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Our *Handmade Knife* world has changed...

Discussion in 'Custom & Handmade Knives' started by SharpByCoop, Oct 9, 2020.

  1. SharpByCoop

    SharpByCoop Enjoying the discussions Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 8, 2001
    ...in many ways:

    Forged in Fire has had a BIG influence in interest. Both for viewers, and for aspiring makers.

    Social media dominates exposure: Instagram (HUGE), Facebook, Youtube, even TikTok.

    Sales are happening here in Exchange, on IG and FB, and other venues like Etsy.

    Audio podcasts are all over. Everyone is engaging in conversations. (If you can find the time to tune in, they are informative and entertaining.)

    Bladeforums C&HK has become a *Worldwide Gallery* of new projects and makers. There is more show than dialog. Maybe some of the new members can comment in here on what's happening to them.

    Forums (all) are not as vital as they were? It's simply a trend that I am noticing. We only have SO much time. Dialog takes time.

    Print magazine inclusions for makers STILL have rewarding impact. Infallible. This is where I have found great satisfaction, too.
    • What have I missed?
    • What's YOUR experience?
    • What can you add which will elevate us further?
    Let's discuss.
    Mecha, Mike157 and surfer like this.
  2. PirateSeulb


    Jun 6, 2017
    In regards to forums I think they still hold a value but it isn't what it was before forums were the social media in a sense. I think though that forums tend to promote a great sense of community and a more organized system for viewing and finding information so their roll has shift I think to be suited better for the people who are more interested in a given niche than others. Design and administration of forums are also a major factor in the health and longevity of the forum so as to retain users and foster growth of new users. I certainly feel the BF has done one of the best jobs at the administration side and I don't have any complaints or much advise for changes/improvements at the moment to function or design. The last trick with forums staying alive and relevant is content and we the users are the source for this content and it is our job to contribute to the content of the forum to further aid in user retention and growth which again I believe BF has managed to capture a great user base for the continuation of its place and purpose..
    Mike157 likes this.
  3. 3fifty7

    3fifty7 Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 24, 2016
    The pool has definitely been watered down because every thinks they are a “knife maker” (myself included, I’ve made about 20). As always the cream rises to the top.

    The massive influx of Scrapmascus coming in from whoknowswhereistan and clones are huge downsides to the increase in popularity if the knife world.

    With so many new buyers and sellers out there it would seem to be a wash but I imagine many makers that were established before the FIF era are struggling with sales. There are many makers who have come up in the FIF era are producing some high quality and highly sought after blades.

    As to forums I love the comradery and knowledge shared here, along with the show and tell aspect and sales. I’ve seen several gun forums with great information see a sudden influx of new members who seem to take over and drive out the old guard then eventually the whole devolves into a classified add and there is little to no knowledge or discussion. I can only hope that does not happen here.
    Mike157 likes this.
  4. i4Marc


    Oct 19, 2011

    FIF has indeed had a big impact on the knife world but I'm not sure all of it has been positive. The program has reached a lot of viewers but only a relatively small percentage of those viewers is knowledgeable about how knives are really made. It is a game show. There is no time for careful consideration of design, geometry, proper forging technique, carefully controlled heat treating and tempering stages, materials choices, fit and finish, testing, presentation and a host of other concerns. Much of this is glossed over or eliminated in the interest of time and editing to make sure it is entertaining. When I talk with people about my craft they always say "you should go on that show, what's it called?". Then I try to explain to them what I do is a little more involved than that. The show is bubble gum and has little nutritious value but it is fun to watch. So it gets a lot of new makers interested in trying the craft, which is great. But now there are thousands of more people looking for anvils which drives anvil prices through the roof and chipped out, sway backed anvils with half the face missing are "good condition". Ok, sure.

    Social media has been mostly positive. Facebook gets the occasional "like" but Instagram has been great. For people who just want quick updates from the folks they follow it is very convenient. A quick eye candy shot of a finished piece or some progress shots of a build keeps viewers involved and keeps you in mind. And for buyers, it gives them an early jump on a piece that will be available soon. But there are downsides too. I have seen my knives advertised on IG and Etsy which are totally fraudulent. Buyer beware. The whole ADD, short attention span, instant gratification thing is just a part of our disposable society now. Since the development of plastics and the end of WWll with the flood of cheap products coming in from Japan it has been quicker and easier to just replace something rather than fix it or modify it. We still see that mindset today in all areas of our lives; marriages, politics, jobs, you name it. So I think people just don't have the will or patience to engage in a dialog. That takes time, thought, manners, consideration of another's perspective and sometimes it takes a thick skin. And people are so easily offended these days. When I began visiting BF I was a new maker (still am). I wanted to hear what the older guys had to say. The guys who had been doing this for decades were exchanging perspectives and ideas, telling stories, and I was the fly on the wall trying to learn. Now most of those folks have lost patience with the disrespect, the inexperienced opining, personal attacks etc. and gone away. So we are left with a lot of newer makers and mid level guys that just want to show their work.

    I have heard it said that print is dead. I hope not. I still enjoy books and magazines. There is something special about books. And being published in print format means something. It means some person or committee has considered and judged your work as worthy of inclusion in their publication. These days almost anyone with the slightest computer savvy can post pictures on a variety of social media platforms or websites, or to even build your own website. There is little culling or process of elimination, debate, considering the relevance to an accompanying topic or article, discerning small differences in the sharpness or composition or lighting of the photographs. Snap a pic, send it to the web. Done. Next.

    Thank you Coop for not just taking great photos but for your support of the work you photograph. Your contacts and submissions made on behalf of the makers help to get us published and help to legitimize us in the community. Thank you. I hope print will never die.
    Ebbtide, Mike157, J. Doyle and 2 others like this.
  5. Dawkind

    Dawkind Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Apr 3, 2000
    There are many trying their hand at Knifemaking and forging in particular thanks to FIF.....with that said, I’ve got a 25# Little Giant, gas forge, etc., that’s available....PM for details. ;) :D
    Bigfattyt, Mecha, Mike157 and 5 others like this.
  6. AVigil

    AVigil Adam Vigil knifemaker working the grind Platinum Member

    Feb 17, 2009
    Instagram is great, I am able to post works in progress, showcase work and answer questions and my knives typically sell there first even if I put them up for sale here.

    Last year the $75 knifemaker fee did not even pay for itself here on Bladeforums.

    It is a nice place to chat about knives but it is not a really an asset for sales anymore for me.
    LX_Emergency, Mike157 and SBuzek like this.
  7. SharpByCoop

    SharpByCoop Enjoying the discussions Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 8, 2001
    Well, I agree with your assessment of the user content. THIS is the most valuable commodity in forums.

    Best job admin? Moderators are GREAT! Admin? Ummmmm.

    As a business owner I am sadly unimpressed with the response to the 'problems'. Visit the Service and Support forums for a 25 page dialog on server slowness.

    My pet peeve is that showing photos continues to be WAYYY overcomplicated. (Host them on IMGUR! it's FREE!) Yeah, and it's the whole upload/host/link/copy size, paste, etc... Why?

    At a paying membership I would MOST certainly expect my fees to cover the cost of photo storage (Photos take up SO little space compared to videos.) The Forum software has the ability to downsize ALL images to postable size, right from your phone. Not now, though. The owner has stalled upgrading. to the latest version for I-don't-know-what reason. Since the amount of queries in that forum is about 50% image hosting related, I say get ON it. It's part of running a GOOD business.

    (I would continue showing new work in my sticky Gallery, but I refuse to have to host this on my own, or go through hoops to 'fit' the filesize upload requirements which are too stringent. Let the Xenforo software take care of that. Like other forums do running this software.

    As I type there are 15 makers on two pages showing their work. 90% of them are somewhat new (to me), and rarely (never?) enter dialog in this forum, save for their own threads. It's right here and now, just as you described.

    Great commentary on FiF. LOL! Game Show! with a side helping of education, and a LOT of drama as gravy. :)

    "So we are left with a lot of newer makers.... that just want to show their work."

    Sadly correct.

    Interesting. IG has become SO powerful, so one needs to offer something different and BETTER to retain satisfied members.

    This forum was KING for years. Now it's changed. Hence my original opinions in the post.
    WValtakis, Mike157, J. Doyle and 2 others like this.
  8. Mark Knapp

    Mark Knapp Dealer / Materials Provider Dealer / Materials Provider

    Dec 20, 2009
    Hey there Coop, I have found through he years that generally people need to bump into a high end knife maker about three times before a knife is bought. A purchase of a luxury item like a custom knife that costs as much as a good used car isn't done lightly. Especially when things are uncertain like now.

    What I mean is, a customer will call me on the phone and say, "I saw you at Blade in Atlanta last year, and you were in the "Blade Annual". Then I Googled "Musk ox horn knives" and your name popped up in something you said on "Blade Forums" so I decided to give you a call."

    The moral of the story is, (for us) you have to do everything. We have a FB page, IG, a web site, we submit to magazines with you (Thanks to you, we have been in 35 magazines and all but one of the Blade Annuals since something like 2009), we talk and post on Blade Forums and Knife Dogs, we've been to Blade East every year for 15 years as well as some of the other shows, and we have a retail store.

    You have to roll with the times. People will flock to every new media outlet that comes along and you have to go with them. It's almost like a full time job. :)
    Dawkind likes this.
  9. SharpByCoop

    SharpByCoop Enjoying the discussions Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 8, 2001
    ^^^ WISE words and experience right there. Bravo.

    I get it on the broadening of exposure and the time involved. It IS a full time job... HA!

    Thank you Mark.
    Dawkind likes this.
  10. Mark Knapp

    Mark Knapp Dealer / Materials Provider Dealer / Materials Provider

    Dec 20, 2009
    I think someone should create an ap so that you can post to the ap and it automatically posts on every platform that you have at the same time. It would save us a lot of time.
    Dawkind and Bigfattyt like this.
  11. Jason Fry

    Jason Fry KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 5, 2008
    Agree, Mark. Never stop marketing, and don't give up on any venue, this one included. Agree that interaction here has changed some, particularly in this subforum. Agree also that hosting issues are a pain as Jim said. I've been using YouTube a lot more, but have noticed that an imbedded video in this forum gets very little traction. Regardless of the knife, this forum crowd responds better to pictures than to video.

    I'm neutral on the $75. On the one hand, it's not much of an investment. On the other hand, we don't get much for it. Knives in the FS forum tend to get a few hundred views, quite a few "likes", and very few comments.
    Dawkind and WValtakis like this.
  12. SharpByCoop

    SharpByCoop Enjoying the discussions Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 8, 2001
    Hold my beer....

    There IS one which is what I use: I use Later.com.

    It is primarily an Instagram scheduler, yet I post to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, ALL with one writeup. (You can also add TikTok but only vids and it's in beta form. No Youtube.) Free version has frequency limitations, paid version has more. I pay.

    One writeup covers my all important IG and FB. It's a time saver, for sure. You have to truncate Twitter and Pinterest for text, but that's easy.

    Hit SEND and it does all of them at once.

    Jason: I know what you mean. The neophyte video creator tends to go longer than shorter. The FIRST thing I do when clicking on a (dreaded) video is look for the time stamp. HA!

    Famous quote: "If I had more time I would have written you a shorter letter." (Blaise Pascal)

    This said, I have done MANY <1min vids for IG, because that's their requirement. Fortunately.
    Dawkind and J. Doyle like this.
  13. J. Doyle

    J. Doyle Bladesmith/Knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 17, 2008
    There's a very good reason for that.....and Coop touched on it I see but I will reiterate....about 95% of them are VERY poorly done, plain and simple. They're usually blurry, the knife moves too fast to see anything worthwhile (intentional?) and they're usually WAY too long, again while showing nothing special. And all too often, they're accompanied by terrible music and/or equally terrible commentary.

    I don't mind a quick little "in progress" video on Instagram but YouTube videos of finished knives that are well done are rarer than clear photos of bigfoot.

    I'll take a clear quality picture to study any day, especially a pro shot like Coop's.
  14. Jason Fry

    Jason Fry KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 5, 2008
    I try to shoot videos under 1 min, and not to move the knife more than once every 10 seconds or so, and only when I'm talking about different parts of the piece. For me it's about the uploading, like Coop said. I have to put out YouTube content, and Instagram stands alone. I don't have much incentive to download from my phone, then upload to my host, then post a pic over here.
    Dawkind likes this.
  15. J. Doyle

    J. Doyle Bladesmith/Knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 17, 2008
    I'm assuming you were responding to me, at least in part? Well then, if I may......let's use your recent post here as an example:

    In these two videos, the knives aren't super clear, they aren't always in frame, they aren't held still enough to see them clearly and there really isn't anything at all that can be ascertained as far as fine details and fit/finish go. I see things that bring questions to my mind but they can't be answered with those videos.

    I totally understand the points made about the time commitment. But its YOUR work you're potentially selling/advertising. How much time and effort an individual spends doing that is up to them.

    But 99% of the videos out there cant replace CLEAR detailed pictures. If I was a buyer looking for a knife and a maker wasn't more interested in displaying his/her work than a quick and easy YouTube video, I'd pass and never look back.
    Bo NJ and Jason Fry like this.
  16. Mark Knapp

    Mark Knapp Dealer / Materials Provider Dealer / Materials Provider

    Dec 20, 2009
    Once again, I thought I had the next big thing and... guess what, someone already thought of it. Thanks, we'll look into it. It sounds like it's a little too techy for our feeble minds though. I really just want to make knives, but....
    Dawkind likes this.
  17. Richard338

    Richard338 Gold Member Gold Member

    May 3, 2005
    I like Coop photos, and Paranee videos(preferably with dogs), that's about it. To me a clear photo is best. We've seen countless examples of how a Coop photo showcases a piece so much better.
  18. Sam Wilson

    Sam Wilson

    Sep 3, 2012
    There is a reason many professional makers don't spend a ton of time on forums. Either they get told how they're "doing it wrong" by hobbyists who produce a couple of knives a year and do it for beer money or to further fund their hobby (nothing wrong with that), or get critiqued endlessly by people who have no interest in buying their knives in the first place.

    Meanwhile, they are selling everything they make and/or are backordered for some time. As a professional, why would you spend your time that way?

    If you want pointed advice on how to improve, go to a maker or makers who you trust and are successful in the business and find out what they know and make adjustments.

    Meanwhile, people on forums will argue with a brick wall. There's only so much time in a day, you know. Got to spend it where it counts-making more knives. That's why the forums are there in the first place.:)

    Dawkind and Bo NJ like this.
  19. TK Steingass

    TK Steingass Knifemaker - Buckeye Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 16, 2010
    I much prefer your IG videos blowing shit up John :D:eek:
    J. Doyle likes this.
  20. Ebbtide


    Aug 20, 1999
    IDK, maybe it's me but it seems like bf has gone from THE place to go in the knife world to a sort of beginner's site where you can start out, ask all the questions and become a knife maker. Now that's not necessarily a bad thing. But a far cry from having the top guns in the game here every day.
    The other platforms have watered the forums down, and FB about killed a lot of them.
    I don't instagram, I find the content too shallow and not involving. Endless scrolling is not for me.
    Dearly miss the days of Gaucho's tests & reviews. There were some stellar reviewers before youtube.
    Especially liked those that included great photos.
    Now we have video reviews with a minute of um's and uh's while the closed box is fiddled around or the knife is endlessly flicked....
    Give me a well written paragraph and a good photo or two any day.

    The world changes. I've got a great collection with no real holes to fill, and since I'm not monetizing the knife world in any way, I guess I'm content on the outside looking in.

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