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Old 04-13-2001, 08:03 AM
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The last scratch..........

I can?t remember if this has been discusses here or not...but here goes:

What is it that makes one knife better than the other?? What is it that makes one knifemaker better than the other??

Well if we leave out talent, years of practise and the right tools needed, it is paying attention to detail.

When designing a knife ( or any other object for that matter) it is the details that brings it to level above all others. You can take a bunch of hot and pricy materials and make it to bunch of nice materials glued together or a very nice piece of cutlery.

Paying attention to detail in the workmanship is a thing that you just can?t do without. to be able to do this I belive you have to go trough a serious amount of training to become aware of what is necesary to make that special knife. As my fellow knifemaker RJ Martin told me when I when I visited him a few years ago "When you see a problem....Fix it". What he refered to was a very small scratch on a blade he was finishing while showing me how it was done. To fully understand this I must explain that on the knifeblade he was finishing there was 4 different surfaces...on each side! It was important to finish each surface one by one from the start, since the tecnics used influenced on the other. To remove the one last scratch he just spottet he went back and repeated all the steps.

I thought alot about what he said and what he did. I found out he had just handed me a piece of advise to was more important than most I had learned in knifemaking the past 10 or so years. What he really thought me was that extra attention to detail. Now if I see a scratch I remove it right there and then. I have put his words up in my shop so I will never forget what he said.

Removing that last scratch is what it is all about. This is the thing that makes the buyer look at this piece and say to him self..This maker really did pay attention to detail.

And I know ofcourse that I have still along way....but I keep on trying.

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Old 04-13-2001, 08:55 AM
Don Cowles
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Great thread, Jens. It is indeed the striving for perfection (though, in my experience, anyway, it is unattainable) that sets serious makers apart from hobbyists. I confess to having many knives "out there" with my name on them that date back to earlier stages in my development that I now wish I had never sold. I have also figured out that I have given away over 100 knives, most of which would not meet my standards today.

Doing the best I can is what it is about for me- and I can almost always do better. Makes me hang my head sometimes.
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Old 04-13-2001, 10:20 AM
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My first response to Jen's last scratch phylosophy is "Boy did I ever choose the right guy to ask to build my first custom knife!" My second response is "Boy did I ever choose the right guy . . . "

Working to your absolute highest standards is what sets you apart as professionals and is one of the most important things that draws guys like me to your work. There are some nice commercial designs out there made of very nice materials. I know, I have one in my pocket as I write this. But look a little closer and you inevitably find that the last scratch(s) is(are) still there.

Life is too demanding to be able to remove last scratches from every thing we do. Which scratches we choose to remove and which we choose to leave in is part of what makes us who we are. So Jens and Don, even if you don't make all your money all the time from selling knives, you are, by your phylosophy, in my book at least, truly pros at knife making. What drives you to remove that last scracth? That seems pretty clear. It is your passion, pure and simple, for this particular kind of creativity. Not the thought of being able to be called a pro.


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