The online community of knife collectors, A Knife Family Forged in Steel
Hey guys. So here is the deal I have been making knives for a couple years now. about 6 months ago I started learning how to make bearing flipper folders. I feel I have gotten pretty good at making these knives. So far all of my sales have been local stuff and customers that were refered to me by other makers. However I am going to have a web page up by feb. I am in the process of making a batch of folders and a batch of fixed blades I want them done and ready to go before I put up the page. So ok my questions are for the collectors. Now as far as flipper folders go I have seen really the market is split in 2. First we have the knives that are cheaper in price but made to use and use hard. Then we have the higher end folders that are more expensive and make use of higher end materials like Damascus and Timascus/moku ti. Shell and carbon fiber ect... So really I am trying to figure out where I should put my time and energy. Personally I like to use these high end materials. But I do understand that when I put my page up I will be virtually unknown and no reputation wich can take a very long time to get. So I am wondering for the collectors how many of you would buy a higher end knife with these higher end materials from a maker that is in my position where I am just emerging onto the scene and trying to build a reputation. What I am trying to figure out is if I should keep most of my energy into a knife made for hard use or if I should start making more of these higher end folders. any advice you guys would like to share is appreciated.
Speaking from the view of a collector, user and owned a retail store for 17 years, there is no RIGHT answer. I would suggest a combo of the two-- user and "higher end" knives. I would suggest doing some larger regional shows and getting your knives in some brick and mortar stores. In the knife world reputation sometimes means more than quality. There are some great, little known makers that make as good a knife as well as the known makers. You have to decide if you want to be a maker and enjoy what you do or make a profitable business out of it, starting out there is not much middle ground. To do the latter you will have to make compromises, sell what people will buy at a price they will pay, that means you may not always make the knife you want, but what the end consumer wants. People in the knife community are a great bunch and can be very forgiving but at the same time can be very demanding. Best of luck in your endeavors.
Dave I agree with all of the posts which are a wealth of information you should study. I particularly agree with Tim and Jake. Build what you love and love to build.
Good handmade and even forged fixed blade knifes are fairly common. Handmade folders of quality are not so common. When I research on which knife I will write about, I like to look for a high quality knife, fixed, folding or auto, which is affordable to knife lovers/users. Like Roy I don't mind paying for a good quality knife in the $400 to $600 range. My most expensive, only exception to my rule to carry what I buy, knife is an auto Don from Pro-Tech at $1,600. Special knife I don't carry.
I would suggest folders. Take eight out of ten knives to be of high quality in the $200 range for a start. The other two you build you can let your creative side take over. In this way you will show your range from working folders to too pretty to use. I would also suggest you build some auto as well. Auto knives are the up and coming market. There are not that many being handmade one at a time under $800. Market these at around $400.
Websites are great but Face Book, Pinterest and Instagram are the most productive. For the "not so smart" device users these sites load faster and get right to the information they are looking for.
Message me with your email address and we can talk.
My input comes from someone who appreciates both straight forward hard use knives and "very well-made" works of art. I would personally recommend making a combination of both (but concentrating on simpler hard use knives that also look good) and then start throwing in one or two really dazzling pieces. Until you establish a good following, selling those more expensive ones might be a very slow endeavor. My favorite knife maker comes to mind ... Alan Davis. When he first started out (in 2008 or so), most of his knives were fixed blades and simple folders (but with nice looking materials). His prices ranged from $150 or so on up to around $300. Rarely did a knife of his last very long when he put it up for sale. As he got better, he started to shift to really eye-catching folders with outstanding materials. With that, his prices rose considerably. Most of his knives listed lately go for around $1000 +/- (with his most expensive piece to date going for $1600). Naturally, they mover a little slower now as the pool of folks willing to spend that kind of money for a knife (and actually use it) is much smaller. Just something to think about ... as knife making isn't an inexpensive venture in and of itself (what with paying up front for materials and equipment).
Thanks guys...yeh I do realise that I am not going to be able to get the same price for my knives as a guy that's been doing this for 20 years....well not right away anyway. I do much of my stuff as stock removal however I think variety is the key in beginning to just see what people want and don't want. I have been working with another maker that has a good reputation already where he would forge the knives and then I take over but up until now he has been selling them so I am hoping getting a page up and being able to put some of those knives up that a other maker that has a good reputation worked on as well will help get a little attention. and it will add more variety of adding knives that were forged vs my usual stock removal. Maybe if I try to cover all bases in the beginning to start getting attention then start to see where I can focus my time and energy
Sounds like you've come up with a good plan, Dave.
Personally, I gravitate towards a user, but that's me.
denis just saw your post now....I had to laugh at the end when you say knife making is not inexpensive SO TRUE. I always carried a knife but started wanting more and more expensive knives eventually I said to myself....I cant spend that much money to buy that knife I like....let me learn how to make them instead....well I could have bought 1000 + of those knives I didn't want to spend the money on with all the money I have spent on materials and equipment LOL but I do love making knives so its worth it
In my opinion you should go with high end knives... I guess it's easier to slide downhill than to climb a mountain LOL... in other words set your goals high and see where it goes. Nothing says that you couldn't do both (a little of the hard use knives) maybe as supplement to the high end sales.
Promote your lower-end knives as primary, and then offer fancier knives upon request.
See where your market goes.
I think you have gotten some good advice here. Having started an internet business (16 years ago) I would suggest trying to make a name for yourself primarily in one area (niche). You note a preference for working with high end materials, so I would say follow your heart. Take your time and work to the very highest standard. I will not mention any names but there are several makers from whom I will not buy a second knife, not because the knives are "bad," but because they let go little details like fit and finish, machining screws to sit flush in liners, etc. But then I'm fussy, but so are others. The advice to start with below market prices to establish yourself is good. And once you have that reputation then you can broaden your range of offerings.
Those are my views for what they are worth. If I were younger, I'd be doing what you're doing.
Good traditional folders for EDC. Stainless bolsters, pins, liners. A small step above the average factory knife. Nice quality but not over the top. Something that could be used, carried, and collected.
Maybe stick with good quality users and break into the market that way. Build a reputation with something affordable and reliable that will get your name out there. Once that takes off, take some time to do a few high end knives geared more toward the collectors/users with deeper pockets.
Dave, it just depends on the area you're in and what the demand is there.. Personally, I try to avoid high end customs and the junk knives. I want to carry a good, knife but have my limits on what will personally sell at a show.