knives. When I judge at knife competitons. Many times what determines who wins the "best of show" award, is who made the fewest mistakes. Because at that level in a competition, all the knives at first glance look perfect.

Alex's comments are good ones. They point out that it is you the maker who is responsible for the quality (or lack there of) in your work. If you want to be one of the best who has ever lived, that is totally up to you.

It's like I tell my kids, you are responsible for your own actions. You set your goals, identify the steps to meet and exceed them, then go for it.

Remember, Michael Jordan was cut from his High School basketball team. For some that would have been an excuse to quit. Remember that the next time you don't get the press or you don't win the award.

I realize it takes a certain amount of ability to even make a bad knife. Which is why I don't make knives, the world does not need another lousy knife maker.

Well, enough of this, gotta another week of moving into the new house.

Mondt
03-19-2001, 11:56 AM
Alex,
I agree with you and with Mr. Robertson.

Alex, your "ideal" is the goal for which I personally stive for with each knife. But as Mr. Robertson said at some point my abilities, at that time, are taxed or cut short due to deadlines or some other outside motivating force which causes me to say "I'm done".

Having spent the last 10 years of my life in Pharmaceutical manufacturing I have come to be very familiar with the concept of "continuous improvement". The FDA demanded it!

I also implement this into each knife I make. It simply means every knife I make must be better the the last one. It may be an improvement in guard fitting, handle design, final finish or whatever.

So in my opinion both of you gentlemen have the right idea. It is just a matter of integrity and determination for the knifemaker to find a balance they can live with as each of us strive for that perfect knife.

CKDadmin
03-19-2001, 12:36 PM
Les,

I'm not picking on your position, because we all love and hold you in super high esteem, but I want to use your argument to point out to the guys how easy it is to get conditioned into low-performance thinking patterns. That was the real argument that I wanted to create, anyway.

OK ... (point by point)

1. "Your plan is great in a perfect world. It is not a perfect world."

A) - "Human perfection", for the sake of example, is "relative" to what existed before the bar was raised last, and becomes "less than perfect" at the moment the bar is raised again. That's how I would define perfection in human terms.
You are correct, there is "no" such thing as "ultimate perfection" in this world. However, the current holder of any athletic "world record" could argue that they are the holder of the "highest mark in human perfection in human history." The "trap" we set for ourselves in allowing our minds to be conditioned by what we can attain, relative to human perfection, will only result in the degree by which we always fall short of our potential.

2. "You will not attain perfection on each knife. It is not a realistic goal."

A- If you tell yourself this before you begin ... you are correct ... "perfectly" correct! Let he who hath ears, hear!

3. "However, putting into practice what the Japanese call Kai Zen (continuous improvement) is realistic. Every knife is a little better than the last."

A- Refer to point 1 above.

4. "The makers I listed will tell you that they have yet to make a perfect knife. Some of these guys have been at it for 40 years. However, they get better every knife."

A- Les, the makers you listed would not address my original question, because they would expose something about "high-performance individual belief systems" that has created their own "legend", so to speak. But, it's also something that they are too professional to reveal.
What I mean is very important to understand, relating to this exercise. Being asked, "Who is the best custom maker in history?", I believe you would find all of them struggling to find the best way to look you in the eye and say ... "I am, Sir!"
What they mean is, they see no one's ability exceeding their own if they really want to focus in on a piece or a future achievement. That is a prerequisite to their ability. I'm not referring to a boisterous claim. I'm talking about an argument that exists in the deepest part of their internal belief system.

5. "With the custom knife market being the way it is today, most of these makers careers as custom knife makers is short lived. In the slower paced days before so many shows and the Internet, poor to mid-range makers could hang around for years. That is no longer the case. Want proof pull out any two Knives Annual's that are 5 years apart and go through them. Look at how many names have changed."

A- Look as well for the makers who's internal belief system is as I describe and you'll also see what I mean, too! The opposite effect ...

6. "Alex's comments are good ones. They point out that it is you the maker who is responsible for the quality (or lack there of) in your work. If you want to be one of the best who has ever lived, that is totally up to you."

A- Exactly the point!

7. "Remember, Michael Jordan was cut from his High School basketball team. For some that would have been an excuse to quit. Remember that the next time you don't get the press or you don't win the award."

A- Somewhere in that same event, Michael's internal belief system kicked in and said, "Look, I'm the only person who is qualified to say what I am, and am not. Get out of my way old man, because I'm Michael Jordan ... the best that's ever been! And, I can prove it ... watch me!"


Remember guy's, this is only an exercise in thinking strategy. I'm not here trying to tell everyone how to conduct your lives or what to believe. The only point that I originally wanted to make was that, "You are the only person who can limit your goals and achievement potential."

So, if you're one of those rare individual's who sees a big name maker and thinks "He isn't S**t compared to what I can do!" Guess what ... you may be right! But, guess what else? You're going to have to "prove it", every day!

Thanks for the input, Les! If anyone knows about "high-performance, you'd be a prime example!

Alex


PS - Question for you, Les ...

"Who is the best custom knife purveyor in history ..., in your opinion?" Be honest now ... :lol:

Geno
03-21-2001, 07:51 AM
Alex,
Did I Win A Prize for being the first with the answer?


The best custom maker in history is inside all of us waiting to get out.

CKDadmin
03-21-2001, 09:06 AM
Gene, we have a limit on awards you can win for one year or I would have granted one to you. But, you did get what I was leading into correct!

Alex