Ahh, I should have known that, it's just like it sounds...
Man, I just wish I could make a knife for only $55 in material.
Nevermind time, expendables, and the cost of outfitting the workshop.
Sounds like a really really bad idea and fast way to loose all your investment money quickly. Not that my opinion means much but i have run numerous businesses over the last 25 years, some big some small, some did well some tanked. from what i read in the thread, id say do a proper business plan cause the realities of manufacturing are far from the blissfull success your probably enjoying with this idea in your head. I do wish you the best tho.
1. Liners, copper. cost $0
2. Blade steel / spring steel, cost $0
3. Wood handles, cost $0 (I cut or gather and process my own sustainable woods from my property)
4. Pins, cost per knife: $1-2
5. Cost to heat treat: I do my own heat treating (simple, perhaps crude method, but it makes a serviceable blade), cost of oil, neglible. Cost of propane, per knife $1.00
6. Finishing supplies, per unit: $5 (includes sandpaper / sanding belts / oils / etc.)
TOTAL COST (for one knife, parts only): ~$7-8
Labor, tool amortization, electricity, etc., are not figured in at this point.
Would you spend $8 on materials and spend 3-7 hours, start to finish on one knife, and sell it for $55?
If this is a hobby for me at this point, how much does it cost to play golf for 4 hours at the country club, including amortizing the cost of the fuel to drive there, the cost of the clubs / clothes / supplies?
What I am trying to do is to see if I could repeat this effort on a more efficient scale for 100 or 1000 units, and actually turn a profit.
Perhaps it would not be truly profitable, as I am finding out. But I am not done considering all the factors.
you remind me of a guy I know that went bankrupt
It sounds like you're planning to do rather um.. low-quality products to be honest (scraps, car springs, dumpster stuff, "crude" HT...), in a sort of vintage design, and then you want to somehow sell 100 pieces over the internet? Why on earth would anyone not buy an estabilished factory knife instead? Even the crappier ones have better mats and design than what you're describing.
Where the whole thing is wrong is that you have no idea how to do what you are planning.
The costs, production time, and marketing in your "plan" are so far off that it shows your inexperience.
Plan to spend about $100,000-$500,000 to order a batch from China. Just the tooling set-up may cost over $50,000. They consider a run of 100 a prototype batch. It would cost the same as making 10,000 knives. Also, there is a lot you don't know about importing and the law. You need permits, and licenses, and bonded warehouses, etc. Materials aren't free for 100 knives....maybe for one that you are making for yourself, but not for 100 that you plan on selling.
Realistically, plan on spending about $300-500 in waterjet cost, $100 in steel, $50 in copper, $100-200 in handle material, $400-500 in supplies.....then there is packaging, shipping, taxes, business liscense...etc. If you can make 100 folders for $2000-3000 in total cost and expense, you will be doing good, and that does not cover your time, tools, shop cost, or profit.
Back to my original suggestion....make ten and post the photos....then tell us if your idea is still the same.
It is better to die fighting evil than to live under it.
You start out by saying that it would be "difficult in a 'real' production set up"... I don't think it would be difficult, so much as impossible. That being said, making a "green" knife out of "100% recycled materials" could be an additional selling point for you.
Speaking of "green" however, I hope your not planning on using green wood from your property to start making knife scales. Even dead trees need to be taken to a certain moisture content, if not then stabilized, before they make anything that will be remotely useful as a knife scale.
I also think it's interesting that you are planning on purchasing what should arguably be the cheapest part of your knife (pins) and nothing else?
"Labor, tool amortization, electricity, etc... are not figured in at this point."
When exactly do you plan on figuring them in?
At any rate, without repeating what others have already said, you really need to sit down and factor in all of those things that you haven't already. I'd also recommend that you sit down and talk with somebody that has already achieved success making production runs of folders, fixed blades (or whatever else for that matter) and glean whatever helpful advice you can from them.
I've noticed at least one or two have already offered some in this thread alone.
I'm truly curious to see the end product (and price) that you come up with, as well as what you learn during the process.
I am sort of at a loss as to how to word what I want to say (as sooo many have added what I would have said), but feel driven to do so. Holiday, your original two posts don't really ask specific questions besides requesting a critique of what you are thinking about doing, and asking about where to purchase a stamp. As you have read, folks have provided critiques, and I believe it was Stacy who provided a source to purchase a stamp... so it sounds like you have received answers to your original questions; but the rest of your responses seem to be somewhat defensive (which is understandable) and thread is starting to spiral out of control, IMHO. You need to understand that you are asking a large group of knifemakers, some of which are very successful and well established, their opinions of how to go about not making but manufacturing knives, even before you have spent a significant amount of time (by most peoples estimates) learning how to be a knife maker... kinda like wanting to run before you learn to walk (your cryptic answers about your history leads folks to think that you don't have much experience). It's logical that the feedback that you are getting isn't totally positive, as what you are planning to do is to produce lower quality knives which goes against every fiber of a custom makers being. That said, if your goal is to produce lower quality, lower cost knives, then I think you need to analyze your "manufacturing" process, of which is totally in a concept phase as this point, and compare what your practical, real cycle time is to your ideal cycle time. I am near 100% confident that you have drastically underestimated the time it takes to produce a slipjoint, and 110% confident that you underestimated the cost of materials. And to be frank (though my name is Bob )it sounds like your manufacturing plan is more like a custom maker plan- you are cutting your own blades, and doing all the work yourself. I assume you don't have the equipment for manufacturing runs i.e. larger CNC equipment with automated part loading systems, batch heat treatment equipment, precut stock of material etc, so your time required to "manufacture" goes up as you are cutting and processing each individual piece. Sourcing parts in batches gets complicated when you get into commercial contracts/ agreements, vendor selection (finding a good source in China... do you have prints with allowable dimension for the components?), payment terms, purchase orders/ invoicing, lot sizes and delivery times, start up tooling costs, customs, etc. Unless you already established as some sort of manufacturer, with all these items/ processes in place, these will be challenges.
I hope you take the opinions of all with a grain of salt, and do the recommendations of making a batch of ten first, then talking a step back to look at what worked and what didn't. This way you can make changes and drive improvement in your process and quality prior to being committed to the rest of the 100 or 1000. I wish you luck and will be following this thread.
Last edited by Bob Katilus; 06-22-2012 at 10:37 AM. Reason: spelling...
Let me re-frame my intent by switching to a non-knife related topic as an illustration.
Let's say I wanted to build birdhouses for fun (and profit). I have access to the scrap wood from a local cabinet shop, and I have some basic tools (saws, nail guns, routers, etc.).
With the materials being free or next to free, and I can make three in one weekend, start to finish, and sell them for $15 a piece.
Someone might say, "well, I wouldn't spend my whole Saturday making 3 birdhouses to sell for $15 a piece." But someone else might do it as a form of relaxation. They sell them just to get rid of them, otherwise their garage would fill up with birdhouses.
Now let's say the same thing is possible with a slip joint knife. Granted it takes longer to build than a birdhouse, but it also could sell for much more.
I got blasted for my "cheap" materials, but is copper, wood and spring steel considered "bad" materials? No not really, but the image I am creating in your mind looks cheap so everyone is doubting.
I suppose everyone with a dream has to fight through the inevitable "sensible" people who tell them their dream is futile, un-economical or grandiose. Rome was not built in a day, and I know I will not become a pocketknife manufacturer overnight.
I'm willing to extend you the benefit of the doubt that you have the skills to make the knifes. I'm willing to believe you have access to materials that are, at the very least, marginally appropriate for making the knives in question. I'm even willing to believe you have the supplies and tools to do a creditable job. Frankly, I have no reason to disbeleve.
What is clear, and has been pointed out several times, is that the business plan you propose is more akin to a hobby plan. You ignore many cost factors because you don't feel like counting it ... but a business can't afford to operate that way. All the costs have to be factored into the equation... the cost of your time, electricity, supplies, tools, depreciation on equipment, storage space, shipping charges, insurance expenses, and so on. If you're making a hobby plan you can ignore these because they are either a part of your normal day to day expenses, or you don't feel the need for them. Businesses don't operate that way.
So perhaps the best way forward is to stop describing this as a busines... or start really thinking about it as one. Either way, I wish you luck.
Here's a couple things to consider.
Most if not all woods on your property(unless you live in Arizona) will need to be stabilized in order to be used without worry that they will warp. If they warp, especially with thin copper liners your knife will likely not function.
You'll spend more money on belts and propane forging or grinding your spring steel to shape and consistent dimensions than you would if you bought PG steel.
I use the same type of copper you get from a roofing company. Mine is used for decorative liners, it's not thick enough for liners on a slippy.
Nobody here is rooting against you making knives. They are just trying to help you with what they learned the hard way.
holiday, I have read this thread through, and I hope I do not get any, "uh, ok." response for spending my time trying to help you. As has been said there are very respected craftsmen that have replied in this thread. I'd advise listening with a more open mind. It seems to me that you may feel that anyone not agreeing with you is against you somehow.
Now that I have said that, please answer a few questions that I feel may do one of two things. The answers will either qualify you in the eyes of the people you are asking help from, and embolden you to proceed, or they will enlighten you to the difficulties in making your plans a reality.
1) How much time will you take to:
1a) profile your blades
2a) Drill/ream pivot hole
3a) grind/file in your bevels
4a) adjust the spring lockup
5a) Search for found material for liners
6a) profile your liners
7a) drill holes in your liners
8a) search for found handle wood
9a) sufficiently dry handle wood
10a) profile your handle wood
11a) drill holes in your handle wood to line up with the liners
12a) cut pins to size
13a) profile back spring
14a) drill holes in back spring
15a) fit up assembly
16a) shape handle
17a) assemble and peen
19a) place item on ebay
20a) correspond on ebay
21a) package and ship items
(well that was more than even I thought I was going to ask in the first question)
2) what sort of tolerances will you look to hold on:
2b) spring to blade fitup
3b) liners handle and peened pins
3) what sort of finish will you be aiming for for the:
3a) Blade overall
3b) Blade bevels
3c) liner and handle
I am positive I left things out because I decided to see if these Q's were answered first before spending any more time trying to help out...Looking forward to seeing some of these answered.
90% of being smart, is knowing what you're dumb at.
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