Custom Knife Essentials: A Basic Guide to the Custom Knives Market
Whether you’re looking to load up on custom knives as practical tools, showpieces or long-term investments, it’s hard to know where to start to find the best knives. There are many pitfalls to avoid when putting down your hard-earned cash for custom folding knives or handmade fixed knives. But it can be done, and affordably. Let this excerpt from Knives 2016 be your guide.
Yes, you can build an impressive collection of custom knives—and not break the bank.
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Understand the Knife Market
The fit, finish and flow of Tim Steingass’s “Presentation Bastion Dagger” belie his value pricing, while his ability to create a wide range of knives has enthusiasts continually looking at his work. (SharpByCoop image)
The idea of custom knives as investments has generally been received with looks and comments of derision. I was a knife user and became a collector who embraced a mantra. As I paid for these knives, I invested a substantial amount of money into them. My introduction to the aftermarket was the investment of $10,000. No single person or group of people conspired to create the loss I encountered. The loss occurred because of my lack of understanding of the custom knife market. Perhaps the next few paragraphs can give you a better insight into the market that is custom knives.
Custom knives comprise two large market sectors – fixed blades and folders. These increase or decrease in size as smaller market sectors cycle within the larger market sectors. Prior to the Internet, a market sector could remain relatively unchanged for a decade or more. Today the cycles are there but the knives in the smaller market sectors move in and out of favor much quicker. Within those cycles are even smaller sectors. Those are the trends (see related section in this book) that can last anywhere from a couple months to a couple years. The matrix gave me insight into the pricing of custom knives, and, to be honest, with the choice between two knives of equal quality and materials from makers of equal skill and reputation, more often than not I bought the one that was less expensive.
The issue of buying what I liked nagged at me, as I knew from my own personal experience that it would cost me money in the long run. This made no sense to me before I created my matrix and even less sense to me after. Given there are thousands of knives available worldwide at any given time, why would you buy a knife for your collection knowing, if you went to sell it, you would lose money? Conversely, the question then has to be asked why a maker would price their knives knowing that they won’t sell for that price.
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