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  #1  
Old 07-20-2016, 05:17 PM
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Andrew Garrett Andrew Garrett is offline
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Budget Creations

So, a coworker who has purchased from me before asks me to make him a camp knife. "Sure", I said "No problem", I said.

Then he hit me with the budget..., $100.

I told him I'd bring my design catalog in and let him find a profile he liked and we'd figure it out.
He wound up choosing my 'Highwayman' design--a very early effort for me, but one which I have never actually made. Most of my early stuff has been purged in one of several edits of the catalog which happens every few years. This one kept making the cut.

The problem..., It's about 12 inches long. I generally bill for one hour of labor for every inch overall. More if the grind is to be complex, i.e., a false edge, etc. This one had a full false edge to it.

Wanting to be accommodating, I got him up to $150 and accepted the challenge.

Now, people buy custom knives because they want a looker, or they want superior performance, or both. This was to be a user, so I committed myself to high performance. That meant materials I understood--cost effective materials at that.

I chose 1095 at 3/16" thick.

The handle was to be dark. That was his only wish. I pulled out some black canvas Micarta.

Stainless pins and a thong tube rounded out the materials.

The real trick to keeping the costs down was reducing labor time, but how?

First, I committed to a course finish, but I wanted it to look 'complete' and 'intentionally course'. So, I did my primary grinding with 60 grit as usual, heat treated, and did the finish grinding with 120 grit. Now normally, I would go through 220, 400, 600, and at least two stages of polishing (two additional belts and a third stage of polishing for a mirror finish on stainless), but for this knife--wanting to minimize labor time--I stopped at 120 when the grind lines were where I wanted them.

Next, I gave it a quick blast with 70 grit AO to wash out any obvious scratches, then it was on to the etching tank.

Now, I've never etched anything this course before. I didn't know what to expect. Well, what I got was pretty interesting. It almost resembles a military parkerized finish. You can still see the hamon and the harder steel at the edge is even darker that the spine. I like it.

The handle was taken to 220 grit and finished by hand. Canvas micarta can be finicky to finish well and may not be my first choice for a budget knife in the future, but it worked out fine. Normally, I'd go through 500 grit and polish my handles, but not for this Highwayman. 220 was it--more labor avoided.

In the end, I wound up with a very 'tactical' (hate that word) looking knife that has appropriately high levels of performance to offer. It should do well in the area of camp tasks and beyond.

I will add a simple Kydex pouch sheat to finish it off. I think $150 is a fair price for this knife. That's not a price point I want to stay at for large knives, but it taught me some tricks for offering quick-sell kiridashis, push daggers, and the like at gun & knife shows--for people who are intrigued by the world of custom knives, but balk at pulling the trigger on a $200 pocket blade. Maybe this will get their foot in the door.

I learned a lot with this project.
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Old 07-21-2016, 05:30 PM
pcpc201 pcpc201 is offline
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That's a Jim Dandy especially at that price!
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Old 07-21-2016, 06:05 PM
Doug Lester Doug Lester is offline
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Yep, that's a lot of knife for $150. I hope the buyer gets a lot of good use out of it.

Doug


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Old 07-22-2016, 12:44 PM
WNC Goater WNC Goater is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug Lester View Post
Yep, that's a lot of knife for $150. I hope the buyer gets a lot of good use out of it.

Doug
^This^ Well said, "A lot of knife for $150".

I'm coming to the point of realization that this is going to be a fun hobby that may put a few bucks in my pocket. But the reality is, when you consider equipment costs and especially time/labor involved, there's really not much is being made below the $200 price point. And even then it depends on features included like bolsters, spacers, steel type, etc.


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Old 07-22-2016, 03:24 PM
damon damon is offline
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WOW!!!
great looking blade. hope the guy realizes the deal he got.

ive taken on some challenges like that before too.... only I ended up blowing out my labor budget. :-/
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  #6  
Old 07-23-2016, 11:59 AM
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Don Robinson Don Robinson is offline
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I'd say that's a great looking knife for any price!
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Old 07-24-2016, 12:58 PM
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Andrew Garrett Andrew Garrett is offline
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Thanks fellas!
I just finished the simple sheath. Delivering tomorrow.


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1095, bee, blade, camp knife, custom, custom knives, design, edge, etching, grinding, hamon, handle, knife, knives, kydex, made, make, materials, military, mirror, pins, project, simple, steel, tactical


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