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Richard A. (Woody) Hanson

Just a Rant

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I got an e-mail from a guy who wanted me to restore an old knife, I turned him down.  Yesterday he called me and he said he had this old clever with some name embossed on it that he wanted to get restored and asked me if I would "acid wash" it for him.  I told him I wasn't interested and told him to contact a local knife shop.  A few years ago I got the same kind of request from another guy who had a knife that said "India" on it.  Also a while back I got a request from a guy who said he had a branding iron that said DS and he wanted it changed to US.  I told him I could do it but I would have to stamp my touch mark into it as well as the date of the modification.  He ran like a rabbit.  Is there really that much money in taking old junk shining it up and passing it off for pristine stuff?  I just wondered if anyone else gets these strange requests. Two days ago I got a call from a lady who had  a pocket knife with a lose rivet and she wanted to know if I could fix it.  She sent me a picture, all it needs is to be pushed back thru the bolster and peened on one end.  I told her I could do that, bring it by when she gets to town. 

Edited by Richard A. (Woody) Hanson

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   Maybe it's because I live in the south and we have lots of American Civil War shows here where private collectors buy sell and trade artifacts. I get asked at least once every six months to make a repro of a D-guard Bowie complete with original markings. Go figure. I always tell them a price for the piece and add that my touch mark and date will be proudly displayed and none of them has ever wanted to move forward.

   I occasionally get a knife brought to me without a handle but with a story about being passed down for a hundred or so generations. After cleaning up around the ricaso there will inevitably be a stamp that says "Pakistan".

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I get these every  once in a while. I put antler handle scales and fixed the guard on a neighbor's knife once. You can see photos of the remake on page 36 of this thread. It was a "family heirloom" that had seen too much abuse. After I got the pine handle scales off of it, I found the evidence that someone had been here before me. The neighbor admitted that he and his brother had tried to replace the scales a couple of times before. The other one was another friend/acquaintance from our local blacksmith's association. He had purchased this "Damascus" dagger blade from someone I had never heard of years before and never got around to putting a handle on it. He wanted to give it to his son as a Christmas present and wanted one of my coffin frame handles. This blade was less than 1/8" thick at the tang.

I would never put my maker's mark on any blade I didn't make though. Do you guys say that just to scare them off?

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A friend of mine said he had an old knife I should check out, I figured it was just some junk. Turns out it was an old hickory 6" blade machete kind of thing, just a $10 knife but it was 1095 (pretty sure) and the edge was real thin, so it wasnt anything bad but it had a straight handle and it would come out of your hand. I ended up giving it lacewood scales that were burned and wire brushed for lots of texture, I also reprofiled the handle so it had a thinner waist. 

Id say thats at least $40 work but it would never sell for that, but its worth it to me because it was just time and I got the knife.

Peening a loose blade and making a new handle are totally different things, peening is sort of general upkeep with the knife, making a handle is a new creation. I think I would sign the handle and not the blade if I did replace a handle, thats not really where signatures go though.

Putting a modern date on a period piece is a tricky one to me, if you sign with a date I can see how you wouldnt want to change that.

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Oh, I was at a junk shop in manor maybe, I get asked if im looking for anything and I say im going to head over to the knives. The cashier says he has some handmade knives so im excited and I look over to see a whole case of that unmistakable pakistan damascus steel. 

There was a second floor to the place, the floor was just the old aluminum roof from when the place was one story, pretty terrifying. 

I wouldnt go back but he had a few "knives" magazines for $15 

 

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I did refurbish one knife, it was for my Podiatrist at the VA.  It was his dad's fishing knife and had laid around in the tackle box for 20 years, I sanded the blade as best I could and ran it across the buffing wheels to shine it up.  It was an old butterfly knife.  The story was when he was a kid his dad gave him and his brother $10 when they were at China Town in SF, told then to go buy a cheep butterfly knife and this is what they brought back.  The dad used it till he passed away and then it just sat around.  I made a clasp for it out of bailing wire and sharpened it up.  When I gave it back to him he lit up like a 100 watt bulb.  Smile from ear to ear.  He asked how much and I told him it was on the house.  Then he sat there and went to wipe the fingerprints off the blade on his scrubs and cut a little slit in his pants leg.  I thought we would both die laughing.  He is a great guy, just a young kid not far out of med school.  Anyway now he wants a real knife, as soon as he makes a sketch I will turn him out his "elk skinner"  Funny thing that cheep butterfly knife was stamped made in USA.  

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I've just been asked not to put my makers mark on two steak knives I made.

The intended recipient did not live up to her side of the bargain, then made a request like that without blinking.

All I can do is be thankful that I've seen her true colours, end that friendship once and for all......

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11 hours ago, Joshua States said:

 

I would never put my maker's mark on any blade I didn't make though. Do you guys say that just to scare them off?

In my case I wasn't talking about putting my mark on something I didn't make. I get asked to make reproductions, aka fakes, of Civil War artifacts. My refusal to make them without adding my mark and a production date really irritates the potential clients who claim they only want an authentic repro. In my opinion, the only reason they are turned off by a makers mark on an otherwise well done facsimile is because they plan to pass it off as authentic for an absurd amount of money.

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1 hour ago, MichaelP said:

In my case I wasn't talking about putting my mark on something I didn't make. I get asked to make reproductions, aka fakes, of Civil War artifacts. My refusal to make them without adding my mark and a production date really irritates the potential clients who claim they only want an authentic repro. In my opinion, the only reason they are turned off by a makers mark on an otherwise well done facsimile is because they plan to pass it off as authentic for an absurd amount of money.

Your not the only one how has come across this.  I've worked with guys that have found their things on Ebay the seller attempting to pass them off as originals. 

 

When it comes to knife repair work, I have done quite a few in comparison to knives I've made from scratch.  I also feel a lot more comfortable repairing a knife for someone rather than taking on a job making a new knife for someone at this point.  (legal stuff) I've had several really crummy knives come in the door that were just 'heirloom' knifes from their grandfather or father, or other family member that are really a pain in the butt to fix just because their poor quality knifes.  I always find out that I need to almost rebuild so much of them that I basically spent as much time on it as if I would have made a copy of it.  

I have a small camp axe in my work shop right now that someone wanted rehung - it was modified a little by the clients friend.  When I got the axe, I found it failure was an epoxied in handle - which also makes trying to find a new handle that fits it a pain in the rectum because it will not wedge right.  I had to spend a day knocking out all the old epoxy, lost 2 days trying to find a handle that would then fit the eye which could not be found to my satisfaction, in the end I spent another day draw knifing a handle down that fit. 

So I just made a harbor freight axe cost 4x's what it's sold for, but it's what the guy wants. 

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Ive gotten "can you make it cheaper?" 

And a nasty alcoholic has tried to buy a couple knives from me, so I make a sheath and then I say its nice and I like it, then she latches on to that and says I should just keep it real passively for a few days before coming out and canceling the order. Best part is a dog bit her as a kid and you cant even tell but she got like 60k from her grandpa and totally blew it all, but she cant spend $80 on a knife. I really wish I didnt know her but shes sort of family. Shes spoiled so rotten shes fermented. 

Jeez. Anyone know an angry dog? 

The look on someones face when the deal is good and they get a knife makes it all worth it.

But im still waiting for "why is this so expensive" "I could get this at walmart for $20" and "thats not handmade if you used a machine" 

 

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Just remember one thing... IT CAN ALWAYS BE WORSE!

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8 hours ago, MichaelP said:

In my case I wasn't talking about putting my mark on something I didn't make. I get asked to make reproductions, aka fakes, of Civil War artifacts. My refusal to make them without adding my mark and a production date really irritates the potential clients who claim they only want an authentic repro. In my opinion, the only reason they are turned off by a makers mark on an otherwise well done facsimile is because they plan to pass it off as authentic for an absurd amount of money.

Good call.

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On 2/7/2019 at 2:29 PM, steven smith said:

But im still waiting for "why is this so expensive" "I could get this at walmart for $20" and "thats not handmade if you used a machine"

 

I've gotten the 'holy crap why are you so expensive' quite a lot.  I've also got the demoralizing scoff of being astronomically priced when people inquire about things. 

So I tried something new and it seems to have worked. The last estimate I made up I wrote out my process for making the item, and also marked the time involved it would take each step of the process.  Showed the person this is why I have to charge what I do - not to mention the tools that I may need to build for one of the processes and how much time that will take.  At that point the client/customer realized how much of my time was going into his item and after that - there was no haggling on price he just accepted. 

The comments of wally world - which in my mind is someone who really is not interested in buying - its just someone probing to see how low you will go on pricing.  In the past when I was not thinking - I would get the occasional person who would ask for a better price on a flower or other work.  When I'd break down and say yeah I'll do it for a little less - I would get the phrase "OK, I will let you know." Never to hear from that person again about it. 

That demoralizing scoff has now become a different feeling.  I do my best not to sound like a smart a$$ when someone says I could "get that a walmart for less" and my comment of "Then by all means you should get it." I've been finding that those are just not customers, their just people getting in the way of the real customers. 

The real customers (which I am very surprised to be finding) may take a while in between projects, but I've had some recent 'holy crap' moments were people have just accepted my pricing without question - and I never expected them to.

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Just a few notes:

If you do not hear a sharp intake of breath when you quote a price for your work you know immediately the price was too low. 

Years ago when I started working for an environmental consulting company someone told me "when you put a price on your services it establishes what you are, try not to be a cheap one."

I had a guy pull out his Damascus bladed pocket knife and tell me "$65 at Cabela's."  I told him at that price you should have bought 2 so you will still have one when that one breaks.  My knives come with my 50/50 guarantee, if it breaks in half, send me the pieces and I will be happy to throw them away.  If the failure was a result of a defect in material or workmanship I will just as happily replace the knife or refund your money.  The reason I ask for both pieces is because I can tell if the fault was mine or if you used a knife for a crowbar in that case you made a very expensive mistake.  I haven't had a knife come back yet but having said that they will probably start falling out of the sky like snow. 

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The buyer also doesn't realize at how much effort and time it actually takes to make a nice piece of damascus steel alone.  Not only that on top of the pattern welding not to include the time it takes to finish forging it into a blade and the finishing touches with the handles.  Hand made and hand forge knives are not cheap yet people just don't seem to understand this.  I'm just starting out and I'm actually understanding how difficult it is to make that stuff so I get the higher prices for a hand made object.  Just gotta stick to those prices you may have to explain to them what it actually takes to make one of these things maybe then they would understand.

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