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The Newbies Arena New to Knife Making? Here's all the help you need ...

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  #31  
Old 04-06-2007, 01:55 PM
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There are other terms than can be applied to each of those other circumstances. If we ever do actually get them all defined then it would appear that some of them will likely be redundant with this definition of 'custom'.Be that as it may, I think I have enough info to put together the first Poll and see if we can get a significant number of votes for one definition or the other. I'll post the Poll question here first for comments before putting it up to a vote ....


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  #32  
Old 04-06-2007, 05:30 PM
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I have to fall back on some of my examples from an earlier post which were not addressed.

Ray, If I buy a knife from you which was made to order, it is, by your requirements of the definition, a 'custom' knife. If I sell that knife on my show table 20 years from now to a collector, it is no longer a 'custom' knife. The knife hasn't changed, so why should the description of it change?

My inclination is to be more inclusive with the terms and less restrictive.

By your definition, there is no physical difference in a custom knife and a handmade knife. The only difference is in whose sense of artistry and whose performance requirements are being met... The maker or the customer? In this senario, I would rather have the non-custom knife made to the maker's standards as he is likely to conceive a better product in every way. This could make the word 'custom' synonymous with ' wierd, far flung, knife concept, conceived by a person who knows little or nothing about art and blade design'. hmmm... This could in fact lower the value of any knife bearing the word 'custom'. It would also mean that a custom knife can never be a second hand knife, or inherited knife. Even if I say, "Hey Ray, make me a knife and bill me when it's done", it isn't a custom knife because I've indicated not specifics.

Furthermore, let's say I order your Razor design with an ivory handle and I want a portrait of my pet snake scrimshanded into the ivory. Perhaps I even want my wife's name etched into the blade next to a flower. Is this a custom knife? I have indicated no differences between your regular model and the one I want, only embellishment. This could be a production knife with a custom handle, since you could quite literally strip the micarta off of something you have in stock and dress it out the way I want it. Should a true 'custom' go right down to the very design or will we have to start identifying which parts of the knife are actually 'custom'?

I still like Nathan's definition but would submit that the word 'unique' be added to indicate that this is not one of many similar handmade knives out of the same shop. A custom knife should be one of a kind, designed and made, in whole or in part to the specifications of a individual.

As for making our defintion fit the English usage listed in MW. Forget it. There are thousands of words in specialty areas of endeavor which do not jive with the 'official' definition. If I was a cop, and made a comment about a 'forty', I'd be talking about a gun.
If I worked at a liquor store, 'forty' would be a big bottle of beer.

Or we could go with a HUGE stretch! Don't laugh too much on this one!
We can use an alternate definition of 'custom'. As knifemakers, it is our 'custom' to make one-off, handmade knives. Hence, it becomes a 'custom' knife!
Please don't let this jibe detract from the 'assumed' validity of my previous argument. lol


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  #33  
Old 04-06-2007, 07:56 PM
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Andy,

No, I'm afraid you missed part of my gradually refined definition.
If you bought a custom knife and sold it 20 years later it would
still be a custom made knife. It was custom made for you, not the guy
who is buying it today but still custome made. Same as a tailor
made suit to draw a parallel. Maybe in 20 years no one would care
but it was and is a custom made knife.

By my definition there is no difference in a custom made knife and
one made by a maker on his own volition as far as quality, etc is
concerned. The only difference is that someone ordered it made the
way it was made however that may have been. It would not need to
become synonymous with weird etc unless the knife maker (in fact, a
lot of knife makers) made a lot of knives that most all of us would
say was a very bad design and should never have been made. That's
stretching a point pretty far to make that connection, I think. After
all, there are already plenty of custom knives and guns that contain
input from the people who ordered them and it hasn't hurt us yet.

As for ordering a knife and not giving any specifics about what the
maker should make that, in fact, is still a custom knife. We must
assume for this example that the customer in question wants something
that you don't have on your shelves, probably something special.
I have one customer who does that and I would never send him a simple
plain Jane knife on an order like that. But, if you think such and
order might be placed with the intent of receiving a run of the mill
knife then your customer's probably differ from mine and no definition
will cover every eventuality perfectly.

Yes, a knife with scrimshaw or your initials would be custom. If a
maker wouldn't normally have what you want on hand and you have to
order it made, it is the very definition of custom.

I understand what you mean by '40' and the different ways words are used
in different professions. We are in the process of trying to define
how we want some words defined for the knife making profession as
you have no doubt noticed....


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  #34  
Old 04-06-2007, 09:53 PM
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Ray, I am honestly trying to see your point here and be flexible enough to assign a rigid definition to the word 'custom' (oxymoron), but I'm having difficulties with the whole concept.

To the guy who writes definitions and updates them as the English language evolves, 'custom' means certain things. To a knifemaker, a car builder, motorcycle painter, etc., it means quite another.

You have stated eloquently your thought processes when you consider how a knife is made. You have chosen to assign terms to those processes and have shared them here. Cool. But perhaps this is too subjective an endeavor to attempt a blanket standarization. If there are varying degrees of 'custom' then there is a gray area too. This is where my thoughts on the matter exist.

To me, 'custom' in all artistic fields, means different from the norm, out of the ordinary, with unique characteristics, one of a kind, personalized. It's my experience in life that has led me to this way of thinking. I only need to drive down the street to the Big Dog Motorcycle factory, right here in Wichita, to see a thousand motorcycles hot off the line. No two have the same paint job. By Big Dog definition, these are all factory custom motorcycles with custom paint jobs. Few are actually ordered to the buyers specs. I am comfortable with their use of the word as are most people. This and many other examples form across the spectrum of artist pursuit guide me to this conclusion.

I'm just not convinced I can sign on to a new (to me) definition of such a common word. Especially since it seems that you are fairly insistant on your point of view. I want to support the effort here and the newbies coming in, but I'm just not on board brother. Sorry.


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  #35  
Old 04-06-2007, 11:57 PM
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I'd say it's about time to put it to a vote.

However, there are only 3 of us that are really debating the issue. If you guys weren't so far away I'd say it's about time to throw a few steaks on the fire and pop open some brews.
  #36  
Old 04-07-2007, 08:16 AM
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Amen to that! I'm just not sure my Jeep would make it up Ray's driveway! lol


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  #37  
Old 04-07-2007, 09:09 AM
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Ya, your Jeep would make it up the driveway now, most of the ice is gone. And, you'd all be welcome any time (and so would the steaks and beer!).

It's OK that you don't agree with my definition. When I started this I pointed out that there wasn't any definitive authority whose definition of these terms would be accepted by all and that, of course, includes me.

While I agree with what you said about the use of custom where those motorcycles etc is concerned (I would say they make 'customized' motorcycles) I was hoping that we could decide that - where knife making was concerned - the defintion of 'custom' would follow the proper English usage of the term and thereby supply additional information about anyone claiming to be a 'custom knife maker'. In the end though, I will go with the result of the vote which will be coming up very soon. Let's hope we get a good turn out.....


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  #38  
Old 04-07-2007, 09:26 AM
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Cool.


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  #39  
Old 04-07-2007, 10:24 AM
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Soon we will have our first Poll which will select a definition for
the meaning of the word 'custom' as it applies to the knife making
community. Based on the discussions in this thread, this is my first
draft of how the Poll will be presented:

Choose the definition that best defines the word 'Custom' as you
would like to see it used by the knife making community:

1. 'Custom' has been used for 30 years in the knife making
community as a general description for any knife made by a
knife maker. By this definition, all knife makers produce 'custom'
knives.

2. In English common usage 'custom', when applied to any product,
refers to a product that is made to a customer's specification. This
could mean as little as adding your initals to a knife or as much as
making the knife from the customer's design. By this definition, a
custom knife maker is someone who will accept orders for knives made
to specifications other than his own.

This is your opportunity to suggest refinements to these two
definitions before they are placed on a Poll. Please do not vote in
this thread
- these questions will be placed on a Poll after a brief
period to allow the community to review and comment on them...


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  #40  
Old 04-07-2007, 04:47 PM
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I think this modified version of Nathan's definition works.

CUSTOM KNIFE: A single knife produced to unique specifications with characteristics which set it apart from production knives. They are most often made and/or finished by hand.


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  #41  
Old 04-07-2007, 06:29 PM
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I not sure I see a material difference between that definiton and definition #1 in my post. That aside though, doesn't that defintion say that if a knife maker decides to make a second knife, perhaps sometime later, that is identical to the one he made before that it is no longer custom by virtue of no longer being unique?

The mention of production knives may also cloud the definition. I know what you mean there but many knives made by knife makers may or may not be better made that production knives (William Henry comes to mind although they may be semi-production). For instance, the typical tactical with S30V blade, titanium frame, and G-10 handle can be found in both camps. An argument could be made that the knife maker produced knife is better for one reason or another, and it may even be true today, but it may not be true tomorrow. I think this makes the definition unnecessarily narrow.

Also, the reference to being made by hand will bring up an additional question especially once we define 'hand made' since, whatever the definition of handmade may turn out to be, it will mean that only knives made that way can be considered custom ...


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  #42  
Old 04-07-2007, 07:20 PM
fitzo fitzo is offline
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This is an interesting discussion.

I have read through and may have missed a couple points. I hope a question would not be considered inappropriate.

Has the term "knifemaker" been defined?

If a person orders a knife from someone comprised of blade xyz from Jantz and red Dymondwood, would that be considered "custom".

Thank you for tolerating my interruption.
  #43  
Old 04-07-2007, 09:19 PM
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Fitz,

Heck no, it's not an interruption! Hopefully, you'll join in and get involved, everyone is welcome.

No, no other words have been defined as yet. I chose to start on 'Custom' under the mistaken beliefe that it would be a no brainer since the meaning of the word is so well established in colloqial English. However, some good points have been made for other interpretations as well. So, we've listened to arguments for different definitions, rendered them down to two choices currently (there could be more choices if someone offers another reasonable alternative), and we (the KNET community at large) are preparing to vote by Poll on which definition will be accepted. Prior to the actual vote, I've printed the definitions above to get comments and refinements before the actual vote.

To answer your question, a kit blade with red dymondwood handle would be considered 'custom' by either of the two definitions I have offered because #1 basically accepts the de facto meaning to be any knife produced by an individual and #2 only requiers that the knife be ordered. That's not entirely bad, such a knife is 'custom' under those circumstances. That doesn't mean it is hand made, hand crafted, forged, or anything else - all of which remain to be defined. In the end, one or more of those terms will mitigate the circumstances surrounding the 'custom' knife.

As for the third definition currently under review, the knife in question would not be 'custom' under that definition. Unfortunately, that definition has some serious short comings (my opinion, of course) that renders it seriously problematic in many other cases.

We'd welcome your input on all three of these definitions (viewable within the last three or four posts). We are only trying to define one word - custom - and we see no reason at this time for that definition to include any information on the methods used to actually produce the knife as that will be covered more thoroughly by other terms...


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  #44  
Old 04-08-2007, 10:58 AM
fitzo fitzo is offline
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Thank you, Ray. I am happy that I am not intruding.

After a brief survey of dictionary definitions it is apparent that the single word "custom" is specifically defined as being "to the specification of a customer". By that defintion, your narrower meaning of the word would be correct.

It becomes much more interesting, however, when the term changes to "custom-made". That definition seems to eliminate the need for a customer in that it says "made to the specifications of an individual". This would then accomodate the unique creation of the knifemaker without outside input.

That said, colloquial contractions of phrases are common in language and it would thus appear that the frequently perceived meaning behind the word "custom" is actually "custom made". It would also seem to fit with broader definitons proposed here.

It then becomes a matter of concensus whether the word is allowed to imply the phrase.

After reading through this thread, I think I have decided to simply say, "It's a knife. I made it."

Last edited by fitzo; 04-08-2007 at 11:05 AM.
  #45  
Old 04-08-2007, 11:01 AM
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Has anyone successfully dug the FTC rules defining these terms out of their database? I tried, but was not successful. There may be some insight provided in their defintions as it applies to commerce.
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