Internet forums & custom knives

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May 9, 2000
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I have read many times that the people that frequent forums make up a very small percentage of the people that purchase custom knives. Though I have no doubt that this is true I would be willing to bet that when used properly makers can benfit greatly from having a presence on the different forums. It is also likely that more than a few makers do a large percentage of their sales to those that frequent knife forums.

Just wondering what others think about this.
 

Les Robertson

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Oct 10, 1998
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Hi Keith,

I agree with you that makers would sell more knives with a better web presence. Not necessarily on the fourms. To many makers have been abused on all the fourms by unknown assaliants who lack the balls to use their name or real email address.

When I am asked by makers should they particpate in forum discussions I tell them absolutely no. To many forumites love a "gang bang" and look for the opportunity to abuse a maker. If the maker tries to defend him or herself, in many cases it only makes it worse.

The other side of the coin there have been some makers who do use the forums. Only to abuse the trust afforded them because they were on the forums. Newt Livesay, Allen Blade, Steve Corkum and Dale Reif come to mind. Want proof, check out the Loooooonnnnnnnggggg threads on GB&U.

This can make potenital members and visitiors leery of doing business with makers who do particpate in the forums on a regular basis. That is one benefit of the GB&U is you can check on some makers before they do business with them.

I think for most makers, the best thing they can do is put a professionally done web site on to the Internet. Advertise it both in print and on the Internet. Give it 6-9 months and they should start to see the hits multiply.
 
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Keith-


I agree. The forums have provided a great deal of exposure for me, and added tremendously to my growth in this business.

I am definitely still an uknown. But to get to the point that I have...say back in the 80's or early 90's before the internet explosion, I would have had to spent several more years at shows and advertising in magazines.

I still have not yet advertised in the magazines, and am only now getting a web-site professionally done (by my friend, collector, photographer, and web-master- Mitch Lum :D ). But I still have more than enough work to keep me busy as a full-time smith.

For the long term, big picture, I believe I will need to go with magazine advertising...as the net is not the only part of the whole deal. But in my start, the forums have helped me VERY much.

Thanks :)
-Nick-
 
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I certainly agree that the internet is only a part of how makers should promote themselves, but I do think it is a very important part.

If it weren't for this forum I might never have purchased a custom knife. I have loved them since the late sixties, but never could get over that last hump and take the plunge. After hanging around here and getting to converse with some of the makers I finally felt comfortable enough to get my first custom. I have not looked back since.

It is a shame that some makers have been attacked on the forums. I know for a fact that this has caused many to leave and many others not to get involved in the first place. It is my opinion that if you have a problem with a maker that you take it up with them privately. Berating them on a forum is usually, but not always, uncalled for. There are some makers that by their attitude just beg to be flamed, and others that have such terrible customer service and ethics that this needs to be pointed out to warn potential customers of possible problems that could occur when dealing with these makers.

The fact is though that forums do create interest in a makers work. It is a platform from which the maker get his knives in front of some of the most rabid collectors in the marketplace. Though forums can be a double edged sword, when used to their best advantage, forums can benefit makers by getting their names out, having people see their knives and letting people get to know them better. Maybe that last point is not always a good thing, but for makers who are outgoing and personable, forums can be used to great advantage.
 
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I find that there are a lot of my customers who read the forums but do not post. Basically they are doing research, that is after all the strong point of the internet. A net presence on a regular basis is therefore necessary for a maker who sells on the net.
 
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Hi Keith,
I've only been hanging around here for a couple of years and more this year than last. I really do enjoy this forum and you guys, I have made new freinds and new customers here, thanks in particularly to one big ol fossil guy :D and you other guys who have bought or ordered knives. I have had a website for only one year now and between it and these forums the Internet has been good to me.
I've been a full time maker for 14 years and up until this year I relied on shows and advertising to sell my knives. I also had a web presence through the dealers who were selling my knives, this is great exposure for makers without a website, most of the dealers provide a great service to the custom knife market. I will have to say that most of my customers do not know about the knife forums but this is starting to change with my being involved here. These forums are a great place for makers and collectors and I'm glad to be here. This is a great thread Keith !

Thanks to all, Don Hanson lll sunfishforge.com
 

Rod Neep

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There's no better advertising than word of mouth. i.e. the forums. People discussing the products of a producer is good!

When a product producer shows that he is interested and contributes to discussions, then that makes him (and his product) even more appealing, because we get to know him.

But yes, it does take some guts to stick your head up above the parapet, because along with the exposure also comes a degree of flak on occasions. The thing to remember though, is that some peoples' hobby is creating flak rather than collecting knives. Fortunately, those people are in a minority. Ride it in a responsible manner, and the knife maker will always win.
Personally, I think that it is great that we have direct input to discussions here from our interested knife makers. And yes, I do click on the URL in your signatures. I am not a knife maker.... but a customer of some of you, or potential customer of others.

Regards
Rod
 
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Who are the makers that have been attacked here? Just curious.
 
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Well, not that long ago i'd smack ya silly if you told me i as going to get me a custom knife in the near future ... but the results of one of the knifemakers who frequently posts here just convinced me to step into the line :D He says it'll take ~1 month until he starts production of my piece - i'll keep you guys updated on that.

Forums are IMHO a great resource for knifemakers if they use them wisely - this guy convinced me so he's obviously doing it the right way :) If it helped him it most certainly can help others.
 

Bastid

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WoodWorkGhost said:
Hi Keith,

I agree with you that makers would sell more knives with a better web presence. Not necessarily on the fourms. To many makers have been abused on all the fourms by unknown assaliants who lack the balls to use their name or real email address.

When I am asked by makers should they particpate in forum discussions I tell them absolutely no. To many forumites love a "gang bang" and look for the opportunity to abuse a maker. If the maker tries to defend him or herself, in many cases it only makes it worse.

The other side of the coin there have been some makers who do use the forums. Only to abuse the trust afforded them because they were on the forums. Newt Livesay, Allen Blade, Steve Corkum and Dale Reif come to mind. Want proof, check out the Loooooonnnnnnnggggg threads on GB&U.

This can make potenital members and visitiors leery of doing business with makers who do particpate in the forums on a regular basis. That is one benefit of the GB&U is you can check on some makers before they do business with them.

I think for most makers, the best thing they can do is put a professionally done web site on to the Internet. Advertise it both in print and on the Internet. Give it 6-9 months and they should start to see the hits multiply.
Wodwork ghost seems to have it down pretty well for some reason;).
One of the lowest days I have seen was the treatment of S.R. Johnson by some bozo ("unknown assaliants who lack the balls to use their name or real email address.") here on B.F. a couple of years ago. Another was a comment directed to Kit Carson by a clueless maker.

For some reason these "unknowns" are also the ones who cause the most troubles on the forums too. None of these people ever seem to have the courage to make some of the statements they make via the internet face to face. I have leaned it is best to not take seriously those who do not have the courage to stand behind their opinions and experiences. I hear excuses all the time, but having participated here and other places under my real name for years is an indication to me that the excuses are poor.

Many of these people think that an "internet mask" is important. My latest experience was an email from one of these fools, calling me a moron because he was able to find out my "real name". Yeah he and a few thousand others seem to have that information :D.
 
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I agree that the various foums have been a great thing to the makers who participate. Approx. 5 years ago, I set up a website, and started participating in different knife forum sites. It took about a year before I received my first inquiry from the website, but since, the web has grown to about 75% of my business. As for the forums, I have no doubt the forums have made my name and my work more recongnizable. I enjoy reading and replying to the emails I get from various foums posts too. I also think there are many who visit the forums and do not post.....but are using it as a research tool, for possilbe knife purchases.

Of course any time you have an opinion on any aspect of knifemaking (and Lord knows I have some very pointed opinions) there is a chance that others will disagree, and will sometimes allow their disagreement to turn into hostility in the forums. I don't advocate that my ways and opinions are the only ones, nor may they be the best for everyone..........but for me they are. Most folks view me as very opinionated, which I actually take pride in. You see, when I was growing up, I was always taught that the world can take most things away from you, but the one thing that cannot be taken away is your integrity.........that must be given up by the individual.
So when I have been "flamed" for my opinions, methods, values, or morales, I usually don't get too wrapped around the axle. About the only time I get worked up is over unprovoked attacks, that do not seem to have any basis. The other aspect to that is that nobody knows it all, and being able to admit your wrong is a trait that is sometimes lacking in today's society....being able to do so is not a weakness........but rather a strength of character.

Altough there are times I curse the various forums for the amount of time I spend on them, they are no doubt a very valuable part of the knifemaking industry.
 

SharpByCoop

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I love the interchange, and yet I think a cautiousness as a knifemaker or as a professional in the knife business is paramount if you are going to use the forums.

I will add that I would not have quite as fortunate a part-time photography business as I do without the forums. It is integral to MY success, and so you will see me here, there, and all around, making friends and contacts. In the end that *can* turn into business. But that's not what drives me here. My presence and interest came before my business and continues as my passion.

One does have to watch what you say. It can burn you. (Where's that Chris Reeve quote that is so appropriate??)

Coop
 
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Custom makers are too busy to hang out on forums much. :D

I've been BUYING customs for less than a year and currently/have owned about a dozen or so. So, here's a custom newbie's take on it...

The forums are a GREAT place to find out about NEW custom makers that are just starting up, still work cheap - you can get NICE knives at great prices that way and I'm always watching the forums for new and/or lesser known makers.

I'll ALWAYS look for a maker's website, and if he has one there's a better chance I'll order. Not just so I can look at the knives he's done in a gallery, but also get a feel for the maker and some information about him, his methods, how busy he is, if he'll work with you on options... so INFO or a little BIO on a website is a good thing.

I think reputation on the forums is a pretty BAD measure of a maker. Problems tend to MUSHROOM when they're posted on a forum. I've had quite a few less-than-positive experiences with makers but I don't post them because I know what will happen. It'll SNOWBALL and something that was an irritation for me will end up ruining someone and probably make me look like a jerk in the process, so I keep my mouth shut and just don't order from them anymore. But I WILL share that info one-on-one with people I know.

I have also seen very positive reviews of someone's work on the forums, but when I contacted the maker I felt like the maker must have thought he was a movie star or something because he couldn't take 3 minutes out of his day to give me more than a one-sentence reply to a very flattering email I had sent him along with a few questions.

The BEST thing is to talk to other people by email who have worked with a maker before - especially people you know. Obviously, you meet those people on forums and I have had GREAT luck hooking up with marvelous knife makers and even making friends of some of them this way. I've also been warned about people from people I know when no warning could be found on the forum. It's not a perfect system. I was once lead astray by someone I knew and trusted and lost hundreds of dollars to a maker who my buddy had had a good experience with.

I think the best reason for a maker to participate on the forums is the benefit of receiving the feedback of people actually talking about his knives.

For the MAKER the best thing is word-of-mouth. Treat your buyers like you'd treat your own mother and they'll say nice things about you more than you know and become return customers.
 
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fulloflead- GREAT post :) It sounds like you've been going about this with a good head on your shoulders and making wise decisions.

OT a bit here:


I like the part about a maker thinking they're a movie star. I just had that very conversation with my Dad on Turkey day.

A couple years ago, a very well known maker set up next to me at a show sort of lifted his chest and said, "Well, when you get famous like I am...."

I just shrugged it off. Any knifemaker who thinks they're FAMOUS should probably rethink things.

Just as an example of the "famous" thing-- let's take Loveless and Moran (two guys I hold a ton of respect for), little question they are two of the most well-known living knifemakers today (world-wide). But if either of them walks down the street are they mobbed by people wanting autographs and photos??? :D

I am NOT saying EITHER of these men think of themselves as movie stars. However, I agree there are a handful of others that do...and they probably wouldn't like to read my little analogy ;)

I don't think knifemakers ever get famous, they just become legends in their own minds! MuHuHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! :D

There are FAR FAR more that are extremely humble, very good folks.

Now me, I better go back to my director's chair in my shop...HAHAHAHAA!!! ;)

-Nick-

ps- sorry I sort of hi-jacked your thread for a second Keith :)
 
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NickWheeler said:
fulloflead- GREAT post :) It sounds like you've been going about this with a good head on your shoulders and making wise decisions.

Thanks. It's been a LONG year and I've learned a lot. ;)
 
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The internet (BFC in particular) has been very important for my development as a knifemaker. The shop talk forum has been a wealth of information. I learn most things the hard way by trying them (and screwing up!) but it has taken a lot fewer attempts with the advice I've gotten from other makers.
Its also contributed to my ability to sell knives. I'd have to go back and count things up but I'm sure I've done about half of my business (if not more) online. I'm not making much money at it, and I'm not going to be widely recognized any time soon, but I'm having a good time and I can afford a little nicer tools and to spend more time in the shop than I would otherwise. I haven't had a bad experience yet. All of my customers have been great to deal with. I don't always get as much feedback as I would like, and things can be a little slow from time to time, but I definitely wouldn't be a where I'm at without internet forums. Of course, maybe I'd have spent all that extra time in the shop and I'd be miles ahead too ;)
 

SharpByCoop

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fulloflead said:
The forums are a GREAT place to find out about NEW custom makers that are just starting up, still work cheap - you can get NICE knives at great prices that way and I'm always watching the forums for new and/or lesser known makers.
Excellent point. I agree. This is just the venue for them!

Sidebar: As was mentioned, there are tons of collectors AND makers whose work is not on the forums and the 'net. Luckily for us, when we do run into these folks at a knife show, they are one of the 'best kept' secrets out there. Talk about value! There is extra value to going to knife shows IN PERSON. As there always has been. No one would disagree.

In regards to the original question, I asked a similar question about this phenomena almost two years ago. "Is exposure worth the risk?" This is a question that needs to be asked from time to time.

Coop
 
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I think that the forums are a great venue to shop, learn, show, and share our knife interests. I know that I don't frequent the bali song forums much but they are here when needed. Like wise, there are those that like straight knives and those that like folders. The one common item is that they are all knives. I have been on here for some time and I have sold some knives to members. The best part is that both makers and collectors can make a contribution to the forums. I am still learning and hopefully, that will not ever cease, but I do try to pass on some helpful hints when I can.
Yes, I have seen some bad cases of flaming several years ago and I am very glad that it is controlled better now. If it doesn't help people, then there is no need in posting it, good or bad. I have also learned to be positive when posting and leave the negative tone out unless asked for. That is why you should always be certain you really want to know something before you ask. :)
 

Kohai999

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Great topic!!

What the forums are to me, is a continuation of similar vibes to meeting with people at shows. You can see pictures of stuff you like, ask questions and commiserate on a variety of subjects, most relating to bladeware, some not. You can share congratulations, and condolences without a lot of time and money generated on individual telephone calls.

Those of us that come with previous experience and adequate fundage can also make purchasing decisions. I have picked up two knives from the for- sale exchange this year, here. That is but a small representation of the perhaps 20 knives that I have purchased this year. I know a great many others that also buy in similar fashion, Ari(Megalobyte), Randy(Kniferand), James Falor, just to name a few that come to mind, without intentionally excluding anyone. Randy, I see at many of the shows that I go to. The forums are not, and should not be the MAIN venue for interaction, but it is an excellent supplement to that interaction. But there are many of us here that still buy, with regularity, and that absolutely cannot be discounted. This is a small community to begin with.

Nick Wheeler is totally on the mark with many of his comments, the internet has helped him cut through much BS to get where he is at, using this as a tool, and a tool only.

I have been infamous, been dirt poor, and been solidly middle class. I will take the ability to pay my bills over fame any day of the week. Anybody in the knife world that goes for the "I'm famous, Dude" schtick is buying into way too much of thier own publicity. Knifemaking is not rocket science, and it is not brain surgery. Most people can make a knife with the right tools and equipment. Instruction helps. The art and passion involved is what sets the good apart from the great, and that is to be admired for what it is. Think about it.

Those anonymous souls that choose to slag a maker or another person with a differing opinion are to be ignored and held in contempt in the same way that a potential customer at a show picks up a knife without asking permission, and slams it down with disrespect to the maker when they cannot understand the price being asked. I have had to be restrained at a show to not go after one such person who is lucky to be alive, and I am fortunate to not be serving a 7+ year sentence for rendering grievous bodily harm. This is serious stuff to me, but I cannot ask the same of the rest of the world.

A few weeks ago, Larry from Knifeart posted a logo, and asked if anybody knew who it was. Joss asked for a picture of the knife, and I recognized Twisted Nickel damascus, and called Larry to indicate such. I also forward him the contact info for Jim Ferguson, and he got his answer. In less than 24 hours. That is but a small sample of the power of the internet, and a great example of the things that can be accomplished using it. I also posted an inquiry for the contact info for J.W. Townsend, who using leads posted here, allowed me to talk with him on the telephone for the first time in 6 years. That power and the good that it does continues to amaze me.

There is so much that can be done here in terms of knowledge sharing, danger alerts and general communications, it is and has become absolutely indispensible.

Best Regards,

Steven Garsson
 

SharpByCoop

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Great opinions--well-written, Steven. :D

Reminds me that my VERY favorite old maker, Hill Pearce, I was able to locate and contact him via phone, from a savvy BF member who found his phone number when all others couldn't. I maintain that relationship today.

Coop
 
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