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Thread: Certification

  1. #1
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    Certification

    Another thread got me thinking about Master Smith Certification. Instead of hijacking it, I thought a new thread would be a better choice.

    Certification typically implies that a person is qualified to work in their field, i.e. a doctor, engineer, lawyer, etc... A person doesn't have to be certified to make high end knifes. Users will quickly determine if the knife has any value.

    For the maker, what is the advantage of the certification process? Is it an achievement knowing that few people have the necessary skills to attain it? Does it help with selling product?

    Does certification mean anything or matter to the buyer? Personally, it adds very little to the knife. Since most of the times, I can't try a knife before I purchase it, the reputation of the maker is important. Are they known for consistently putting out a quality product. The certification does burnish the reputation.

    Just like most people on this forum, I'd love to own a Bill Burke or Michael Rader knife. The knives speak for themselves. Knowing that they are Master Smiths is just icing on the cake.

    Jay

  2. #2

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    I would like to know also if any ABS MSs can testify that there is a difference in public perception when you attain a title as relatively obscure as ABS Mastersmith.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by johndoughy View Post
    I would like to know also if any ABS MSs can testify that there is a difference in public perception when you attain a title as relatively obscure as ABS Mastersmith.
    Well, you are part of the public whose perception you're talking about, so does it make a difference?

    And how do you measure "public perception" is such a small target market, anyway?

  4. #4

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    Well, how can I ignore this thread? :-) Thanks for wanting one of mine or Bill's knives. I know Bill makes great knives that many of you here have reviewed and love. And, Bill made great knives even before he made mastersmith.

    I think the process of making the test knife for journeyman and passing; then making the five presentation knives for journeyman and passing judgement; making the damascus performance test knife for mastersmith and passing; then making the five presentation knives and passing judgement that force a maker to really focus. The process tells the world that this person had a goal to go through this process which can take 5+ years and stick with it, not give up and then finally submit five knives including a damascus dagger that is critiqued by many senior mastersmith judges (I had seven in the room.)

    All this does not mean I am a better maker because of the title, "Mastersmith", but it can lend a certain credibility in the eyes of the general public. And for most, knowing that I have gone through that rigorous process and passed does say a lot. However, for me, it was like earning my first black belt - now I am a beginner. It's kinda like learning to crawl - I did it and now I'm off my knees and ready to walk and run. That is kind of the feeling I have. All that stuff is behind me now and I'm ready to start making some really good knives. For me it is a beginning and hopefully, I continue to learn and improve.

    I hope Bill chimes in here, as he has great perspective on this topic as well. A great guy... you should buy one of his knives first - IMHO... - then buy two of mine :-)
    -M

  5. #5
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brand

    Consumers may look on branding as an important value added aspect of products or services, as it often serves to denote a certain attractive quality or characteristic (see also brand promise). From the perspective of brand owners, branded products or services also command higher prices. Where two products resemble each other, but one of the products has no associated branding (such as a generic, store-branded product), people may often select the more expensive branded product on the basis of the quality of the brand or the reputation of the brand owner.



    Why do you think Burke, Kramer and Rader put "MS" on their knives?
    They are proud of it and it adds value.

  6. #6
    More:

    First thing in this article: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2...ct_oppenheimer

    Bob Kramer is one of a hundred and twenty-two people in the world, and the only former chef, to have been certified in the U.S. as a Master Bladesmith. To earn that title, which is conferred by the American Bladesmith Society (A.B.S.), Kramer underwent five years of study, culminating in the manufacture, through hand-forging, of six knives, including a fifteen-inch bowie knife. Like a mad alchemist, Kramer, aged fifty, cannot stop tinkering with steel recipes. Last year, Cook’s Illustrated ran a sidebar which stated that the Kramer chef’s knife “outperformed every knife we’ve ever rated.”


    In every article written he is best know as ABS Master Smith : Branding!!!!!
    http://kramerknives.com/articles.htm



    Do anyone honestly think that Bob Kramer could sell his knives for 20 000 USD without the skill of branding and marketing?
    Ill bet my salary this year that with the right person doing marketing and branding for Bill and Devin, would have made their knives go at least as high as Kramers.

  7. #7
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    I think Bob has done a great job with his marketing. He's also been very fortunate to get good publicity at the right time. I read that he had only made 10 knives before he was featured in Saveur magazine. The article led to a 3 year waiting list over night.

    Every article about him tells you that he is one of X number of master blade smiths in the world, but the same articles tell you he was also a circus clown. He's got a great life story.

    I don't think anyone dismisses the accomplishment of achieving A.B.S. mastersmith, but I'll bet you that having a feature article in a major magazine will bring you more customers.
    "Experience" is what you get when you don't get what you want.

  8. #8
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    "Ill bet my salary this year that with the right person doing marketing and branding for Bill and Devin, would have made their knives go at least as high as Kramers."

    I think that this is true. The biggest obstacle that faces all artists and craftspersons is marketing.
    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."
    Pirsig

  9. #9
    The alleles created by mutation may be beneficial

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    I think you make a good point OD. Take it one step further and buy a NY Times ad for Bill or Devin, that oughta get you a couple "free" customs...

  10. #10
    I have to say that I dont know if Devin or Burke want to go that way, some like the spotlight others dont. I respect the men that stay out of light and produce the best of the best. For me its perhaps a proof they are in it for the passion and not for the money.


    Marketing is rather easy, ie Bill Burke

    blah blah blah ABS MASTERSMITH blah blah blah 1 OF 122 IN THE WORLD blah blah blah STUDIED AND WORK WITH THE BEST SMITHS IN JAPAN blah blah blah blah WANTED TO TAKE THE AGENT ART OF JAPANESE SWORDS AND TURN IT INTO CUSTOM HIGH END KITCHEN KNIVES bla blah bla bla, MAKING HIS OWN SAN MAI blah blah blah EACH KNIFE WITH OVER 64 000 LAYERS blah blah blah RECOMMENDED BY THE BEST CHEFS IN THE WORLD blah blah blah WINNER OF KNIFESHOWS blah blah TRUCKER USED A BURKE TO ESCAPE A BURNING WRECK blah blah blah ALL OTHER KNIVES SNAPPED blah blah
    BURKES KNIFE CUT A LARGE HOLE IN THE TRUCKS CAB, MADE OF DOUBLE-THICK-LAYERED STEEL, AND SUFFERED ONLY A MILD CHIP blah blah blah. WAITING LIST FOR AT LEAST A YEAR blah blah blah blah KNIVES FOR THE PICKY CUSTOMER WITH SUPER HIGH DEMANDS TO THEIR CUTLERY..blah blah blah
    EACH KNIFE IS HAND MADE AND FORGED IN THE MOUNTAINS OF BOISE blah blah blah ONLY USING HIS SKILL AND HANDS MAKING ART OF STEEL...blah blah
    CREATED THE BEST KITCHENKNIFE EVER MADE IN 2011 WITH AMAZING 18446744073709551616 LAYERS.... THIS KNIFE IS A SAN MAI USING HIS OWN SECRET STEEL CALLED TAMAHAGANE blah blah blah KAWAGANE blah blah blah SHIGANE blah blah blah 40 000 YEAR OLD MUSK OX HORN HANDLE blah blah blah THE BEST KNIFE EVER MADE blah blah blah...

    People seams to remember just a few things in an article. Bill got a really cool story to tell the world.

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