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The Outpost This forum is dedicated to all who share a love for, and a desire to make good knives, and have fun doing it. We represent a diverse group of smiths and knifemakers who bring numerous methods to their craft.

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  #1  
Old 05-18-2002, 06:26 PM
Dana Acker
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Full time, Part time, or Hobbyist--What's Your Story?


Just checking as to how many of whatever you are are there out there. I started as a hobbyist--took some lessons, had a forge made from a tractor trailer brake drum, and an anvil made from railroad rail. My son and I had made a few knives for ourselves, and when I took them to work with me, picked up my first order. My first sale was to a lady, who said she wanted something "Indian and feminine." Here's my interpretation of what she asked for: (SORRY--I cant get the image to show--if you want to see it, click on the link below, which will take you into my website. Click on "KNIVES," then look at the 5th or 6th one down, in the left hand column. It's the dagger with the ivory micarta handles and decorative pin, and the file-worked handle.)

www.ackerforge.com/af_mainframe.htm

That was the first knife I ever sold. I showed it to someone prior to delivery, and that person ordered a knife. That's the way it started, and the next thing I knew, I was a part time knifesmith.

For years I sold knives strictly from local orders. Then via the forums, I became acquainted with Alex and the CKD. I sold a couple of knives on the CKD (which, by the way is a good way to market your knives worldwide--look at the CKD main page for details or e-mail Alex at sales@atlantavirtual.com

Last year, after the destruction of the old NT Outpost forum, Alex invited us to opened this forum on the CKD, with all the safeguards to prevent another catastrophy. Knowing him to be a standup guy from all my dealings with him, I approached Alex about creating a website for me. I had built one of the freebie ones, which soon turned out to be a major headache and a drain on the wallet, and decided if I was going to do it right, I needed a professionally done site. Alex and his crew did me right, and www.ackerforge.com was born.

It was slow going for a couple of months, then orders started to trickle in. One from New Jersey, one from Texas, one from Washington state, one from Korea, and others. I usually never began a January with an order--having completed them all by Christmas. This year for the first time I began a January with 9 orders, which soon became 16. Ive been working against that number since January, and as I finish one or two, I pick up one or two more, so I'm keeping a constant load. I'm currently working on those and on an equal number of pieces I hope to show in the NC Custom Knifemaker's Guild knife show in September.

I'm not making any hasty decisions, as I'm a single parent with a son getting ready to enter college, but I'm seeking legal and accounting advice on incorporating and going full time. Heck, I'm already putting full time hours in, and if the orders remain consistent, and the show goes well, it might be time to say "Sayanara" to my day job, and get on in the direction my heart has been leading me all these years.

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  #2  
Old 05-18-2002, 07:08 PM
nifeman
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Hey Dana, first let me be the first to say Good Luck. Right now I'm a struggling hobbyist , but as time goes on I'm hoping to make it as a full time bladesmith. I told my better half who is quite supportive, that if I knew 20 yrs. ago what I know now - I would have been a blacksmith/ bladesmith. Just remember nothing ventured, nothing gained...Bud
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  #3  
Old 05-18-2002, 08:13 PM
ghostdog
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hobbyist


Dana, go for it man. There are no certanties in this life.

Me I am a hobbyist but my hobby has paid for itself in sales and specialty work. I don;t think I would want to be a full time bladesmith but a pro-smith who makes good blades would be very kewl, I really enjoy the knives but I enjoy the drive hooks and candle holders and log dogs and heat treating cold chisels and making plant hangars and carving chisels equally well.. I am like Bud, i wish I had paid attention to the metal instaed of blowing powder up my nose, but then again i wouldn't be the person I am today either. And I don't mean Bud blew stuff up his nose.

ghostdog
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  #4  
Old 05-18-2002, 08:50 PM
Lamnia Artifex
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Hobbyist


I am starting out as just a hobbyist. I am gonna make a few basic knives for myself, some nice ones for myself, some for mt friends and family, and hopefully, some for the world. I like to work at art type things, soemthing I can hold and say I made this is very satisfying. ANd knowing that someone else is going to get it and like it too is a big part of why I am doing this. I hope it pays itself off after a while, but that's not very important to me. I hope all goes well for you Dana, and that your decision whatever it may be is the right one. To the rest of you all, good luck in all your ventures, whatever they may be.
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  #5  
Old 05-18-2002, 10:05 PM
Diamond G Knives
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Re: Hobbyist


Good Luck and God's speed to you Dana!

I am a part time maker, who is hampered big time by my other
job! My "Long Term" plan is to work 6months in the Nuclear outage scene and then work for 6 mo in the knife shop! I had the great luck and privlidge of working for Jimmy Lile for 2 summers. That did it for me! I had to make knives! He was a master of his craft and a man dearly missed. I wish I hadn't been 15 and so un attentive!!!!

I dont know that I would want to be a fulltime smith, Id hate to take somthing that I am so passionate about and make it my job! I would prefer to be semi retired and make knives to pay for my trips to knifeshows!!!

Hope all goes well for you Dana. My heart soars when I se someone following their dream
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  #6  
Old 05-19-2002, 05:57 AM
Dana Acker
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Re: Hobbyist


I get a lot of powder up my nose these days--except it's all black. Nothing like a good snort of coal dust to get one moving in the morning.
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  #7  
Old 05-19-2002, 06:26 AM
MaxTheKnife
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Re: Hobbyist


Hey Dana, I look at it like this. Becoming a full-time knifemaker/bladesmith isn't the most profitable thing I could have ever done in my life. But it is the most rewarding and beneficial thing I could have chosen to do at the time. And it has changed my life for the better. I don't make a very good living but the kind of work I do will never go out of style. People will always need a blacksmith and they'll always need knives.

A long time ago my great Uncle Harvey Burnett gave me some advice about finding work that pans out. He said "always choose a line of work that fills an everyday need for folks". He was right at the time but I was young enough that I didn't truly understand what he meant. He was actually referring to what happened during the big depression of the 30's and I didn't know it. During those hard years the only people that survived comfortably were farmers, people with self-sufficient gardens and people who could make and sell something from raw materials.

When and if the world ever comes crashing down around our ears I think I'll be set for life with my vocation. I will go from being an obscure unknown blacksmith/bladesmith to one of the most important people in my small community. Almost overnight, all the scrap steel and iron I've stockpiled over the years will change it's value from 15 cents a pound to a value higher than that of gold. And people will be able to pay me with more valuable scrap steel, iron and non-ferrous metals as trade materials. Also garden vegetables and stock animals etc...

So, you could do alot worse Dana. Think about all those 9 - 5 workaday people with dead end jobs that will just go away when our economy collapses. Have faith in your ability and just forge on ahead bro. I don't think you'll ever regret it. You know you'll never be rich as well as I do. But, the peace of mind you'll have will far outweigh piles of gold, silver and jewels that in the end mean nothing. We are the salt of the earth, us smiths. I doubt there will ever be a time when our skills aren't highly sought after and valued by the vast majority of our 'people'. Forge on bro.
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  #8  
Old 05-19-2002, 09:40 AM
The Flaming Blade
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This is so wierd. I thought of this thread this morning before I read the forum !!!

I started as a student with the goal of making a living at it.
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  #9  
Old 05-19-2002, 11:56 AM
Riffiki
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Parttime or Hobbyist
I helped my dad make the knife he took to 'Nam in '67 since we could not afford the Randal #2 he wanted. Heat treated that one in the kitchen oven, it was from a file.
Later I made a few more, left a few in the Amazon Jungle, and in '85 a friend introduced me to the forge(he needs a whupping! ) About '96 I met Tai and got some help from him
at that time I was the blacksmith at The Tombstone Smithy.
Then life happened now I am back. I have some manzenita for the handle and coil spring for the blade of the scavenger knife, we shall see how that turns out.
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  #10  
Old 05-19-2002, 12:23 PM
Cactusforge
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I started as a hobby in 1989 while trucking in 1996 I had to get off the road and have been full time ever sence, at least working as much as I want to. Being retired, knifemaking gives me something to do that I like and keeps me out of trouble. Gib
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  #11  
Old 05-19-2002, 05:54 PM
armed and hammered4
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I guess i ended up almost an overnight bladesmith after my first knife, which was sold, (wish i kept it though) word a mouth spreads and I'm taking orders from people left and right, realizing youre time is worth money is also very important, sure some potential customers will be detereed when they think they can get a cheapo knife made but you refuse to make a crappy product (a good rep is one of youre best selling points) a good customer will be willing to spend money on a quality product and will in turn tell other potential good customers, So far I've made everything from walking sticks to releif carvings, from friction folders to bowies to brass knuckles hopefully one day il be in youre shoes dana
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  #12  
Old 05-20-2002, 08:33 AM
Dana Acker
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If you end up in my shoes, your feet will smell bad.
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  #13  
Old 05-20-2002, 01:46 PM
MaxTheKnife
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What size do you wear Dana? I don't mind the smell so much
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  #14  
Old 05-22-2002, 02:06 AM
Tim Wagendorp
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hobbyist


As so many makers, it all started with that first pocketknife my father gave me when i was about 7. During my childhood (I still consider me as a child ) I collected knives. Being a university student, I became aware of the existance of good quality knives (both industrial and hand made). At the same time, I became aware that my budget wouldn't allow me to buy these. I was soo tired of all the inexpensive junk knives I bought that I decided: I'll make them myself. I bought a knifemaking book and bar of D2 steel and just gave it a try. That was 5 years ago. Since than I consider myself a hobbyist knifemaker. From time to time I attend a craftsmarket or knifeshow and sell some of my knives. Look at it as a self paying hobby

tim
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  #15  
Old 05-22-2002, 04:29 AM
AchimW
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hobbyist


I started in fall 1995. That was when i first grabbed a hammer and started forging blades.

I am definitely a hobbyist and i still see myself as a beginner. I work on my knives about 15 to 25 hours a week. An intense hobby, this is.

Achim
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