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Dane Lance

Tuning fork for heat treat???

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That's exactly what it is, Josh.  I e-mailed back and forth with him a couple of times and it's a plumbing snake that has coils within coils within coils.  Pretty interesting.  He sent me pics of it, but I've deleted them.  I searched all over the Internet but couldn't find any cable like what he showed me.  He's an interesting guy.  Totally passionate about blades..............couldn't care less about putting handles on them and making knives.   :o

Edited by Chris Christenberry

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21 hours ago, Chris Christenberry said:

Totally passionate about blades..............couldn't care less about putting handles on them and making knives.   :o

There's a few of those guys on this forum from time to time. They will sometimes show up with 6-12 blades for sale.

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Well, I was kind of shocked when he told me that.  He said all of his sales are to guys who want to put together knives but don't care to go to the trouble of forging the blades.

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21 hours ago, Chris Christenberry said:

Well, I was kind of shocked when he told me that.  He said all of his sales are to guys who want to put together knives but don't care to go to the trouble of forging the blades.

There is a guy on a hunting forum where I show my knives who posts on the knives he makes but says he buys in the finished blades so I suggested that is all fairness he should call himself a handle and sheath maker. 

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I ran into a "knife maker" at Jantz Supply recently. (one of our local knife makers suppliers)  He was picking up a box full of their finished blanks.  All he does is put handles on them.  Said he sells an average of 250 knives a year and just doesn't have the time for all that "forging, heat treating and grinding mess". :blink:  Oh well, to each his own.  Don't think I'd call myself a knife maker if I approached it that way.  I can accept that a guy making knives via the removal process is a valid knife maker, but I just looked at that guy and kind of grinned and turned around to cover my smirk.

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the blade is the heart of the knife, even without a handle it could still be considered a knife, its the blade that makes the knife.

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Wasn't it historically the "Cutler" who put the fittings on the blade made by the "Blade smith" and then sold the knives?

 

I admit that my pride makes me think lesser of someone who simply puts a handle on a finished blade.  However, sole artistry is a modern invention.  I think, for most of history, what these people are doing was the norm and people like me would have been considerd the "starving artist".

Edited by Brian Dougherty

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That is correct, but in the case Chris mentions these are factory-made blades.  Not bad in and of itself, but when the cutler who assembles them then passes them off as "hand made," that yanks my chain a bit.  It lessens things for all of us.  You wouldn't believe how many people have asked me where I buy my hawk heads, then refuse to believe I make them.  But we're digressing! :rolleyes:

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I can only imagine how it rankles you when you get asked that question, Alan.<_<

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As one blacksmith replied when I commented on his “Hand Forged” ironwork that was mostly King Arch stuff, “Some one forge it, just not me”  So what's the difference between buying factory blades and having a CNC machine of your own?

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some people care too much, or else they wouldnt spend more than $20 or 20 hours on a knife. 

 

but i would buy a factory knife if i could be sure i was paying for quality and not branding, id rather buy handmade or sole authorship though, its a purely emotion based opinion. 

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18 minutes ago, steven smith said:

id rather buy handmade or sole authorship though, its a purely emotion based opinion.

Totally agree there.  I could have bought a $10 Japanese digging knife for the Missus, but spending the time and effort to make it, made it special.

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4 hours ago, Gerald Boggs said:

So what's the difference between buying factory blades and having a CNC machine of your own?

 

If you programmed the CNC machine, no problem.  If you bought a program, no difference at all between that and the factory product, except you spent more to get the end product.  Application of skill is application of skill, if you start with a bar of steel and turn it into a blade with your own skill all is good.  If you buy somebody else's skill and try to pass it off as your own, that's where we have a problem.

 

20 minutes ago, Gerald Boggs said:

spending the time and effort to make it, made it special.

 

This is my point.  I can buy a cast hawk head for $32.  I can buy a set of head, handle, and instruction book for $72.  Or I can forge the head  and make the handle from a plank.  As finished pieces, they all sell for the same price (not from me, on the general market).  Which would you want?  Or, and this one is just for you, given your belt axe tutorial: https://www.trackofthewolf.com/Categories/PartDetail.aspx/473/1/TOMAHAWK-BRITISH  For $40 I can buy a hardened and tempered cast 4140 head with 18" hickory handle.  Would you make one for $40? Is it just as good as yours? I know you don't sell them, or at least I don't think you do.  It's the same as the King Architectural stuff, though. Some people don't care.  But it lessens the value of your product in the eyes of the ignorant masses.  Is that important?  Or would you put any effort into explaining the difference to a potential customer who genuinely doesn't know if another smith were trying to sell them something factory made, yet representing it as "hand made" just because they slapped a couple of ball peen dents on it?  I know you're just playing devil's advocate, but I feel strongly about this kind of thing. 

 

For example, I could buy samples of (or just get pictures of) your product line, send them to India or Pakistan, and have them mass-produced and truly hand forged, re-import them, and flood your market with them at a slightly lower price than you can afford to sell at, and still make a good profit.  The market is served, what's your problem?  Not that I'd ever do that, but there are cretins in the world who use that as their business model.  I don't want to encourage them.

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Since I don't (Yet) sell anything out of my forge, I can only revert to my experience as a custom furniture builder.

 

I typically refer to my furniture as "expensive, custom built, high end furniture".  When people as me what all that means, I just tell them the time, effort and quality put into my furniture is 10x that of anything they'll find in a furniture store and it'll cost them about 10x what the furniture store charges.  If they don't want to pay for that kind of "heritage" quality then they are encouraged to go to a furniture store and buy "cookie cutter" pieces.  If they want furniture that will last generations,  then I'm your craftsman.  I feel the same way when I'm on the buying end of something.  I'd much rather buy something a craftsman, who has had years experience perfecting his skills make something for me than to go to Wally-World and purchase a similar product there.  But it chaps me to no end to go to a furniture show and see a so-called "furniture builder" displaying products he's purchased at a store and slightly modified........all the time leaving the impression he crafted the piece.

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58 minutes ago, Chris Christenberry said:

all the time leaving the impression he crafted the piece.

 

That's it exactly.  I have the utmost respect for guys we're talking about who make the stunning damascus, and I love a good collaboration.  It's the dishonesty that chaps my so-and-sos...

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My opinion of what is and what isn't hand made or hand forged is well known, so I see no reason to beating a dead horse. However I will bring to folks attention the writings of David Pye. In his book “The nature and art of workmanship” he writes about the element of risk. When you use simple hand tools to produce the work, each and every step is at risk of ruining the work.

 

For blacksmiths/bladesmiths a single hammer blow can be all it takes for the work to move to the trash pile. When you use machines, depending on the machine and the degree of control necessary to use the machine, the element of risk is reduced. The element of risk is reduced when you go from hand shaping a scroll, to using a jig, to using a scrolling machine that will start and stop at precisely the same points each time. Hand shaping takes a high level of skill to produce scrolls the same size and that skill takes years to develop. Using a jig still takes skill, but not as much. My experience with using jigs, is it's more a matter of attention to detail than skill. The skill needed, is in making the taper. With the machine, if I add to the mix a press for making the scroll end, I can take someone that's handy with tools and by the end of the day will be making the same scroll over and over again.

 

For someone using a CNC machine, any skill is in setting the machine up for use. After that, the 1st blade and the 10,000th will be exactly the same. The element of risk has been almost completely removed. So with the element of risk removed, does it matter whether you use the CNC or some guy in China? You had some part in making the blade, therefor fair to call yourself a Bladesmith

 

Edited by Gerald Boggs

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For your CNC example I disagree.  You could stretch it to be "knifemaker" if and only if the operator did the programming, but if you never shape it with a hammer you're not a smith.  The guy who programmed the machine has the skill.  The guy who operates the machine is a machinist.  Although, with today's fully automated 5-axis CNC mills, it demeans the actual machinists to call the machine operator one.  If your only skill is putting pile of steel bars on a table and pushing the start button while the machine cranks out blade after blade, it is no longer a skilled trade and can be done by a robot, which is why many modern factories have automated to the point that no human touches the product from the time the supply truck unloads to the final inspection table.  

 

But, I think we've hijacked this thread far enough. :lol:

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