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For the money or for the passion?

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oivind_dahle

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Knifemakers in the forum!
And there are a lot! (http://www.knifeforums.com/forums/showtopic.php?tid/893780 + vendors section + other smiths).


How can a knifemakers claim to make the perfect knife after just some months of making kitchen knives, when Shigefusa still strives to make the perfect knife? So tell me makers, are you into this for the money or are you into it for the passion?
 

Delbert Ealy

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Any knifemaker who claims to make the perfect knife should quit for one of two reasons; one they have(doubtful) and upon acheiving perfection and after making one, making more would be an offense against the gods. Two their head is too big(hubris).


Posted by spinblue,
Get the filming crew on this...

Sounds like a new reality TV Show...

Top Knife Maker

Featuring new knife makers giving the steel their all. The mighty gyuto contest will push these knife-testants to their limits.

They will be put through a series of difficult tasks, with compounded stress and sleep deprivation and the study of human behavior. What is not known is who will win the series. What is known is that this will make some of the most stunning TV in years and expected years to come.

Good luck Everyone.

Bravo awaits you. end of quote

I am a bit of a fan of top model and this made me laugh quite hard

To answer your question, I think that most makers start with the passion, and if they are lucky wind up making money at it because they realize they are miserable not making knives.
 

Salty dog

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I love this quote, It applies to many professions. Including cooking and knifemaking.

"Here in India we believe in watching the artist at work, not in looking at the work of the artist. Artistry is not what the artist produces but is the artist himself, producing."
 

Cadillac J

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How can a knifemakers claim to make the perfect knife after just some months of making kitchen knives...?
OD, I've never seen any maker around here make such claims?

All of them that have posted in the forums seem quite humble about their work--or at least portray themselves to be.

I think it is a good thing that more knife makers are trying their hand at kitchen cutlery...you get to see different styles that bring something new to the table. I believe all knife makers have a passion for knife making, otherwise they would be doing something else. If there is a demand in the kitchen knife arena, and they want to venture out into new waters and challenge themselves, then more power to them!
 

RRLOVER

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Who has claimed to make a perfect knife?? I have not read any posts with such claims.
 

Lefty

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If you want to make money, I'm thinking a business where you need thousands of dollars of equipment just to start might not be the best bet. It's not like you can really do it in your shed where you keep the lawnmower and snow shovels using only a hammer and a hacksaw....
 

Bill T

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You can make money making knives ?!?!
I've made knives for over 20 years and never once did I think I've made the "perfect knife" .. or made "money" at it .​
I've made enough to make more knives , and feed the obsession of crafting knives ...​
Only Big manufacturers and Bob Kramer make money on making knives ...​
I found the Kitchen Knife Forum while on a search for the best steels to use in my Military style blades . I kept finding info on performance and use on kitchen knives throughout the search . It made me rethink the knives I was making , and made me change everything I do in the crafting of knives .​
I have stopped taking orders , except for Military - so my time spent on knives can be DEVOTED to the crafting of Kitchen knives . I am taking this as serious as any aspect of my knifemaking .​
The people who I hope to now make knives for , are the most difficult to satisfy . They USE their knives , and use them often , they BETTER perfom . They have some of the best knives in the world to compare them to .​
I would have to be crazy to start all over , in an area of knifemaking where no one knows me ....​
Yet here I am .. The Challenge excites me more than you could imagine ..​
Passion .. or Insanity ....?​
 

mano

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Knifemakers in the forum!
And there are a lot! (http://www.knifeforums.com/forums/showtopic.php?tid/893780 + vendors section + other smiths).


How can a knifemakers claim to make the perfect knife after just some months of making kitchen knives, when Shigefusa still strives to make the perfect knife? So tell me makers, are you into this for the money or are you into it for the passion?
Please copy and paste a link.

What impresses me most about these knife makers is most appear to be curious minded men who perform dirty unglamorous work to produce a clean glamorous product.

Hey Bill T, how about a link to your knives?
 

PierreRodrigue

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Perfect knife... I think that seeing all the makers who have come to "the kitchen" showing knives handcrafted by each of them/us, on display, looking for help to tweek a design, adjust geometry, more belly, less belly, any thing that can be incorporated, or removed to make any given blade more apealing, or more suited to a particular task, is a sign that there is no such thing as a perfect knife. It is an obsession yes, (some times I think sickness) a desire that drives us to evolve, to look at something at the end of the day and smile sometimes, or realise that we are way off base. Making money? Some maybe make enough to call it a living, others its a way to get more materials, or equipment to carry the obsession further. Look at it like a painting, there in not nor ever will be a perfect painter, some will make fantastic pieces, some of those paintings will never see the light of day. I think I can safely say that every knifemaker out there, regardless of their perceived talent, has a "dang it!" pile,drawer,box or whatever. Del was right, if you have made a perfect knife, there would be no need to make another. There are a few guys here and other places, starting down the road of knifemaking. They will have their eurika moments, but will have a lot more moments where they need to walk away and get a breath of fresh air. Some will quit after making a handfull of knives, others will be driven to learn, build more, learn more. It is a passion, a challenge, and it can be very humbling.

Pierre
 

goodchef1

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I think the quest for the perfect knife should be in every committed knifemaker's head. Even Bob Kramer did not shy away from his desire. all the vendors I have communicated with on this forum have been professional and courteous though, although some I've come across on the internet, like chefs do become a little arrogant with what they know or have or do, even some non-knifemakers and some vendors.:scared1:

We chefs, artists, and I assume knife/handle makers too, do have our insecurities. We put things out in the open that comes from our heart and soul. We have high standards, always have a learning/student mentality, and although perfection is a quest, know that it can never be achieved. Money is a second thought.

:eek:vg:
 

apicius9

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I don't really want to compare my playing with wood to the great work I see from some of the knife makers here, but I have been thinking about that question myself recently. I had started making knife handles to do something creative and productive that gets me away from the computer and shows results faster than the work projects I am usually involved in. The fact that some people liked what I made was not only an encouragement, but selling pieces allowed me to buy better tools and better wood, so work became even more fun. I am terrible with money and worse with book keeping, but according to my tax files even after selling quite a few of my handles, I still have not made much money overall because I just spend whatever I made on more wood and tools. So, money is really not the driving force here.

What made me think about the topic recently were the changes after renting shop space. While it is an incredible relief to not have to work in my living room anymore and to have all my tools set up in a dedicated space, I also now pay rent that would get you a nice apartment in other parts of the country. So now I have to 'produce' in order to break even or better, and I sometimes feel that this adds stress rather than making it a hobby that relieves stress from my day job. But I still have fun and like the challenges, so I will continue doing it for a while longer. But I have the luxury that this is not my main source of income, and I admire the knifemakers who take the risk to invest and try to sell their goods as a way of living. I assume that the mechanisms are similar there - you sell some and then keep investing in tools and materials - and I cannot imagine that more than a few exceptions will get rich in the process. You could not keep doing this if it weren't for the passion and the positive encouragement you get from others for your work.

Just my 2cts.

Stefan
 

kalaeb

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For what its worth, to all the knifemakers/handle makers etc. I know you don't make much money doing what you are doing, but THANKYOU! I hope it all turns out good for everyone and I hope that you can all enjoy sucess. Even more thanks to the many vendors/makers whom participate in these forums on a regular basis and make this craft as addicting as it is.:thanx:
 

Michael Rader

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I make knives for the passion and the money and I believe that there is great honor in doing both. And, Bob Kramer is only one of the few who actually can make a living at it. I would think there is not a knifemaker alive that wouldn't want Bob's success. I'm working at it myself.

I don't make a perfect knife and I hope not to. Else, the clouds might part, and I would no longer be fit to walk the earth with you mere mortals :) I think I'll muck around here a bit more.
-M
 

Salty dog

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The perfect knife is like the perfect women. Everyone has their own version.

The search may be the best part.
 

Marko Tsourkan

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I might be reading between lines, but I think I understand what Oivind is asking here, even though I had to paraphrase his question.

I think he is asking the following. How can makers who are relatively new to kitchen knife scene can be so sure of their work (profile, geometry, etc), while it takes many years of practice and professional feedback to gain a knowledge to make a knife that can be claimed good? He uses Shigefusa example, who has been a highly praised knife maker for several decades, and yet his approach to the craft is very humble.

If one's skill is measured by the price one's knives fetch, Bob Kramer knives should be perfect. But they are not. I have one on hand at the moment. I have studied it and cut with it. It's a good knife, but not a perfect knife.

I don't' think a perfect knife exist. Even if a knife looks perfect to a buyer, a maker knows that there is something in the processes that could have been done better. I know it from my own experience and I am pretty sure many would agree.

At the same time, striving for perfection is a good thing, as it forces you to look at your work critically and find where you can improve.

I think kitchen knives is a hot market to enter, thanks in part to Bob Kramer, and you will see many people (including yours truly) trying to make a name for themselves. Monetary aspect matters to some more than others, but at the end of the day when all hype subsides, people will judge one's work by its merits.

Lastly, humility can get you a long way, as I have learned from some people in the field whom I have a great respect for.

M
 

Salty dog

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I briefly thought about trying to make a knife. The whole ball of wax, buy a forge etc. Then I watched Stephan Fowler's video on how to make a knife. That is just WAY too much work over a way too long of time. I'm good for a six hour project tops. (Just about the length of service) Thanks Stephan, you saved me a lot of hassle.
 

RRLOVER

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Stephan's video made me want to make more knives.:thumbsup2:
 

Chef Niloc

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I make knives for the passion and the money and I believe that there is great honor in doing both. And, Bob Kramer is only one of the few who actually can make a living at it. I would think there is not a knifemaker alive that wouldn't want Bob's success. I'm working at it myself.

I don't make a perfect knife and I hope not to. Else, the clouds might part, and I would no longer be fit to walk the earth with you mere mortals :) I think I'll muck around here a bit more.
-M
So what do you guys do to pay the bills? How can you have the time to make knives on a level you do and still keep a day job? I did not think you all were rolling in it like Bob, but I did think you all did it full time & payed the bills with your craft, am I wrong?
 

Marko Tsourkan

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There is a difference between making money and making a living. Most makers, make a living, if I understand it correctly.
 

PierreRodrigue

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I have a full time job, that averages 200 hours a month, and at times will pass 300 hours a month. I do knives when I get a bit of time. I make enough to keep me doing it, hopeing someday to go full time.
 

Michael Rader

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Most full-time makers, and I know a lot of them, have great wives... with real jobs. Sucks to say this, but if you think Kramer is rolling in dough, just ask your local union plumber or electrician how much they make. After all the business bills and employees are paid, Bob is making about as much as those guys. Most of us make much, much less. It's kinda tough, but that's the business of art. Gotta really work it with a professional mindset to make a living here. Just sayin'...
-M
 

Chef Niloc

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I was thinking the same. I guess what I'm assuming is that the makers/ venders here do it full time and pay the bill ( or at least try to) making/ selling knives and services. I did not think that they were all millionaires, I don't think Kramer is one eather ( could be wrong)? I think that knife makers are much to my own craft. Long hot hard days spent doing what you love and come the end of the month hope you can pay the bills. All with little hope or desire for that matter to ever retire, no medacule coverage, no 401K. The only thing I think we (chef) have better then them is all the hot chicks that come with the gig... Knife shows need some of them.
 

Chef Niloc

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O I forgot about the wife thing... Lucky Shes a M.E. pathologist who's dad is a nuclear engineer would have never been able to by the new place with out there help.
 

Delbert Ealy

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I make knives and damascus full time, and I have been doing so for the past 4 years, I have a wife that works about 12 hours a week for some mad money. She has her own car, and pays for the gas, but I cover insurance and repairs. I also have 4 girls; ages 3,8,8, and 14. We have no health insurance, and no retirement package. I make about 35K a year, and yes soetimes I look at the stack of bills that come in and say; how the he!! am I going to pay them. Having said that I have had only one late(3 days) mortgage payment in 8 1/2 years. Now according to my accountant we are below the poverty level, but there are many people in our area that make far less. I can say that I am making more now than I was making at the job that I had worked at for 14 years. I am not saying this for any sympathy, just to point out that the few knifemakers that do make knives full time and don't have wives with high paying jobs do have it a bit rough. When I make a sale to one of you and I thank you for your business, I really mean it.
As a father and husband I would work any job to put food on the table, but I am very happy to be doing this one.

Colin, You got it right. (And I wish there were a few more hot chicks too, and knifemakers don't really have fan clubs or "groupies") If you are lucky and good at what you do, then you do have satisfied customers, and I like that.
 

StephanFowler

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I briefly thought about trying to make a knife. The whole ball of wax, buy a forge etc. Then I watched Stephan Fowler's video on how to make a knife. That is just WAY too much work over a way too long of time. I'm good for a six hour project tops. (Just about the length of service) Thanks Stephan, you saved me a lot of hassle.
I love it though, it's a lot of fun for me to take a big hunk of steel and turn it into something useful and hopefully pretty

I'm not full time just yet, but I will be in the next couple weeks (trying to finish up a couple of projects at my day job - Project Manager for a Construction Co)

it's going to be a little rough but I can't wait

Stephan (never have made a knife I'm 100% happy with)
 

l r harner

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if i didnt love making knives i would get a reall job and make reall money. im full time but like said have help. things are now much better then they were even jsut 2 years ago. but liek most makers i find that we live in "poor" areas (poor to some but lovely to us cause of the view and lack of "city" ppl :)

so far as making knives in the corner of a shed well i ll hav eot take a video of where i have been makeing knives the last 3 years (a for realz shop is being built this year )
 

DevinT

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Jackie married me for my money. When that didn't work out I had to start helping around the house.

Jackie says that I can make anything but money. he he

Hoss
 
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