How long will I make rookie mistakes?

Mark Barone

Well-Known Member
I am just wondering if the seasoned knifemakers still make rookie mistakes and what are they?
I think I am doing fine so far on this knife, but the ones I usually make are.

...not turning a pin in the right direction if it has a graphic on it.
forgetting to temper.
forgetting to drill holes before hardening
and the worst mistake
using something from the kitchen as a makeshift tool and my wife finding out. the latest using a nice Stainless Steel Bowl as a water bowl to cool the blade.
 

John Wilson

Well-Known Member
Yep. The mistakes I make are almost always a result of rushing the job. Usually this happens when I am trying to work in batches. I start thinking about how to perform the same step for all of the knives instead of paying attention to what each knife needs specifically.

Coming from a production background I was way too preoccupied with process efficiency. The reason this approach was all wrong is because I am not running a production line. No two handmade knives are identical and it is wrong to treat them as if they are. When I start becoming preoccupied with process I lose sight of individual quality.

And in reality, the tiny amount of time I gained by working in batches (setup time, reduced belt changes, less walking) was completely lost by the extra time it takes to constantly keep blades and materials attached to the appropriate knife.
 

Bruce McLeish

Well-Known Member
Yep. The mistakes I make are almost always a result of rushing the job. Usually this happens when I am trying to work in batches. I start thinking about how to perform the same step for all of the knives instead of paying attention to what each knife needs specifically.

Coming from a production background I was way too preoccupied with process efficiency. The reason this approach was all wrong is because I am not running a production line. No two handmade knives are identical and it is wrong to treat them as if they are. When I start becoming preoccupied with process I lose sight of individual quality.

And in reality, the tiny amount of time I gained by working in batches (setup time, reduced belt changes, less walking) was completely lost by the extra time it takes to constantly keep blades and materials attached to the appropriate knife.
not to mention , the time it takes to fix the mistakes!
 

opaul

Well-Known Member
Did you mean - forget to normalize rather than forget to temper? Forgetting to temper is a very bad mistake.
 

SS369

Well-Known Member
Drilling Corby bolt holes a bit deeper than I wanted. And then getting epoxy in their holes during assembly.
 

EdCaffreyMS

"The Montana Bladesmith"
Write the words that John wrote....
mistakes I make are almost always a result of rushing the job
in HUGE letters on signs....and hang it right in front of ALL your work areas! Those are golden words, and apply to EVERYTHING we do.

The only thing I can add is..... The Fastest way to make a knife.....is Slowly.

The biggest mistake I still make, and I am ashamed to admit it..... is cutting a linerlock lock bar..... on the wrong side/frame. o_O
 

Kev

Well-Known Member
Invest in yourself, by taking the time to understand and comprehend what it is your doing. What I mean by that is if you make a mistake, STOP, and figure out what it was that caused it. In the instance of the mosaic pin, if you where in a hurry because your using 5 minute epoxy, switch to 24 hour instead. And so on.
the next thing that I do, is I try and have a few different projects at different stages, and a couple in the cue. That allows me to make the most of the limited time I have and not feel rushed.
 

Gliden07

Well-Known Member
I think the difference between a Rookie Knife maker and a seasoned one is the knowledge and ability to fix mistakes! Some of the best knives I've made started out as scrap draw junk! Every now and again I'll get one out, redesign fix problems etc... When that happens thats when you dont make mistakes anymore LOL!! Bob Ross the Painter said it best "there are no mistakes just happy little coincidences".
 

tkroenlein

Well-Known Member
Yep. The mistakes I make are almost always a result of rushing the job. Usually this happens when I am trying to work in batches. I start thinking about how to perform the same step for all of the knives instead of paying attention to what each knife needs specifically.

Coming from a production background I was way too preoccupied with process efficiency. The reason this approach was all wrong is because I am not running a production line. No two handmade knives are identical and it is wrong to treat them as if they are. When I start becoming preoccupied with process I lose sight of individual quality.

And in reality, the tiny amount of time I gained by working in batches (setup time, reduced belt changes, less walking) was completely lost by the extra time it takes to constantly keep blades and materials attached to the appropriate knife.
Yup, factory guy here too.

I do like "batching" HT, however. I'm not saying treat your kitchen knives like EDC knives, but it's a big time saver for me to make more than one of a particular knife and HT them together, then finish one at a time as I have need to. That keeps me a few drilled and hardened blanks ready to grind. It's more of a shop time limitation to me. I spent 8 hrs last Saturday HT'ing (waiting on temps mostly) so 3 or 4 (max for me) is real nice and I got enough blades to last me a month if I hurry. No plans to finish a few of them anytime soon.

But for grinding, handles, and leather it's all one at a time. I can't finish with any amount of quality doing it any other way.
 

Travis Fry

Well-Known Member
At some point after your first season, they just become mistakes rather than rookie mistakes. But everyone else is right--take it slow, batch the HT and focus on that while you're doing it, and use sharp belts. In Swahili they say,"haraka, haraka, haina baraka," which literally translates as "hurry, hurry, it has no blessing." An analogue is, "Mwenda pole hajikwai, na akikwaa, hawezi kuanguka," which means, "the one who goes slowly won't stumble, and if he stumbles he can't fall." These would be more meaningful if folks didn't use these as a justification for laziness, but still, the meaning is clear. Take your time.
 

John Wilson

Well-Known Member
Yup, factory guy here too.

I do like "batching" HT, however. I'm not saying treat your kitchen knives like EDC knives, but it's a big time saver for me to make more than one of a particular knife and HT them together, then finish one at a time as I have need to. That keeps me a few drilled and hardened blanks ready to grind. It's more of a shop time limitation to me. I spent 8 hrs last Saturday HT'ing (waiting on temps mostly) so 3 or 4 (max for me) is real nice and I got enough blades to last me a month if I hurry. No plans to finish a few of them anytime soon.

But for grinding, handles, and leather it's all one at a time. I can't finish with any amount of quality doing it any other way.
Absolutely. Same here. Profiling, drilling, HT, etc are all batch processes. But once I start making the knife it’s all about attention to detail. I might have two or three builds going on at the same time but that’s more of a time management thing, not doing the same step for all of them before moving to the next, if that makes sense.
 

John Wilson

Well-Known Member
On the subject of batch work, it’s a great way to start hating the entire process. I start feeling like I’m not getting anywhere and just doing daily grunt work. When I focus on one (maybe two) at a time I feel like each day is a milestone and I stay mentally engaged, even excited about the process.
 

John Wilson

Well-Known Member
Back on topic: aside from rushing, my biggest mistakes came from being penny wise and pound foolish, or as I like to say- stepping over dollars to pick up dimes. Being a cheapskate and paying for it in lost time and materials.

- cutting pins too short to avoid waste. the problem here is without that extra 1/4” of mosaic pin sticking out during glue up, there’s no good way to index the pattern. Having that extra pin length allows you to twist the pins at will to align them. It’s money well spent.

- using belts too long. Ed was the loudest voice on this when I first started and his words ring true every time I make a knife. If you’re wondering if your belt is getting dull you should have already changed it.

- underestimating the value of making everything flat and square even if none of it will be flat or square when it’s finished. When things don’t fit or line up right it’s probably because you didn’t take time to make it flat and square before you drilled it.

- and the biggest rookie mistake: DON’T BE THE CHEAPEST GUY IN TOWN. Every maker starts out broke. If you want to stop being broke you need to get your prices up as fast as possible. That means getting your quality up as fast as possible, and if you want to do that you need to stop skimping on materials and doing everything twice. Taking your time and going slow is a lot faster than having to fix self-inflicted issues.
 
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Stang Bladeworks

KNIFE MAKER
If I am doing a more complicated build like a framelock I will make a spreadsheet with every step detailed. Every time I finish a batch I make notes and refine the spreadsheet. It helps with minimizing unnecessary mistakes. It really frees up time for "necessary mistakes"...
 

Gliden07

Well-Known Member
- and the biggest rookie mistake: DON’T BE THE CHEAPEST GUY IN TOWN

This is the truth!! I'm starting to get a little bit of a following (for lack of better words) sold some knives. My knives are inexpensive but not cheap! I still get inquiries from people wanting a full custom build for "$50". I have been telling them lately to check out my Etsy page and see if there is anything on there they like. If the sale is local I tell them I can knock a couple bucks of the price (Dont have to pay Etsy) and we can iron out delivery issues to save them shipping cost. 9 out of 10 I never hear from. Which is fine I dont waste my time talking to them about what they want to get them a price! And I don't get the "Aaaaaaah, let me figure out what I want and I'll get back to you..." or something like that.
 

billyO

Well-Known Member
what are they?
I think I posted my current issues on the 'grind my gears thread', but I'm still so right-hand dominant that unless I'm really careful, I grind my single-handed bevels for left hand use instead of right hand.
And, like John said:
cutting _________ too short to avoid waste
Insert any material. I've recently found myself doing this again, and I attribute it to lack of other income due to the pandemic... not because I wasn't paying attentiono_O:eek::rolleyes:
 
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