Reworking knives

Gliden07

Well-Known Member
I recently did a "Quickie Project" for a friend (didn't charge him). I took a Tops UTE knife he had and modified it to what he wanted. It came out really nice he was really excited when I returned it. All of a sudden I have had a few inquiries on this kind of work. What do you guys think of this type of work? If I decided to do more of it I have no clue what to charge? Any input is welcome. Thanks!
 

Chris Railey

KNIFE MAKER
Just my opinion but if you like doing it and it is not a financial drain on you then do it. I have done everything from re-profiling a knife with a broken tip to mods and repair. If it keeps a good knife out of the trash...
 

Kevin R. Cashen

Super Moderator
I have had plenty of local folks, who don't fully understand what I do, show up at my door with a factory knife that needs a repair. If it is one off thing, I will invite them in the shop and give them a half hour of my time to have their pride and joy looking right again. The most common "fix" is to rework the edge geometry from the atrocious factory grinding so that they can easily sharpen. It is all a friendly visit until it happens a second time, then it becomes business and I start quoting them the hourly rate to have work done. I found out that this is how it had to be, when some would return with a whole box full of knives for me to touch up after they liked what I did with the first one, once again, they don't fully understand what it is that I do.

I will do this with factory knives, and will always work on my own knives for free. I have some locals who do understand what I do, because they own one of my knives, and they know they can bring them back to me for a sharpening and a re-polish any time they want. On the flip side of this is a point I wanted to share in this thread- factory knives yes, but I will never touch another makers work, that is verboten! I have had people bring me custom knives and I promptly contacted the maker to let them know the situation so that I could send the blade to where it belongs. No custom maker would want to see my reaction if I found they did anything more than sharpen one of my knives. I have had customers who decided they wanted to customize my work even more themselves and upon learning of it I found reasons as to why I couldn't take another order from them. A custom makers knife is their vision and their creation, nobody should mess with that item that bears their name. If you want it a certain way ask them to make it that way, if they agree then it is good, if they don't you need to find a maker who shares your vision.
 

EdCaffreyMS

"The Montana Bladesmith"
I've done a ton of that type work over the years. The most common one I get is folks who want a factory blade reground to either a full convex grind, or fixing the often times messed up edge geometry on factory knives, followed by refurbishing work.

There are a couple of conditions I impose on myself with this type of work.....

1. I do not work on, or modify any knife make by another Bladesmith/Knifemaker (unless they are no longer active or are deceased)... I believe that if a client has an issue with a knife that someone made....they need to take it up with that individual.

2. I consider working on any knife other than one I produced, as "Knife Repair", and in my shop the going rate for "Knife Repair" is $75.00 per hour, plus materials. That is simply to keep from being flooded with those people who have a broken spring in a slip joint... and think it shouldn't be more then $20 to repair. That, in turn, keeps me more free to actually build my knives. When it comes to knives I have produced..... whatever is done on those is always free.

That being said, I think that what you charge, is totally up to you, and for whatever reasons fit your scenario/circumstance. I do think you need to make its an amount that ensures you are not loosing money. I've always gauged what I charge based on response. If I charge a certain amount for XXXX work, and get flooded with requests, then I'm not charging enough. :)
 

tkroenlein

Well-Known Member
I agree with these other folks.

It's a personality trait I think in certain trades to work too cheap. Like to the point of losing money cheap. I think Ed's hourly price ain't too far off. And I'm betting he works faster than most of us!

Well, I agree with 'em except for Chris. I'd ask 'em "brush on enamel or sprayed on?"

:p
 

John Wilson

Well-Known Member
I enjoy refurbishing old knives. That’s what got me into knifemaking. I’ve often said that re-handling knives can be a pretty lucrative angle, particularly for someone who doesn’t want to do blades all the time.

But as everyone has said, you have to be very careful with refurbishing. You’ll get inundated with requests from guys who want you to fix a clapped out knife that cost them $40 new. That’s fine if it’s a good friend and it’s a sentimental knife, *OR it’s a cool project that lets you stretch your skills with no real repercussions if it goes sideways.
 

Andre Grobler

Well-Known Member
i do kitchen knives, and so i sharpen and regrind a lot of cheaper kitchen knives... but 400 grit belt and buff and done on the grinder, the edge i finalise on stones... not matching the crappy factory finish... It is part of making a customer's existing knives useful... it means they can use the knife i made for what it was designed for, not for whatever, because it was the sharpest... it almost never means less sales...

i have an arrangement with other chef knifemakers, ok there are only 5-ish real, established chefknifemakers over here, and they are all stand up people, living far from me, that their local customers can bring me their knives to sharpen and do minor chip repairs... for free. we have horrendous post office turnaround times.... and couriers cost quite a bit.

I have, in secret, fixed a friday night late before the show kichen knife grind when another kitchen knife maker was having a really tough personal time, and the client, who is also a client of mine, asked for a favour. I think we all make mistakes, especially when new... and if i was to have a serious personal crisis where a customer might get a delay in service from me, i would like to know a friend who is a maker would help out, if he was confident to do so... and not do it, if he wasn"t confident to do so...

Then there were the corrections i made to knives that were from newer makers, who perhaps don"t know what to aim for... these were all users... and kitchen knives... and i usually ended up having conversations at shows with them or one of my clients bring the newer maker over for q&a and i highlight geometry issues they can work on, and we fix a grind together... or just compare various geometry options, i usually feel that this person's work is worth fixing, and would be a good maker to add to the ranks... he has the feel for kitchen knives... so help him shrug off less than ideal earlier work, faster.

I won't touch a major repair or rework on another maker whose work is at or above my level ito geometry and fit and finish... i can't see that being a good thing for anyone involved.
I don't work on makers who do kitchen knives or razors for a lark... I can't do minor corrections on those, matching their usual work... it would still not be a kitchen knife...
 
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