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I need some help please...


Coke man
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I've made the following knives in the last few days. You may have seen some of these knives, as many of you have helped me make them by offering up suggestions.

 

There is a craft show in a few days that I'm getting ready for.

 

What should I charge? The craft show is in Boulder Colorado where the average house sells for almost 3 quarters of a million dollars. I'm not greedy, I just want an honest opinion so I don't get ripped off. I'm hoping to use any money earned to buy a belt sander so I can get serious about making knives.

 

To give you some background, I do blacksmithing as a hobby. I've made about 20 knives now and these are by far the best of the litter, most of the rest are in a humble pile, bent, cracked and rusting. These are made from a combination of steels all using a differential quench except for the bottom one. I'm obviously a no-name knife builder without a makers mark.

 

Top knife 4340 - hand forged hunting knife with scrimshaw on butt plate oil hardened

Skinning knife made from 1/4" precision ground 1095 oil hardened

skinning knife hand forged w1 with hammon water quenched

Bottom knife -hand forged Patch knife 4340 oil hardened

 

 

decemberknives1.jpg

 

Regards

Loyd Shindelbower

Loveland Colorado Usa

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Hi Loyd,

 

As a hard rule, you must know several things:

 

Cost of materials for a given knife

Cost of consumables for a given knife &

Time spent making a given knife

 

As a general rule, add enough on top to be able to get better/bigger materials for the next, upgrade or use more consumables for the next & spend more time on the next.

 

A bit vague, I know, but I used these rules for a number of years as a hobby maker

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This is a tough one for all of us. It's hard to slap your stuff down on a table, put a price on it, and then look someone in the eye and say "Yep, that's my price".

 

Compare your work with other makers at the show (in a craft fair it may be that there aren't any), and check their pricing, think about who your market is. Are you trying to make a living doing this, or would you be happy to make your table fee back?

 

A couple of other pieces of advice, if I may. Resist telling each customer about all the places you screwed up on that knife. Resist cutting your prices just to make a sale. Listen to everyone, be friendly. It helps to have backup at the table. Don't be afraid to donate a piece to the show raffle (most of them have them and it make you look good).

 

I did pretty well at a show last Spring, paid for my table, bought a couple of books, then blew everything on a slab of burl the size of a table top :rolleyes: .

 

Good luck

 

Geoff

"The worst day smithing is better than the best day working for someone else."

 

I said that.

 

If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.

- - -G. K. Chesterton

 

So, just for the record: the fact that it does work still should not be taken as definitive proof that you are not crazy.

 

Grant Sarver

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This is a tough one for all of us. It's hard to slap your stuff down on a table, put a price on it, and then look someone in the eye and say "Yep, that's my price".

 

Compare your work with other makers at the show (in a craft fair it may be that there aren't any), and check their pricing, think about who your market is. Are you trying to make a living doing this, or would you be happy to make your table fee back?

 

A couple of other pieces of advice, if I may. Resist telling each customer about all the places you screwed up on that knife. Resist cutting your prices just to make a sale. Listen to everyone, be friendly. It helps to have backup at the table. Don't be afraid to donate a piece to the show raffle (most of them have them and it makes you look good).

 

I did pretty well at a show last Spring, paid for my table, bought a couple of books, then blew everything on a slab of burl the size of a table top :rolleyes: .

 

Good luck

 

Geoff

Edited by Geoff Keyes

"The worst day smithing is better than the best day working for someone else."

 

I said that.

 

If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.

- - -G. K. Chesterton

 

So, just for the record: the fact that it does work still should not be taken as definitive proof that you are not crazy.

 

Grant Sarver

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This is a tough one for all of us. It's hard to slap your stuff down on a table, put a price on it, and then look someone in the eye and say "Yep, that's my price".

 

Compare your work with other makers at the show (in a craft fair it may be that there aren't any), and check their pricing, think about who your market is. Are you trying to make a living doing this, or would you be happy to make your table fee back?

 

A couple of other pieces of advice, if I may. Resist telling each customer about all the places you screwed up on that knife. Resist cutting your prices just to make a sale. Listen to everyone, be friendly. It helps to have backup at the table. Don't be afraid to donate a piece to the show raffle (most of them have them and it makes you look good).

 

I did pretty well at a show last Spring, paid for my table, bought a couple of books, then blew everything on a slab of burl the size of a table top :rolleyes: .

 

Good luck

 

Geoff

Thanks for the advice, I'll use it. I think the rule about setting a price and sticking to it is a good one. I've seen other guys do that and It makes thier stuff look more valuable.

 

Regards

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  • 1 month later...

well, my opinion on it is keep track of the hours it took you to make the piece charge what you want to make per hour, say $15/hr? then the materials +10 or 20% and theres what you should make....if its at a craft fair maybe add another 10 or 20 bucks on top of that and you can give somone a deal and your still making the money you want on the blade. i think this is a fair way to look at things...your not screwing anybody but at the same time your making some cash to support your hobby cause what else would we do with all the blades we make!?

formerly youngbuck...i now have a name!

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COKE-- You are doing some nice work to be just starting out.

 

I would mark my blades. Hardly anyone will buy unmarked knives. If nothing else mark it in the handles.

 

As for price I am going to do what you asked and price your knives--(Dumb-- But I will do it anyway.)

 

Starting at the top $175.00 or more down to the smallest at $75.00 or more. They have to have a makers ID. on them.

 

Chuck Bennett

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Couple of costs that have not been mentioned;

1. Cost of equipment used to make knife. All tools have a lifespan.

2. Cost of space used to do knifemaking.

3. Cost of utilities.

4. Cost of making sale. (travel, Motel, meals, sellers time)

 

Anything that could be listed as an expence on a business income tax form (scedule C) is an real expence to

the maker.

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Ok, I've been doing this now for 4 or 5 years, which doesn't make me an expert. or well known, but here is my .02.

 

If this is your livelihood, then you have to treat it as a business, which would mean you'd factor time, materials, rent, fees, and anything else that costs you, and multiply that by AT LEAST 2 and more likely 3. So, say I've got 10 hours into a piece (my wife assures me that if I include all the miscellaneous thrashing I do, drawings, thinking, re-thinking, and the like, it's more like 4 times that) at $20 an hour, $20 for materials, $500 a month that the shop would cost if it weren't on the property, table fees, web site fees, travel time, food and lodging....other stuff I can't think of right now, I'd need to get $1000 a blade.

 

As an artist, if you stopped to think about what you are making on a per hour basis, you'd cry, sell all your tools, and get a job in a cube farm.

 

I think that you have to set your prices on the basis of what other folks at your level of skill can get for their work, and then do your best to improve. Some markets will bear higher prices than others. My own experience is that the Renfaire folks won't pay top dollar for top work, they are more interested in looks over usability. I don't mean this as an insult, some of them are willing and able to pay for the best, but costume pieces are not going to feed a bladesmith (except in a spiritual sense). I have also found this to be true of my Rendezvous friends. They are so used to buying $10 knife shaped junk, that they need to re-educated. It's hard for them to understand the concept of a $200 knife, and it's hard for me to even make a $200 knife, on a per-hour basis.

 

If all you have to do is support yourself, and you need $1000 a month to do that (not that you could do that in Seattle without living in a park) then that is where you need to set your sights. Sell that $1000 every month, and count yourself lucky that you get to do what you what you want to do.

 

Most of the artists I know (me included) get along by working in the real world, or by having a partner with a job who is willing to support your madness.

 

I feel good every time I go to a show and break even, I feel even better when I sell a second knife to someone. I feel good when I can look at the most recent piece and say "that's better than the last one". But best of all, I feel great on that 100 foot commute to the shop, and I'm grateful that my wife thinks that it's important that I get to do it.

 

Geoff

"The worst day smithing is better than the best day working for someone else."

 

I said that.

 

If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.

- - -G. K. Chesterton

 

So, just for the record: the fact that it does work still should not be taken as definitive proof that you are not crazy.

 

Grant Sarver

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