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Shop mate, thoughts/offer

Michael Pikula

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I have been mulling over this for a while and I wanted to open it up to the forum and get some feedback and thoughts as well as potentially start getting the thought out there. As I've been working I'm realizing that I am not fully utilizing the potential and space that I've created, and am open to the possibility of taking on a shop mate to share the space and tools, however I do expect that they would have their own tools that they will set up and use. (Getting into tools is getting a touch more specific then I am looking for at this time) I'd like for the person to be committed to their craft and doing this as a source of income and passion, and not an occasional hobby or time filler. It is very important that the individual an I get along and share a similar work ethic and attention to safety, keeping the shop clean and free of clutter, and connect as friends and not just be a business deal.


I think that getting together for a work/play day or two would be a good ice breaker, if we both feel like it could work out then do a one month trial, and if after a month there is still a good working dynamic then open it up for a longer term.


The individual would have to provide their own consumables, gas and electricity would be split, and rent would be negotiable depending the circumstances.


I realize that there are a thousand more details that would have to be ironed out, and I'm sure there are plenty of things that I haven't thought of, but I think this is a decent way of getting the thought out of my head and see the kind of response that I get.


Also if anyone out there has had experience with having a shop mate and can offer up tips, advice, things to avoid, etc. please post, or if you don't want to post it publicly then you can PM me. I do want to point out that right now this is ONLY a concept. IF the right person comes along, and I feel that an arrangement can be made in which all parties feel is fair.

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It could become a Discovery Channel series. "American Blade Smith", with all the drama, trauma, practical jokes and a few fights thrown in as filler. And each project will have the obligatory short time frame to up the tension level. All the scenes would be carefully produced to end with a big question and leave the viewers waiting and ready to tune in next week. Only to be let down by the hammer just chipping the anvil and not your thumb as it was alluded to. There would need to be some heated discussion with lots of bleeps over whether to get a 40 or 60 ton press. Hammers will be thrown, anvils kicked and un-heat treated but normalized knives will be pulled. Some without even a guard on yet.


And then some pre-scripted individual interviews about the correct way to clay up a blade. And how "Bozo over there insists on using Bolivian yak dung instead of Satanite".


Just an idea.:wacko:

Edited by B Finnigan

Everything I need to know I learned from the people trapped in my basement.



I'm out of my mind but feel free to leave a message.

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Maybe, keep things heavily on the business side. Then, treat the 'ice breaker' as a working interview where only you decide how compatible things will be. I think if you need someone to respect your stuff and hold up their end of the bargain, put friendship well down on the list and let it develop slowly out of mutual respect.


Chances are, you'd be taking on a 'starving artist' and you might appreciate someone with their head down and nose to the grindstone, instead of the nice fellow with excuse number fifty why they'll be a little late on their share this month. I think you're smart to look at ways to decrease your overhead, and you may as well use resources that you already have.


Best of luck with it, Craig

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myself, i'd say it would be a definite, No ! but i do really enjoy having friends over for projects or having students...

... i think you've worked quite hard to get the tools you have.. i'd becareful with them... also theres the worry that someone would get hurt... that could be a legal nightmare..


sorry to be such a downer..


but on the up side.. having small get togethers of local knife makers can be a surprising and energizing time ... do it regularly and it can be the seeds for decent friendships..



you could try it.. if it works out then that'd be cool




ps.. i'm abit of a hermit and a tool monger... just the thought of someone dinging my anvils or forging cold iron in my powerhammer would keep me up at night :unsure:


pss ... Brent, that was funny.. ^_^

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A set up like you mentioned could turn out to work very well or be a complete nightmare. It would be so dependent on who it was. I had one nearby knife maker come to my shop to get some help and to have me do some lathe work. It was supposed to be just for a couple hours since I had my projects going also. He was over an hour late and right off the bat had to start critiquing the layout and cleanliness of my shop. Then every 20-30 minutes his neurotic wife had to call him. I guess she had to constantly make sure he didn't make a wrong turn on the way over and end up at a titty bar.


He liked very much to talk about his bachelors degree and how that allowed him to be more intelligent in everything. Even someone like me that has been metal working since my teens.


Then while I was at the lathe he is over cutting something on MY band saw even though he had never used one before. I had to inform him that there are certain men's rules and one of them is you don't tough someones machinery w/o asking. Something his degree failed to teach him it appears.


After several more irritating incidents he finally left. Then two weeks later he posts a pic of his finished project on one of the knife forums. Even though I did 80% of the work he made no mention or thanks for my help and use of machinery. I even went into smart ass mode and posted a comment saying "Wow, that turned out great! You did a good job"!

To see if he could buy a clue and maybe post some info that he actually had some help making it.


If I am not credited for helping then that's not the end of the world. But to sit back and watch someone try to pass off my work as his own then I pet pissed.


So that little punk has never been back to my shop and never will be. And he has faded from the forums since his attitude seems to have not impressed anyone except him.


And that is when I realized my shop was not big enough for two personalities.


To think about someone else using any of my tools or even the potential to makes my skin crawl.

Everything I need to know I learned from the people trapped in my basement.



I'm out of my mind but feel free to leave a message.

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Thanks for all the thoughts so far. When I was getting started I had very similar arrangements with the people that I worked for, except I was getting paid to work, and had open access to the shop after hours, and my tools were limited to my tool box. My proposition would be similar except I wouldn't be paying the person, and they could bring their tools and set them up, if the dynamic is there. The thought of sharing my tools or having someone use my welder or power hammer is not a big deal, of course after I feel comfortable that there is no abuse, carelessness, or safety issues. I feel that shop trust has been extended to me in the past, and if the right person came along I could extend that trust to them.


The offer doesn't have to be extended to every single tool, and since I am looking for someone that is doing this craft for their own income I don't see this as being a teaching opening, just two guys working under one roof. I have enough space for separate work benches, grinders, forges, anvils etc.


I agree, it could turn into a total nightmare, and I don't know if the right kind of person is out there or interested, but by keeping the idea locked up in my head no progress could be made. There would also be a strict business side as far as rent and liability. I'd have a lawyer draft up some kind of statement that would have to get signed to the effect of I won't be liable and any activity would be performed at their own liability and responsibility. There would be another agreement as far as rent, and terms and conditions that would keep it fair for both parties. I'd rather draft up and talk about the "rent contract" with the individual since I am open and understanding to other people and their needs.


Craig, I agree completely with your post. Since I am a starving artist who keeps their nose to the grinding wheel I fully understand the situation, and am looking for the same in a potential shop mate. However I don't want someone who I don't want to be around, even if they were to pay rent on time either. My shop is on my property, and I am around almost all the time so that throws a whole new wrench into the mix.


Indeed this sounds more of a pipe dream, but hey I'm a dreamer. If I wasn't I wouldn't be doing this.

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You might consider taking on an apprentice or getting a flunky. Trying to rent out part of your shop to someone that is of equal talent could easily end in disaster, especially a couple young guys with serious youth egos. Since you started the circus you should be the ringmaster, not to mention you have made the investment and have the most to lose. If you have a big place and are just a bit bored why not do what we do down here and have a once a month bladesmith meeting to grill some burgers, hotdogs, and hit the chalk board hard to compare and explore technique.


You could also bring somebody in to work on special short term projects. I just moved to a bigger place so I'm telling a few friends to drop by, of course they have no idea I'm going to put their butts to work like a slave as soon as they show up. (Hope they don't read this :D )

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Maybe, consider other trades. Bet there're a few woodworkers in your neck of the woods that are on the look out for shop space. Might have a similar mindset, but less chance of stepping on toes. I know a local high end furniture maker who has three others renting different amounts of space/shop time, and he and his wife live in an upstairs apartment.


You live in a great area. I have relatives that couldn't more than fifteen minutes straight south of you, Craig

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Like what was mentioned the right person makes all the difference... On the whole I would say it has been a more positive experience for me than a negative one... Make sure you both or if more than two ,you all

Mark Your Tools.... when it comes time to go separate ways having the tools marked can save untold




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