Am I crazy for not taking orders..

A few months ago I stopped taking orders so that I could make other styles of knives. At the time it seemed like the right thing to do to grow as a new maker. Some people have taken this well and are willing to wait and possibly buy knives as they are finished. Some of my last orders have set prices and they have left it up to me what style I want to make. (As long as it's a hunting knife.)

This last week has me second guessing that decision. I have had a couple inquiry's and have turned away 4 orders. So my new train of thought is to start taking orders again but tell people that I have a year's wait. I want to be open and explain that I'll have other work come available at times. If they are interested they can purchase that work. I just don't want my first 50 knives to be the hunters that I have been making. Thanks in advanced for any advice and input.
Ty...If I remember correctly you have a successful business with enough employees to keep you busy (maybe too

So, the survival needs are met. The time thing will always be a crunch. Your designs are good and your skill increases constantly and steadily.

If I were operating with that set of variables I would not let ANYONE inside my head(except us on the forum...LOL!!)....not for deadlines, not for design, not for materials used, not fer nuthin'! I would keep an ear tuned to need as that always drives creativity and design. If I had the financial freedom to just say "I'm not taking orders, but check my website and see what's might find something you like...." I would do just that. Then I would make it a practice to show a very simplified WIP on every knife.perhaps a page for each new knife which gets moved to the gallery after completion...Each WIP would have the ability to allow someone to pre-buy any knife. I would also include at the start of each WIP a simple statement of design intent for that particular knife. Sometimes the discipline of stating our intent even to ourselves is good for us as creative people can morph their art as they go...when often that first flash of design insight is the most pure. changing a design mid-stream should be very purposeful...

I think the WIP idea would drive interest to and keep your site fresh and spur sales while giving you the freedom to do whatever you feel like.

If my recollection of your "particulars" is correct you need to be VERY protective of your time to really enjoy your craft.

Just my two cents worth....:57:

John Wilson

Well-Known Member
Man, I wrestle with this constantly.

Don't take orders:
Pro: all the time in the world to experiment and make the knives you see in your head. You can push yourself creatively.

Con: revenue stream dries up. I run out of belts and materials that I need to live the dream

Take orders:
Pro: constant revenue stream, personal slush fund

Con: you can quickly become a slave to your current designs and prices

Personally, I really like your alternative plan: Take a few orders but quote a very long lead time. Nobody is ever unhappy to get their knife early (i.e. knock one or two out when you need some cash flow). However, you have all the room you need in the schedule to do your own projects. This is where I have come to recently. I also upped my prices enough that I don't feel the least bit bad about working on an order. Chances are that if you regret working on an order then you should have charged more. My current prices have entered the realm of "stiff" and I'm happy about that. I also know I need to up my game in order to get my prices into the realm of "stupid" and that means I need time to improve my designs and embellishment skills.
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Thanks for the input guy's. Ted you are correct in thinking that I don't have to make knives for money. In fact long time friends are baffled that I have taken this hobby on. I have two problems. 1- I like the fact that people like my work enough to drop some of their hard earned money on them. Hand made knives are a luxury item. You can go to Cabela's and buy a usable knife for $50. So telling someone no bothers me. 2- I'm not John Doyle or Ed Caffery. If I say no long enough people will stop looking.

I started this thread based on a phone call from another knife maker. Twice in the last week I publicly posted on Facebook that while I appreciated people's interest in my knives, I was not taking orders. He called me last night and told me I was crazy. The opinion of the people on this forum matters to me. So I had to ask.... Am I crazy?

Am I crazy? Leads to way too many options. You may not like the answer and for gosh sakes you do not want to be tested. Just saying. :biggrin:

But, if someone asks about your knives and shows an interest in perhaps purchasing a knife. Just ask them what they are looking for? Some may have a specific ides. Others may say, I just want a knife made by you. You can share with them any upcoming projects and you may have it sold before completion. Not necessarily an order, just a sale.

From experience, once you drop a price on them you may no longer have an interested buyer. Like you said, they can buy a knife at Cabela's for $50.00. Many are conditioned to that fact. When you tell them your knife will be 4x, 5x , 6x that number, some will lose interest in a hurry.

I'm like you, I will sell a knife or two just to keep making other knives. I do not need to sell knives to make a living. I would have failed long ago if that was a criteria. I like to make knives and I'm not opposed to selling them now and again to add to the shop or buy more supplies.

Just be honest with folks about the ordering process/knife making process and all will work out for you. Whether a sale is by an order or just a general interest. You make nice knives and it should not be hard to sell a few now and then.



Well-Known Member
No not crazy at all , the nagging list of custom work can be bothersome at times and more less turns into a job rather a hobby in which I do it for....I used to take orders , then deadlines , then I wanna change this to that , custom tooling on the sheaths which I like and they do pay handsomely for them but now I much prefer to spend time in the shop when I want , for how long I want making and designing pieces that have been on my drawing board for years.....Im finding much more satisfaction in that now and more often than not my personal custom pieces are sold well before completion,
word of mouth is a great thing , no more website either to mess with.....
Thanks to everyone for the input. Dennis I like your idea of talking to people about what they are looking for before telling them no. To be honest I have been very humbled and overwhelmed at the number of people that want to buy my knives. I have tried to price myself out of the market but I was still getting orders. When I realized that my back log might be pushing a year that was the point of not taking any more orders. Right now it might be 2 or 3 months before I'm caught up.


Well-Known Member
If orders are keeping your lights on, you better take them....if not, the choice is yours. remember, you have one life to live, and choices. I love to make knives as much as a lot of folks here do but presently I have a full time job and my knives aren't keeping my lights on. I love making money as much as the next guy but I also take more pleasure in making what I feel like making, post it on my website, or sell them word of mouth out of my shop. I do take orders occasionally but try to keep them on a face to face basis, I find that a lot easier to deal with than orders over the internet.
in a few years I'll that point or right before it I figure I'll up my advertising and start taking more orders, right now I have a lot going on in life, like others, and personally don't feel like getting saddled in my shop with custom orders.

What's worse is when someone offers good money for their own that I inevitably end up not enjoying to make and just can't wait till it's finished.

You only live once, enjoy it while you can, nobody gets out alive.
One of the reasons I would oppose a long lead time is....It's STILL a deadline.

I think that Ty has his own look "stylistically"....That doesn't mean he is Bruce Bump...nor does he need to be. The idea that our craftsmanship must be at that level to sell just doesn't bear out. Von Gruff makes knives that for me are right in the "Zone"...very clean design, attractive, and work horses. Knives that I could use aggressively and not worry that I am losing collector value. Ty's knives are perhaps a bit more "fancy" on finish but in that same zone...a knife you want to use a lot...not lock in a cabinet. (Buying collectables is fine too...everyone likes different knives for different reasons....) So, knowing your customer base is important for selling....but I don't think that long term orders necessarily keep your customer base.

Those knives will be in demand however you sell them. I would probably experiment with the total freedom "avenue" before putting myself under any time constraint. A year away order doesn't really build or preserve a customer base does it? That knife won't be seen, played with, or shown off for a year. It seems more like a mental security blanket to me....

And, life sneaks up on us. If I had 5 custom knives on order with a 2 yr delivery, and trying to run a business that is not knife related (which i do....) I could very easily end up under the gun unless I knock out the orders first and then play with the super creative stuff. If I have to tackle orders first to free up creative time I would somewhat be defeating the purpose. So I would try as hard as possible to not have ANY deadline....even the word sounds!

C Craft

Well-Known Member
Two things I have learned in life, life is short and you don't have to satisfy anyone but you and your God!! In with that you and your God is family and the tax man! :what!:'
As long as your making ends meet that's pretty much what matters.

I did construction for years and it was always feast or famine! When I had enough work to keep busy, it allowed me to sort the other work.

You know like, man, you are thinking,......... I really don't want to work for this guy, or hey he has something I really want to do. Those jobs I wanted I took down there contact info and as soon as I could begin to see daylight I would give them a call and say well it looks like I will be free to tackle your job in a couple of weeks or............maybe a month!
I usually built come back clientele, (repeat bussiness) when they waited on me and then they saw I could deliver when I finally was able to do their job.

The principle works for what you are doing as well! My father once told me, "do a good job and your name will get around fast enough, do a bad job and your name will beat you from job to job"! I have always tried to live my life that way!
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Well-Known Member
I've stopped taking orders as well. My knife business is small and I've turned orders away partly because I don't make much off my knives so creative freedom as an artist is my main payment and making 20 of the same thing is beyond the limit of diminishing returns for me. One benefits though is I don't have to hassle with amateur designs or a lot of back and forth.

J. Doyle

Dealer - Purveyor
Ty, If I was in your position, my advice is pretty much what John Wilson posted. To add just a little, you could take a few orders, particularly ones that paid a little better than others and those that interested/challenged you a bit. That way you have some guaranteed cash if necessary but you're not buried with orders. Then, as John said already, quote a longer than realistic lead time. That gives you some built in personal time and everyone's happy to get a knife early.

That's my's worth what you paid for it. ;)
Thanks again everyone for the input. I'm​ going to start taking orders again. There will be built in lead times and I'm going to be up front with people about the direction I'm going. There will be times other knives will be available that are not the ones someone ordered. If they like that knife they can skip the wait and purchase it. Hiding the fact that I'm working on other projects that are not sold is not something I'm going to. Hopefully this will ease the stress of working on what I want to. And making other people happy that want a knife.

I raised my prices again so that will maybe turn some of the impatient people off.
Thanks again everyone for the input. I'm​ going to start taking orders again. There will be built in lead times and I'm going to be up front with people about the direction I'm going. There will be times other knives will be available that are not the ones someone ordered. If they like that knife they can skip the wait and purchase it. Hiding the fact that I'm working on other projects that are not sold is not something I'm going to. Hopefully this will ease the stress of working on what I want to. And making other people happy that want a knife.

I raised my prices again so that will maybe turn some of the impatient people off.
That sounds like a very reasonable solution. I would make the same choice.

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