Jump to content
Jon Stormm

Pricing Questions

Recommended Posts

I will preface this by saying im not a big name maker but I have made a few knives and this is what has seemed to work for me.

 

I have set a price per inch of blade + handle material X 2 + bolster/guard material X 2 + options ( sheath, hamon, hand finished/ machine finish, sharp clip, mirror polish or satin finish .....) +15 %

 

My price per inch is based on my average hours involved in forging & finishing of said blade + materials.

 

I have averaged the amount of time it takes me to do the work to come up with my price.

 

One thing I havent seen mentioned is something I often do is offer a 10% discount for repeat customers and this tends to be a big one for collectors. They like the fact that if they buy from you often they will get a discount which in turn helps their turn around profits for if & when they sell on part of their collection.

 

Justin

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow! Some interesting thoughts here! I have two prices for any given knife, one for friends, regular customers,who collect, (buy a lot!) And one for 'others' all are negotiable, I set a 'fair price' based on cost and double it, that way I can 'haggle' My adds have a set price and most new clients have an idea of what they are in for, depending on handle materials, custom jobs go a lot higher, this seems to work for me, as I'm backlogged for now...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I struggle with this. I am the hobby knifemaker (one of them) who can get by without making a profit. I would LIKE to make a profit, but I don't NEED it. I sure could use it, though.

 

However, I am trying to build a solid reputation, which means that a few knives and swords never see the light of day outside my shop because I don't want my name associated with anything that isn't done well.

 

I have finally gotten good enough that I can sell most everything I make. So, why am I commenting here?

1. I want to urge those who do hobby work to resist the temptation to under-price too much just so their work will sell. You have to sell to build a reputation, and then you have your prices creeping up. But, to underprice too much devalues the whole field, and also makes people think that handmade knives and swords are the same thing as the sweatshop/factory kind.

 

2. If it helps, as a hobbyist, look at the price you should charge as the way you can buy that next, "cool tool," that you want.

 

3. At times, you have to decide whether you are making things for passion or for money. Both are fine, but be honest. I make pretty nice daos, but there just is not a market for them yet. I have to sell them for about half what I think they are worth. or, not sell them at all. Not selling was my answer, but I now have a stepson. Money matters more than it used to. So...

 

4. Now, I have to make things that meet a market most of the time (you may have noticed I started making bowies and hunters, recently).

 

I guess the point is that underpricing may be required to build a market, but that is usually if you are working in an area that no one else already is. otherwise, there may be a market. If there is, you owe it to those who came before you and developed that marked for you, to not undercut them and also to not put out material that doesn't meet the quality requirements of the market. If it is so bad that you have to sell it cheaply, keep it and sell the next one for a better price. It will be the same in the end as if you had sold two for cheap, and it won't hurt anyone else.

 

If you are the only one trying to create a market, then sell for what you can (however you define it). Otherwise, remember that you owe it to yourself and to the others in the market you sell to/in to not screw everything up for everyone with predatory pricing or lowering quality (don't be WalMart).

 

kc

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm constantly amazed by the prices I see. I don't understand how it's possible to make a blade and sell it for as little as I often see. My advice to pricing, if you're in this to earn a bit of money, develop a blade that you like doing and sells well. Not something cheaply made, just something simple. This becomes your base line price Everything after that is going to cost more, because you have more work and materials invested. I fell into to this when I went from doing mostly custom work to doing craft shows. I found I could sell all the hooks I could stand to make. I sell my simple hooks for $6, I can forge 20 hooks an hour, that equals $120. That has become my base line price. Two things have happened in my mind: 1. being able to make the mortgage with simple forgings has taken the monkey off my back. 2. Because a custom order is no longer my mortgage payment, I've the confidence to price it for what it should be, not what I hope I can get.

Edited by Gerald Boggs

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Keven brings up a good point. Market drives the price, not all market will require the same things nor can the same work demand the same price in different markets. what I mean by that is one market might put a greater importance on say a hand rubbed finish (Knife shows for instance) a nice finish may be able to add to the price of the knife, at another venue performance may be the biggest driving force to the price(say a hunting/fishing show) and that hand rubbed finish isn't going to add anything to what a customer is willing to pay.

To do this for a living you need to find a market that fits your work and price point, OR fit your work and price point to the market you are intending to sell in.

I have found for instance that in the market I am selling my kitchen knives in I need to keep the retail price around $400 to much above that and they do not sell below that they do not sell. I have then set out with each chefs knife I make to keep the price around $400 and still make enough to be happy. This means doing them in batches and cutting time off where ever I can that will not affect the Quality in the eyes of my customers.

 

One other thing I want to touch on. I do not under stand were this idea of not taking deposits came from. I understand being under the gun and back logged but I have NEVER taken a custom order with out a deposit. I need to be sure that my time will be paid for when taking a custom order if I am going to take my time away from inventory or other work that HAS been paid for. This is not unreasonable and I don't understand why some folks think it is. I have had customers cry poverty after completing an order even with a deposit why would I think that wouldn't happen if I don't take a deposit? Yes I can sell the work after the fact, but that takes time, and effort that could be better spent else were. It also means I would need to wait when most likely I need that money then to pay my bills.

MP

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It doesn't hurt to check the hourly rates for local welding shops since their overhead is similar. The one nearest me charges $75 per hour, which is still cheaper than mechanics fees. Anyone doing this for a living will quickly find that with luck, you can make a living wage at that, but you won't get rich. A knife maker down Virginia Beach way once said that he could sell knives faster at $4,000 than at $400. I ain't that good but I keep it in mind. If folks want a Pakistani blade, I am not interested in that market.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey all -

 

I am posting because I am attempting to sell for the first time. I set up an etsy account and put up a knife. Just after posting, I did a search for damascus knives and was blown away at how many pretty cool "hand forged" knives people had up there for <$100. This is, I guess, what you all are saying about people undervaluing the market?

I appreciate some people not really caring about the money aspect of the craft, I am not aiming to have a business here, but I am hoping to get enough from selling so I can continue getting the tools I need to make the craft easier (a forge at home for starters...)

I guess what I am wondering is if any of you have used etsy before, and what one can do to set himself apart from the guy selling his hand forged damascus knife for $50 when I am asking a couple hundred.

 

Cheers!

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yep, if they're doing their own work they are selling the rest of us out. IF, that is, we are doing the same level of work.

 

I have not done Etsy, but the main thing to remember is you cannot compete with those <$100 guys, so don't try. I am not saying don't sell your stuff, I am saying they are probably buying billets from one of the cheap suppliers who say it's hand forged when it may well have been hand forged in Pakistan, not their own shop. You can't win on price point, so you'll have to win on quality, design, fit and finish, and photography. Tell the whole story of how you make stuff. Most importantly, remember you are not going to make money with high-layer damascus without a press or a power hammer. The time and labor involved in doing it with a hand hammer make it even more uneconomical than it is to begin with.

 

At any rate, I think most of your question is answered in the previous posts in this thread, which is why I pinned it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is very interesting to read through. A question for those still following the topic: from looking at my work, what would you price it at? What is it's worth, from your POV?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Caleb,

 

My take on your work (assuming I had the money to actually buy knives!) is that you are still an emerging maker. I might buy a knife from you, if it were marked with your makers mark and inexpensive enough that I would not be passing over other knives I really wanted. My goal would be to hold on to it on the off chance that your career blossomed. In the long run, it would be fun to wave under your nose in ten or twenty years!

 

Your work shows quite a bit of potential but, you would do yourself a favor if you developed your skills further before taking on new challenges. What I mean by this is, you posted a knife (about three knives ago) and asked for critique. Some very good points and suggestions were made. I was very impressed by the maturity you showed in asking for criticism and left that post thinking... "The next knife this guy makes is going to be awesome!" Personally, I was really looking forward to the next few knives but, each one left me disappointed because, I felt that instead of addressing the issues with fit and finish - you attempted a new challenge and settled with workmanship that is less than you are capable of.

 

My advice to you would be to slow down a bit and be more methodical with your work. Pick a knife type, bowies for example, and make a few. Make each one better than the last and when you reach the point where you are satisfied (i.e. any flaws you can point out yourself in the knife really are minor) move on to a new challenge. The skills you have developed in getting to that point with your previous work will carry over. One of the points previously made in this topic is that before you can sell knives, your customer must trust you and the quality of your fit and finish is a big part of developing that trust.

 

This is not intended meanly. You asked and this is, I feel, a brutally honest reply.

 

~Bruce~

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you, exactly what I was looking for.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This was a very interesting read all the way through. I was amazed by how many people use Time+Materials calculations in their pricing, because I stopped keeping track of how long it took me to make anything after about 18 months as a maker. INMNSHO (in my not so humble opinion) T&M calculations are great if you are in the production knife market, i.e.: you have X number of knife styles, know exactly (or almost) how much time and materials are going to cost, and have a set income level you want to achieve. For those of us (like me) who mostly make whatever I feel like making and if I can find someone who will buy it, I can sell it, there is no point in doing T&M calcs. It's too depressing.

 

For example, what if the knife you are making today is going to have forged out, wrought iron, hardware and you've never done that before? The first one is going to take you some time to get right, the next one a little less (hopefully) and finally you will get the technique down and done faster. So is the first knife going to be more expensive than the fourth one because it took more time? Doubtful, because the forth one is going to be better, and therefor worth more. As you get better and faster, the price doesn't go down, it goes up.

 

mseronde posted a question about selling knives on sites like etsy, and coping with the undervalued, but similar knife. Somewhere in this thread was a discussion about "knowing the market" and you have to consider what buyers are going to visit the venue you are selling in. I don't sell via any website other than my own, because the type of people who would visit my site are willing to pay for handcrafted items and not want Pacific rim factory made schlock. The best thing I ever did for my knife pricing was to go to a "serious" knife show. First as a spectator, and three years later as a maker with a table. At the first one, I learned what really well made knives look like, and what they sell for. So I got a good idea of where I needed to be on both counts. Suffice it to say that I did not even make enough money in knife sales at the second show to pay the table fee, but I didn't expect to either.

I "entered" the marketplace and got some very good feedback and interest from collectors and other makers. Mission accomplished.

 

Know the market you are aiming for. Visit the venues that support that market on recon missions. Formulate a business strategy based on that market. Then enter that market. JMO.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know this isn't really an active thread, but I just found an idea that might be worth discussing.

I realize most of us don't work in batches and whatnot, but it could be useful and it's certainly think it's worth talking about.
https://www.facebook.com/MakeSomethingTV/videos/822803947845383/

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think that link is bang on.

and I would add, if you are doing this for a living.....aim to make a good living....If you don't aim for it you will never achieve it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have started pricing with this method,both weekly and daily thought I don't use a $500 a day rate

Edited by Matthew Parkinson

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I liked the video well enough that when I first saw this last week, I shared it on my Facebook page.

While the way I look at it isn't quite the same as he phrased it, I've for several years put a minimum of $400, now $500 daily production on what I make. When I'm at the forge, my work production ranges from $100 to $300 an hour. As half my work time is non-forge time, it's important to keep my forge time at the highest rate practical. So while I work for a daily rate, I also track how long a item or a number of items take to complete, striving for the highest return for my time. Of course, work isn't that simple, I also have to look other factors. I can make item X and sell it at a profit of $200 an hour, Wahoo! But the truth is, I might only be able to sell item X once every couple of months. So even thought item X is my most profitable item, I spend more time making less profitable items that sell more frequently.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good video and a great idea. There is one part of it that isn't always true though. That was the bit where he said "if it doesn't sell, you need to lower the price." We had several large art pieces (sculptures, furniture, etc.) that didn't sell the first show. Then they didn't sell the next show. Then I raised the price by 20% and at the next show, bingo! They sold. I have also talked with other knifemakers who went to a knife show and didn't sell the first day, so they raised their prices for the second day and started selling. It's a weird phenomenon, but sometimes you aren't charging enough for your product.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good video and a great idea. There is one part of it that isn't always true though. That was the bit where he said "if it doesn't sell, you need to lower the price." We had several large art pieces (sculptures, furniture, etc.) that didn't sell the first show. Then they didn't sell the next show. Then I raised the price by 20% and at the next show, bingo! They sold. I have also talked with other knifemakers who went to a knife show and didn't sell the first day, so they raised their prices for the second day and started selling. It's a weird phenomenon, but sometimes you aren't charging enough for your product.

Interesting. I'm at the point where I'm still newbie, but my blades are fairly good, so it leaves me in a weird price configuration, and this might even be a variable

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would be in the same boat as Caleb here. It makes it difficult to set prices when you are still learning everything, but I think half of it is also selling your work, not just putting it for sale.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tim & Caleb. Post a picture (or two) of your latest knife, tell us what you think you should charge for it, and where you hope to sell it (knife show, online site, friends/family/, etc.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, I don't have any I have finished within the last month because I simply took a picture of said knives before selling them, but I will find something I have finished recently, I think there is still a paring knife of mine that I kept... I will have to go get it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So far I've been casually selling off instagram (@bladesofbelaq). I suppose not the ideal place for selling, but at this point I'm just getting "rid" of 'em with enough cash to pay for materials.

 

I'm hoping to sell this one for $200 (though usually sell around $75-150), including a (not so good) sheath.

 

Persian4.PNG

Persian6.PNG

Persian5.PNG

Edited by Caleb Harris

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Caleb, what's in between the wood and the spacer?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Caleb, what's in between the wood and the spacer?

Kydex

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here is my latest, as in I finished it this evening and still need to sharpen it. It's made of 1095 steel with 416 SS spacers. The handle is comprised of ebony and stabilized maple with a g10 spacer in there. Comes it around 8" total length. I am thinking that this one is worth ~$200, but tell me if I am wrong.

IMG_2043.JPG

IMG_2044.JPG

 

Thanks for feedback :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×