Need advice

Joined
Jan 17, 2006
Messages
5
Hello all, this is my first post. I've recently been bit by the forged blade bug and I'm still learning! Anyways...

Last February I contacted a knife maker to make me a custom (my first) hunting knife. The telephone conversation went well. He indicated a 2-3 month delivery time. I sent him payment.

At the three month period, I called. He said he had some delays and that he probably wouldn't have it completed till mid summer. I called back at mid-summer. At that time, a family member of his had become ill. He said it would probably not be till the fall. I called back in the middle of October. This time he informed me that the blade had been forged. I asked if he could have it by Nov. 1st. He said yes. I called on Nov. 1st. No answer.

I continued to try to reach the maker till the first week of January. I was finally able to talk with him ( at which time I discovered his family member had passed away). I was near his home when I finally talked with him and was able to set up a meeting. We met and talked about the knife and handle materials. I saw the blade and we discussed a completion date of the end of the next week. That is now almost four weeks ago. My phone calls don't get answered, my messages aren't returned. I can't drop by his shop because I'm 1600 miles away. He did answer one email (only when I didn't ask about my knife). Subsequent emails have gone unanswered. I've been pretty reasonable considering the chain of events (or run-around). I'm to the point that I don't care about the knife any more. I think I'd just like to get my money back.

At first, I gave this gentleman the benefit of the doubt (depsite friends and family members thoughts). Now, it seems I'm being taken advantage of.

Do you guys have any thoughts regarding courses of action? Not having any experience with custom knife's, Is this normal? Should I just be a little more patient?
 
Joined
Jun 17, 2004
Messages
8,436
first of all, welcome to the forums, and sorry about the circumstances.

this is definately not the norm for a custom knifemaker. there are a few things that you should do. Run a search on the maker's name, and see if this is an exception, or if the guy has a history of this type of behavior.


You will find such threads in the Good, Bad, and Ugly forum (under exchange).

Also, this thread should be in that forum--I am sure that a moderator will be by soon to move it. That will ensure maximum exposure of your thread to interested forumites.

I'm sure that you will get helpful advice there. Best of luck.
 
Joined
Oct 15, 1998
Messages
3,554
Do a seach on the good,bad,ugly forum to see if he has a history of this...

I hope he's here with a "good" history and this is just a bump in the road.
good luck.

Edit: Almost forgot....you'll find that paying in full up front is usually a big mistake.
 

SharpByCoop

Enjoying the discussions
Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider
Joined
Oct 8, 2001
Messages
12,293
Wow. This really erks me because this was your *entry* into custom knives. This one bad apple is spoiling your experience and by extension is hurting every other good knifemaker with his behaviour.

The *golden rule* in customs, as we know it is: NEVER, EVER pay for a custom knife up front. Knifemakers, by their nature, are craftsmen first, and business-people second. You found THIS out.

Looking forward to a better ending.

Thanks and welcome. 99.9% of us are good at this.

Coop
 
Joined
Nov 20, 2001
Messages
7,350
SharpByCoop said:
The *golden rule* in customs, as we know it is: NEVER, EVER pay for a custom knife up front. Knifemakers, by their nature, are craftsmen first, and business-people second.

Couldn't agree more. Most knifemakers will say so themselves. Not to be a jerk, but this is the first thing anyone would have told you if you'd asked questions here before placing your order.
 
Joined
Jan 17, 2006
Messages
5
Yep, I would have to save that I've learned the hard way. I had the money and though it would be better to pay for it while I had it. I wished I done a little more research. I learned of this maker through a Knife magazine that listed what I thought were respectable credentials. I guess you can't judge the book by it's cover!
 
Joined
Mar 13, 2002
Messages
2,125
I would never be able to enjoy owning a knife of someone I didn't respect. Your knives will always remind you of the experiences and people that make them. I can only encourage you to do everything possible to get your money back. Some of the members here might be a good starting place for you, with certain makers. (find out who knows him.)
David
 
Joined
Sep 5, 2005
Messages
2,826
I'm sorry to hear about your experience and hope you'll be able to resolve it shortly. I'm not an expert on knife making, but depending on the family member who passed, it can be a terrible blow. I read in a recent article that grief normally is worst 3 weeks to 3 months after the death of a loved one. Is it possible that has anything to do with the way he's reacting?

Most craftsmen are proud of their work. Someone who's not honest in his dealings may not be concerned with putting out a decent product. Depression and grief can cause anyone to lose interest in their work. Either way, it spells trouble.

Good luck.


Confed
 
Joined
May 9, 2000
Messages
29,205
Sorry to see this. if this had happened to me when I ordered my first custom knife I would have really had to think seriously about ordering another one. Hopefully this won't turn you away from custom knives.

When you feel that you have run out of avenues to get your money back, please post the makers name. That way others will not be caught in the same predicament that you are.
 
Joined
Oct 3, 2002
Messages
12,297
Sorry to hear of this. You need to demand your money back and look else where. Most makers will not ask for money up front, I prefer to get paid when the knife is complete and ready to ship.
 
Joined
Feb 27, 2003
Messages
2,369
You have been a complete gentleman and have given this guy every benefit of the doubt. It is time to name names and light some fires, imho.
 
Joined
Mar 15, 2005
Messages
26,811
I agree with Peter's advice above.
Wishing you the best possible outcome.
 
Joined
Jan 17, 2006
Messages
5
Gentlemen, Thanks for your opinions. While dis-gruntled, I'm not ready to name names.

I've thought about asking for my money back, but the guy will not answer his phone. He lost a parent on Nov. 1st. So, I can and have sympathized with him over the last 9 months. However, I never as much received a courtesy call after the fact. I think the only reason I was able to reach him in January was because I was in a different state and he didn't recognize the area code or the name on the caller ID. This weekend I tried using call blocker, but alas that didn't work either.

On January 6th, when we met at his shop, he informed me that the handle material I selected (North American Bison horn) was not going to work as a handle material. He said he had the handle installed but after trying it for a couple of weeks he didn't think the handle would hold up. I asked if I could come by and see it. Somewhat surprised (I think) he agreed. I'm not an expert, but I didn't appear that there was a handle ever attached to the blade. However, I can't dipute that 100%. He supposedly had ground the handle off by the time I reached his shop. I picked another handle material and departed.

I called after a weeks period. No answer. I waited another week and emailed him; however, I didn't inquire about the progress of the knife. He answered, and informed me that he had a problem with the stencil for his makers mark. But the new stencils were expected on January 27th. I answered asking how the handles looked, I haven't heard from him since.

Today February 8th, it has been one year since I wrote him the check. He cashed my check on February 23rd of last year. I think I'll give him till the 23rd. Reluctantly, at that point I'm afraid I will have to revert to more drastic measures.

Does it take this long to finish a handle, final finishing, sharpening, etc? He is retired, but I don't know what other irons he has in the fire.
 
Joined
Sep 27, 2004
Messages
3,039
One year is just way too long. I am a very part time maker who works full time, has a full time GF, a dog, and am currently mid-buying a house, and there is simply no way a knife should take a year unless this guy has a waiting list two years long (which i doubt given his time estimates to you), it sounds like he is just sitting on it. Finishing a handle, final finishing and sharpening is a couple days's work for me, but I work in very small blocks of time. Makers should be:
1. Honest about how long something will take
2. If things happen, and they do, they should be a professional businessman and clearly and quickly let you know of the delay with a new estimated date.
3. If major events happen that will cause a knife to slip into an unknown completion date, they should absolutely refund you your money until the situation changes or at least give you that option.

At very least, after a full year past due, he should be emailing you pics of progress or giving you frequent updates. Theres no other business that would be allowed to let an order slip for a year and not be working full time to amend it.
 

BrB

Joined
Sep 16, 2003
Messages
452
Once I took a comission on modern polishing a sword to costumer in the USA through a American maker. We were both new to the trade and I took an advancement. I never got the costumer´s adress or name cause the maker was dealing with him. So the maker sent me the sword and I started working on it, and right in the begining of the job I noticed the tip of the sword was too soft, meaning HT was bad. He made it using a small forge and didn´t work out good. I called the guy right away and said another sword should be made or he should re-make the HT on this one. After that, the maker vanished from the face aof the earth. And I kept the sword and waited. I also had two tantos from the same maker that were not orders but private projects. He would forge and HT and I would polish and mount. So one year passed and the costumer finds me on the forums. The guy is really mad cause I got his money for an year and the maker said he would not give him his money back and that, if he could find me, he could take the two tantos I had as a payback. Now once I got in touch with the costumer I sen´t him his sword back, the two tantos, his money and a nice 10" camp knife I had made for myself, for all the trouble he had. I felt that was the only decent thing to do even though I was not guilty of anything, I was somehow responsible. That´s the way I think those situations should be handled.

What I mean is: be not afraid to ask for your money back. It is your right and is he is on the business for long he should know that, and ho hard feelings should be taken.
 

Win Heger

Gold Member
Joined
Feb 29, 2000
Messages
3,109
I feel sorry that your entry into custom knives has gone this way. I do feel that you do everyone a diservice by not naming the maker. Screw him/her! I'm pretty freakin' tired of makers with excuses. I get up everyday and go to work! Divorce is not an excuse, death in the immediate family is good for three days, sick family members is no excuse. Get in the GD shop and go to work, you're not special!

We're hearing more and more of missed delivery dates, unreturned calls and e-mails, deposits/payment taken with no delivery. The internet can be powerful tool, let's use it to out these "makers", more like "takers".

Rant off,
Win
 

Kohai999

Second Degree Cutter
Joined
Jul 15, 2003
Messages
12,554
Win Heger said:
I feel sorry that your entry into custom knives has gone this way. I do feel that you do everyone a diservice by not naming the maker. Screw him/her! I'm pretty freakin' tired of makers with excuses. I get up everyday and go to work! Divorce is not an excuse, death in the immediate family is good for three days, sick family members is no excuse. Get in the GD shop and go to work, you're not special!

We're hearing more and more of missed delivery dates, unreturned calls and e-mails, deposits/payment taken with no delivery. The internet can be powerful tool, let's use it to out these "makers", more like "takers".

Right on, brother Win!!

I disagree that immediate death is only good for three days, though. If my wife dies before me, it is going to take a while before I can perform at my current level of passion, interest and attention to details.

Makers missing delivery dates is par for the course, no one should try to expect a maker to hold to a specific DAY, and specific MONTH would be more realistic, except in the case of things like wedding gifts.

Deposits/payment is a whole other story. There was a time when $100-$200 meant a lot to me, and to keep it, and shine me on was an invitation for a good old fashioned whoopin'.

Frankly, most makers are crappy businessmen. That is one of the reasons they become knifemakers in the first place. Cliff tried to argue this point with me once in General, and just made a more complete dork of himself in the process. Successful business in terms of knifemaking, as defined by me, is delivering the goods, to the satisfaction of the customer, in a relatively timely manner, in such a way that both parties would do business with each other again, provided the opportunity.

Failing that definition means that I cannot recommend the maker to others, and would in fact recommend NOT doing business with the maker if asked.

Best Regards,

STeven Garsson
 
Joined
Sep 27, 2004
Messages
3,039
Playing devil's advocate, we have still only heard one side of a story, and there are always two sides. Depending on the death, that maker may have been forced into a whole new role in his life. While I do agree it is 100% his responsibility to keep you informed and act accordingly in a professional manner, I think it would be detrimental to the situation to post his name and make it a one-sided public debasement of an individual. Once the deal is over (read: you have the knife you requested or have your money back), I think it is within your right to post a review of the whole situation and how it was resolved, for better or worse. We all know horrid life can be sometimes and the maker's invitation of you into his shop doesnt sound like someone who is pure evil, looking to steal your money. There may be factors in his life that are deep rooted and personal, and may be the cause of the "silence", even if they don't necessarily justify what has happened.
 
Joined
Jun 3, 2003
Messages
39
All of the custom makers that I have dealt with have refused to accept money up front. They notify me when the knife is ready for delivery and I send them payment. Sometimes it takes a few months longer than their estimated date of delivery, but never a year!
 
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