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Brian K.
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PostPosted: Mon 09 Feb, 2009 9:28 am    Post subject: Swordless Custom Scabbard Orders         Reply with quote

Hello myArmoury community!

I'd like to discuss with everyone something I've been pondering for a while now. As many of you know, when it comes to ordering custom scabbards the sword has to be shipped to me (or any vendor for that matter) in order to make a custom wood core fit the blade. This increases the cost of the overall order not only in shipping weight, but in shipping insurance as well. The sword has to be shipped twice, and the customer has to worry about potential shipping disasters.

I've been thinking it sure would be nice if when a customer inquired about having to send their sword or not, I could just say it isn't necessary, I just need a deposit. As a fellow sword collector, I've been contemplating more lately to collect the most popular swords that are appealing to me in order to accomplish this goal. I have also been putting into thought along the same subject of coming up with a economical line of scabbards for the same swords I can make without the customer sending their own sword for.

Essentially the two downfalls to this is I would be making a scabbard fit my particular blade, and therefore if there were any subtle differences in the blade, a proper fit wouldn't be possible due to unforeseeable friction spots. So a scabbard would have to be made a little more 'loose', but not too bad. Probably a blade that would slide out if held upside down. Next would be that I couldn't take pictures with the sword it was intended for, which means for me I wouldn't have pretty pictures that have scabbards matching the sword furniture in color.

Essentially, I'd like some input & thoughts on this as far as pro's & con's go.

Thanks,

Brian

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Jim S.




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PostPosted: Mon 09 Feb, 2009 9:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hey Brian,

I have admired your work both here and at SBG. I think that this is an excellent idea, especially in my particular circumstance. I reside in Guatemala, and shipping/customs/IVA costs are "sky high". This would save an enormous sum for me, and remove that risk of "shipping disasters".

But, in cases that you do not have in-hand the particular sword that one might need a scabbard, maybe I/we could send to you as many dimensional measurements as possible, so that you could fabricate a scabbard as close as possible? I realize the risks here, but that would be a part of the agreement between you and the customer. The customer would be required to recognize that the scabbard would possibly not fit the blade perfectly. Knowing the quality of your work, it is an agreement that I'd readily accept.

Jim
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Brian K.
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PostPosted: Mon 09 Feb, 2009 10:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jim S. wrote:
Hey Brian,

I have admired your work both here and at SBG. I think that this is an excellent idea, especially in my particular circumstance. I reside in Guatemala, and shipping/customs/IVA costs are "sky high". This would save an enormous sum for me, and remove that risk of "shipping disasters".

But, in cases that you do not have in-hand the particular sword that one might need a scabbard, maybe I/we could send to you as many dimensional measurements as possible, so that you could fabricate a scabbard as close as possible? I realize the risks here, but that would be a part of the agreement between you and the customer. The customer would be required to recognize that the scabbard would possibly not fit the blade perfectly. Knowing the quality of your work, it is an agreement that I'd readily accept.

Jim


Unfortunately, I can't make a wood core to just measurements. My current process is designed around form fitting to a blade, with many steps of shaping & sanding to assure of a proper fit. Something I can't do with just numbers. The only solution I would have for this would be to have on hand a blade of similar dimensions but slightly larger to assure of fit. With so many different dimensions to a blade to calculate, I couldn't possibly make anything based on numbers.

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Mike Harris




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PostPosted: Mon 09 Feb, 2009 11:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Brian,

I'd chime in with this: I have had one scabbard made this way, the Albion Crecy scabbard/belt that Dan Dickinson recently completed for me. I originally bought the Crecy from him, as he had an extra. So I asked him to make a scabbard to fit his Crecy. When the scabbard arrived I could barely force the sword into the scabbard all the way. However, the simple solution was to wrap the top quarter of the blade with 3-4 layers of clear packaging tape and force the sword completely into the scabbard. Thus wrapped, I left the sword fully seated in the scabbard for a week. When I removed it and removed the tape the fit was perfect. It has remained so ever since. The dimensions were ever-so-slightly different between our two swords.

That's an example of how even two swords that were made near the same time, from Albion, can have slight variances. One possibility would be to make scabbards slightly loose to your swords, and provide a wool strip to be added to the scabbard's mouth, at the customer's discretion? Maybe? Just a thought...
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Matthew G.M. Korenkiewicz




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PostPosted: Mon 09 Feb, 2009 1:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This is a really good idea !

Like Mr. Harris I had virtually the same experience with my Albion St. Maurice. Nevertheless,
I too had to force the blade into place. My solution was a bit different however since I use wax
to keep and clean certain blades; after doing so the blade slid in all the way but was still snug.
I gotta admit I like Mr. H's idea better ! In fact a scabbard-maker could DO that to make up for the
variance in the same blades; and always note that there might still be a slight difference in the fit.

I think, given the quality of your work, many wouldn't mind a bit of looseness; nor saving some $$$.

Of course some swords you'll have to send no matter what ...
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Brian K.
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PostPosted: Mon 09 Feb, 2009 1:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The problem with 'forcing' something inside that is too tight is you risk splitting the two slats completely apart by breaking the bonded seam on the two edges of the wood core. I've done something similar only with a wooden dowel rounded at the tip (or tapered) and pushed down inside the scabbard and left for a few days.

If you force something too big, I guarantee you will split the wood core into two halves.

Back to the main subject, I would be willing to try making a scabbard loose enough to fit various swords of the same blade. It's just a matter of being content with having a 'loose' scabbard. It's also a lot to think about in regards to purchasing a sword I really like, versus buying a sword I basically purchased just to offer the opportunity for what we've discussed here.

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Greyson Brown




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PostPosted: Mon 09 Feb, 2009 2:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan, et al.,

Having done a scabbard this way, I understand some of the issues you are looking at. I used my Albion Steward in Colorado to make a scabbard for a gentleman in Wisconsin who also had a Steward. I was worried that, even if the swords were close enough, any differences in humidity could cause a disaster. When he got the scabbard, he said that the sword fit fine, but I still worry occasionally that it wasn't as good as it could have been. I haven't heard from him in about a year, so I'll assume things are fine.

My thoughts would be that this is something that should not be offered as a "standard" or "normal" option. Even with all the caveats in the world, someone will say "if he offers it, then he should make sure it is up to standard." Read "my standards" for the last part. If you want to deal with that, you can, but I don't see any reason to subject yourself to the criticism of people who did not pay attention to the warning labels.

You might still consider offering this option on the down-low (<sarcasm> that's right, I'm street </sarcasm>). Basically let people you know and trust know that you can do scabbards without the sword being shipped. You might end up doing a decent amount of this kind of work due to word of mouth, but it will hopefully be people who are not going to give you grief if the scabbard is a little loose. This could also avoid the issue of feeling that you "have" to own a certain sword just because it is popular in the rest of the collecting community. Even though you are taking money for this, it is still essentially a hobby for almost everyone (except Aaron Schnatterly), and feeling obligated to purchase certain swords could be a bit of a kill-joy.

Just my thoughts.

-Grey

Edit: I should learn to spell/proofread.

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Last edited by Greyson Brown on Mon 09 Feb, 2009 3:59 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Joe Fults




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PostPosted: Mon 09 Feb, 2009 3:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

So I once had a really nice custom scabbard for an Albion Regent.

Then I got an Earl.

Same blade right? Should work with the same scabbard right? At least that was my plan. However, in the meantime, Albion did a fairly radical redesign on the blade (made it much better but different). I never thought to ask. Albion never thought to market the change. Very nearly killed a nice scabbard and did stick a big fork in what had been a decent but strained vendor/customer relationship. Neither of us has transacted with each other since.

So...right there is your big pitfall.

Who goes under the bus when the sword maker changes something on you, and never tells, until your standard scabbard for their product won't work.

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Michael Ahrens




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PostPosted: Mon 09 Feb, 2009 4:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Brian

being the owner of 3 Albion Campaign Line scabbards, i must say that they are not the snuggest of fits. i believe that their solution is the same as the one you have suggested. just make it a tad larger and it should work out in the end. just make sure the buyer is aware before purchase.

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JE Sarge
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PostPosted: Mon 09 Feb, 2009 4:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It's a good idea overall. The only problem that I can see is that you will only be able to make accurate scabbards for the swords you keep in your personal collection which will ultimately limit your business potential. You will have alot of Albion customers; but you will also have people coming to you with every other sword manufacturer under the sun wanting in on this; so here is my idea:

If it were possible to loan swords or use customer swords that come through your shop in order to create accurate blade templates by scuplting plastic, wooden, or sheet metal forms - you could increase the number of scabbards you could create dramatically without having to personally own the sword. Before long, you would have dozens of templates to work with that encompassed most of the popular manufacturer's blade forms.

As for a scabbard being a perfect fit, I'm an old soldier; not a real collector - so if the blade is good and I can carry it without stabbing myself in the foot, I am happy for the most part. If there is some play in a scabbard, it's not going to bother me. I think many people would be in this mindset if your prices were fair and your finishing quality was on par with your other work.

J.E. Sarge
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Paul Watson




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PostPosted: Mon 09 Feb, 2009 4:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I could never understand not updating that information about the Regent either Joe. Mine is a 2005 model and it only weighs 3 pound 4 ounces. 4 ounces less than as advertised. You think that sort of update would be to their benefit as the modern expectation seems to be a preference for lighter swords within the acceptable historical parameters.

I think the whole deal with doing scabbards when the sword is not available needs an acceptance on the customers part that it may not be the perfect fit, simple as that. I still think you are leaving yourself open for someone to argue that you could have done better if they are not happy with the fit.

I am only guessing but surely there would be less variation on sword blade dimensions around the guard area (unless there was a design change). If you make the upper 1/3 or 1/4 of the blade or whatever as required for a good tight fit then allowed for tolerance in fitting further down the blade could that possibly work?

Nice scabbards by the way. I haven't seen one of yours that didn't make my jaw drop.

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PostPosted: Mon 09 Feb, 2009 5:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Why not just take advantage of the swords sent to you and make "Templates" for future scabbards? Your already doing all the measurements and it would negate the cost of having to collect pieces you may not want just to get a scabbard core out of them. Seems to me that the work your taking in is varied enough for you to have a pretty good basic set of templates for people that otherwise can't or don't want to ship their swords out.
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Brian K.
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PostPosted: Mon 09 Feb, 2009 5:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

All very good replies with a nice varied supply of things to consider.

Matthew G.M. Korenkiewicz wrote:
I think, given the quality of your work, many wouldn't mind a bit of looseness; nor saving some $$$.


Which is the whole idea. That and releaving those who aren't comfortable shipping their swords.

Greyson Brown wrote:
Even though you are taking money for this, it is still essentially a hobby for almost everyone (except Aaron Schnatterly), and feeling obligated to purchase certain swords could be a bit of a kill-joy.


True enough. This isn't my main job, but I keep trying to think of ways to potentially make it a main source of income.

Joe Fults wrote:
So...right there is your big pitfall.

Who goes under the bus when the sword maker changes something on you, and never tells, until your standard scabbard for their product won't work.


Good points. Something to really think about.

Michael Ahrens wrote:
being the owner of 3 Albion Campaign Line scabbards, i must say that they are not the snuggest of fits. i believe that their solution is the same as the one you have suggested. just make it a tad larger and it should work out in the end. just make sure the buyer is aware before purchase.


I can always make something loose. Loose is far easier than snug.

JE Sarge wrote:
It's a good idea overall. The only problem that I can see is that you will only be able to make accurate scabbards for the swords you keep in your personal collection which will ultimately limit your business potential. You will have alot of Albion customers; but you will also have people coming to you with every other sword manufacturer under the sun wanting in on this; so here is my idea:

If it were possible to loan swords or use customer swords that come through your shop in order to create accurate blade templates by scuplting plastic, wooden, or sheet metal forms - you could increase the number of scabbards you could create dramatically without having to personally own the sword. Before long, you would have dozens of templates to work with that encompassed most of the popular manufacturer's blade forms.

As for a scabbard being a perfect fit, I'm an old soldier; not a real collector - so if the blade is good and I can carry it without stabbing myself in the foot, I am happy for the most part. If there is some play in a scabbard, it's not going to bother me. I think many people would be in this mindset if your prices were fair and your finishing quality was on par with your other work.


Answer to paragraph 1 - There will always be my regular clients sending me their swords, and I would only contemplate adding the most popular swords to my collections that I can agree with. Which would start with 1 or 2 Albions. I try to limit what I do to control my work flow, being a 1 man band I don't want to have a long waiting list.

Answer to paragraph 2 - Suppose I find a accurate way to recreate a blade for template purposes, I haven't done the same sword twice thus far. I could spend a lot of time on templates and not get any orders for them. Lost profit.

Answer to paragraph 3 - That's what I'm talking about. Cool

Paul Watson wrote:
I am only guessing but surely there would be less variation on sword blade dimensions around the guard area (unless there was a design change). If you make the upper 1/3 or 1/4 of the blade or whatever as required for a good tight fit then allowed for tolerance in fitting further down the blade could that possibly work?


Unfortunately I think it would be safer to just make the whole thing bigger to allow for subtle adjustments.

Mike Capanelli wrote:
Why not just take advantage of the swords sent to you and make "Templates" for future scabbards? Your already doing all the measurements and it would negate the cost of having to collect pieces you may not want just to get a scabbard core out of them. Seems to me that the work your taking in is varied enough for you to have a pretty good basic set of templates for people that otherwise can't or don't want to ship their swords out.


Good idea, except the process by which I make my wood cores is done in a more "form fitting' fashion. Without revealing how I do it, I'll try to explain. I basically trace out the blade with overlap, and make two matching slats to that trace pattern. Each slate being the opposite side. That could be measured. But from there, it's all form fitting, carving, and sanding with no tools that are used in conjunction with measurement. Essentially, without having a blade to form my wooden slats to, my current process is out the window.


Another thought for everyone, as this would be easier. While I'm on the process of making a wood core for a particular sword, I could start a thread announcing that I'm making a particular scabbard for "X" sword. Who wants a loose fitting version? All I would need is a deposit from there and I could ship when complete. Thoughts?

Brian Kunz
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JE Sarge
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PostPosted: Mon 09 Feb, 2009 6:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Brian,

A template would not really have to be that time consuming or wasteful. If you do blade tracings onto balsa and make a note of the blade thickness on it, time invested would be very minimal - probably around 5 mins. Naturally, if you got in a Jody Samson, you would not want to do the tracing because no other blade is really gonna work for that. shape. However, if you got in a Windlass Type VI, Darksword Gothic, Del Tin 2140, or Albion Yeoman - those are popular enough to warrant creating a template. You could pick and choose then stack the tracings in a corner with very little time invested - but alot of info for future reference! Big Grin

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Mike Harris




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PostPosted: Mon 09 Feb, 2009 6:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Brian,

One thought would be to start this small. For instance, Albion offers several popular series of swords that use the same blades. The Knight, Laird and Caithness will usually fit the same scabbard, not withstanding differences at the guard. Same for the Count, Steward, Ritter and Hospitaller. I'm sure there are other such combinations. You might consider making some number of extra cores with unfinished mouths whenever you get one of those in your shop. Then you could offer the cores to finish out for other folks' swords. That might be a way to test the waters with this endeavor, just to see how it works out?
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PostPosted: Mon 09 Feb, 2009 6:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Brian K. wrote:
Another thought for everyone, as this would be easier. While I'm on the process of making a wood core for a particular sword, I could start a thread announcing that I'm making a particular scabbard for "X" sword. Who wants a loose fitting version? All I would need is a deposit from there and I could ship when complete. Thoughts?


I love this idea! Some people are just sitting on the fence, deciding if they want a scabbard. Something like this could push them over.

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PostPosted: Mon 09 Feb, 2009 7:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

What about selling just the wood core, not glued together, so people could adjust the fit as needed, glue it and cover it?
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PostPosted: Tue 10 Feb, 2009 12:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

JE Sarge wrote:
A template would not really have to be that time consuming or wasteful. If you do blade tracings onto balsa and make a note of the blade thickness on it, time invested would be very minimal - probably around 5 mins. Naturally, if you got in a Jody Samson, you would not want to do the tracing because no other blade is really gonna work for that. shape. However, if you got in a Windlass Type VI, Darksword Gothic, Del Tin 2140, or Albion Yeoman - those are popular enough to warrant creating a template. You could pick and choose then stack the tracings in a corner with very little time invested - but alot of info for future reference! Big Grin


I basically used the measurement method to make my first two scabbards (I was in the Army and was not allowed to have my swords in the barracks). You would be amazed how big a problem this can be. To give you an idea, I made a scabbard for my Albion Agincourt. When I tried to put the sword into this meticulously measured scabbard (by the way, I measured both width and thickness for every inch of blade length (something like 80 measurements in all)), I was left with nearly four inches of blade sticking out of the scabbard. It took me a solid year to work that scabbard back into functioning order (some would say it is still not there), and I nearly destroyed it in the process.

I should point out that a Windlass sword, which seems easier (given that it is cheaper) is actually harder when using this method. In a three inch section of blade, the change in thickness can be more extreme than the overall change in an Albion (no, I'm not making that up, I've actually encountered it). Furthermore, any attempt to match the fuller at the throat of the scabbard can go terribly awry (even with a set of calipers designed specifically for taking this measurement) when mated to a sword that does not have impossible grinding standards. Basically, what I mean here is that any "bump" to match the fuller (on the inside of the core) is either impossible or will be so reduced (in compensation for the lack of knowledge available), that it is not worth including. That may not be an issue for some, but it is still worth considering.

I start my scabbard making process by making a pattern/template (I'm guessing that I do not do things the same as Brian), but I can tell you that most of them would not work a second time 'round. Even with a guide of some type, this is more art than science, and most any template/mold/pattern/guide will be deformed in the making of the core. What's more, it takes me closer to 45 minutes to make a pattern and get all of the extra data I need compiled (I'm probably slow, but you get the idea).

Chad Arnow wrote:
What about selling just the wood core, not glued together, so people could adjust the fit as needed, glue it and cover it?


I'd love to think this is feasible, but I highly doubt it. For one, the opposite arrangement would be more practical (you make the core, I cover/finish it). Making the core really is not that hard. Between Aaron Schnatterly, Greg Griggs, and few other generous folks on these forums, I came up with about three different ways to achieve the desired result. If someone cannot do that much, then modifying an existing set of core slats and gluing them together is going to be extremely difficult. I do not mean to insult anyone with these comments, but it is true. Gluing the slats together can be the most difficult part (a half inch offset in 18 inches means more than a full inch correction on a 33 inch core). But that is the most difficult step of the easy part. If you have not taken the effort to get there, then you will not be happy with the outcome of jumping into the harder middle part.

Secondly, covering the core really is where the artistry and research show up. There is a lot more to covering a scabbard than meets the eye, and most people will not be happy with the results they get. Also, given the price of leather, any mistake here can be much more costly than on the core. Maybe I am trying to be too conscientious, but I do not think it is fair to encourage people to make these mistakes and incur this expense.

Lastly, the fittings can (and maybe should be) a project in their own right. Getting the perfect fit on a chape can be a pain (when I visited Aaron Schnatterly last summer, he was still commenting that this step took him longer than it really ought to, and he has tools most of us do not), and they are down right simple compared to some lockets.

Perhaps I am being unfair, but I see selling incomplete cores as an irresponsible disaster. I may be missing something that Brian or any other maker can work around. If that is the case, then I gladly defer to them. In the mean time, however, I have to advise against it.

Brian,

I have to agree that making a few extra cores when you have a given sword in the shop (say three to five extra) might not be a bad idea. That would give you some leeway on making scabbards without needing the sword in hand, but do not have to buy swords. Still, you run into all of the possible problems mentioned above.

-Grey

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PostPosted: Tue 10 Feb, 2009 10:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, I've decided against the idea of collecting with the intent of template purposes. But I'm seriously considering the "hey I've got a (XX) sword, who wants a wood core scabbard for one" thread.

However, I'm not setup to handle a large volume of orders of higher-end scabbards. If I were to take 3 to 5 extra scabbard orders for each one, before you know it I have a long waiting list. But I could crank out wood core's fairly quickly.

So here is what I'm thinking if I decide to do this; I'd like to offer multiple options of a 'entry' level wood core.

Version 1 - $50 for a unsanded, unfinished, non-round edge wood (poplar) core (the ultimate do-it-your-selfer). This would come glued & fitted, ready for sanding, including the edges needing rounded.

Version 2 - $100 for a sanded, round-edge wood core glued & fitted. Ready for varnish.

Version 3 - $115 for a sanded, round-edge wood core glued & fitted & varnished (3 pass varnish).

Version 4 - $175 for a completed wood core & machine stitched leather in brown or black with leather chape.

As mentioned above, I'm a little apprehensive to potentially take on too many orders at once in the higher-end category.

Please keep the feedback coming.

Brian Kunz
www.dbkcustomswords.com
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PostPosted: Tue 10 Feb, 2009 5:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Greyson Brown wrote:
Perhaps I am being unfair, but I see selling incomplete cores as an irresponsible disaster.


I personally think that's too strong a statement.

Happy

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