KMO, Rants From A Knife Maker's Diary

Fear of Failure?

     Ever do a search for knife makers?  Dang!  It seems like everybody and their birddog builds knives.  Now I'm kind of insecure in the first place so the thought of starting a new knife making business is scaring the duck down out of me.  Don't get me wrong, I've been making knives as a hobby for nearly 30 years, so I've got a definite style that a lot of people like.  My designs are full of thoughtful engineering, born from a lifetime as an outdoorsman.  My prices are reasonable for the fit, finish and quality I produce.  And the materials I use are top quality, but simple to help control cost. So why does a simple little google search scare the hell out of me? 

     I'm not really sure.  Maybe it's because there are some truly great knife makers out there.  They're using all kinds of exotic materials to produce some danged impressive knives with even more impressive price tags.  I mean when I first started researching the ideal of starting a homegrown business, I was flush with the possibilities.  Then, as I sat out here in the country waiting for the pic of a high dollar knife to revel itself at 28.8bps I was thinking, "2,500 dollars, mammoth ivory and nickel silver, man�walnut and stag has got to be worth half that."  Wrong answer!  After my dial-up finally got the professionally produced picture downloaded I realized a few things.  First, I had been setting there slack jawed and staring for more than 5 minutes.  Second, my chine was stuck in my collar from setting slack jawed for more than 5 minutes.  And third, it ain't just the materials that caused my drooling mouth-breather's stare.  It is obvious that there is a big difference in skill levels in the knife-making world.  Maybe I'm not good enough? 

Now that I'm really rethinking the notion of starting a
little business, I've got a question beyond, "am I good enough?"  I've got a couple of 6 inch bench grinders, a couple of angle grinders, a drill press, some assorted sanders and air tools.  How in the heck do you get to 2,500 bucks with that?  Good question, huh?  Well, I don't know yet.  This is just where the odyssey starts.  But, I do have an observation or two so far. 

To start with, there are a lot of different kinds of makers out there: beginners, hobbyist, craftsmen, volume producers, some hacks and even a few true blade smiths.  They produce knifes using stock removal methods, water jets or lasers and CNC machines, forge and anvils and probably some methods and equipment I can't even imagine.  They use all kinds of materials, treated with home forges and water buckets or atmospheric controlled furnaces or not at all.  And still, with this cacophony of activity around one of the most ancient of art crafts
I am still able to sale every knife I make about as fast as I can make them.  That's amazing.  Next, and given that fact, maybe I'm not that out of place in a group that's so diverse.  I mean, if I'm selling knives and the feedback I get is from happy owners, maybe I should just set my inferiority complex aside and go for it.  But I'm still a little scared.  So what to do?

Scared or not, maybe I can enlist some help with methods, improved speed, machinery or quality so I can carve out a little niche in the knife making community.  Hummm, I think I'll explore the online forums that help support the knife making and collecting community.  Maybe there's comfort to be had there?  Maybe that will be the next exploration into the odysseys of knife making. 

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