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The Business of Knife Making A forum dedicated to all aspects of running, managing and legal operational issues relating to the custom knife making and custom knife selling industry.

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  #1  
Old 01-28-2007, 12:42 PM
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NJStricker NJStricker is offline
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Let's hear some stories!!!

OK, this is for the knifemakers on the forum that sell part time or full time. What made you start selling? How did you do it? What worked or didn't work? The newbies want to know, so tell us your story!
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  #2  
Old 01-28-2007, 05:03 PM
Doc Hollywood Doc Hollywood is offline
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I just started making a few kits this past year and I took it to work to show some of my coworker's and some of my patients and some commented that it looks really professional and they said could you make me one too?

The rest is history.
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  #3  
Old 01-28-2007, 06:14 PM
derek parker derek parker is offline
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started messing with kits...sold a couple at my shooting range, and business expanded from there......wound up at a flea market seeing what the average selling price was and talked to a guy that was selling a BUNCH of factory knives. he decided that he liked my filework and embellishments and started giving me work every week. we decided on $6 and $8 an inch for different designs of filework, and MOP, tiger coral etc. for embellishing.
this is what i do full time, and in the next year i plan to start grinding out blades and selling those, and learning how to make sheaths. in the next five years i would like to be proficient standing in front of a forge.....but those are long term goals. my main goal right now is getting a fairly cheap grinder and getting some time in on that while still making money with the kits and filework.
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  #4  
Old 02-01-2007, 05:14 PM
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Ed Caffrey Ed Caffrey is offline
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I had never thought about selling knives when I started out. I was just something "cool" and useful. I had made about 6-8 knives and given most of them away to family and friends. At the time I had a little 8x12' shop with EVERYTHING inside of it. One of my friends had shown his knife to someone, and told them where I lived. The individual stopped by one afternoon when I was in the shop. I was working on a 3 1/2" bladed, wire damascus hunter. After the introductions and chatting while I worked, the individual blurted out..... "I'll give you $45 for that knife your working on." I was a bit stunned, and said "What?" He repeated what he had said, and I pondered it for about 1/10th of a second. At that time $45 represented enough money to buy enough guard and handle material for about 1/2 dozen knives! I took his offer, and that's how I started selling knives.

The best memory comes from my first custom knife show that I attended about a year later. I had taken a camp knife, put stag scales on it, and ground the bark off. I then put every color of leather dye I had on it, wiped it off, and let it dry, then lightly sanded it. It was an awful looking thing. Anyway, while at the show, a gentleman and his wife approached my table. I stood up, shaking and stammering to introduce myself. I had $125 marked on that camp knife (which I thought was pretty high at that time). The gentleman picked up the knife, showed it to his wife, and looked at the $125 price tag......I nearly fainted when he threw two $100 bills on the table and stated "Thats a $200 knife if I ever saw one." Thats when things got serious for me and knifemaking. It still took a couple more years before knifemaking started to pay for itself, but after that situation I had so much enthusiasm that there was no turning back. It is always an up and down way to make a living, and it requires a lot of self discipline, but it sure is a lot of fun. (the military retirement doesn't hurt either)


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  #5  
Old 03-11-2007, 04:34 AM
bushworker bushworker is offline
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I'm a newbie myself. I put a knife (the 15th I'd made) on ebay, got a great list of watchers and a few enquries. The knife was bid on after 3 days and sold for $175 7 days later (only one bid). It was awesome that someone spent $$$ on something that I had worked so hard at.
To any other newbies out there be patient, strive for excellence & never ever quit! You will be rewarded.

Last edited by bushworker; 03-11-2007 at 04:37 AM. Reason: spelling error
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  #6  
Old 04-20-2007, 10:22 AM
mcninch mcninch is offline
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good advice.
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  #7  
Old 04-20-2007, 11:03 AM
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skipknives skipknives is offline
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Hay Armory414,,,i'm a part time maker,,i fell into a great bunch of guys here in Arizona at the collertors club,,every year they put on a show in Mesa(just east of Phoenix) and in Tucson,,,
A well known knife maker lets me hang out in his shop and visit when i drop off blades to be hardened,,i get to ask a millon newbie questions and watch a pro at work,,
I sell knives at those shows to get enough money to make more,,and i sell to my nabors and friends and the folks they send my way.
Skip
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  #8  
Old 04-20-2007, 12:46 PM
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David Broadwell David Broadwell is offline
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I made my first knife in the spring of 1981 from a broken mill file. When it was finished I stood looking at it and had this chill run from the top of my head to my toes, and I knew right then I had to make knives for a living! That first knife was made just because I thought it would be fun, but from then on my goal was to make them for sale. I made some for family and friends, but I never lost sight of the goal.

My first custom order was from a project engineer I worked with later in 1981. It was a drop point hunter flat ground from 440c with a brass guard and walnut scales. He paid a whole $35 for it. He wasn't really a hunter, but he did carry it with him on Army National Guard drills. Ran into him a couple of years ago and we caught up. He's a general in the Guard now and he still has the knife.

My first show was a local gun show here in Wichita Falls, Texas in August 1982. I shared a table with my friend Bob Hajovski. Some of you may remember "Bob-Sky" knives. Sold three or four knives, all under $100, and the promoter of the show got the local TV news team covering his show over to my table. Man, I was on CLOUD 9! I was more determined than ever to become a full time maker.

What works? Skill, doing something different from the rest of the herd, and being friendly and honest with the public. Obviously you can have little skill and sell some of your knives, as there are makers who do that. Usually there is some form of bovine scat to help the sales! However, there's no substitute for good knifemaking skill. Doing some different can be a challenge but it needs to be done. Let me pick on my friend Ed Caffrey. Yes, he's a Mastersmith, but his knives don't look like all the other MS knives. Ed has a distinct look to his work and has chosen not to do what so many of the other ABS makers do. I'll also pick on Ed about the last point. When Ed was here in 96 for the Guard he set up at a local gun show. I got to see him in action. There was an enthusiasism for his work, but it was honest and without that bovine scat I mentioned. He was also friendly to the public, including the tire kickers who obviously had no intention of buying a knife. These are the things I try to do myself. There are LOTS of makers now. If you are not working to improve your skills, if you are just making knives like 296 other makers, and if you're rude, buyers will just walk to the next table with their money.

Anyway, that's my story and I'm sticking with it!

David
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  #9  
Old 05-14-2007, 01:03 PM
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NJStricker NJStricker is offline
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David,

Thanks for the story and the advice. It was good to hear how you and others got started in the business.

Nathan
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  #10  
Old 03-25-2015, 12:00 AM
rose61 rose61 is offline
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I know a lot of businesses use that kind of feature. Haven't seen it on many K-makers' sites. Might check with James "Pop" Poplin I think he has that feature on his knife supplies website.





:*RosE*:
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  #11  
Old 04-19-2016, 04:06 AM
machinedock machinedock is offline
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wow! amazing experiences everyone's have and i enjoyed while read all.
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  #12  
Old 04-19-2016, 10:41 AM
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Andrew Garrett Andrew Garrett is offline
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It's an old thread but not one I've seen before. When it was started, I had been making knives for about a year and a half. Now, 11 years into this craft, I might have a readable response.

My first knives were experiments really. My Dad carries my first. My second is my shop knife. After that, they were sold to coworkers who inquired. I never wanted to be 'that guy' who was always pushing my wares--the guy people actively avoid (Amway, Scentsy, Pure Romance, etc.).

My first show was in Oklahoma City. I set up my table and people started filing in. I had seen what the other table-holders were offering and I at least did not feel grossly out-classed. I was nowhere near the top of the market (still the case), but I had what I thought were well-conceived, usable knives for fair prices. When the first one sold--a little P-4 pocket utility, I tried to play it cool like I sold knives everyday. He bought the knife, but I don't think he bought my act.

Since then, I have come and gone in my knifemaking journey. I was never fully out of it, but its never been a full-time pursuit either. I am frequently contacted by clients around the world who have seen my work on the internet. It's a big ego boost when someone in Ukraine likes your work, so that gets me working hard for a while to fill that order and make a few to fill my show stock.

Gun shows have been another recent experiment for me. I sell just enough to make it worthwhile, but its a strange environment. At the knife exclusive show in Oklahoma City all those years ago, knives was all there was. People treated it like an art gallery. Nearly every guest stopped and gave thorough consideration to all the makers' work. At a gun show, 1 in 30 people will actually stop walking to look. 1 in 50 will ask a question. That's just not why people go to those events. I'm still figuring that out.

I hope I am never forced to make a living making and selling knives, but I sure wish I was good enough to do it.

For now, occasional custom orders (working on a Pathfinder fighter right now) and shows will be the limit of my sales efforts. I've considered e-commerce, but I'm not committed yet.

Wherever the journey takes me, I will always strive to give the buyer more than they bargained for. I never want to feel like I got over on someone--I want them to feel like they stole it.


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  #13  
Old 04-19-2016, 04:15 PM
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zappo zappo is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Broadwell View Post
I made my first knife in the spring of 1981 from a broken mill file. When it was finished I stood looking at it and had this chill run from the top of my head to my toes, and I knew right then I had to make knives for a living! That first knife was made just because I thought it would be fun, but from then on my goal was to make them for sale. I made some for family and friends, but I never lost sight of the goal.

My first custom order was from a project engineer I worked with later in 1981. It was a drop point hunter flat ground from 440c with a brass guard and walnut scales. He paid a whole $35 for it. He wasn't really a hunter, but he did carry it with him on Army National Guard drills. Ran into him a couple of years ago and we caught up. He's a general in the Guard now and he still has the knife.

My first show was a local gun show here in Wichita Falls, Texas in August 1982. I shared a table with my friend Bob Hajovski. Some of you may remember "Bob-Sky" knives. Sold three or four knives, all under $100, and the promoter of the show got the local TV news team covering his show over to my table. Man, I was on CLOUD 9! I was more determined than ever to become a full time maker.

What works? Skill, doing something different from the rest of the herd, and being friendly and honest with the public. Obviously you can have little skill and sell some of your knives, as there are makers who do that. Usually there is some form of bovine scat to help the sales! However, there's no substitute for good knifemaking skill. Doing some different can be a challenge but it needs to be done. Let me pick on my friend Ed Caffrey. Yes, he's a Mastersmith, but his knives don't look like all the other MS knives. Ed has a distinct look to his work and has chosen not to do what so many of the other ABS makers do. I'll also pick on Ed about the last point. When Ed was here in 96 for the Guard he set up at a local gun show. I got to see him in action. There was an enthusiasism for his work, but it was honest and without that bovine scat I mentioned. He was also friendly to the public, including the tire kickers who obviously had no intention of buying a knife. These are the things I try to do myself. There are LOTS of makers now. If you are not working to improve your skills, if you are just making knives like 296 other makers, and if you're rude, buyers will just walk to the next table with their money.

Anyway, that's my story and I'm sticking with it!

David
Good stuff David!


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