Personally, I think the first time you create a knife, whether you give it away, or accept money for it, you are a knifemaker. We are all at various levels in the craft, but the key is NEVER saying "That's good enough"...... to do so is not only creating something that's less than it could be, but it's also selling yourself short.What makes you a knife maker?
That is one of the most significant differences between "Blacksmithing" and "Bladesmithing"...... I started my career in the "Blacksmithing" realm, and it was commonly believed that abrasives were a "crutch", because it meant you couldn't do it good enough with just the hammer. What I found was the people who like/sought articles made via "Blacksmithing" thought that the more "beat up" it looked, the more authentic it was. I once made a scroll worked sign hanger for a lady.... 3/8" X 1 1/2" stock, scrolled and smoothed/finished it to the best of my abilities with the hammer..... when she came to look at it, she didn't like it. Her reason? It looked too smooth and finished. In here words "It doesn't look Blacksmithy enough." I literally cut out the rivets, and beat the crap outta all the parts with a ball peen hammer...... intentionally left hammer marks, and then reassembled it with hot rivets........ I thought it was horrible, but the customer thought it was great. That was about the time I realized that it was time for me to stop offering "Blacksmith" items. I simply couldn't settle for doing less than my best.Apparently the use of abrasives of any kind is a slap in the face to those who carry the torch for the art of blacksmithery
You are 100% correct! People ask me how long does it take me to make one of my knives they are interested in! I smile and say, 22 years and 4-8 hours! I can see in a few of them calculating out the cost of one of my $400.00 knives.. I saw, No, it doesn't mean I make that much an hour. Some days i fix machinery, Order Supplies and chat with customers, Existing & potential ones... There are many things that go into true costs!I have said this before about 'value'. It is a funny thing but true. People do not value something unless they pay (an appropriate price) for it. I have been an accountant for 30 years and I learnt many years back that 'if you don't have enough confidence in the value of what you provide, then a buy will not'. I have experienced it countless times over the past decades from great tradesman or operators, that do not value what they provide enough. Many people come from a working background and are used to believing their time is all that they are selling. It is much more than that.
There is no good complaining that 'I can only charge $120 for my knife'. That is your choice. You have to have the confidence to ask for a price of $500 and be willing to justify that price to a potential buyer. Never drop your price. If you do, that just meant that 'if the buyer hadn't asked for the reduction in price, they would have been ripped off'. You get no thanks or benefit for dropping your price. You confirm to them they are getting your 'best price'. That's it. The buyer just wants to feel like they are getting a reasonable deal and that the product is worth the price asked.
So know what is involved in producing a knife. It is not just wood and steel. It is you skills, knowledge and experience built up over years. This is priceless and is unique to you and your experiences. Your imagination and processes used to work the steel and other materials is unique. You are the only one that makes a knife exactly as you do. Each knife is a 'one of a kind'. There are similar, but they are all unique. You have land, building, machines and hand made tools and jigs that make your operation function and to be a unique business. All these factors are why you can justify any price if you believe in it.
Part of the reason that many business operators do not make money is that they do not really understand what the true costs to produce an item, say a knife, really involve. Let me give an example. Costs to make the knife - steel $20, wood and consumables $20, so it cost $40 and it is sold for $120 there is an $80 profit.
On the surface that looks fine but it is not correct. Unless you float is space, you work from a workshop. There are overheads -rates, insurance, rent or repairs on this. You have the cost to purchase machines, tools and jigs. These deteriorate and need to be both repaired and replaced over time. Consumables - such as gas, electricity, phone calls, internet, workshop materials. Direct materials - such as steel, wood, pins, glue, acid etc are required. Then, not least is your time. Your time - is not just determined at $20 (or whatever) per hour. Your time takes into account your skills and unique input as discussed. Then there is return on capital. Which just means getting a return back on money you have invested in the business. If you have $30,000 of machines, tools and building required to produce the knives, then you need to take the value of that investment into the cost consideration. The $30k could be sitting in the bank or in stocks earning say 10% per year. That is $3000 in cost (opportunity cost) that is to be taken into account.
All these costs need to be considered. So the knife price is justified by all these factors:
Price = portion of overheads + replacing & repairing machinery/tooling + consumables + direct materials used + labour and years of unique skills input + return on capital.
Don't sell your self short.
'They will remember the quality, long after they have forgotten the price'.
Not trying to lecture anyone. Just hoping to assist a change in mind set on the value you provide when selling your unique product.
Darrin, you won’t loose any customers over doing that!People doing stuff like this need to e called out. If I knew who it was, I'd do it in a heartbeat. If I lose a customer or make somebody mad for exposing a fraud them I'm ok with that. I've done it before and I'd do it again.