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Thread: Mid-Tech?

  1. #41
    My coworker has a shirt from a car audio place that says "define custom". We should call them.

  2. #42
    Quote Originally Posted by JohnnyChance View Post
    I don't think the makers are lowering the price because people think it cheapens the product. They are lowering the price because farming out some of the processes allow them to do so, and then they can sell the knife at a lower price to a larger market. There are more people interested in knives that are a few hundred dollars than there are people interested in $700+ (or whatever) knives.

    I'm not asking for their entire heat treat process, schedule, quench times, etc. I would like to know what process they are using (for example, Pierre said his would be salt pods) and what hardness they are achieving. That's about it. I have a Devin ITK, I have no clue the exact process that was used on it. However, Devin is well known for having superb heat treat methods, and he stated these were done to his specifications, which is also good enough for me.

    And I am pretty sure anyone with a Bill Burke can say their knife is better than if it was sent out to MK Heat Treating.

    I don't view mid-tech with any stigma what so ever. They are just different than custom knives, or factory ones.
    There is a point here to address. Cost vs. price. As a custom goes, here is a dirty break down of components to be considered. Blade blank, abrasives (belts, sand paper, mesh whatever else gets used...) bolsters if any, scales, pins. Each item has a cost to the makes, that he needs to recoupe. The big variable is time involved in creating a knife, and the makers reputation. As a maker, we can't always charge $X.XX an hour, and some makers reputation, isn't at the level of others, otherwise we would all charge what Kramer does. So with the balancing act, a "price" is set.

    Enter the midtech. Buying in bulk, farming out processes, HT, cutting, rough grinding. Done by industry, efficiently, and with less time. Up front, it is expensive. But spread the cost over several knives, the cost is way less. This allows us to adjust our "price" to appeal to a greater demographic. Note "value" isn't involved. Is a Kramer any more valuable than a Thomas, Burke, Raider, Rodrigue, Martell...? That has to be decided by the individual. I can't sell a knife valued the same as a Kramer, why (someone please let me know, I'm poor!) because his reputation, and market appeal affords him the oppertunity to charge what he does. (forgive me for useing Kramer as my example, he is able to do what he does, for good reason, and good for him!)

    I am able, as with Mr Thomas, Mr Burk, and Mr Raider, able to offer knives of high quality, built at a lower cost, which I think, is great Value!

    I'll stop now, my wife says I talk to much

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  3. #43
    The alleles created by mutation may be beneficial

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    Apr 2011
    Hampton Roads, VA
    Quote Originally Posted by ajhuff View Post
    Probably because I don't consider heat treatment and cutting steel to be craftsmanship. Forging? Yes. Handle making? Yes. Grinding? Yes. But not cutting or HT.
    I don't believe I said cutting steel was a craft. I said "you are paying for the time and skill of a craftsman." The time they spend doing stock removal themselves is time they could be grinding or whatever, which will increase the price of the knife. Also, I think we'll just have to agree to disagree on HT being a craft.

  4. #44
    Heat treating not a craft?

    Perhaps not by garden variety standards...

    But as a long time user of Bob (Dr. D2) Dozier's steel, and someone who has used a bunch of others treatment of D2, I categorically disagree.

    The guy has squeezed enormous amount of performance out of that steel through his heat treat craftsmanship and recipe.

    Phil Wilson may disagree as well.

  5. #45
    To me, it seems like the difference in opinion may be a misunderstanding of points of sorts - "actual heat treating," i.e. the physical act of doing the heat treat, versus "determining the best process by which to heat treat a steel."

    I think the examples made of heat treating as a craft have addressed the processes developed by certain people, wihle the examples of heat treating not as a craft have focused on the act of heat treating, not the time, testing and manner developed by individuals.

    But, I do agree that mid-tech can devalue a person's overall work, if the mid-tech product is not a good product. For example, look at wines. Many wineries make a "mid level" label. The ones that have not been good have seriously affected the overall perception of a winery, e.g. Robert Mondavi, Kendall Jackson, etc.

    As a buyer, I certainly think that mid-techs are an option; as a maker, I would have to think long and seriously as to whether the pros outweigh the cons.
    "Don't you know who he is?"

  6. #46

    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    St. Petersburg, FL
    IIRC, a few years back, the Knifemakers Guild promulgated some rules that defined "custom" knives as they saw it and as such, regulated what could be shown at their show. I wonder of the term "mid-tech" arose out of that in that mid tech knives use some techniques and/or technologies that the Guild did not approve of for a "true" custom knife like waterjet or laser blanking and CNC milling? If you include outside heat treating then a LOT of custom makers aren't really making customs, no?

  7. #47
    Senior Member
    mr drinky's Avatar
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    Feb 2011
    St. Paul, MN
    I like this topic and discussion -- and also Bill Burke's thread on the same theme. This mid-tech thing has been touched upon a couple of times briefly in this forum, but now that makers such as Pierre and Burke are involved, the term has rightly (and necessarily) been bumped up again for some cleaning out. IMO I see this whole 'mid-tech' movement as a natural progression. A knifemaker has emerged from a cottage (i.e., household) industry with limited scale to the manager of a larger value chain -- just as Apple computer went from a garage production to something bigger and more spread out. I would never want Pierre or Burke or any knifemaker, for example, to divert their energies to cultivate wood suppliers and learn how to stabilize wood. That is not where their value lies. But figuring out where to outsource so they can make more knives and concentrate on other types of value is good thing IMO.

    With that said, I do wonder if there will be a crowding out of other knifemaking activities. The petty I got from Pierre was a wonderfully unique knife that I will love for years. Will more mid-techs mean fewer (or more) knives of this kind? Will waiting lists for the 100% authored unique blades become longer (or shorter)? Production changes of this sort often bring other changes too. Just thinking out loud on this one.

    "There's only one thing I hate more than lying…skim milk, which is water that's lying about being milk." -- Ron Swanson

  8. #48
    I am sure there will be makers who will continue making knives in more traditional way - doing at least critical processes by themselves and putting their names on their own work, as there will be chefs who will cook from raw ingredients. They will have to get more efficient and better at what they do and how they market themselves to stay competitive.

    There will be a veal cutlet for every tomato, as the saying goes. It will be left to the customers to decide.


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  9. #49

    Join Date
    May 2011
    Jackson, MI.
    Quote Originally Posted by Marko Tsourkan View Post
    No argument here, as custom implies (by one definition) to be made to one's preference. In this sense, it's different from 100% sole authorship knife.

    Also, I suggest you make your argument with American Blacksmith Society. I think they need to update their constitution and get in step with time - CNC era. They make way to much emphasis on manual work and skill. A robot can do it better and cheaper. Also, they should allow these knives be used for JS and MS entrance exams.

    I strongly disagree with this...The reason for their testing is to see that the person has the capability to make said knife ALL by hand...To allow this to happen would go against every thing the ABS stands for. I think some of the test methods are archaic, but it is still all about the forged, HAND made blade....It isn't about cheaper...It is about an aquired skill. And to be allowed in a JS or MS test is absurd.


  10. #50
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    Feb 2011
    Spike C
    "The Buddha resides as comfortably in the circuits of a digital computer or the gears of a cycle transmission as he does at the top of a mountain."

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