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Pensacola Tiger
08-07-2011, 05:00 PM
There has been a thread that touched on what makes a knife a "custom". And we should all be familiar with the concept of a "mid-tech" knife - one that is made wholly or in part by a custom knifemaker, but using production line techniques. Then there is the knife that has a connection to a well regarded custom knifesmith, but is not made by that knifesmith, but rather by a commercial factory operation. For the moment, let's term that type of knife as "collaborative".

What I'd like to discuss are attitudes and opinions about the desirability of a mid-tech knife or an collaborative factory made knife, as well as the effect on a custom knifemaker's reputation and/or sales of customs that may be caused by associating himself with either type of knife.

If possible, try to keep on topic without getting personalities involved.

Eamon Burke
08-07-2011, 05:43 PM
The trouble with products marketed like that, like Eddie Bauer cars, is that I am never convinced that I am getting anything other than a cosmetically similar product. I like my things to be labeled at face value. I didn't buy my Benchmade Griptilian because Mel Pardue designed the blade, I bought it because it was a widely renowned EDC folder with a good closing mechanism, at the right price. Before that I had a Buck heat treated by Paul Bos, which was great steel, but the knife was not up to par, and taught me a lesson about name-dropping like that.

I came up with an idea that I kept secret almost a year. It was a silicone makisu, flat on one side, ribbed on the other, with no holes(just flexy silicone on the low spots) and thin, rigid plastic rods embedded into it to create the ultimate sanitary, functional, high-use makisu. One of my regulars was a VERY successful engineer, he designed a fire extinguisher for stoves that has become code where I live, I saw his name on the patent. I confided the idea to him, and he began to break down what is involved in producing the product, what creates extra "steps", what requires a human or specialized machine, materials choice, etc. I quickly realized that it would be impossible to do this product for any kind of reasonable price, it was WAAAAAAY more complicated than I thought it would be(I thought, pour silicone, set it, line up sticks, pour more, set it. Not quite). Now, I could make one for myself, and I could probably set up a jig to make some for others. But it is not a manufacturable product.

I say let the designers create factory knives, and let the makers make handmade knives. It is like making a movie out of a book. They are very different media, and will never translate directly. The best you can hope for is that a good book gets turned into a good movie, though they won't be the same thing at all.

NO ChoP!
08-07-2011, 05:56 PM
I think the likes of Carter basic, and DT mid techs helped drive the craze towards full customs, opening the doors for so many new faces and makers we see today, and there is still a need for them, as it will introduce people to that next level and beyond. As shown in Salty's grind video, a smaller Carter funayuki outperformed most.... sparked my interest.

tk59
08-07-2011, 06:33 PM
I like to know what to expect when I buy a knife, period. I have a big problem when I expect something and get something else. As long as that doesn't happen, I don't care what part of it is collaborative. On the other hand, if I'm paying for a name, that person better do the important work (grinding and maybe HT) and be personally responsible for its quality.

jmforge
08-07-2011, 07:11 PM
Oh, Lord! I thought that I had gotten away from the whole custom vs. handmade vs. benchmade vs. mid tech argument when I joined up here.:laugh:

stevenStefano
08-07-2011, 07:27 PM
I get the impression that a lot of Japanese knives aren't as handmade and personalised as I'd like to think, but I think price is important in that regard. If I pay over about $300 for a knife I'd expect it to be given a little more attention and care in its design/finish

goodchef1
08-07-2011, 07:42 PM
For me, whether it is factory, mid-tech, or custom. It all comes down to the end product. Is it worth the price, and after, did I get a good value for what I paid. This will determine whether or not I purchase again, or even to make that first buy. To touch up on handles, Iíve seen some reviews with the term flawless. I understand that there are some that put out some shoddy work, but as far as my expectations. Smooth finishes, no uneven transitions, no gaps, no warped edges etc. should be an industry standard and a customer expectation for even a factory knife, and nothing for me to get excited about.

I think that custom work should incorporate some fine detailing, high-end materials, and other work that would not be cost efficient for factory and mid-techs.

99Limited
08-07-2011, 07:54 PM
For me, whether it is factory, mid-tech, or custom. It all comes down to the end product. Is it worth the price, and after, did I get a good value for what I paid. ...

My exact same feelings.

ajhuff
08-07-2011, 11:37 PM
I'm an engineer, ergo function over form. End product performance is all that matters. Who, what, when or how it was made is immaterial.

I think that makes me odd man out here.

-AJ

jmforge
08-08-2011, 12:58 AM
From what little I have seen, I would guess that many decent traditional Japanese knives are, at best, what we custom goons would call benchmade or shop made. All that means is that they are not sole authorship pieces done start to finish by one guy. But then again, so are Randall, Dozier and Ruana knives (and arguably even Loveless since Bob had at least one other person in the shop making knives with him for years). and most of the finest and most expensive traditional Scandinavian knives have the blade made by a bladesmith and the handle and rest of the kit made by a knifemaker.
I get the impression that a lot of Japanese knives aren't as handmade and personalised as I'd like to think, but I think price is important in that regard. If I pay over about $300 for a knife I'd expect it to be given a little more attention and care in its design/finish

tk59
08-08-2011, 10:55 AM
nevermind

ptolemy
08-08-2011, 11:15 AM
It is like making a movie out of a book. They are very different media, and will never translate directly. The best you can hope for is that a good book gets turned into a good movie, though they won't be the same thing at all.
This is as good example as any.

I actually care who wrote the book and screen play and who directed it.


I get the impression that a lot of Japanese knives aren't as handmade and personalised as I'd like to think, but I think price is important in that regard. If I pay over about $300 for a knife I'd expect it to be given a little more attention and care in its design/finish
That's a fair question and since it's over there and alot less transparent, in the end the answer is - who knows. Unless you follow from start to end, you will never know.

Then, you have to ask yourself, what is considered 100%. Is farming out handle work considered ok? What about the engraving? What about the sharpening? Making of the case?

What about the forging... say you are doing 512 damascus and you have an apprentice do some of the layers while you're taking a break...

I know some of the elements are silly, but if we are to consider 100% custom made, then we need to set standards.

For example: handle to me can be done by anyone... I trust the knifemaker to use someone who he/she feels is as good as making handles as he/she is at making knives. Same for the engraving, holder, sharpening.