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Jon Stormm

Pricing Questions

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Tim i love EVERYTHING about that knife.... However, if that;s a kitchen knife i do not like extra areas to clean or for food bits to hide.. So i would nix jimping on the spine -- or fill it with black epoxy. But that's just my humble opinion. Everything else is spot on

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Yeah, the filework detracts from the piece, sorry. :( Otherwise that's a good clean knife!

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Tim, The last part of my question was where/how/who do you expect to sell/buy this knife? What venue are you looking to market it in?

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Yeah.. I wish I hadn't done the spining... but that can't be changed! @Joshua, I am looking at personal contacts/shows/commissioners.

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OK guys. This is just my personal opinion and is by no means an "expert" assessment of the knives shown or the value thereof.

I also cannot do a complete critique or assessment of the knives from a couple of photos, but I can tell you what I think based on what I see.

First let me say that both of you are pricing your work at the right level, IF you are giving yourselves haggle room to come down. I really do not know anything about the Instagram marketplace, so I can't really render an opinion about the pricing for that venue.

 

Tim: $200 seems like a lot for a knife that size, but who am I to judge? If you can get it, that's great. The finish on the blade looks very clean, the bolster pins don't appear to be visible, but I think I can see one of them in the first photo. Getting the bolster pins to be completely invisible is difficult, but not impossible and is expected on the higher priced work. Visible bolster pins will reduce the expected price. Everyone else has already addressed the file work on the handle spine so I won't belabor the point. The front mosaic pin is too large a diameter for my personal taste. I think the handle would be more visually balanced and appealing if the larger diameter pin were in a wider part of the handle. Again, this is more a matter of personal taste and not a rule, but you have three different pins sizes in that handle and the opportunity to arrange those pins in an artistic manner as well as a functional one was missed. Pins in scales should not be arranged solely for practical purposes, the size and placement should be aesthetically pleasing as well. All in all, this is pretty clean work and I think somewhere in the $75-$120 range is where this knife will sell.

 

Caleb: There are a lot of challenging design aspects to this knife and I commend you on your constant push to advance your craft. The finish on the blade looks pretty good, but could be improved by a finer grit and slower stroke. Keep the sanding lines more straight and uniform and go to at least 400 grit on this style of blade. There also appears to be a nick in the edge approximately 1/2 inch from the ricasso in pic #2. This could be dirt on the camera lens, but if it is a nick in the edge, that's a problem that needs to be removed. It could be a trick of the light as well, but it looks like you still have space between the guard and the blade shoulders. I know the tight bend in the upper branch of the guard is intentional, but it's not my to my liking. To me it looks too tight a radius and is unbalanced visually with the bottom branch. The filework on the spacer is unstructured and haphazard. Visually it detracts from the beauty of this knife as does the kydex spacer, which looks too much like an afterthought to me. I really like the material you used for the guard/spacer combo. I think the color compliments the handle wood extremely well, and the wood in the handle was a very nice choice. The handle shape is very dramatic and adds to the knife's appeal. If the gap between the guard an blade were eliminated, the spacer filework was clean and simple and uniform, and the upper branch were a smooth curve to match the lower one, you could probably get $200 (or more) for this knife without an argument. As it is right now, I would expect someone to pay $100-$150 for this. If you can get more, that's great.

 

If you guys want to start using file work to embellish your work, (something I highly recommend) check out the video on filework by Dwayne Dushane.

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Not really germane for bladesmiths, but I just got a small bite in the ass on my current job. I didn't take into account the amount of time it would take to pack. I just spent two and half hours getting everything into a package that will survive the shipping. Normally a box is a five minute job, but this one was both heavy and odd shaped. Needed a custom build.

 

Remember to think out the details before you give a price :-(

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OK guys. This is just my personal opinion and is by no means an "expert" assessment of the knives shown or the value thereof.

I also cannot do a complete critique or assessment of the knives from a couple of photos, but I can tell you what I think based on what I see.

First let me say that both of you are pricing your work at the right level, IF you are giving yourselves haggle room to come down. I really do not know anything about the Instagram marketplace, so I can't really render an opinion about the pricing for that venue.

 

Tim: $200 seems like a lot for a knife that size, but who am I to judge? If you can get it, that's great. The finish on the blade looks very clean, the bolster pins don't appear to be visible, but I think I can see one of them in the first photo. Getting the bolster pins to be completely invisible is difficult, but not impossible and is expected on the higher priced work. Visible bolster pins will reduce the expected price. Everyone else has already addressed the file work on the handle spine so I won't belabor the point. The front mosaic pin is too large a diameter for my personal taste. I think the handle would be more visually balanced and appealing if the larger diameter pin were in a wider part of the handle. Again, this is more a matter of personal taste and not a rule, but you have three different pins sizes in that handle and the opportunity to arrange those pins in an artistic manner as well as a functional one was missed. Pins in scales should not be arranged solely for practical purposes, the size and placement should be aesthetically pleasing as well. All in all, this is pretty clean work and I think somewhere in the $75-$120 range is where this knife will sell.

 

Caleb: There are a lot of challenging design aspects to this knife and I commend you on your constant push to advance your craft. The finish on the blade looks pretty good, but could be improved by a finer grit and slower stroke. Keep the sanding lines more straight and uniform and go to at least 400 grit on this style of blade. There also appears to be a nick in the edge approximately 1/2 inch from the ricasso in pic #2. This could be dirt on the camera lens, but if it is a nick in the edge, that's a problem that needs to be removed. It could be a trick of the light as well, but it looks like you still have space between the guard and the blade shoulders. I know the tight bend in the upper branch of the guard is intentional, but it's not my to my liking. To me it looks too tight a radius and is unbalanced visually with the bottom branch. The filework on the spacer is unstructured and haphazard. Visually it detracts from the beauty of this knife as does the kydex spacer, which looks too much like an afterthought to me. I really like the material you used for the guard/spacer combo. I think the color compliments the handle wood extremely well, and the wood in the handle was a very nice choice. The handle shape is very dramatic and adds to the knife's appeal. If the gap between the guard an blade were eliminated, the spacer filework was clean and simple and uniform, and the upper branch were a smooth curve to match the lower one, you could probably get $200 (or more) for this knife without an argument. As it is right now, I would expect someone to pay $100-$150 for this. If you can get more, that's great.

 

If you guys want to start using file work to embellish your work, (something I highly recommend) check out the video on filework by Dwayne Dushane.

Gotcha, thanks! Interesting how you could tell the kydex was a sort of after effect (I needed it to make up some space differences).

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I do not know if this is the right place to post this, but I don't know where else I should ask :blink:

 

Recently I have been asked to make my first real commission.

 

The buyer wants a folded steel wakazashi about 16 inches long.

He doesn't need a totally accurate construction or polish, as long as it is in style of the originals.

He asked me for a price quote on the bare blade, he may decide if he wants a handle and saya later.

 

The thing is I have no idea what a fair price for this should be, can anyone with more experience help me?

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Although everyone prices differently, I do $/hr plus the cost of materials and equipment wear and tear. I'm only a small operation so it's probably not the most efficient.

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Im a Uber noob however im a former restaurant owner- so i sit down and figure COGS. Cost of goods sold = everything it takes to produce that good. Handle, pins, epoxy, abrasives, furl, shipping handling prorated materials cost and etc. I even consider waste and some wear and tear. I dont charge per hour yet- as im counting learning and experience as part of my payment... but i take COGS and multiply times two. Pretty standard practice for trades in my area and considered "fair". Hope this might help you a little maybe? Eventually i plan on morphing my pay scale. When my products start becoming much better i would charge COGs x3 - then consider changing to a more production hourly rate eventually perhaps. I know i want to earn 30/hr but you have to figure out a shop rate per hour. 55/hr sounds reasonable for a small shop maybe? idk

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I do not know if this is the right place to post this, but I don't know where else I should ask :blink:

 

Recently I have been asked to make my first real commission.

 

The buyer wants a folded steel wakazashi about 16 inches long.

He doesn't need a totally accurate construction or polish, as long as it is in style of the originals.

He asked me for a price quote on the bare blade, he may decide if he wants a handle and saya later.

 

The thing is I have no idea what a fair price for this should be, can anyone with more experience help me?

Go to page 2 of this thread. Scroll down to almost the bottom and see the post by Collin Miller. It's about 3 from the bottom.

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This is awesome, guys! I had no idea that posting a random video in a (pretty much) dead thread would spark such great interest and discussion.

Sorry to Joshua, for the hijack. :P

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.

 

Thanks for feedback :)

I like the knife, I think it looks pretty good. But as pointed out there area couple of things that distract from the beauty from an otherwise fantastic knife! If the mosaic pin matched the rear pin, and you'd left off the file work, If you took GOOD pictures I think you could easily charge $250 with a sheath. Really good photography is the most important things to selling a knife on the intertoobs, a photo is all that a customer has access to that can communicate your work to them. This is very important, bad connection to the knife, the knife probably will not sell. I never got a single internet sale until I did some research on photography.
That said, if you posted those pictures of that knife and said, "for sale", like Joshua said, expect $100ish.

 

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.

At first glance, the design looks really nice. The lines are pretty, when I look close I see some lines that I don't like, the grip seems a little thick in the middle, the guard doesn't have the elegant look due to the exaggerated bend in it, but really, it does look nice overall!
The closer I look though, the details seem lacking. The file work is sloppy, the kydex doesn't belong there, that nick (I'm assuming it's a nick, because I see it in all the pictures) and, those guard gaps.
If it were my knife, (it's not) I wouldn't sell it if I was paid to. One thing done wrong will get you twice the reputation as a hundred things done right. The guard gaps look really big, and that's a significant quality problem for any $200 knife,
What I do is I go outside, put the knife between me and the sun, if I see ANY light come through, at any angle. If I see the tiniest little ray come through the corner of the riccasso, I'm pulling the guard and refitting it. I don't even want to see a black line. This sucks, but I have to do it so I don't puke as soon as the knife is shipped, :lol:
If you really need money and absolutely have to sell the knife, make sure it is perfectly clear what the flaws are, and charge a fraction of the price you would have had it not had any blemishes.
I won't sell blemished knives, for aforementioned reasons

My advice is to slow down a bit, treat each detail as a project of its own, you may have to make some things twice, or even three times, but at the end, you'll have a totally awesome knife (That I'm sure you're capable of making) and you can charge $350 for it! Then you can get an awesome new tool and make a different style of knife of the same quality, or the same style and quality, but make it a a little faster!

I know I'm on the other end of the continuum, though. I'm the super perfectionist type that will screw any chance I had at making good time/money over the tiniest detail that only I will ever know about. So please take my words with as many spoonfuls of salt as necessary.

I hope this helps somebody somewhere!

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At first glance, the design looks really nice. The lines are pretty, when I look close I see some lines that I don't like, the grip seems a little thick in the middle, the guard doesn't have the elegant look due to the exaggerated bend in it, but really, it does look nice overall!

The closer I look though, the details seem lacking. The file work is sloppy, the kydex doesn't belong there, that nick (I'm assuming it's a nick, because I see it in all the pictures) and, those guard gaps.

If it were my knife, (it's not) I wouldn't sell it if I was paid to. One thing done wrong will get you twice the reputation as a hundred things done right. The guard gaps look really big, and that's a significant quality problem for any $200 knife,

What I do is I go outside, put the knife between me and the sun, if I see ANY light come through, at any angle. If I see the tiniest little ray come through the corner of the riccasso, I'm pulling the guard and refitting it. I don't even want to see a black line. This sucks, but I have to do it so I don't puke as soon as the knife is shipped, :lol:

If you really need money and absolutely have to sell the knife, make sure it is perfectly clear what the flaws are, and charge a fraction of the price you would have had it not had any blemishes.

I won't sell blemished knives, for aforementioned reasons

 

My advice is to slow down a bit, treat each detail as a project of its own, you may have to make some things twice, or even three times, but at the end, you'll have a totally awesome knife (That I'm sure you're capable of making) and you can charge $350 for it! Then you can get an awesome new tool and make a different style of knife of the same quality, or the same style and quality, but make it a a little faster!

 

I know I'm on the other end of the continuum, though. I'm the super perfectionist type that will screw any chance I had at making good time/money over the tiniest detail that only I will ever know about. So please take my words with as many spoonfuls of salt as necessary.

 

I hope this helps somebody somewhere!

Understood, thank you! It makes sense yeah, I still have trouble abstaining from rushing through things (can I blame it on my age? :P ), guards especially.

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Understood, thank you! It makes sense yeah, I still have trouble abstaining from rushing through things (can I blame it on my age? :P ), guards especially.

Yes, guards are the bane of my existence! The entire process of fitting a guard for me other than shaping usually takes 3-5 hours, which is why I can't charge by the hour! I think it's more of a personality thing, though. I've always been very stubborn, not very patient, but it sort of has the same effect. BTW, you're older than me... lol :P

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I just reread this old thread and the number of varying replies just reinforces the fact that there is no good answer as to how to price your work except that it's worth what the public will pay for it.

 

I have been full-time at this for almost 20 years now and can honestly say that this question is the hardest thing that there is to learn about this business as it is constantly changing. The time & materials method often just doesn't work.

 

My method of pricing is to look at the finished knife and say, "This one should bring this amount.". This is something that only comes with experience and still after 20 years, I get fooled quite often. I'm sure that I have sold some too low and others the opposite. That's just part of the game.

 

I wish that I could give an exact answer to all beginning knife makers but there just isn't one that works in all cases.

 

Sorry,

Gary

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BTW, you're older than me... lol :P

Oh. Well.... :angry:

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I like the knife, I think it looks pretty good. But as pointed out there area couple of things that distract from the beauty from an otherwise fantastic knife! If the mosaic pin matched the rear pin, and you'd left off the file work, If you took GOOD pictures I think you could easily charge $250 with a sheath. Really good photography is the most important things to selling a knife on the intertoobs, a photo is all that a customer has access to that can communicate your work to them. This is very important, bad connection to the knife, the knife probably will not sell. I never got a single internet sale until I did some research on photography.

That said, if you posted those pictures of that knife and said, "for sale", like Joshua said, expect $100ish.

 

 

I should have mentioned that I was asked to make this knife and the spine filing was just as they wanted it... but I do love this style of knife so I will keep making em without spining and with a 1/8" pin where the mosaic pin is to make things even cleaner. And those pics where at 10 pm in a poorly lit kitchen with an iPod the day before I gave it to my customer.. so yeah, I really had no intention of taking good pictures aside from keeping a log of what it looked like otherwise I would have waited for daylight and used my dslr. But I totally agree with you, pictures are a selling feature, and I have a sister who is a photographer and I may have learned a good deal myself :P

 

Thanks for your feedback though. It is always a treat to see what other people think of what I do, people who aren't looking at the price-tag but at the knife and it's quality in depth!

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Ok, so Ill play this game as well.

This makes the 5th paracord wrapped drop point I have ever made, They are pretty popular out here in Utah with the outdoors type people to the point I am giving a go at making them not as 1 offs but as a semi production product. This is the first nearly completed one of the test run. It still needs a bit of finish sanding on the butt end where the paracord does not cover and the choil needs to be sanded smooth still.

I am making 3 in this test run, if each sells for 55.00 I will have made back all the money I spent on steel, wood for other projects I have in the works, and Charcoal. I dont typically consider labor as a cost when determining a knife price, I am new, I make mistakes, and waste materials occasionally biting off more then I can chew, so I see my growing experience as my payment for labor.

The first 4 I sold, were all at 55.00 a piece, I am not trying to make a living off this, just be able to afford to pay for my materials. is 55.00 underselling this ?

 

20160321_180216.jpg

 

20160321_180243.jpg

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If you can clean up the ends of the paracord to match the clean lines of the knife I'd say yes, you're undervaluing it by at least $25. A little heat-shrink tubing could work wonders on fixing the ragged ends.

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Well the wrap is temporary to give an idea of how it will look finished, Typically i melt off the ends and clean them up as nice as I can and then tuck them up under the base wrap. My goal with this knife was to spend as much time as was needed to get the plunge cuts as clean and matched as possible, been one of my more difficult struggles.

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To continue the "how much can I ask for this?" flow, here's a bit of an interesting one: kiridashis. Their pricing always seemed to confuse me. How much do you think I could get away charging for this?

 

https://www.instagram.com/p/BDYRFTPkPW3/?taken-by=bladesofbelaq

 

https://www.instagram.com/p/BDhbuxckPSs/?taken-by=bladesofbelaq

 

L6 steel I believe (saw steel, hardened up beautifully but no hamon when etched), clay quenched, premium koa whattayacallit style scales and brass pins, chisel ground.

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Being new to this art, is there really a market for homemade knives? If so how and to whom can you sell them to? I'm just curious, I had no idea there was a demand for this.....

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There is a difference between "homemade knives" and what most of us do. Technically we may work from home, but the idea is a professional and artistic object. Have you looked around the site to see the level of craftsmanship on offer?

 

I think the term we're looking for is Custom Cutlery.

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