PDA

View Full Version : the value of "going custom"



tk59
02-13-2012, 06:26 PM
I'm curious as to how the forum as a whole would put value on the components of a custom knife. I'm not even sure how to phrase the question so I'll just ask an ambiguous question and we can see what comes out. Let's say you have $500 (or whatever the amount may be) you must spend on a custom knife. Where would your money go? What percentage would go toward fancy materials? a painstakingly perfect grind? a perfect finish (whatever that might be)? amazing fit of the components? amazing comfort? All of these things take time and time is money right? What's most important to you? For me, I would put 50% or so into the blade function then 15% on materials, 15% on finish and 15% on comfort and then the other 5% wherever needed, maybe.

The Edge
02-13-2012, 06:39 PM
In all honesty TK, if I'm going custom, I don't start out at a base price and try to fit everything I want into that. Instead, I look at each component you listed, pick everything I want in that respect, and worry about the cost later. In going custom, I don't have to try and figure out what percentage of my money I want going towards the grind, F&F, materials, and comfort. I can put an equal preference on each one of those aspects, and then let the maker put a price on what he's going to charge for that. At least that's the appeal of a custom to me, not having to make any trade-offs in searching for what I want.

EdipisReks
02-13-2012, 06:40 PM
your break down sounds about right to me. i really prefer wa handled knives, so comfort is a bit easier than with a Western knife.

Adagimp
02-13-2012, 06:52 PM
If I started with a limit I'd probably opt for 60% blade function, 10% materials, 10% fit and finish, 15% comfort and 5% for anything else. No spending limit would obviously be a different story, but the allure of custom for me is that I have a chance to get a grind and profile that is tailored to what I think makes for a great cutter and not that it will look super swanky or have be the most comfortable thing I've ever held.

memorael
02-13-2012, 07:09 PM
I would think I would second the "I would pay no matter what cost for what I want" part, but I would be most interested in metal used for the knife and wood and ferrule materials. The grind and all that other jazz I could pass up since I can pretty much fix all of it to my exacting standards.

Johnny.B.Good
02-13-2012, 07:25 PM
In all honesty TK, if I'm going custom, I don't start out at a base price and try to fit everything I want into that. Instead, I look at each component you listed, pick everything I want in that respect, and worry about the cost later. In going custom, I don't have to try and figure out what percentage of my money I want going towards the grind, F&F, materials, and comfort. I can put an equal preference on each one of those aspects, and then let the maker put a price on what he's going to charge for that. At least that's the appeal of a custom to me, not having to make any trade-offs in searching for what I want.

+1

On a full custom, I would expect everything to be done 100% to the best of the maker's abilities. There should be no compromises when it comes to the grind and/or fit and finish (assuming the maker and customer agree on the type of finish up front). Compromises (in an effort to keep costs in line) should only be made when it comes to the types of materials used, not how they are put together. Comfort is subjective (I don't know how makers attempt to ensure customer satisfaction in this area).

oivind_dahle
02-13-2012, 07:50 PM
+1

On a full custom, I would expect everything to be done 100% to the best of the maker's abilities. There should be no compromises when it comes to the grind and/or fit and finish (assuming the maker and customer agree on the type of finish up front). Compromises (in an effort to keep costs in line) should only be made when it comes to the types of materials used, not how they are put together. Comfort is subjective (I don't know how makers attempt to ensure customer satisfaction in this area).

+ 1

WildBoar
02-13-2012, 09:37 PM
I could see this dictating who you choose to make your custom, as some of the Japanese makers may alter a profile for you, etc. while keeping their stock handle. That's a good route to go if you are mainly looking for, say, a Blue #2 gyuto with a 255mm edge, 45mm heel, etc. as your goal, with little consideration due to handle and/ or maybe some of the finer finishing techniques on the blade and handle.

Kind of a different approach then thinking "I really want a cool dammy suji from HHH, I wonder how much it will cost?"

Salty dog
02-13-2012, 09:42 PM
Oh boy. I have a million things to say on this subject and don't know where to start.

tk59
02-13-2012, 09:46 PM
Oh boy. I have a million things to say on this subject and don't know where to start.I think we have time. Go have a drink or two, come back and let it all hang out. :)

Mike Davis
02-13-2012, 09:50 PM
Ha! I am interested in the direction this thread is going. Keep it up folks.

Phip
02-13-2012, 09:58 PM
Hmm, for $500 I'd put 70-80% of the cost in the blade and the rest in the handle. Being a rather undiscriminating home cook who barely knows how to use a knife, I'd not worry specifying grinds, etc. other than rounded spine and choil. Given it's custom, like others have suggested I'm going to expect the maker will use top quality steel and his highest level of skill. Mostly, I'd be looking to see the knife fit a specific ideal I have in mind in terms of length, width, thickness, weight, etc. and carbon or stainless. After that, I'm not going to try and tell a craftsman how to do his job.

Johnny.B.Good
02-13-2012, 10:02 PM
For me, I would put 50% or so into the blade function then 15% on materials, 15% on finish and 15% on comfort and then the other 5% wherever needed, maybe.

I think I may be misunderstanding you...

How can you tell a maker to devote 50% of his time (and therefore money) towards making your blade functional? Doesn't it just take however long it takes? And wouldn't you expect any custom to be functional no matter what?

Are you ranking these things in order of importance to you?

I have little to no understanding of how long any of the individual processes involved in making a custom knife take, so it would be impossible for me to try to dictate to a maker how much time to spend on any one thing.

mattrud
02-13-2012, 10:07 PM
I think we have time. Go have a drink or two, come back and let it all hang out. :)

+1

you get a drink too Tinh!

if I have several myself maybe I will even get loud. But that takes me a bit.

memorael
02-13-2012, 10:13 PM
I think I may be misunderstanding you...

How can you tell a maker to devote 50% of his time (and therefore money) towards making your blade functional? Doesn't it just take however long it takes? And wouldn't you expect any custom to be functional no matter what?

Are you ranking these things in order of importance to you?

I have little to no understanding of how long any of the individual processes involved in making a custom knife take, so it would be impossible for me to try to dictate to a maker how much time to spend on any one thing.

I think that TK means that however he buys his knives from should fit into that mold, I don't think any knife maker would take a spend 50% budget on this and 15 on that whatever. BUT!!! imagine if you buy a knife with a narwhal ferrule or handle with diamond encrusted mosaic's and whatnot then the handle or materials could just explode. I guess the most expensive thing I would ever buy is a narwhal horn ferrule or handle which I happened to see one once and someone bought before me. O well.

ejd53
02-13-2012, 11:04 PM
Having just bought my first custom knife and have several more on order, this is an interesting discussion. Although I can't put an exact percentage on each of the categories, I looked at my messages discussing some of the knives, and the the largest part of the discussions concerned the blade (contour, length, height, steel, etc) with all other aspects taking up proportionately less space.

sachem allison
02-13-2012, 11:16 PM
I think that TK means that however he buys his knives from should fit into that mold, I don't think any knife maker would take a spend 50% budget on this and 15 on that whatever. BUT!!! imagine if you buy a knife with a narwhal ferrule or handle with diamond encrusted mosaic's and whatnot then the handle or materials could just explode. I guess the most expensive thing I would ever buy is a narwhal horn ferrule or handle which I happened to see one once and someone bought before me. O well.
Narwhal, I might know someone. lol

tk59
02-13-2012, 11:22 PM
Narwhal, I might know someone. lolHaha! Amazing...

PierreRodrigue
02-13-2012, 11:27 PM
call me! :D

sachem allison
02-13-2012, 11:48 PM
call me! :D

Canadian source, incredibly expensive anyway you look at it info@canadianivory.com write them or call for price quotes.

sachem allison
02-13-2012, 11:52 PM
Narwhal, I might know someone. lol

American supplier for preban Narwhal ivory. $150-$200 an inch cut to size. I've used them before, great people, very knowledgable. They also have many other rare ivories, they are almost always out of the hippo ivory though as they only get a few pieces a year. For that talk to me and I'll take care of you. lol :Dhttp://www.boonetrading.com/Narwhal.html

apicius9
02-14-2012, 12:00 AM
Funny, of course searching for narwhal ivory was also the first thing I did after reading the post and I landed at the same websites :) Son, I think eventually we will have to talk ;) Always wanted to try oosik as well. Now for those diamond encrusted mosaic pins....

Stefan

sachem allison
02-14-2012, 12:37 AM
[QUOTE=apicius9;81225]Funny, of course searching for narwhal ivory was also the first thing I did after reading the post and I landed at the same websites :) Son, I think eventually we will have to talk ;) Always wanted to try oosik as well. Now for those diamond encrusted mosaic pins.... "



we might have to talk to Spike for those he is a retired goldsmith. somewhere I have some oosic and some fossilized sea cow bones, ( spent a year or two as a staff paleontologist along time ago) probably with my dads stuff in Cali. I met the guys from Boone trading when I was doing a gem and mineral show I think or maybe a gun show. I don't remember which. whenever your ready, call me. we will work out a trade.

tk59
02-14-2012, 12:45 AM
...spent a year or two as a staff paleontologist along time ago) probably with my dads stuff in Cali. I met the guys from Boone trading when I was doing a gem and mineral show I think or maybe a gun show...What the...? You need to have someone do your biography.

sachem allison
02-14-2012, 12:55 AM
I have done so much s@!t just for the experience Tk when I was younger. I used to work 2 or 3 jobs in completely different field at the same time, just to learn new things. My father always told me to learn whatever I could because you never know when you might need it and he was right. I am not very book smart. but I know a little bit about a vast number of things, not enough to be knowledgeable, but enough to get me by and to ask the right questions. It helps that I have varied interests in many subjects.

Deckhand
02-14-2012, 01:44 AM
American supplier for preban Narwhal ivory. $150-$200 an inch cut to size. I've used them before, great people, very knowledgable. They also have many other rare ivories, they are almost always out of the hippo ivory though as they only get a few pieces a year. For that talk to me and I'll take care of you. lol :Dhttp://www.boonetrading.com/Narwhal.html

I always knew I wanted a killer whale tooth after two summers of oceanography in the Florida Keys. Damn now I need Narwhal tusk and sea cow bones. This place is bad for my wallet.

sachem allison
02-14-2012, 01:52 AM
I always knew I wanted a killer whale tooth after two summers of oceanography in the Florida Keys. Damn now I need Narwhal tusk and sea cow bones. This place is bad for my wallet.
pm your address and I'll send you a whale tooth I think I have one in my "special kit bag" for just such emergencies. It is a small one though.

Deckhand
02-14-2012, 02:03 AM
pm your address and I'll send you a whale tooth I think I have one in my "special kit bag" for just such emergencies. It is a small one though.
Will do. That blows my mind. I will definitely have to return the favor

Salty dog
02-14-2012, 07:18 AM
I think we have time. Go have a drink or two, come back and let it all hang out. :)

Took your advice but I fell asleep and burned a pizza. I'll have to come back to this after we get our butts kicked tonight.

Eamon Burke
02-14-2012, 03:12 PM
Took your advice but I fell asleep and burned a pizza. I'll have to come back to this after we get our butts kicked tonight.

please do. Narwal spacers are cool, but not as interesting to me as the OP.

memorael
02-14-2012, 04:45 PM
holy fok, I start talking about narwhal's and all this good s#1t suddenly appears. Its like finding a rare pokemon. So who knows how to work Narwhal? I might need a rehandle at some point on a honyaki knife, just the ferrule and ebony thing... maybe a mosaic pin. Damn... this custom thing got to me.

tkern
02-14-2012, 04:59 PM
Narwal ferrule, ebony handle w/ silver spacer would be pretty stunning. Mosaic pin in the bottom.

Tristan
02-14-2012, 10:10 PM
The only narwhal I've seen worked on a knife was a full narwhal handle done by Mr Itou on one of his Gyutos. Sold out real quick. Seeing the price of the ivory... i'm not surprised. Was relatively cheap considering the cost of the ivory...

Mingooch
02-15-2012, 12:14 AM
heck I am working on a hack berry and mammoth ivory, cant wait

oivind_dahle
02-15-2012, 04:27 AM
Im more into Musk Ox horn :)

Cool animal, amazing horn with a lot of character. Once you see these animals battle you just know the horn is though!

sachem allison
02-16-2012, 03:49 AM
Will do. That blows my mind. I will definitely have to return the favor

found the tooth, will send it out Monday or Tuesday.

apicius9
02-16-2012, 04:02 AM
Im more into Musk Ox horn :)

Cool animal, amazing horn with a lot of character. Once you see these animals battle you just know the horn is though!


I would really like to try that out. Do I have to buy the whole beast or could I get a ferrule's worth of musk ox horn somewhere? Does anybody have sources? Or maybe I really should apply for that job in Anchorage...

Stefan

sachem allison
02-16-2012, 04:05 AM
I would really like to try that out. Do I have to buy the whole beast or could I get a ferrule's worth of musk ox horn somewhere? Does anybody have sources? Or maybe I really should apply for that job in Anchorage...

Stefan

Miles usually has some. but he ain't cheap. neither is anyone else, for that matter. http://www.milesofalaska.net/knife_Materials/

JohnnyChance
02-16-2012, 04:07 AM
I would really like to try that out. Do I have to buy the whole beast or could I get a ferrule's worth of musk ox horn somewhere? Does anybody have sources? Or maybe I really should apply for that job in Anchorage...

Stefan

Shoot a PM Harald's way.

Salty dog
02-16-2012, 04:08 AM
First, you have to have confidence in the maker. How many are out there that you trust? Not their motives but their understanding of how the tool they create works. It's an issue. There are a number of makers still finding their way in the world of kitchen knives. And quite frankly, I'd put Bob Kramer in that group so I don't think I'll be offending our resident knife makers. I have yet to talk to a maker who has a strong understanding of the tool they create.

If you want a cool one of a kind knife, custom is the way to go. Just don't expect it to work any better than an off the shelf quality Japanese knife. At least until these guys get over themselves.

tk59
02-16-2012, 08:03 AM
You didn't think Bob's knife was a top notch performer? If it wasn't, what was lacking?

RRLOVER
02-16-2012, 08:11 AM
You didn't think Bob's knife was a top notch performer? If it wasn't, what was lacking?


The "Salty version" was top notch,the standard profile was not a contender for me.Profiles are very subjective.And to answer the topic I see ZERO "value" in a custom,my TKC standard was only $200 and nothing I have owned so far has blown it away.

Salty dog
02-16-2012, 09:33 AM
The first Kramer I received and almost everyone I've seen since is built for chopping carrots. Only when he realized I might know what I'm talking about did he attempt to make a usable knife. The good one he sent performed well but no better than any of my good Japanese knives and not as good as my best. It was an absolutely stunning knife, don't get me wrong. Essentially that was one of the reasons why I sold it. It was too pretty to use.

I credit the makers that participate here. I believe they're in pursuit excellence. Where Bob talks the talk but doesn't walk the walk. It's about dollars. And ever since I've been leary.

Salty dog
02-16-2012, 09:39 AM
On a side note: I've been watching two Kramer's on e-bay. Last I looked the 6 inch was at $3200, the 9 inch was purchased months ago for $5800 the buyer re-listed it at $18000. After re-listing it several times he eventually sold it for $5300.

Cadillac J
02-16-2012, 02:35 PM
If you want a cool one of a kind knife, custom is the way to go. Just don't expect it to work any better than an off the shelf quality Japanese knife. At least until these guys get over themselves.


I see ZERO "value" in a custom,my TKC standard was only $200 and nothing I have owned so far has blown it away.

Boom....and Boom. Couldn't of said it better myself.

Me and Chris were just briefly talking about this, and these comments pretty much sum it all up.

SpikeC
02-16-2012, 03:02 PM
On a side note: I've been watching two Kramer's on e-bay. Last I looked the 6 inch was at $3200, the 9 inch was purchased months ago for $5800 the buyer re-listed it at $18000. After re-listing it several times he eventually sold it for $5300.

Bada Boom!!

Johnny.B.Good
02-16-2012, 03:49 PM
On a side note: I've been watching two Kramer's on e-bay. Last I looked the 6 inch was at $3200, the 9 inch was purchased months ago for $5800 the buyer re-listed it at $18000. After re-listing it several times he eventually sold it for $5300.

I hope this guy is better at picking stocks than he is at buying/selling custom knives or he is going to find himself in the poorhouse!

zitangy
02-16-2012, 04:37 PM
not too risky an investment i think.. there seems to be an after market for custom knives.. 30% loss as opposed to stocks which can be a total wipe out. Over the years.. prices of raw materials have zoomed. Honyakis seems to have increased significantly.
30% loss for the usage, a chance of ownership for a while and enjoying the process of determining and choosing the blade materials, profile etc ; and for the sake of the passion or hobby, i do not think it is too bad...

Its better than some other interest m that can only come to nought.

Oh I didn't mention that during the period of ownership.. constant care, maintenance and vigilant checking that no rust spots appear ( like a black spot that appeared on my BB knife). THus you have things to do which you enjoy.. Oh! i have not posted that I used a WMF stainless steel polish and it almosted destroyed the finish on teh mirror polish 52100 blade! I am still struggling with it by the way... but Ah.. thats always teh challenge for the next session..

Worse case scenario.. he has a B kramer that he paid usd 5800 and gets to tell abt it.

I am sure we have blown away more money foolishly.. My grandma ( constant companion who is a grandmother) used to yag an yag abt my knives at home.. One day i told her that perhaps I should have another passion/ interest such as keeping birds ( the walking kind) and that was the end of all the grouses.... It does keep me at home occupied.


But I am not buying...BK.. there are other interesting custom makers....

Salty dog
02-16-2012, 08:33 PM
It's about being able to find the right buyer. I have a Nenohi yanagi that according to retail has appreciated 2K since I purchased it. Can I get that much for it?

EdipisReks
02-16-2012, 08:36 PM
It's about being able to find the right buyer. I have a Nenohi yanagi that according to retail has appreciated 2K since I purchased it. Can I get that much for it?

wait until the next time Morimoto gets a lot of publicity and toss it on eBay. you very well might.

Eamon Burke
02-17-2012, 01:36 AM
If the question being considered is "is the performance of a custom worth all the money?", then I say yes, up to about $1000. Because you get exactly the knife you want, exactly the way you want it, no detail left aside. Yeah, you might find it on a shelf somewhere, but it's going to take a life of searching(which can be fun too!), and it may well not exist.

If you consider that I could skip out several knives at work to have the one that does exactly what I want it to, it even makes basic financial sense. For home users, it's all hobby, so $200 or $2000 it's just gravy.

One of my biggest hurdles for making knives is having to handily out-perform a CCK, Tojro DP, Victorinox, or Kiwi. The cheapest, least respected knives...and I've spent a week with customs and gone back to those afterward feeling embarrassed for the maker. Gimme a reason to use a custom instead of a CCK 1303 other than stain resistance, and we're cooking.

If I were a single man, planning to cook pro forever, I'd sell my car to pay for a knife from Michael Rader, and I'd carry it every single day. That knife was worth every penny that paid for it.