Too picky? what do you think?

Nov 7, 2000
I recently got a custom folder that I waited a year for, from a famous maker.

Overall, it was very nice work, but I did notice that there were several small holes/pits in the ironwood scales...! Not bad, but on an expensive custom, I was expecting something at least without obvious flaws... When I wrote to the maker, I was told that it was a natural material and so wasn't covered by his guarantee and that was that (unless I wanted to dish out more bucks that is). Pretty business like through and through.

Didn't press the matter, but it did leave a sour taste to the purchase.

What do you all think?? Any similar experiences?

I guess it depends on how holeish it is. I got a few customs that have imperfections in them, but I always chalked it up to the individualisticalness of the item, since it's "1 of a kind" and not an assembly line item.
That's just me though, and I could be wrong... like the time I thought it'd be funny to see if Hulk Hogan would see the humor in me biting his hand "hello".

Off to...uuuhh... just off,
I remain,

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Doesn't sound like the way to treat a customer to me! What ever a customer, especially one that has waited a year, finds wrong with a knife, if it's legitimate, the maker should repair it. Did you ask the maker if he put several coats of super glue on the scales or had the wood stabilized???

Always think of your fellow knife makers as partners in the search for the perfect blade, not as people trying to compete with you and your work!
Buzzards gotta eat, same as worms!!!
Quite often custom knives will have small imperfections. This is not unusual. I do think the maker should have had a better bed side manor though. A willingness to at least check and see if something could be done seems to me, might have been a better way to handle things.
I hope this will not prevent you from enjoying your knife, and from making future purchases of custom knives. It sure would be a shame.

[This message has been edited by Keith Montgomery (edited 11-19-2000).]

[This message has been edited by Keith Montgomery (edited 11-19-2000).]
It is common to have flaws in Ironwood because of the burly nature of the material.

The quesion then in whether to leave the wood in its natural state or to overcoat it with glue to make it smooth and shiny like plastic. My personal preferance would be to leave the wood natural as long as the flaws are not structural in nature. Coating and finishing the wood to look like plastic takes away from the real reason for using the wood, its natural beauty.

If you don't like the natural finish why don't you send the knife back to the maker to be coated?


So far the Desert Ironwood I've used all has voids and imperfections in it. Even pieces that have been supplied by my customers as "presentation grade" were not without flaws. As George mentioned, this could be filled and polished but I also would rather leave it natural. I may be wrong but I don't think any stabilizing medium COULD be forced into that wood!! Stabilizing doesn't fill in all the voids in wood either. The stabilized Koa I use has lots of pits and voids in the "curly" pieces and none in the straighter grained ones. Everyone that sees it in my shop ususally pics the curly stuff!!
I try to make the customer aware of these things at the time the knife is ordered so there are no suprises.

Knives in STOCK!!
Thank you for all of your considerate replies..

I'm thinking of going to the local home depot or something and looking for wood filler to put into the pits.. Could you pls. advise what might be suitable? How does the crazy glue procedure go?

Another thing (if I could just vent a little more) that bugged me about the delivery was that there wasn't even a note enclosed. I'm not looking for profuse thanks or anything- just something like "enjoy your knife" or other that might differentiate it from a factory purch. This was only my 2nd custom order,so I don't have much point of reference (the other guy was LArry Chew and he was helpful and friendly) -- who are some other makers that are "customer friendly?" I'd like to consider them next time!


creek, this is a hard call, I don't think this maker did anything really wrong, he just didn't give you the customer service you were looking for, and it sounds like you won't be ordering from him again any time soon. I personally don't even want to know his name....but his intials would be helpful

I recently received a period Bowie from Max Burnett of OGG Custom Knives, and he told me before he sent it that there were some noticeable flaws and if I wanted them corrected to send the knife back. I responded, "Max, if it didn't have flaws I would send it back....LOL"

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Two questions:

What is 'too picky'

and second

What is 'a flaw'?

Flaws in custom knives are common. Finding perfect knifes is very rare.

It is not clear to me exactly what is wrong with the scales. Are these 'pits' very large? Are they an obvious part of the character of the wood? Or are they evidence of sloppy work? Natural materials will all have natural variation. That's part of what makes every knife unique.

There is a question of cost here. Good materials and close to perfect workmanship are to be expected for knives costing a lot of money. But not always. I just paid $900 for a knife that is far from perfect. But that is part of the charm of a forged knife. What do you consider expensive? What is perfect?

This also points out something about ordering knives from a maker or an internet dealer, you never really know if you will like the knife until you have it in your hands.

Unless you are very proficient with wood finishing, I would leave the pits alone. You will make a big mess if you don't know what you are doing, and scales patched with wood filler will never look right.

If you are really unhappy with the knife, and it is similar to work the maker does all the time (you did not ask for something unusual to be made), send the knife back and ask for your money. Not under warranty. Just because you are not satisfied. The maker will try to find a way to make you happy. Probably


[This message has been edited by Paracelsus (edited 11-19-2000).]
George, I agree with you 100%, I don't want my ironwood looking like plastic either.I coated this ironwood with superglue, and then took it thru 600 grit. .
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Always think of your fellow knife makers as partners in the search for the perfect blade, not as people trying to compete with you and your work!
Buzzards gotta eat, same as worms!!!
This brings up another question concerning buying handmades via the www. Do most makers have a return policy? Ie. if you don't like it, send it back and I'll refund your money minus shipping?

Always think of your fellow knife makers as partners in the search for the perfect blade, not as people trying to compete with you and your work!
Buzzards gotta eat, same as worms!!!
All of the custom makers I deal with have a "No questions asked" return policy.If you don't like it send it back and get your money back. My .02


have a"knife"day
It's clear this thread goes much deeper than some voids in ironwood scales. It has to do with makers who make the custom knife buying an experience rather than just forking over money.

Larry Davidson (new-ish maker) told me he feels the interaction between a client and the maker is really a two way street. There are makers who feel otherwise. While I understand the all natural materials have variation, and that knifemakers are only human, it would seem to me that a maker would want the customer to be happy (within reason). Custom knife buying for me isn't just about the knife, it's about interacting with a maker who I feel is worth supporting.

Sorry, if I've strayed too far.

Creek2, I'd say if you're not happy with the knife, and the maker will not accept it back for a refund or trade, maybe you could try selling it on the forum. Just a thought.


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I'm no professional with knives but can offer that if your not happy send it back. I would certainly not try to repair the wood on a custom knife. If you can't return it then find a pro to work on the knife for you. Even a professional woodworker could probably help.

One good thing is that you found this forum and these people can lead you to some very good and personable makers for your next custom purchase.

I recently purchased a semi-production knife from someone I found here on the forum and was treated very friendly. Even got a "thank you" card and a follow up e-mail making sure I recieved the knife ok and was happy with it. Couldn't have asked for better service. If you would like his name just e-mail me. I too feel customer service is important. Dave
Well, I dont know if I might be of any help, but my opinion is, if it is handmade, it will have some flaws, I know my knives almost always do, to me anyway. Natural materials are full of little imperfections and there is no way around that. That, to me, adds to the personality of a piece, unless the flaw is apparently unstable or detrimental to the appearance, form or function of the knife. It is a difficult thing for most makers to balance tact with determinant regard for what they believe to be an acceptable knife (considering their normal product). What may have sounded gruff to you may have just been a maker trying to tell you that you might be expecting too much, as in perfection. I have never made a perfect knife, and I'll be surprised if I ever do, all my knives are works in process, and I just have to abandon them for their next stage of life at some point. I dont know, I can see your side too, hopefully the rest of the knife has enough qualities for you to accept the personality of a few flaws.