View Full Version : How long?

Don Cowles
09-03-2001, 07:54 AM
One of the most frequently asked questions from non-knife people in my experience has been, "How long does it take you to make a knife like that?"

I have seen other makers comment on how much time they put into a particular blade, ranging from a couple of hours to many months. I would be interested in hearing from those of you who make knives on what your "average" time is to make a knife. When we have some feedback, we can talk about what that time consists of.

Bob Warner
09-03-2001, 08:07 AM
For a knife similar to the Loveless drop point it takes me about 24-25 hours of actual work time.

This includes forging to shape, cleaning up the profile, grinding, heat treating, grinding, finish work on steel, handle asembly and attachment, handle shaping, handle finishing and logo etching. The cure time for adhesives is not included.

The majority of mytime is spent on hand sanding.

However, this is an estimate because I don't do just one knife at a time. So I don't really even answer that question with an "HOURS" response. I usually just say, "I make several at a time and don't keep track, because if I did, I would find out I am not making any money."

09-03-2001, 11:17 AM
My standard respose is "as long as It takes to make it right...."

I honestly dont keep track of how long most blades take to complete, I think for me this is because I dont have set hours of knifemaking, I just get into the shop whenever I can.

I would say that a good guestimate would be 8-25 hours not including H/T time .
8 hours would be a simple 8" DP hunter W/ no bolsters
25 hours would be a larger knife With bolsters filework, finer finish, inlays etc.
It all depends also on how much Mr Murphy Visits me during the making of a knife :)

Good topic.
I think I will try and keep track of time for the next few i make and see how accurate that estimate is!

Brad Duncan
09-03-2001, 04:15 PM
All I can say is it is a matter of hours.That is for a standard liner lock with bolsters and carbon fiber.


09-04-2001, 12:21 AM
It all depends on what kind of knife your talking about. I can build one of my plain slab handled liner locks from start to finish except H/T, in about 11-12 hrs if I hump & get it. One with damascus bolsters, fluted handles, filework, & fancy thumb stud with take more like 20-30 depending on all the details. What makes me sick is Bill Ruple can make two nice trappers in a day with file work & it takes me 2 days to make one. He's just too fast for my own good. If he was such a nice guy I could probably hate him for his speed & nice work :) Hope I havn't bored yall, Dwayne

09-04-2001, 12:29 AM
My spelling isn't quite what it ought to be, on my last post, I ment to say if Bill Ruple wasn't such a nice guy I could probably hate him :) He's good people. Later, Dwayne

09-04-2001, 05:34 PM
TWO IN A DAY!!!! Shoot when I first met Bill Ruple he was making one trapper a day. Now he is up to two a day. Man he ought to be givin them folders away for nothin'. I'll take one of them 5 blade sowbellys and a split back wittler Bill just mail um to me or better yet I get them at Johnny's in Sept.

By the way don't forget he is (was) a farmer so his days are 20 to 22 hours long to begin with. :lol:

Bill is a class act. And a really nice guy. I wouldn't be anywhere near where I am today if it wasn't for him. He has always given me help and advise when every I needed it. He's just glad I moved off and dang I wish he'd quite changing his phone number. :)

As for me, well I tried keeping a time log on a knife a couple of different times. After I remade blades, liners, bolsters and several other parts I decided it wasn't worth it to know what it took to make a knife.


09-04-2001, 09:47 PM
Some of this is guess work, but I have timed myself a couple of times just so I could answer this question.

Average liner lock 3" blade about 20 hours.
Full tang bolstered:15 hours add 1 hr for a guard.
Hidden tang antler handle: 12 hours

File work tacks on about 2 hours.

steve filicietti
09-05-2001, 07:02 AM
I won't mention how long it took me to make my last folder (about four years ago ), I think I will stick to fixed blades. Some of you guys turn out beautiful work in a short time.

Don Cowles
09-05-2001, 08:02 AM
When I try to come up with an average time, I need to factor in design time as well as actual fabrication time for it to be a valid number. Even time that I lie in bed trying to resolve a difficult manufacturing or assembly problem in my head should be counted.

With this in mind, I calculate that my own “average” time per knife, including the sheath, is about 20 hours. I am not, of course, including the time it takes for epoxy to set, or the hours spent in the tempering oven (during which I am free to do other things), but only the time where I am totally committed to the task at hand.

It is interesting to note that a big chunk of the time I spend on a blade has to do with getting out grinding scratches. Most of this is done by hand, using a vise, sandpaper, and a sanding block. If I can figure out how to do more of this before heat treat, and on the grinder, I might well be able to knock 2 or 3 hours off of my average time. Haven’t got there yet, though.

09-05-2001, 12:26 PM
Don, brings up a good point, what do you include in your how long count. Do you include design time? OK say it's a design you make a lot so design time doesn't count into this. What about office time? talking to the customer about it, billing, ordering supplies, paying for them, answering phones. Building jigs or tools or maintaining them or just swapping out belts or dumping out garbage. All this is part of your overhead and you should figure out how much time you need for that per week, how many knives you make per week and then you can figure out the actuall hours involved per knife.