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All who are busy, where do you find your time?

Discussion in 'Shop Talk - BladeSmith Questions and Answers' started by Don Nguyen, Oct 17, 2012.

  1. Don Nguyen

    Don Nguyen

    Oct 4, 2011
    Most of us have full-time jobs and/or go to school. I'm a full-time student, and I'm practically at school, doing homework, and/or sleeping all the time. Where do you guys find the time to do stuff in the shop, and how much time can you actually expect on average per week?

    I started getting up at 5am every morning to do a run and then homework, but perhaps if I start catching up with the workload I can allocate that time to some knives? I feel like I'd only be able to be productive if I had many successive hours in a row, not just 30 min here and there. The problem is that I'm at school for 12 hours at a time regularly, and still have much work to do when I get home.

    At most if I'm on top of my game I can expect 5 hours per week maximum. What about you guys? I'm curious...
  2. jawilder


    Jun 27, 2006
    I've run into the same problem with you, being very busy at work and family time. I've had to remind myself that knifemaking is a hobby, not a 2nd job. I work in the shop as I find the time but don't sacrifice my family or dayjob for knifemaking.

    But, there are some times that I get to spend up to 30 hours a week in the shop if I play my cards right. I usually work at night while everyone is in bed.
  3. mgysgthath


    Dec 15, 2009
    I work full time, and after working all day I don't have the energy to go out to the shop and work usually (although I wish I did). So my time is relegated to weekends, and that's assuming I'm not out fishing or doing something else, or housework etc. It's hard to find time, but sometimes it's motivation too. My main problem is I have far too many interests, and dividing free time among them can be tricky.
  4. Varga Knives

    Varga Knives KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 12, 2006
    I'm in the same boat as you. I usually work about 55 hours a week, add an hour-forty-five commuting each day and two small kids and, well, a perpetual honey-do list, you get the idea. 5 hours would be a good week. I find myself planning out exactly how I would like to spend my shop time so that when I get there I don't waste time deliberating. Kind of like gym time (I forget what that was like). I always knew exactly what exercises I would need to hit, what order and with how much weight, before I ever got there. Other than that I just keep telling myself it's a marathon not a sprint.
  5. Big Chris

    Big Chris SAHD/Knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Apr 1, 2010
    I am a stay at home dad with a 3 yo, 2 yo, and an 8 week old. I have found that they do ok in the shop with me for short stints of time. The youngest goes to sleep when all the machines are running. That does not work very often though so I get up between 5 and 5:30 am and work until my wife leaves for work. It work out pretty good and on weekends I can get 8 to 10 hours in a stretch. That is when I will do my major grinding or handle shaping, or other things I don't want the kids around for.
  6. CapitalizedLiving


    Dec 1, 2007
    I design about 20 hours per week even with all my employment and domestic activities, and both of these could be full time jobs if I let them get out of control. I avoid problems by cutting my objectives down to the absolute essential and ignoring everything else. It's all about knowing what to ignore.
  7. knife to a gunfight

    knife to a gunfight

    Oct 17, 2007
    I work a minimum 12 hour shift, 4 on, 4 off (days/midnights rotation), with a 40 minute drive each way, not to mention a wife and three kids that are 3 and under, so finding time in the shop gets difficult.

    Normally, the best I can do is to wait until everyone is asleep (usually by 10 or 11pm) and I'll try to work till anyway from 2am to even 5am, depending on what I'm working on and if I have a deadline.

    Obviously, care must be taken as one typically starts to get very tired in the wee hours of the morning, though knife making tends to wake me up and keep me energized to an extent.
  8. Broomhead


    Jan 12, 2012
    Five hours?!? You get five whole hours?!? Wow! I'm lucky to get an hour or two a week. I'm also a Professional Dad (sounds better than stay-at-home) with a 6mo old, 3 yr old, and an 8yr old. My MIL watches them twice a week for me, but with housework and honey-dos I'm usually pretty busy. I would love to get more time working on my knives, but for now it's just not happening. My wife doesn't get home until 6 most nights and our weekends are booked with running errands that she wants to go do.
  9. Don Nguyen

    Don Nguyen

    Oct 4, 2011
    No, ideally it could be five hours :) I'm barely hanging on to my workload as it is, but IF I did, I think 5 hours would be workable.

    Right now I'm getting zero per week. Most of my knife work has to be done at a friend's shop, which is about 40 minutes away; I have to dedicate several hours to make it workwhile, and right now I don't have several hours at a time...

    Guess I'll have to wait for Winter and Summer breaks?
  10. fast14riot

    fast14riot Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 27, 2010
    I work 45-48 hours a week, fortunately I have a 3-5 minute commute on my bike, but I work odd hours and weekends. Between the wife, kid, house and dog I get maybe 3-5 hours a week in the shop. I often try to bring some aspect of it into the house, like sharpening, designing, hand sanding, etc. This allows my to spend time with my son (3yrs) and get him involved and accomplish minor tasks. I don't watch TV much more than an hour or two a week, so I try to spend my time being productive. But I also tend to sneak out in the late evening, but can't do a whole lot living in suburbia. I try to keep the grinding for my one day off during the week when the wife is at work and the kid at daycare. I get just a few hours alone that way.

  11. Broomhead


    Jan 12, 2012
    Sorry, I was being tongue-in-cheek. Tap-a-talk doesn't do smilies.

    I also try to bring the work inside when I can, but it doesn't always work out. For hand sanding I've been clamping my knife to a rickety TV tray table and using my feet and legs to keep it stable as I sand. That, however, has been killing my back. I just don't have a lot of room inside and whatever I use has to be portable so I can take it back outside.

    I feel you on the zero hours a week thing, though. It's very frustrating.
  12. jakehobackknives


    Mar 5, 2012
    wait until you go full time and you are looking for time to get away from the shop:) glass half full kinda guy here!
  13. aarongb


    Nov 2, 2007
    I've talked with a lot of boat builders who tell me that a boat is just an endless series of 15-20 minute tasks. I try to do the same with knives, where "endless" is not quite as infinite as a boat.
  14. jonnymac44


    Sep 27, 2007
    I work full time, but with a four day work week, which gives me three full days off. Much of that time is spent in the shop, in addition to several hours a couple nights a week after my regular job. I end up getting about thirty hours a week to work on knives which is great.

    I have a mortgage and a wife, kids, dog, yard, etc. so some time has to be devoted to all of that of course, but my wife and girls have been very supportive. Essentially I'm either at work, in the shop, or taking care of the home and family, and that's about it. Not a lot of extra time for tv shows or whatever but that is perfectly alright with me. I'm doing what I love to do and I don't have much free time, but I'm happy which is very important.
  15. AVigil

    AVigil knifemaker working the grind Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Platinum Member

    Feb 17, 2009
    It helps if you have the tools. Profiling and grinding bevels does not take a lot of time if you have a band saw and a 2x72 grinder. What it takes some to do in days it can take just a few hours with the correct tools.

    That is key.

    Another thing is if you can set up a work station in the house where you can work on sanding and glue up you can multitask and spend time with the family in the evening while you tinker with your knife.
  16. Brian Ayres

    Brian Ayres

    Feb 4, 2011
    I used to never be able to find time. But, a good friend gave me a couple pieces of advice.

    First, he said "stop buyin tools!!! Buy some TIME!!" because I get cash in lieu of vacation days I end up spending it on bills and tools. So, thanks to Greg I say no to overtime and used my vacation fund and some overtime money to allow myself some 8 hour days instead of 12+ hour days.

    Second, he said "Stop chasing rainbows!" I love learning new things and it's easy to try new stuff all the time and never finish the stuff you start.

    Mostly, as far as time goes I find it comes in spurts. No month is the same, but I'm getting more time consistently.
    I've worked to adjust my life to make following my dreams easier. It's starting to pay off with enough time that I'm happy in the shop each day and not frustrated like before where I felt like I was starting the learning curve over every couple of weeks.
  17. JAGknives


    Jun 12, 2012
    I am very fortunate with my schedule, working 12 hour shifts. That means I get either Mon, Tues, and Fri or Wed and Thurs off during the week. Weekends off are generally reserved for spending with my wife and commitments to my church so I will usually only spend maybe 2 hours in the shop then, and that is usually in the later evening. My wife is VERY supportive of my addiction, err, hobby so she wants me to spend time pursuing this.

    As for spending 15 minutes at a time? There is no way I could do that. Those with that discipline, I commend you. Just set up and clean up can take 10-15 minutes. I am not usually able to leave a job half done. I need to finish it or at least take it to a good stopping point. I can sharpen a blade in 10-15 minutes but if I run into problems, will be there much longer.

    Keep plugging away and take advantage of what time you have. More than anything, enjoy the process.
  18. theHobbyist

    theHobbyist Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 3, 2012
    I have a 65+ hour week at my job, plus I'm on call on the weekends... I've just moved, and am still trying to set up a little workbench out on my balcony. Once that's done, I'll be lucky to have a few hours a week, most likely on Saturdays to dive into this. I'm horribly new, to this so it may or may not pan out.

    When I first got into it, it was building kits from knifekits.com a couple of folders and I'm working on a fixed blade at the moment... Just trying to get the hang of scales.

    There are a few things that I've learned from my past hobbies, most of which were said here already.
    First: Don't get fancy and fully equipped right out of the gates... It can be a waste of money/time and can get really frustrating really quick... If you're serious, take your time everything comes out better that way.

    Second: Learn the basics so well that it's second nature no matter what kind of project you're working on. (AKA practice makes perfect)

    Third: This is really important to me... DON'T RUSH. things come out like crap, and almost never meet your vision... it's never been worth it to me...

    Fourth: Build to your vision, not to your skill level... If you do that not only will you learn new and cool things, you'll find that your end product is more satisfying. If you don't know how to do something, pick up a book, ask some old timers (no offense if you're not that old). Hang out at someones shop if you can. (the last couple make things fun as well). You will hit speed bumps and snags and you will have people tell you your work is crap, but in the end you will also find a group of people (like those here) that will help you with it.. give you good, and maybe not so good advice but you'll have more fun and be more accomplished... even if it is a hobby. Maybe you'll end up like jakehobackknives up there and doing it for a living.

    In any case, best of luck with this... I know I need as much as I can get, and I'm sure there's enough to spread around!
  19. quint


    Nov 29, 2011
    When I can. I am working on a house (remodel/repair), I am in the USN so I can work anywhere from 40hrs a week to upward of 120hrs. Just depends on the week. Plus there are deployments which range from 30days or so to 3 months so obviously that is shutdown time for me.

    What I try to do when I have time is section the work up. One day I will spend cutting up wood, another Ill spend cutting out blanks and shaping them somewhat. Then I will spend a day just grinding the bevels, so on and so forth. When I am lucky to have a 5 hour block is when I will break out the forge and bang away. I am still at the point of when I start say 4 or 5 knives if I am lucky 1 or 2 will make it to the final stages.
  20. fumbler


    May 19, 2009
    I'm unemployed, which was great because I had a couple of weeks where I could just work on putting my shop together and trying to get the full time knife making thing going.
    Unfortunately right when I really started production my kid was born. I helped with the baby til my wife went back to work (didn't get any knife stuff done) and now I take care of the baby full time. I can't work on knife stuff when I'm watching the baby. Once or twice a week I'll work on knives after dinner while my wife watches the baby. I'll get 2-4 hrs in each time. I would like to work on the weekends but not at the expense of missing out on the time that my wife, my baby, and I are all together. When the baby gets older she'll go to day care and I'll work on knives full time.

    Big Chris must be a super dad. Taking care of three kids and still getting a couple of hours done in the morning? I can't even get any house work done with my one 10 week old. She's pretty demanding; she can't sit there by herself for more than 15-20 minutes before she gets bored and starts crying.
    Hopefully one day soon my baby will get on a regular nap schedule.
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2012

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