First Knife Order - need a few opinions please

Chris Railey

KNIFE MAKER
Agreed. Great point. There's only one Sean Jones and that's what you're selling. We are handmade knifemakers. We aren't distributors selling raw materials at a markup. We sell value of creation. Your costs have nothing to do with the price. Value determines price. Your costs only determine your profit, which has nothing to do with the value of the finished creation.
That there is deeeeeeeep!
 

Sean Jones

Well-Known Member
Agreed. Great point. There's only one Sean Jones and that's what you're selling. We are handmade knifemakers. We aren't distributors selling raw materials at a markup. We sell value of creation. Your costs have nothing to do with the price. Value determines price. Your costs only determine your profit, which has nothing to do with the value of the finished creation.
John and Chris that's very good to know. In some ways I need to lose the IT mind set. There's not another Sean Jones (well actually there is but that's a different story).
 

Smallshop

KNIFE MAKER
"Next.....this if for anyone just starting to take orders..... YOU HAVE GOT TO SAY NO SOMETIMES. Just about all first time custom knife buyers have the "pie in the sky" ideas/dreams of the knife they want, but all too often have no idea what they are asking for."

That is great advise.

If the guy walks after discussing price...DO NOT get discouraged. Everyone has a different idea of what a quality custom knife is worth. I got a FB message a month ago that read "I am ready to commission a knife!"

I explained that I don't do commission work (but I do have some basic options) and I am currently making a batch of Bowies and they cost x amount. He wanted a Bowie but was hoping to spend what the sheath maker makes the sheath for (I do not tack on anything to the sheath). His final line was "Wow! I guess I'll keep saving till I can afford one..."
I was bummed that someone thought a custom knife/sheath should only be worth what the sheaths cost.....

The next day I got two orders....Price? no problem....(this is going to be a subjective roller-coaster...lol.)

Enjoy the fact that you are now a professional knife maker.
 

Chris Railey

KNIFE MAKER
Pricing my work is where I struggle the most. I do not know why it causes me so much internal stress. Lately I have taken to making a rate list that lists "almost everything" I can do and the price for each. Last week, someone wanted a knife and instead of stressing over the price I went down my list, added the cost for what they wanted and bam, here is my price. It was much easier and I am way less likely to forget to include something in the price. The list is to guide me it is nothing for the customer to see it just helps me quickly figure a project out. Somethings, like making your own Damascus I have found hard to price because things vary with making Damascus. Not that I ever have a failed forge weld, but I hear from other smiths that it happens (Lol) so how do you figure that into your costs?
 

chrisstaniar

Well-Known Member
I've done a few cleavers and still have a few more laying around I need to finish up. Your steel choice is fine. I think I have 1095 for mine but no diff there really. Build the cleaver to be tough, chopping bone, etc. is rougher than normal knife usage. So don't get too extravagant on handle material combos, etc. It's gonna get bashed around, laid in goo, etc. It's not supposed to be a show piece!

As for heat treat, I wouldn't go crazy on a forge. I use Paul Bos/Paul Farner (Buck Knives) and he's heat treated several cleavers for me. The price is fair and gets even better when you send 20 knives. Ends up being about $6/knife when you include shipping. Cleavers and bigger blades can add a little more but not much.

Another IT knife maker eh? lol me too.
 

Randy Lucius

Well-Known Member
"Next.....this if for anyone just starting to take orders..... YOU HAVE GOT TO SAY NO SOMETIMES. Just about all first time custom knife buyers have the "pie in the sky" ideas/dreams of the knife they want, but all too often have no idea what they are asking for."

That is great advise.
As Smallshop said this is great advice. I had to turn down work just yesterday. Had a new customer that received one of my knives and wanted to order 50 for Christmas presents for his vendors and customers. He’s a local businessman and a good guy. Was willing to pay very well for them. Had to explain to him that my yearly output is only around 40 knives and there was no way I could produce that many. I make knives because I enjoy it and the people associated with the craft. I’m not letting it turn into a stress filled job that I hate.
 

Chris Railey

KNIFE MAKER
As Smallshop said this is great advice. I had to turn down work just yesterday. Had a new customer that received one of my knives and wanted to order 50 for Christmas presents for his vendors and customers. He’s a local businessman and a good guy. Was willing to pay very well for them. Had to explain to him that my yearly output is only around 40 knives and there was no way I could produce that many. I make knives because I enjoy it and the people associated with the craft. I’m not letting it turn into a stress filled job that I hate.
Wow, that takes discipline. Nice.
 

MTBob

Well-Known Member
I'll take a bit of a contrarian approach to this subject. Your cost has nothing to do with the actual selling price of your knife. Sure, it's worthwhile knowing what the input costs are, both direct and indirect. You might view that cost as a "floor" or breakeven cost. But, what you charge for your product should be driven by what the market will pay, not what it cost you to make it. The "market" doesn't care what it costs you to make the knife, it will buy your product on the basis of real and perceived value, when compared to other similar choices. Lots more can be said about pricing and sales. Don't fall into the trap of using your cost as the price of the product.
 

John Wilson

Well-Known Member
I'll take a bit of a contrarian approach to this subject. Your cost has nothing to do with the actual selling price of your knife. Sure, it's worthwhile knowing what the input costs are, both direct and indirect. You might view that cost as a "floor" or breakeven cost. But, what you charge for your product should be driven by what the market will pay, not what it cost you to make it. The "market" doesn't care what it costs you to make the knife, it will buy your product on the basis of real and perceived value, when compared to other similar choices. Lots more can be said about pricing and sales. Don't fall into the trap of using your cost as the price of the product.
AMEN! 1000x
 

Randy Lucius

Well-Known Member
I'll take a bit of a contrarian approach to this subject. Your cost has nothing to do with the actual selling price of your knife. Sure, it's worthwhile knowing what the input costs are, both direct and indirect. You might view that cost as a "floor" or breakeven cost. But, what you charge for your product should be driven by what the market will pay, not what it cost you to make it. The "market" doesn't care what it costs you to make the knife, it will buy your product on the basis of real and perceived value, when compared to other similar choices. Lots more can be said about pricing and sales. Don't fall into the trap of using your cost as the price of the product.
Completely agree! Some knives sell for $25,000 and up. Did it cost $10,000 to make. No way. As MTBob said so well it’s based on perceived value. I’m slowly increasing the price of my knives and I’ll continue to do so until sales slow down. Then I’ll have a better idea of the value of my knives in my local market.
 

Sean Jones

Well-Known Member
I'll take a bit of a contrarian approach to this subject. Your cost has nothing to do with the actual selling price of your knife. Sure, it's worthwhile knowing what the input costs are, both direct and indirect. You might view that cost as a "floor" or breakeven cost. But, what you charge for your product should be driven by what the market will pay, not what it cost you to make it. The "market" doesn't care what it costs you to make the knife, it will buy your product on the basis of real and perceived value, when compared to other similar choices. Lots more can be said about pricing and sales. Don't fall into the trap of using your cost as the price of the product.
Very true. And the reason that a Van Gogh painting might sell for millions when it cost the artist a pittance of that to make.

More food for thought. Thanks
 

MTBob

Well-Known Member
I’m slowly increasing the price of my knives and I’ll continue to do so until sales slow down.
Interesting comment. There is a pricing theory that says the price you place on your product determines the value. If you say it's worth $500, then you are saying to the market that's the value you place on it. If on the other hand, you say it's worth $1500, now the market may perceive it as a more valuable product. If you place a low price on your product, the market may think it is cheap. With this in mind, as you place a higher price on the product, it then becomes important to sell quality and benefits (NOT features) to differentiate your product from those that are truly cheap.
(Features vs Benefits - a feature is pretty looking handle. A benefit is that the handle is shaped for the purpose intended and constructed in a way that it will last forever.)
 
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