I know that for me as a hobby maker, whenever I make kitchen knives to sell, they get snatched up by my family. I am currently working on three that will hopefully end up on the exchange here. Between my wife, brother, sister, parents, cousins, etc, not many end up on the exchange. Personally I enjoy making kitchen knives because I think it is the ultimate test of heat treatment and geometry.
On a side note, I have been impressed on how well the finish on damascus kitchen knives holds up. I made my wife a damascus santoku a couple of years ago, and the pattern still looks looks nice. It definitely has a patina, but the pattern is very visible after cutting anything and everything in the kitchen.
This has been an interesting thread. I will add a few pics of kitchen knives since we all like pics, right?
Damascus patina after a couple of years of use:
“If any man says he hates war more than I do, he better have a knife, that's all I have to say”
I've been trying off and on to sell chef knives here in Fixed Blades. I often wish that there was a subforum there for kitchen cutlery. My stuff has done OK here, but some take a while to sell. They go much slower in general than bowies, utilities, hunters, and fighters for me. I find that the fancier ones (hamon integrals in my case) sell slower than the work horse types. I've also done significantly better with custom orders for kitchen cutlery, than with making them on speculation.
I've been concentrating more on making solid performance cutters for sale here, in 52100 and W2, with G10 or micarta grips- they seem to move faster, and I like working for that part of the market that just wants a clean kitchen knife that will cut like crazy. If there is one thing that I could see myself doing in life other than working steel, it's creating food- and now I co-own/operate a breakfast cafe with my wife. It's cutting back on my shop hours right now, but I'm learning more than ever, using my own knives in the kitchen, what works for me at the cutting board.
I agree. go look at the knives for sale at williams-sonoma or another high end kitchen supply store. basic steel (440C or 52100 or 1095), one size fits none handles, and price tags that start at $100. the other thing to remember is who will buy. while a paring knife may not sell at a knife/gun show, if it looks good you may sell out at a craft show where most of the buyers are ladies. when selling, also play up made in USA with materials made in USA. most kitchen cutlery seems to come from China or Thailand even if knives from that brand name used to be made here.
"old sailors never die, they just take up space on social forums.
I would say that the kitchen knife is the most used knife in our society. There are millions and millions more kitchen knife users than users of bowies, hunters, fighters, tactical knives combined. I do think that since they are so common (and mostly crappy) that most people view them as mundane and pedestrian object of everyday life. Most people have not had the experience of using a high performance, well executed knife in the kitchen.
Also a kitchen knife is often viewed as only a tool. It is not viewed with the same mystique that some knives are such as a weapon or status symbol or having "cool" properties like being deadly or dangerous.
I personally am attracted to making kitchen knives because they are a tool and will be used regularly, not stored under glass or in the back of someone’s safe.
All that being said, kitchen knives are continuing to gain in popularity at a pretty impressive rate and bigger name makers are starting to take notice and produce kitchen cutlery.
Last edited by JMJones; 10-10-2012 at 06:29 AM.
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I have had mixed results with kitchen knives, I would put mine on the very affordable side of the market, sometimes they go well some times they do not. Outside the forum there is alot of ooo, aaa interest but no sales. I would very much like to expand my market but the cooking forum (other sites not here) are really into the production knives and willing to part with $200 or more for a production knife. Hard to explain when alot of the review discuss chips, handles coming loose or unable to retain an edge.
All I know it I love using my chef knives in my own kitchen and glad when I have one to keep, its like getting to use your favorite hunter every day!!!
BTW, how can I get my pics to be full size like yours,
I'm a retired chef who's spent a great deal of time playing in the woods when I wasn't in the kitchen. Over the years I had the privilege of working with both el cheapo, and very high end knives. It was a privilege because now, as a part-time knife maker, I have gained valuable perspective into what makes a "good" knife...... for me.
And, for me, it is the kitchen knives that test my skill more than an outdoor user. The thin blades with perfect grinds and balance are hard to do as well as Harner, Hogback, and others. I need to gain more skill, proficiency, and confidence before I start making kitchen knives the way I would like to see them made. That's why this is the only kitchen knife(set) I've made that I have felt confident enough to post here:
Peter, I LOVE the look of those. Absolutely, looove.
It's a worthwhile topic, for certain. As with any other genre in our field, there are folks who can't keep up with orders for $500-$1000+ knives. But the pool of people willing to pay that kind of money is fairly narrow, and it's hard to break into that level.
All my knives are users and not terribly fancy, but I use the best materials and HT I can get, and I utilize a lot of "custom" techniques like tapered tangs and hand-rubbed finishes. So the thing holding me back from diving into kitchen cutlery is mainly a matter of price point.
There's no way I can send a hand-finished 8" blade with high-end steel out the door for $100 and break even, much less make a wage. I see a lot of very good makers struggling to sell darn good chef's knives in the $100-200 dollar range. While, as mentioned before, demonstrably inferior factory knives sell quite steadily in the same price range.
I think it may come down to simply putting them in front of the wrong people. For whatever reason, the kitchen folks don't have a huge presence here on BFC; buyers here fall into three camps for the most part... EDC/hunters, bushcraft/survival/tactical guys, and collectors of crazy-expensive art knives.
You're just not going to sell a lot of killer chef's knives at gun shows or even knife shows. In fact, I have only seen one strictly-kitchen-knife maker at a show - Del Ealy at the Badger Show in WI the last two years - I didn't see any at the KMG show in KY in 2011. I suspect that "kitchen people" aren't necessarily "knife knuts" as we think of ourselves, and it makes sense to go where they are rather than waiting for them to find us. Cooking-specific forums, shows, craft fairs, etc.
Just thinking out loud, of course.
James you mentioned there were no kitchen knives at the Guild show last year, I would have to say I saw at least a dozen chef knives at the Guild show this past Sept. That was the most interesting to me that big of a switch as to what makers were putting on their tables. I talked to a couple and they said exactly what you did about not worth the time and headache grinding long and thin blades. I like the idea about a separate for sale forum for kitchen cutlery.
i had been tring to get into the market for some number of years and think im getting there. the bad side is that i cant sell a hunter or bowie to ave my life (you get known for a style ) rather then spread myself thin making sure to make a little bit of everything.
i do mix things up a bit with kitchen knives and also straight razors. i get suckered into making a few hunters now and then that i end up having inn stock a while. soon tho i ll have a batch of neckers made and a few other pull my hair out projects
Lloyd Richard Harner III most people that know me just call me Butch
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
Let me reiterate (FWIW) that I've been wishing for a separate kitchen cutlery sales forum for a while. I hope it could happen, every time I put a chef out in the Fixed For Sale, I get the feeling of crickets in the distance and people reading newspapers in the stands... I'm sure a new sub-forum would take a while to catch on as a hot buyer's spot, but I'd like to post there as it picked up momentum.
I definitely agree on the kitchen sales subforum.
add my vote !
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