What to do with subpar knives

Discussion in 'Shop Talk - BladeSmith Questions and Answers' started by aarolar, Jan 18, 2020.

  1. aarolar


    Mar 21, 2010
    So I'm new to making knives and I am trying to get better at grinding bevels. During this process I am producing fully functional blades but they all have minor flaws that make me unwilling to sell them to the public. What do I do with these blades until I start turning out blades I am happy with? Give them away? Throw them in a drawer and forget about them?

    Thanks Aaron
  2. Willie71

    Willie71 Warren J. Krywko. Part Time Knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 23, 2013
    Use them, put them in your toolbox, give them to people as testers. I have a bunch of knives out there like that.
    OogieBoogie, hawkhead, kmf600 and 2 others like this.
  3. TheEdge01


    Apr 3, 2015
    I’m in a similar situation myself. My wife enjoys cooking, so I gave her a couple of my knives to test. I made a small machete and gave it to my brother in law. You could keep a few of them around so you could have something to look back on in a year or so to see how much you have improved.
    hawkhead likes this.

    BITEME Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 14, 2007
    if your really unhappy with them put them in an edc kit all different size pieces to use as ferro rod scrapers,heck i'll give you my address and i'll use them.You can use them in edc kits for lots of things,just having an emergency sharp edge can be useful ,I'm already using old Schrade & Victorinox blades and backsprings they throw spectacular sparks
  5. navman

    navman Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 4, 2013
    Give them to friends and family, so long as the issues are only cosmetic and will not effect function. I have done this many times, and all ha e been well received and appreciated.
    TheEdge01, hawkhead and Branson1369 like this.
  6. 12345678910


    Jul 13, 2009
    You could try to draw file and hand sand the mistakes
    kmf600, TheEdge01 and hawkhead like this.
  7. drew1972


    Oct 17, 2015
    Turn them into shop knives
  8. ten-six


    Mar 11, 2017
    Torture test them. Baton with them. Drive one through a log like a spike with a hammer. Try to reharden them. How hard can you get them? When exactly will the edge chip? When will it roll? Why?

    Learn from them. Learn your mistakes, learn your limitations, learn from experimenting with them.
  9. i4Marc


    Oct 19, 2011
    Wind chimes. :D
    V-1, SBuzek, seanj and 3 others like this.
  10. Drew Riley

    Drew Riley Riley Knife and Tool Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 17, 2007
    I have a pile of blades that I've ended up not being happy with for one reason or the other. Some of them I've been able to fix as I got better at grinding. Others were turned into shop knives, ground into scribes or scrapers, or used to practice new techniques on. Some times I'll use the edge of one to refresh the grit on a ceramic belt that's glazed over. Every now and again I'll break one and inspect the grain, or see what kind of flex I can get out of the blade, or test different edge geometries.

    I'll add that 99% of blades I end up demoting to the crap pile are already heat treated, as most of my grinding is done post heat treat.
    allenkey likes this.
  11. halfsunknives

    halfsunknives Brian Hazen, Half Sun Knives, Montana Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 17, 2016
    Testing to destruction will teach you a lot about your knives. Grain checking is always useful. Drilling out pins and knocking handles off will inform you about the failure modes of your epoxy and give you some practice rehandling a knife before you have to do it for a customer. Turning them into shop knives will give you hands on long term information about the surface stability of your finishes.
  12. scott kozub

    scott kozub Basic Member Basic Member

    Jan 1, 2018
    I just started playing around with serrations and was glade I had some scrappers laying around.

    I also like thanking then supper thing to see what the can handle by torture testing them.
  13. john april

    john april KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 27, 2006
    i used to give them to friends and family for fishing and hunting, and for general purpose chore knives. i still have my first crappy knife. it is actually important because i use it for things i do not want to use my nice ones on, and don't have to worry about scratching it.
  14. daizee

    daizee KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 30, 2009
    The knifemaker ends up with all the weird stuff. o_O The good stuff sells.
    It took me a year before I was comfortable that I could:
    1) make a knife that achieved the original design
    2) grind reasonably even bevels with intention
    3) reliably achieve a zero-belt-scratch finish

    For that first year I didn't plan on selling anything, but gifted several early pieces.
    The rest are all kicking around somewhere.
  15. TexasActual

    TexasActual Aaron Lawvere - Lawvere & Son Knife Co. Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jan 16, 2020
    Because of the time I take on each knife, I don't have a ton of screw ups. In a lot of ways, there aren't a lot of blades that are total losses, just smaller knives, or different grinds. With that being said, I have had a few that snapped due to my own clumsiness, or ended up incomplete for one reason or another. Those mistakes, to me, are profound, and the ones I don't want to forget. So they are either hung up for me to see and reflect on, or stowed away to find and remind myself. If it's minor flaws that make them not sellable, I'd say give them away or torture test them, but I just keep mine around for trophies of idiocy, and it helps me become a better maker.
  16. scott kozub

    scott kozub Basic Member Basic Member

    Jan 1, 2018
    I'm hesitant about giving away sub par knives. Even though they may be to friends and family, eventually they will get shown to someone and I don't want people thinking that's what my work is like. That's why I prefer to torture test them or scrap them. I even cringe at some of my earlier knives that I did sell.
    allenkey, Hengelo_77 and Ken H> like this.
  17. Ken H>

    Ken H>

    Dec 31, 2011
    To me a BIG concern of giving away subpar knives are they will ALWAYS be out there advertizing your work for years. I gave away a few knives that I thought were pretty good when I first started. After a couple yr I looked at the knives that friends had and was embarassed, made them a replacement knife and took the old one away because I didn't want it out there. Even without your name/logo the knife will still tend to follow you. I'm in the "keep subpar knives" group because of that.d
    TexasActual likes this.
  18. Natlek


    Jun 9, 2015
    An experienced knife maker is the one who was made every possible mistake.....several times we don t learn from the first one :D I have made over the years about fifty of them , proofs for that is all around my shop , so I m novice :) But , when today I found one of my mistake on shop floor.......I make some good knife from that, most time it is now smaller but :p
  19. Willie71

    Willie71 Warren J. Krywko. Part Time Knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 23, 2013
    mark them as tester, or blemish.
  20. golfer1


    Nov 24, 2016
    Make em smaller, I have a lot of "smaller" knives, plus what everyone else says.

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