One of the questions I get asked frequently is “how long does it take to make a knife?”

There are two kinds of time involved in knifemaking: hands on skill time, and waiting time.  For me a simple knife takes 4 to 6 hours of hands on time, and I’ve spent as many as 18-20 hours hands on for a complex knife.  It took me longer when my tools weren’t as good, and when I was less skilled. That said, you can’t make a 6 hour knife in 6 hours because some steps like tempering (2-3hrs) and glue drying (1-2 hrs) are necessary, but not hands on.  That’s why I work on them several at a time, so that when one’s drying, I can work on another one.

The other way to answer that question is to take it as “how long does it take to get one from the time an order is placed.”  Each maker will have their own process and time available to make knives, and most of us have an order list.  My usual answer is 6 to 8 weeks, although there are times that I’m 3-4 months out depending on how many orders are on the books.

Most of the cost of the knife is the skilled labor of the knifemaker.  Let me show you a couple of knives to illustrate what I’m talking about.  These are representative knives at representative price points.

Alright, since this is the pic forum.  Here are two data points to illustrate what I’m talking about.  ALOT of the cost of the knife is the skilled labor of the knifemaker.

$20 materials, $15 supplies (electricity, abrasives), 6 hours labor… $200 knife.

100_6005

$90 materials, $25 supplies, 14 hours labor… $500 knife…

Fry_140128-web

I actually make more per hour on small knives, because I can make them more efficiently.  On the other hand, I have the skills to make a knife that costs several thousand dollars, if I wanted to put that much time into it.  I usually don’t have the patience to work on the same knife for two or three weekends in a row, but it could be done.