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Thread: setting up home shop for small production run NEED ADVICE

  1. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by holiday View Post

    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.
    I think you could probably make more money selling bird houses.


    But you are still undervaluing your product.

    Even if you manage to get some materials free, you spent a lot of time and work to do that.
    Price your product as if you did pay for them and there is a benefit to that work, if not you are just giving that work away.



    and copper liners are pretty soft.
    I have brass liner slippies with bent liners.
    Thin steel is much stronger.

    Use thin shim stock for strength and layer it with copper for your looks.

  2. #42
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    Fusion Mogging- I am still laughing at that one!, thank you! I dont have anything to add but to say that this type of thread usually turns ugly quickly with hurt feeling from the op or insults from the responders. I enjoyed reading this thread and appreciate the civility of all parties involved.

    Thanks

    John

  3. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by holiday View Post
    Uh, ok. Thanks for your input. I respect your opinions as I also respect the opinions of all the other posters here. It's a good community.

    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.
    What you are describing sounds more like a hobby vs. setting up a production run A.K.A. production manufacturing process. This is what my comments were directed at, and it appears most others comments as well. This is all OK. Again, please don't take this feedback as "digs" against you, just an outsider's perspective, and one who has no idea what you have done in the past or are capable of doing. If you do decide to do the 100-1000 piece production run, I truly wish you success, as I am sure everyone else here does as well. Remember, though, you were the one looking for advice on this. I wasn't trying to dump on your "dreams", or tell you that your knife looks are going to look cheap... but you are taking it there independent of my response

  4. #44
    Quote Originally Posted by JMJones View Post
    Fusion Mogging- I am still laughing at that one!, thank you! I dont have anything to add but to say that this type of thread usually turns ugly quickly with hurt feeling from the op or insults from the responders. I enjoyed reading this thread and appreciate the civility of all parties involved.

    Thanks

    John
    yeah it is an odd phrase, but I figured that if t'was have a good effect, then it ought to be said with gusto. cheers.

  5. #45
    Quote Originally Posted by tryppyr View Post
    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.
    Thanks for wishing me well.

  6. #46
    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Katilus View Post
    What you are describing sounds more like a hobby vs. setting up a production run A.K.A. production manufacturing process. This is what my comments were directed at, and it appears most others comments as well. This is all OK. Again, please don't take this feedback as "digs" against you, just an outsider's perspective, and one who has no idea what you have done in the past or are capable of doing. If you do decide to do the 100-1000 piece production run, I truly wish you success, as I am sure everyone else here does as well. Remember, though, you were the one looking for advice on this. I wasn't trying to dump on your "dreams", or tell you that your knife looks are going to look cheap... but you are taking it there independent of my response
    All is well, mate. No worries about digs or any such thing. Thanks for your well-wishes and perhaps some day we shall meet again in a more spirited manner for extension of the hobby to others. cheers.

  7. #47
    Quote Originally Posted by knife to a gunfight View Post
    Just a couple of things that cross my mind:

    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.
    Thanks for your input mate. Most all of the responses have been excellent and thought provoking. I appreciate it. I think the "green" knife making is very energetic in it's spirit and perhaps there are some that will also engage with me on a higher plane to propose this to others.

    I remember one time my brother in real life.

  8. #48
    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Ayres View Post
    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.
    commercial kiln & air dried hardwood scraps left over from cabinet making projects and luthiery projects is sufficient for slip joint handles. I also air and age cure hard woods on my property for 15+ years before using them on knives.

    some of my copper is from roofing scraps, some of it is extra copper from other projects. 1/16" thick copper liners with stag, rosewood or bone scales is sufficient for a 3 - 3 1/2" long slip joint folder frame.

    I appreciate your input and advice. thanks for taking the time. cheers.

  9. #49
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    Hmm. I am interested to see the results. I have no doubt you can do it, but I will be interested to see the final cost and quality of the product.

  10. #50
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    This project deserves a blog of its own and frequent updates with lots of pictures along the way.

    Writing the book will make you some real money..................

    Syn

  11. #51
    Do you have photos of any examples of previous knives that you made? I think everyone on here would love to see them and could offer tips and constructive criticism. I don't expect you to show us the ones you plan for the business, just some other things you've made.

    I believe that there is potential for you to be successful, however I would start by selling a few on the auction and see how they go. I sell tons of items online a week but only because I have found a tiny but perfect "niche" that suits my needs. I have no real competitors and my profit expectations/needs from it are easily achievable in my market. Building your 10 knives and selling the first few at auction to gauge the market interest will give you a lot of information. Also, you will need to figure out how sustainable your market is; meaning that you may sell a certain amount really quickly...and then it stops. There may only be X number of individuals out there that really want your product, but you need to find ways to make sure that number (X) is as high as possible.

    I had one venture that I threw on the backburner because I realized the risk was too great. It wasn't knife related, but rather in a product intended for the aquarium and reptile keeping hobby. I quickly found out that the materials, time, and PITA factor were too costly and that the end product would have to be way too overpriced to be worthwhile. And after selling a few, I discovered that while everyone loved the designs, few were willing to pay anything near what I would have needed to make a profit. A few people were willing to buy them, but it would have taken 100 people to pay for the cost of getting started.

    Good luck!

  12. #52
    I still would like to hear how old you are. You may have enough energy to pull it off, but you are taking a huge bite with a bunch of variables and unknowns.
    "ENDEAVOR TO PERSEVERE"

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  13. #53
    Quote Originally Posted by Silverbullet951 View Post
    Do you have photos of any examples of previous knives that you made? I think everyone on here would love to see them and could offer tips and constructive criticism. I don't expect you to show us the ones you plan for the business, just some other things you've made.

    I believe that there is potential for you to be successful, however I would start by selling a few on the auction and see how they go. I sell tons of items online a week but only because I have found a tiny but perfect "niche" that suits my needs. I have no real competitors and my profit expectations/needs from it are easily achievable in my market. Building your 10 knives and selling the first few at auction to gauge the market interest will give you a lot of information. Also, you will need to figure out how sustainable your market is; meaning that you may sell a certain amount really quickly...and then it stops. There may only be X number of individuals out there that really want your product, but you need to find ways to make sure that number (X) is as high as possible.

    I had one venture that I threw on the backburner because I realized the risk was too great. It wasn't knife related, but rather in a product intended for the aquarium and reptile keeping hobby. I quickly found out that the materials, time, and PITA factor were too costly and that the end product would have to be way too overpriced to be worthwhile. And after selling a few, I discovered that while everyone loved the designs, few were willing to pay anything near what I would have needed to make a profit. A few people were willing to buy them, but it would have taken 100 people to pay for the cost of getting started.

    Good luck!
    Well I take your points on considering the sustainability of the market to heart.

    uh, as far as photos of my knives, I don't have any on this computer, but I will get some in the weeks to come. Thanks.

  14. #54
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    it takes you weeks to get pictures of your other work ?

    i say this good luck but it sounds to me like a failed plan
    Lloyd Richard Harner III most people that know me just call me Butch

    L.R.Harner Knives
    If you're not going to do it right, don't do it.
    www.harnerknives.com (is work in progress)
    now also making straight razors

  15. #55

    Unhappy

    Quote Originally Posted by butcher_block View Post
    it takes you weeks to get pictures of your other work ?

    i say this good luck but it sounds to me like a failed plan
    uh...maybe we don't all have fancy computers. I don't even have a digital camera.

    plus I'm not going to post photos in a hurry just to demonstrate my value. I am not here trying to prove myself to people unknown to me. sorry pal, just not how I operate. If I get around to it in the coming weeks I will do it.

    when I get around to it I might also post photos of the furniture, rings, guitars, charangos I've made and basements I refinish.......:barf:

  16. #56
    But you did come to a community of people unknown to you seeking advice.
    You even shouted NEED ADVICE.

    It's not unreasonable for the people offering you advice to request some information.
    The better we know you, the better you can be advised.

    The folks here know me, I will get a whole different type of reply than a newbie would to the same question.

  17. #57
    Quote Originally Posted by Bobby Branton View Post
    I still would like to hear how old you are. You may have enough energy to pull it off, but you are taking a huge bite with a bunch of variables and unknowns.
    uhh...I don really think my age is that relevant. Let's just say that I have been in the game since the early 80's, associating with the community since the early 90's, and def. upping my game ever since. I took a 15 year hiatus for spiritual reasons, but even then I was still scooping up junker I*XL's off the Bay and re-doing them. But I've been around a lot longer than you and your friends might think. I have been alive for awhile now.

    Now I am def. all about getting my skills to a WHOLE nother level, as they say in other "communities"

    Once I was working on an older Datsun 280Z that I had in my yard. This was probably in the late 90's when I was studying for my life insurance test. My brother had a 70's Nova with a blown motor. We found this old Z with a Chevy V8 and a Camaro tranny in it. Any way, we bought the Datsun for $375 and towed it to the house. We let the boys down at the place do a full motor swap and I ended up with the Datsun.

    My buddy XXXXX (name withheld for privacy reasons) and I used to get involved in heavy custom cutlery in high school. My buddy ground a blade from cable damascus in the style of a Scagel I guess. He was planning to do a stacked maple handle I think. I used to do heat treating in a coffee can full of charcoal with a hairdrier attached to gas pipe...man those were the days. The homeowner's covenant in our neighborhood forbid mining for gold or silver, and drilling for oil...but somehow I got away with forging red hot steel in the driveway.

    It's ok.
    Last edited by holiday; 06-22-2012 at 11:45 PM. Reason: wanted to add one more last tiny bit of self promotion. thanks.

  18. #58
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    FYI, I have been playing with the idea of a small run of "bushcraft" sized knives. I want to use CPM 3V which runs the price up. I have run the numbers many times and EVEN if the only things that I "outsource" are the water jet blanking, a kydex sheath at volume discount pricing and the heat treatment, the LOWEST unit cost I come up with is at least $60 per knife BEFORE I think about the costs of things like packaging and marketing them or things like the one time initial setup costs for water jet cutting the blades.. Using cheap carbon steel might drop that to $50 or so. That does not include the cost of my labor or my shop expenses outside of "consumables" like abrasives, adhesives, etchant, etc. that are directly attributable to making a specific knife and not more general things like rent, utilities, etc. So for 100 knives, that would be an initial investment of $5,000-6,000 dollars just in fixed costs that I would not see coming back to me for a LONG time unless I only planned to do one batch. Your $1000 dollars in "seed money" which translates to $10 per knife for 100 MIGHT get you a knife like you are talking about made in Taiwan but only if IF you were talking about making a couple of thousand of them I suspect. I am not trying to be contrary or scare you off of your project, but it does get a little bit complicated and expensive when you go from doing one at a time to what for most of us custom guys is a pretty big batch. With that said, even if you plan to dribble them out over time, I think that for money would be better spent if you went ahead and bought sheets of the steel and other metals and had them water jet cut up front. It is cheaper to do it all at once. Also remember that you have to pay setup costs.
    Last edited by jdm61; 06-22-2012 at 11:59 PM.

  19. #59
    Quote Originally Posted by Fellhoelter View Post
    But you did come to a community of people unknown to you seeking advice.
    You even shouted NEED ADVICE.

    It's not unreasonable for the people offering you advice to request some information.
    The better we know you, the better you can be advised.

    The folks here know me, I will get a whole different type of reply than a newbie would to the same question.
    uhh, I understand that.

    soon everyone will know me as well, and we will all be friends. in fact, we are all getting to know each other through my post, which I thank you for participating in.

    I never said it was unreasonable to ask questions. I know I posted seeking advice and I am getting it, and I do appreciate it.

  20. #60
    Quote Originally Posted by jdm61 View Post
    FYI, I have been playing with the idea of a small run of "bushcraft" sized knives. I want to use CPM 3V which runs the price up. I have run the numbers many times and EVEN if the only things that I "outsource" are the water jet blanking, a kydex sheath at volume discount pricing and the heat treatment, the LOWEST unit cost I come up with is at least $60 per knife BEFORE I think about the costs of things like packaging and marketing them. Using cheap carbon steel might drop that to $50 or so. That does not include the cost of my labor or my shop expenses outside of "consumables" like abrasives, adhesives, etchant, etc. that are directly attributable to making a specific knife and not more general things like rent, utilities, etc. So for 100 knives, that would be an initial investment of $5,000-6,000 dollars just in fixed costs that I would not see coming back to me for a LONG time unless I only planned to do one batch. Your $1000 dollars in "seed money" which translates to $10 per knife for 100 MIGHT get you a knife like you are talking about made in Taiwan but only if IF you were talking about making a couple of thousand of them I suspect.
    Thats pretty interesting stuff. What type of handle material were you considering?

    I guess after looking into some other things I have come to the conclusion that this has to be all about brand-identity and cross marketing.

    I have a contact in SE Asia who can do some pretty cheap hand forging. He runs about $4-10 for a full tang hunter forged from a car spring (or other metal per the buyer's specs). My broker said he will do pretty much anything. I have seen him at work and he is def. a skilled bladesmith and a master in the arts of tempering. I was thinking of shipping him some of my old shear steel kitchen knives for dramatic repurposeing.

    You see, so many of the American knife guys are on the big fancy show circut, with ridiculos overhead making fairly expensive, yet fairly utilitarian knives for upper middle class users who do not plan to use the knives, but most likely just to collect them. The buying dynamics are totally skewed. Of course the established bladesmith here in the States has to have tens of thousands of dollars to make the shiny gems he or she churns out to the consumer in order to keep his name in the spotlight and cover all his over the top costs. Even R.W. Loveless said that he wouldn't pay what customer's pay for his knives.

    Now, I am not trashing the community, but let's face it: American knife collectors don't "need" another knife to toss in their roll or their safe to strap on when they are having cocktails on their yatchs so that they feel like Indiana Jones or Flash Gordon...in fact, we "need" very little here in the States, but want so much. To stay afloat in this trade (if it's your full time livelihood) requires epic dedication and innovation because it truly is sink or swim. How many people do you know who make a living hand-forging custom kitchen faucets with mokume and pearl handles? There is no demand for that...or very little demand for that...NOW. Tomorrow? Well, let's just say I gave a freebie to the community tonight. Half of you will scoff at this, but one enterprising soul will be the next custom plumbing forger offering damascus toilet accessories and drain stoppers. Don't say I never did anything for you, you know?

    Anyway, I am not trying to rant and rave pointlessly. It seems that my general idea and passion is getting shot through here with the precise logic of calculated businessmen who are essentially small business owners operating on a tight budget working for a finicky crowd of people who are always looking for the next trend, the new "hot" locking mechanism, or the next big Hollywood movie blade that some Asian factory will churn out for the shopping-mall crowd.

    What I am trying to do is attach my cutlery interests to a larger, more epic, all-encompassing artisic movement with echos of the Roycrofters, with a little bit of singer-songwriting, mod clothing lines, eccentric home furnishings, and custom instrument making.

    And you might be thinking, "who will bankroll this nut?" - well, let's just say I can show you the money any day of the week. It's all over the place trust me.

    I am not directing this only to the poster to whom I am specifically replying but to the community participants in general
    Last edited by holiday; 06-23-2012 at 12:25 AM. Reason: spelling

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