Why Do Custom Knives Cost So Much? - Part 1
Pricing is an area that I (and many makers) get a lot of questions about. In the land of next day shipping and bottom dollar prices, few people understand the craft and sheer amount of work that flows behind the scenes in a maker's shop.
Sure, I have a large family to support and need to make more than $1.57/hour. Would you expect someone in any other profession to do their best work for a few bucks (or less) an hour? Hopefully not. But mainly, there's a lot more to making a custom knife than most realize.
To a small business craftsman, most of our heart and mind go into the creation process. Not only are we working on your custom in the shop, but we're engineering in our heads as we drive. We're problem solving on our dinner napkin while our kids watch. We're brainstorming in the middle of the night while we lie in bed wide awake. We're researching materials and prices before breakfast. And that doesn't even count all the mental energy needed to effectively run a business (which takes an entire second person in our outfit).
What are we thinking about? You, that's what. The size of your hand and how the knife handle needs to be shaped for maximum comfort. The placement of the sheath on your belt so you can easily access your tool. The geometry of the blade edge to be of the most use in chopping your meat and veggies. How best to teach you how to care for this heirloom that you're investing in. How to improve our communication and customer service to knock your socks off. It's not an 8-to-5 gig. It's a consuming passion.
And we love it.
"But I can buy a knife 'like that' online for $50."
Yes, you can. And if price is the main factor, you should. But it won't be custom, it won't be made by hand, it won't be high-quality, and it likely won't even be American-made. Don't get me wrong, these stores have their place. If you want an item yesterday for the lowest price possible, shop at a big box store. But if you want something high-quality straight from the maker's hands themselves, support a craftsman.
Next up, we are going to be pulling back the curtain and breaking down a price quote for an example custom knife to show you the myriad of factors that go into every J. M. Stevens custom. You may be surprised.