My First Student?

Self Made Knives

Well-Known Member
Well, not sure I'm qualified to teach knifemaking, still feel like a newb myself, but what the heck. Matt is 18 and fresh out of high school. He heads to Marine Corps boot camp in August so how could I say no? Kindred spirit maybe? We talked a lot about symmetry, balance, steels, etc before getting started and once settled on a design, he cut it out my little bandsaw.
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Then we practiced on the belt grinder with a mild steel knife shape for a while before getting into the real blade steel. Profiling was fine, but he was nervous about the bevels and didn't really like the belt grinder at first. His grinds would get away from him quickly and he'd ask me to get it going again.

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So, I told him I had a filing jig and if he really wanted to, he could try making it completely by hand. So, we dug out the old jig I started with away he went.

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After about 20 minutes of that filing, he decided the belt grinder wasn't so bad after all! :D We got up to gluing the scales on today and he's going to come back over tomorrow after church to finish it up.
 

EdCaffreyMS

"The Montana Bladesmith"
My complements to you! After a very bad experience with an 18 year old last year, I raised the minimum age to 21 in my shop. I second the safety gear, and would add that you should also have a waiver of liability for each and every student to sign. I know that might sound picky to some, but over the years I've seen several knifemakers loose not only their shop, but their entire homes/property when a student got injured, and sued the knifemaker(s).
 

Chris Railey

KNIFE MAKER
Ed you hit on something I have been curious about. Thus far I have been careful to teach only one close friend who I trust not to sue. But I have been approached to teach adults one on one I do not know for pay. My question is does the waiver provide enough protection? I know most lawyers are good people but like any other profession there are some...
 

Rick Weaver

Well-Known Member
Ed's suggestion is spot on re the waiver. But it is not foolproof. Liability insurance is best, but a waiver at least gives your lawyer something to talk about in front of a jury. I don't think a waiver will ever excuse negligence or gross negligence on the part of an instructor, but that is just this lawyer's opinion.
 

EdCaffreyMS

"The Montana Bladesmith"
The waiver I use was draw up by a local attorney. Rick is right.... when I had mine drawn up, the Lawyer who did it told me "Nothing is foolproof, but this will cover you in 99.9% of all cases." It has already saved my bacon a couple of times, when a student did something stupid, and cut or hurt themselves while in my shop.... and mentioned something like "I can own this shop now".....then I reminded them of the waiver they signed. I've never had to test it in court, and pray I never have to.

When it comes to liability insurance, generally one of two things happens.....when you mention you're a knifemaker, they either flat refuse to offer you coverage..... or if you do get past that point, the premiums quoted are astronomical.

Everybody must weigh the level of cost versus risk you are willing to accept. If you don't at least have minimal protection is place, it's only a matter of time before something bad happens.
 

Gliden07

Well-Known Member
The waiver I use was draw up by a local attorney. Rick is right.... when I had mine drawn up, the Lawyer who did it told me "Nothing is foolproof, but this will cover you in 99.9% of all cases." It has already saved my bacon a couple of times, when a student did something stupid, and cut or hurt themselves while in my shop.... and mentioned something like "I can own this shop now".....then I reminded them of the waiver they signed. I've never had to test it in court, and pray I never have to.

When it comes to liability insurance, generally one of two things happens.....when you mention you're a knifemaker, they either flat refuse to offer you coverage..... or if you do get past that point, the premiums quoted are astronomical.

Everybody must weigh the level of cost versus risk you are willing to accept. If you don't at least have minimal protection is place, it's only a matter of time before something bad happens.
I read this and know it's TRUE but its disturbing also! The fact that you have to think like this really stinks!! Really, your in a shop with tools that have the potential to kill you and your gonna sue someone that is trying to teach you a new skill. This is one of the things wrong with our country many people trying to get rich overnight by screwing someone else over.
 

Self Made Knives

Well-Known Member
Ok, Matt came back today and we finished up. I knew the safety nazi's would be out! I had safety glasses for him and a respirator, but of course I snapped a pic with them not on. By the way, I wasn't paid for any of this and I provided all the materials.

Anyway, we worked until this evening on it and I whipped out a quick kydex sheath for him. He wanted to make the sheath too, but there just wasn't enough time, so I just had him watch me do that.

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Chris Railey

KNIFE MAKER
Fantastic knife Matt. Much better than my first attempt. Thanks to Ed and Rick as well for responding to my question you guys confirmed what I was thinking. In the job I am still forced to show up at (because I cannot make a living forging...yet) I teach many dangerous and difficult classes and we do waivers there too so I will have one at least proof read by a lawyer friend. Still not sure if I am going to teach or not but I think I will take Ed's advice and up the age to 21 and I will teach a stock removal class then a forging class in that order.
 

EdCaffreyMS

"The Montana Bladesmith"
For a long time I had my minimum age for students at 18. Younger required a parent to be with the individual throughout any class. That all changed last year when I had a single parent send her 18 year old son to me for a class. Long story short, I learned that the parent was just trying to get rid of the kid for a week, so she could go on vacation with friends.

When the individual arrived, it was a train wreck from the start..... the kid had no interest what so ever in forging or knives, and was just a pain to have in the shop. Classes at my place start at 8am each day, this kid NEVER showed up until 10am or later.... then couldn't understand why I was pushing to "get things done". By mid week I was ready to chop him into little pieces and bury him in the back yard. Friday afternoon finally rolled around, and he announced to me ..... "I talked to Mom....I'm gona stay for two more days." NOT! I had other things scheduled, so thankfully when Friday ended, so did the torture. As soon as he left, I changed the requirements on my website for classes to 21. That was a case on one bad apple spoiling the whole barrel.

I will still accept individuals below 21, but the requirement is that a parent be there the entire time with them, and my class fee is PER INDIVIDUAL.

Oddly enough, I have an 18 year old in the shop this week, but his Dad is here with him, and had no issue with the extra cost of the class. This kid is great! He's fairly quiet, but he's working hard, and going after it. Just when I believe I have teaching classes figured out, another "twist" pops up, and forces me to deal with it. Those of us who teach can only deal with what's placed in front of us, and try to adapt.

Anyone who isn't a close friend or relative is required to sign the waiver of liability if they are doing ANY work in my shop. As I said prior, it's certainly not foolproof, but it does offer a level of protection that I was able to afford.
 
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My wife and I have a gun shop, and have separate liability insurance from a company that specializes in insurance for gunsmiths. I am told 99% of claims against a gun shop are the same as any other retail business; that is slip and fall, etc. However, when the claim is for a gun related matter, the claims are usually high. We pay about $1100.00 per year. That is liability only.
 

Chris Railey

KNIFE MAKER
Again, thanks Ed for your response I now see that I should add a code of conduct clause to my waiver with a no refund for violations statement. I teach adults all of the time but in most cases they have to do what I say when I say it or face discipline. I have never thought of having such a problem with a paying student. Twenty one and up it is if I decide to teach...which most likely I will.
 

Self Made Knives

Well-Known Member
A lot of 18 year old boys probably really need our influence. Kids today just haven't learned the basic skills we all grew up with and thought were common sense. I used to be a Cub Scout leader with my oldest son and we had a couple kids that were being raised without fathers. I really tried to focus on getting them to work with their hands and make things.

Funniest thing to me with this boy, Matt, was that he had never seen a drill press chuck key. He's only used modern cordless drills with keyless chucks. Completely stumped him at first. Of course I had to rib him a little while he tried to figure it out. I have been asked many times to show someone how to make a knife, but this was the first time I gave in. He's a good kid and about to be a fellow Marine, so how could I say no.
 
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