One Step Forward, Three Steps Back...

Steven Long

Well-Known Member
After completing two knives, I am starting to think that I had beginner's luck because I just can't get into the groove of things. I don't know if I am still getting used to the new grinder or my skills are not as good as I thought, but my work has been horrible lately. It's like writer's block or something. I know we all have good and bad days in the shop but everything has just been feeling awkward lately. It has been multiple bad days in a row, mistake after mistake after mistake...

I have had a lot of stress in my life in the last few weeks, but I don't know how that could effect how awkward working in the shop feels. Am I just not concentrating enough?

Did any of you guys experience this when first starting out?

Today alone, I burnt my finger somehow (in the spot where I feel comfortable holding the blade, big blister there now), broke a new belt and got a slap, shaved off a little skin and totally ruined a knife. I finally stepped away to save my sanity.

I know that I can work through this but just wanted to know if I am not alone...
 

Doug Lester

Well-Known Member
Experience when starting out? You mean this doesn't happen all the time? Lets face it some days you're the bug and some days you're the windshield. When it's going bad in the shop and you're starting to feel like you can't even screw up right you may just need to put the work down, turn off the lights, and try again another day.

Life happens, then it doesn't any more. Chill.

Doug
 

rhinoknives

Well-Known Member
After completing two knives, I am starting to think that I had beginner's luck because I just can't get into the groove of things. I don't know if I am still getting used to the new grinder or my skills are not as good as I thought, but my work has been horrible lately. It's like writer's block or something. I know we all have good and bad days in the shop but everything has just been feeling awkward lately. It has been multiple bad days in a row, mistake after mistake after mistake...

I have had a lot of stress in my life in the last few weeks, but I don't know how that could effect how awkward working in the shop feels. Am I just not concentrating enough?

Did any of you guys experience this when first starting out?

Today alone, I burnt my finger somehow (in the spot where I feel comfortable holding the blade, big blister there now), broke a new belt and got a slap, shaved off a little skin and totally ruined a knife. I finally stepped away to save my sanity.

I know that I can work through this but just wanted to know if I am not alone...
I hope this will make me sound very deep and analytical.

This is what separates the wheat from the chaff! Everyone that started making knives would still be doing it if they didn't have some not so great days in the shop.

I have been making for over 15 years now and I wrecked a blade I was grinding today, Screwed up another one last week making it too thin, and went through four blocks of top grade stabilized woods last week on one knife before i got it right!

I just say to myself, Another fine day in the shop!:biggrin: boy I am glad I went full time! And then I start laughing! My advise here, for what it's worth? Don't take yourself so seriously!
No one else does, so why should you? :lol:

When I have laughed about it, things then start to go a bit smoother.

One safety tip for ya, the reason I always wear a ball cap in the shop, Besides that it has my super cool Rhino Custom Knives logo on it, is one,
It can keep you from shortening your nose, like a curb antenna.

Two, If a belt breaks it doesn't slap you in the face!

Have fun & stay safe!

Laurence

www.rhinoknives.com
 

Frank Hunter

Well-Known Member
Good one, Laurence. It's the keeping at it that makes success. It's essential, all the talent and gifted skill in the world are worthless unless applied firmly. Dead to rights on the ball cap, the brim of mine is pretty scuffed up and has saved my forehead on more than one occasion, as well as keeping what's left of my hair cleaner.
 

Sampson knifeworks

Well-Known Member
Stress, money and custom orders will make me screw things up faster than my hair is falling out! After twenty years of making knives, I try to avoid these three evils.
Clint
 

rhinoknives

Well-Known Member
After completing two knives, I am starting to think that I had beginner's luck because I just can't get into the groove of things. I don't know if I am still getting used to the new grinder or my skills are not as good as I thought, but my work has been horrible lately. It's like writer's block or something. I know we all have good and bad days in the shop but everything has just been feeling awkward lately. It has been multiple bad days in a row, mistake after mistake after mistake...

I have had a lot of stress in my life in the last few weeks, but I don't know how that could effect how awkward working in the shop feels. Am I just not concentrating enough?

Did any of you guys experience this when first starting out?

Today alone, I burnt my finger somehow (in the spot where I feel comfortable holding the blade, big blister there now), broke a new belt and got a slap, shaved off a little skin and totally ruined a knife. I finally stepped away to save my sanity.

I know that I can work through this but just wanted to know if I am not alone...
Steven,
The way I look at it is, If you haven't screwed something up in the shop? You aren't making enough knives! Granted that as we hopefully get more proficient, the Aw Cr@p ratio should go down, All builder's of anything have a messy up ratio. Learn to laugh, learn from your mistakes and move on.

Laurence

www.rhinoknives.com
 

Mike Martinez

Well-Known Member
After completing two knives, I am starting to think that I had beginner's luck because I just can't get into the groove of things. I don't know if I am still getting used to the new grinder or my skills are not as good as I thought, but my work has been horrible lately. It's like writer's block or something. I know we all have good and bad days in the shop but everything has just been feeling awkward lately. It has been multiple bad days in a row, mistake after mistake after mistake...

I have had a lot of stress in my life in the last few weeks, but I don't know how that could effect how awkward working in the shop feels. Am I just not concentrating enough?

Did any of you guys experience this when first starting out?

Today alone, I burnt my finger somehow (in the spot where I feel comfortable holding the blade, big blister there now), broke a new belt and got a slap, shaved off a little skin and totally ruined a knife. I finally stepped away to save my sanity.

I know that I can work through this but just wanted to know if I am not alone...
I have the same issue where some days it seems like my hands and brain are severed from each other. I've learned to take a step back and not try to force it; rather I go and log some time on the lathe or one of my other money pit hobbies. Clear your head and just let if I'd you (I swear I'm not a hippie.) :)
 

Steven Long

Well-Known Member
Thanks for all of the comments, guys.

All of you are right and I just need to chill out. I am way too hard on myself and take everything too seriously. For as new as I am to all of this, I have definitely had my bad days, but not this many in a row.

Today has already been a better day than yesterday. The feeling of success when completing a knife or a task definitely outweighs the feeling of a failure. I will lift my head and work on to success. It doesn't come easy but that is why the reward is so great.

Thanks everyone!
 

Drew Riley

Well-Known Member
I've made probably dozens of knives so far, and a lot of them are the same style or model of knife. I STILL screw one up from time to time. Heck, I've even messed up a knife while putting the edge on at the very last step.

For me, it usually happens when I get in a hurry, get tired, or just stop focusing. This tends to happen even more on projects I'm not too crazy about, or projects that I pysche myself up about as being too difficult in the first place.

Usually, if I just relax, take a break, and come back to something I have trouble with, I can salvage it. It's when I start geting worked up and angry that I really get into trouble. Then I tend to start seeing how fast an 80 grit belt can take a 12" piece of steel down to 6", and whether or not a 50% weight reduction makes it fly across the shop any faster. ;)
 

Insight

Well-Known Member
From another new guy- I know exactly how you feel. I remember the first time it happened to me. I felt super discouraged because I REALLY want to be a good knife maker... I was terrified that I have spent a LOT of time and money on something that I'm going to suck at. The next day I went out to the shop and did the two best hollow grinds I've done so far. It's a mindset thing. I get too anxious, lose my patience or forget steps when I psyche myself out. Without sounding too "new-age," It's important that I maintain my "zen" in the shop. It's my escape from all the life stuff that encumbers me, and one of my true passionate things in life. I can't afford to let missteps or accidents frustrate me- or bring stress from the day follow me into the shop. Sometimes I'll be at the grinder and realize that I'm thinking about my day job while I'm grinding- and I have to bring my mind back to focus on the knife in my hands... And sometimes, my best work has happened while I was just "in the zone" with a totally clear head, sort of on autopilot. My goal is to find a good head space in between those. Focused, but not trying so hard as to inhibit my hands from "doing what they've learned to do."

If that makes any sense...
 

Shawn Hatcher

Well-Known Member
I was terrified that I have spent a LOT of time and money on something that I'm going to suck at.
I've heard this statement (or some variation thereof) from many new makers. Usually it's referring to grinding ability. Usually something like "I want to try my hand at grinding and see if I suck at it" or "I tried my hand at grinding and I suck at it".

Learning to grind freehand is no different than learning to play a musical instrument. It's not a matter of picking up a violin to see if you suck at it. EVERYBODY sucks when they first pick up a violin (excepting the extremely rare anomaly of the six year old who is a Beethoven in the making).

Yes, there are those who pick it up faster than others. But here's the cool thing. Malcolm Gladwell did some research for his book "Outliers" and discoverd the "10,000 Hour Rule". It basically means that putting 10,000 hours into any skill will make you an expert at it. He tried to find an exception to the rule - ie sombody who invested 10,000 hours into a skill and wasn't at the top of their field . . . and he couldn't find one.

Now consider that knifemaking is an endeavor that draws upon many skills and you can see that it'll take awhile to get to the top. All those famous knifemakers we know and love? Ask any of them and they'll tell you of the years and years of toiling away in relative obscurity with little-to-no return before they got the top.
 

Jeff Conti

Well-Known Member
I agree, if I'm not blowing something up once in a while, I'm not pushing the envelope. Also, Time in the saddle will smooth out the wrinkles of new skills!
 

Steven Long

Well-Known Member
Thanks for all of the encouragement, guys.

Shawn, I think you are one of the exceptions to the "10,000 Hour Rule" :biggrin:

After having that bad week, I took a few days and went back to watching videos and reading to see what new things I could pick up. It was well worth it. Sometimes you just need to step back and start over.

I am getting better...

 

Erin Burke

Well-Known Member
Boy, I really don't know what you guys are talking about. Every day, when I walk into the shop, things go perfectly for me. The knives basically assemble themselves. Well... the cartoon mice also help... while the cartoon bluebirds whistle a pleasant little tune in my ear as I sip iced tea. Knifemaking is a magical experience. :nothing:
Erin
 

Jeff Conti

Well-Known Member
Looks like you are a fan of flat grinding. while I have hollow ground all my 30 something years, I like the look of your knives. The bottom one is my absolute favorite. Keep up the good work. I'd love to know how this one would look with a tapered tang and some nice wood. Keep up the hard work... (I say as I sit in my chair looking out at the sunshine).
 
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