Dumbfounded

Lagrange

Well-Known Member
I took the advice my wife had given me and went to visit a guy who has a knife shop not very far from my house. I drove up and saw the open sign in the window, parked the truck and went inside. The front room had a small desk in one corner and a display area with a number of knives of varying sizes and designs. I announced myself to whomever might hear and was welcomed from another room by a voice asking me to come on in. I stepped into the adjoining room and found a man seated at a bench at the far end working on something, but I couldnt tell what it was. He stood and walked over to me. I said hello and told him my name as I reached out to shake his hand. He welcomed me again and told me his name and shook my hand.
I shared with him the story of how my wife had told me about his shop and that I had decided to come and pay him a visit. I explained that I had been making knives myself and that I thought it would be fun to come visit someone else who made knives and just sit and talk and share war stories. He asked me how I went about making knives. I told him I was a stock removal maker, and how many knives I had made and some of the materials I had used.
He told me that he had been a blacksmith for 25 years and had made knives over the years off and on...and that he had begun full time knife making about 3 months prior. He explained in detail how he had acheived his skill level. He told me of the processes he used and of the customers he had and that he had knives in use all over the country.
I told him how delighted I was to have made the aquaintance of such a veteran knife maker and that I was eager to become freinds with just such a man.
He said "I do a two day seminar, a one on one, and I get $375 a day. I learned from the best and I dont give it away. "You see" he said. "you arent a knife maker. I am. Anyone can buy fancy machinery and steel stock and slap a chunk of wood on it and call it a knife. If you want to learn from me it will cost you. And if you dont do it my way your out of here. Unfortunately I have a backlog of guys wanting me to teach them so I'm almost always booked a year out."
By this time I have backed out into the front room looking for the door.
He starts showing me the different handle materials and bolsters on several of the knives he has on display like I didnt already know.

Maybe I shouldnt have felt this way....I'm in this guys shop, on his home turf...but I was getting annoyed.

Then he told me he had a backlog of enough work to keep him busy for over a year and that there are only about five or six guys in the whole country that make knives the way he does. He announced that he was "a master bladesmith" and that there are very few of them and how he has all these shows that he attends.

Now he is starting to sound like Charley Brown's teacher in my mind. I cant wait to get out the door.
I thanked him for his time, told him I'd see him around, and left.


Okay, I'm still a little upset.
I even entertained the idea of just giving up, selling my tools and equipment and joining a monestary.
It seems I have been wasting my time...living a ruse.

I respect anyone who can swing a hammer and forge a blade.
But I didnt see anything on display in his shop that I couldnt make...at least as good as he did...if not better.

I feel all twisted up about this.
I'm not sure how I should feel. I guess I'm just a big softy.
 

Cameron Wilcox

Well-Known Member
well, seeing as I am newer to this than you I might not have the best advice, I have seen your work and it looks great just keep at and ignore those who act that way. I am surprised that someone acted that way because everyone I have talked to so far has been very helpful. Anyway don't let the few bad ones get you down.
 

cwilliams

Moderator
Blowhard Aholes are like dog poo in the back yard. Just avoid them at all costs and if you do run into one get out of there as quickly as possible.
I have also had run ins as you did, you did right by getting out of there. Now just keep telling yourself, when you get more experienced dont act like him.
CW
 

sambino

Well-Known Member
This guy better use his forge to cook some humble pie, don't pay attention to idiots if he really was a craftsmen he will be glad to help , the blade smith in my town always teach me something and for free, it was amused when first try to make knife and like all of you in the forum give me lots of helpful tips, never complained or less charge me while shared his knowledge
 
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franklin

Well-Known Member
Im with sambino,I had a simalur thing happen and over the years for fun ive taken some of my knives in to show him, now he acks way different. I dont now how far from me you are but your always welcome to stop buy. ( NO CHARGE ) Your knives keep getting better, so pay him no att. Stock or forging your a knife maker.
 

Wade Hougham

Well-Known Member
Eric,
This man has issues, don't let his issues become yours. Friends are the most important thing in life (to me) I seriously doubt that anyone that acts like this has any.
Your work speaks for itself, loud and clear. This was a good learning expierience even if it wasn't about knifemaking. Wade
 

Leatherface

Well-Known Member
LaGrange,
the guy is a self promoting blow hard...simple as that

I have met several first class knifemakers here in NC and all of them were first class gentleman that took the time to answer a stupid question or three from a noob that looked like a serial killer...

I have exchanged emails and phone calls with knifemakers ranging from primal legends in there own time (mind) about hammer technique to ghetto/pimp Big $$$ types about handle design ALL the way to living legends about how you cut horn....each one was first class and answered me VERY patiently

I am pretty sure that it was master smith Ed Fowler that said to make YOUR knife (or something like that) so I say to heck with that guy and go out and make YOUR knife and enjoy yourself

OHHH

I did have a chance to meet a so called knifemaker, that was already a legend in his own mind, that was kinda annoying with his magic pixie dust steel and heat treat (wouldnt tell me what it was) and his magic forging method, but he wasnt trying to get $$$ from me for a class so I let it slide
 

Justin King

Well-Known Member
There are guys like that in every business. He is a walking ego and probably needs to believe that people worship his skill and want to be just like him. MS or not, he should be ashamed of himself. I would rather be a rank amatuer the rest of my life than be a famous and sought after maker with an attitude that poor.
 

Curtiss Knives

KD Founding Member #1, Knifemaker
Hey Eric, when you come to my shop I'll charge double that just to see the machine run! Hehe. Just kidding. You are welcome anytime here and you know this!
 

Michael Kemp

Well-Known Member
+1 on all the above. And don't get in a twist about forged versus stock removal. Now I happen to love fire, hot steel, hammer & anvil, but seriously - you would destroy many of the excellent high alloy knife steels with forging - stock removal is what those steels are made for. Your neighbor may be a legend not only in his own mind but in the minds of his followers - and he might have something valuable to teach - but whether it would be worth putting up with his ego is another question.

And there is no one best way to make a knife. The best way to make a broken-back saex is not the best way to make an ABS drop point hunter is not the best way to make a kukri is not the best way to make a wakizashi is not the best way to make a French chef's knife etc. etc. etc.

If someone says they have the one best way to make knives they are living in a house of mirrors.
 

HHH Knives

Super Moderator
Sry to hear this. and agree with most of everything that has been said, Mainly, Dont let this guy discourage you.. Just keep having fun and learning.. striving to make each knife better then the last.. :D

Your always welcome to come over to my place. Not that Im a "real knife maker" or anything, But Im sure we both would have some fun and learn a few things along the way!
Like life. Its all about the journey for me. and making knives and friends is all a part of the journey.. Yea, I know thats deep and stuff! LMAO!

Stay Sharp!
Randy
 

BossDog

KnifeDogs.com & USAknifemaker.com Owner
Staff member
It sounds like this person has some people issues but let's keep in mind some guys teach skills like knife making and charge for it as a way of supplementing their income. I personally don't have a problem with that. In fact, I'm glad some do that or we wouldn't have the ABS school, Moran School or any of the other highly qualified knife makers and knife smiths teaching classes or individuals. I'd pay to go to some of these places, I just don't have the time. I'd pay a small fortune to work with some knife makers for a day or a weekend or a week if I could.

I am pestering one of our members here to come to our hammer in next year and teach. I will gladly pay him to come teach and he deserves every penny. I will also charge admission to come and learn from him. My expenses will be more than the fees cover but that isn't the point. When I get a full time knife maker that is a world class maker (or what ever level) and they set aside work time to teach, I'm willing to pay for it. Part time makers generally don't depend entirely on their knife making income and usually have more "free time" to share but even some of those guys need shop time to make and sell knives. Times are tough for many.

Now having said that, it is also in our knife making culture to share information and have shop visitors and teach others our techniques freely. I don't know who to credit for this knowledge sharing culture we have now because it didn't always used to be that way and there are still some ornery hold outs. It's always a bit jarring to run into someone that is cantankerous and arrogant about their knowledge since so many share freely but the reality is people are people and you are going to run into some you wouldn't want as a neighbor. I usually just leave those guys to hang out with their best friends which is more often then not, themselves.
 

Graham Fredeen

Well-Known Member
Unfortunately there are a few individuals out there that follow this mentality. I can assure you that they are few and far between, at least from my experience. As already mentioned, this individual probably feels the need to create hype surrounding himself and his work to either build his ego, or as a marketing "technique." Either way, don't let him sour your opinion about knifemakers, he's just a rare exception in what is otherwise a great group of people. I would also warrant that he is a self proclaimed "master bladesmith," without any credentials to back that up.

The whole "stock-removal" vs. "bladesmith" argument is one that has gone on for many years, with many conflicts inbetween. I personally think it is a pointless argument and shouldn't be discussed any more. Both methods are valid ways to make a knife, both methods can produce "superior" knives, and both methods are used by the best knifemakers out there. "Better" is a relative term, and one that doesn't mean much outside of the context that it is used. Everyone should have respect for both methods AND those that use them. Just like I think everyone here does.

I just moved to Southern Michigan (about 5 miles North of the OH boarder, near Toledo). Once I get my shop settled, you are more than welcome to come by my place too. I give freely of my knoweledge, and have never charged anyone. If you are interested in forging, grinding, finishing, heat treatment, or whatever, I'm always glad to help where I can. Like Randy, I enjoy the friendship, cooperation, sharing, and learning that comes with getting together with others of the craft! :)
 

Lagrange

Well-Known Member
You guys are great, and that is why I spend so much time on this site. I have spoken to some of you personally and others through personal messages and I have never encountered anything like this. My wife and I have talked this over and she tells me the guy is a jerk and to ignore him. Other people in my area that know him tell me they would never buy anything from him just because of his attitude.
I want to thank you guys for your words of encouragement. I think you are all right.
I am proud to associate myself with such company, and I will likely darken the doorway of a good many of you before long. My passion for making knives is so great I dont know how anyone could keep it to themself.
Thanks guys and God Bless you.

Eric
 

Justin King

Well-Known Member
I do agree that there are makers and smiths whose knowledge is valuable enough to pay for, but the attitude this guy displayed is something I would pay to get rid of, myself. I normally feel a bit jealous of guys who get to learn from the masters, but I feel a little sorry for the folks who pay 375$ to spend a couple of days 1 on 1 with this guy.
 

Don McNeil

Well-Known Member
Don't let one bad apple ruin this for you. I personally make knives both ways...and while I am far from being a master most of my knives have sold to very satisfied customers. I also spent 2 days with Tai Goo who is awesome...and yes he did charge me but it was less than half of what your guy was charging and it was for 5 hours of one on one instruction with a true master of the craft.
 

Graham Fredeen

Well-Known Member
I don't think the issue was ever trying to charge someone to learn, but rather the arrogance and attitude displayed. I know of many great makers that offer classes and charge others to come and visit their shops and learn. These guys make their living making knives, so setting aside shop time to help someone new prevents them from getting orders done that would otherwise pay the bills. I have no problem with these folks charging for classes. Anyone setting aside valuable time to go out of the way to instruct someone and let them use their tools, equipment, and materials has every right to deserve to get paid if they so choose. I will also say that many of these guys that charge for shop classes also give freely of their knoweledge on the forums, or will spend hours on the phone answering questions, displaying that spirit of sharing and learning that has come to be part of the culture of the craft.

Its when someone has a "better than thou" attitude and a "my way or the highway" mentality where the real problem exists.
 

omachearley

Well-Known Member
Your welcome to come to my little shop anytime! God and George Trout gave me some abilities, and I will pass em on if I can!
GOD BLESS!!
Michael
 
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