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Christopher Lee




Location: Sunshine Coast, Australia
Joined: 18 Apr 2006

Posts: 160

PostPosted: Thu 12 Jan, 2012 2:13 pm    Post subject: Quality of work and what to do next?         Reply with quote

I was after some opinions on the quality of a piece of work I received before Christmas. I am not sure what to make of it and, as a consequence, not sure what to do. I haven’t identified the maker as I don’t wish to damage their reputation by what may well be a anomaly.

I commissioned a bowie style blade, forward curving C guard, with an antler handle - sort of a hybrid hunter/fighter (and I’m sure some would say, I achieved neither Wink. Anyway, style decisions aside, I received the knife and I’m a little concerned about the overall quality and finish of it. I paid $310AUD (inc. shipping).

My concerns are: there is a 4cm section of the blade which is concave; the shoulders of the blade are uneven on each side of the blade, there seem to be rather a lot of tool marks on the blade and the ‘Spanish notch’ is ill defined (it was meant to have a nice well defined inverted V leading into it) and overall the fiinish is a bit average.

(The colouration of the blade is deliberate in that I asked for the metal work to be darkened slightly for a bit of rust protection.)

So, I have been in contact with the manufacturer and they have offered the following:

You can send knife back to us, we fix all deficiencies and send it back to you. This will of course cost you some money for shipping. Or if you can get over these few bugs, we can give you a discount on your next order as a compensation.”

So, if I send the knife back then that will take the total cost up to about $370. However, as I see it, to fix up the blade edge, to remove all the machine mark would mean removing more metal from the blade and that surely it would be better to make an entirely new blade? This suggestion has been met with a less than reassuring silence.

So, first off, am I being too ‘picky”? Is this a perfectly acceptable piece for the price? I’m after suggestions as to what to do; send it back and see if they either make a new blade or work over the current one? Or would you just walk away, put it down to experience and not go back to them?



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Glen A Cleeton




Location: Nipmuc USA
Joined: 21 Aug 2003

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PostPosted: Thu 12 Jan, 2012 4:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

With the minimalist amount of information given about the order overall, I would regard and suggest you move on with the caveat in mind "Lesson Learned".

Don't endorse the source if displeased with what you received but at the same time (and again with the rough guideline of commission), you did receive a knife more or less what you ordered and we aren't in the four figure range for a custom kni

I could ask a lot of questions about the order process but in the end, you paid and and agreed to do so before receipt. You might press for a monetary discount, not credit but it looks like the counteroffer has already been maximized.

You should feel entitled to dissuade others if they are considering work from the maker and at least mention your own expectations vs what you received..

Personally? I think the piece has a bit of character and I have seen worse at that price point. If you asked for a somewhat rustic and old look, well, it wasn't so nicely done but it does look like a fairly worn knife. The overall grinding seems like pretty lousy work to me but other examples from the same maker might be a lot more refined. If it were mine, I'd finish it from the state I see it in now and add my own preferences, I sure wouldn't be happy if I was the one receiving such a commission.

Cheers

GC
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Christopher Lee




Location: Sunshine Coast, Australia
Joined: 18 Apr 2006

Posts: 160

PostPosted: Thu 12 Jan, 2012 5:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for that Glen,
I agree, I did indeed receive a knife of more or less a size and shape that I wanted. However, I suppose that I wanted a few second opinions regarding the overall quality of the finish.

I wasn't actually going for a rustic look at all, or a well worn feel, indeed, my expectations were quite the opposite; I was commissioning a new piece, and as such sort of expected it to look that way. I provided multiple good quality photos and dimensions of the original custom piece I was wanting replicated. I was told that they could do the job and I was quoted a time frame and a price. I agree, we're not talking megabucks here, but if someone says that they can do it and that’s the price they quote, you tend to take them at their word. I suppose that is the risk of paying up front; you only find out what you bought once it arrives.

I would be interested to hear other people’s perspectives.
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Jean Thibodeau




Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
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PostPosted: Thu 12 Jan, 2012 6:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

We at times discuss the modern aesthetics of perfect geometry, symmetry and flawless finished versus the period aesthetics where some of these " flaws " where normal and not a concern: With modern reproductions of period arms we can choose which aesthetics is most pleasing to us.

The above is true, I believe, for the World of Period reproductions of Medieval weapons or older.

On the other hand the criteria for a " Modern Knife " in the current Knife collector's culture is the former of getting as close to perfection in form and finish unless one is " specifically " wanting " The Rustic Look " !

In this case the finish is rough and the grind lines wandering and far from the crisp grindlines one would expect from a skilled knife maker ! In fact most high end factory knives have a much higher standard of quality.

This knife looks to me of a standard one would expect in the 1950's or earlier from an " amateur " knife makers or at best a good effort for someone making their first knife ! ( Might even be " plausible " for a knife like this to have been made in 1850 by a small town blacksmith with wavy soft grind lines and a rough hand filed finish).

Another question would be the quality of the assembly, the quality of the heat treat ? If they are good, then it's a very rustic but functional knife. ( A glass half full way of looking at it ).

All the above aside, I sort of like the knife but only if I wanted one that was " rustic ".

Apart from being disappointed I would be doing an antiquing job on this blade using either the salt and vinegar methods, or the lemon juice methods. Personally I would be using Dijon mustard as the aging/patination agent.

If the surface was etched/patinated and then hand polished one could get a bright rustic finish but without the scratchy finish or leave the patination for a nice grey finish.

So maybe you could salvage this knife with a DIY project. Wink

The grind lines are too " soft " for it to be worth while trying for a highly polished or even a satin finish in my opinion.

Well, at least it wasn't a four figure custom commission ! Sad

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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Thu 12 Jan, 2012 8:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

How does this work compare to detailed photos or firsthand examination of other examples of this maker's work?

If it is not of the same quality as you've seen in detailed pics or firsthand examination of their other work on similar pieces, you've got a case that something's wrong. If you made your purchasing decision based solely on reputation or the typically bad photos that inhabit many makers' sites, though, you don't have much leg to stand on.

Did you look at their return/repair policy prior to ordering? Does their proposed solution fit their stated policy? If it doesn't, you have a legitimate beef. If it does fit, or they don't publicly state a policy, then you're out of luck.

That price is pretty inexpensive, relatively speaking. However, if the quality is not up to the maker's normal standards, it doesn't matter what the price is. But your recourse is limited to their stated policy (if they have one) or the proposal they've offered.

Not knowing the maker and being able to see their policies or photos myself makes this difficult to comment fully on. Happy

Happy

ChadA

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Christopher Lee




Location: Sunshine Coast, Australia
Joined: 18 Apr 2006

Posts: 160

PostPosted: Thu 12 Jan, 2012 8:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chad,
Excellent points.

The quality is a lot less than I had come to expect from this particular manufacturer - this is based upon having bought one of their hand and a halfs about 6 years ago, upon other reviews and feedback, and upon photos of their other work.

Actually their policy on returns (as i just found out upon reading it 10 minutes ago Happy) is that it doesn't cover custom items. So in that respect they have absolutely been more than generous by offering to correct the issues. But, given that returning the item would involve further expense, adding to the overall cost, would it be better to just cut my losses at this point?

This relatively inexpensive knife project was a trial run before commissioning a custom two hander ($1000AUD). I actually thought that i was being far too risk averse by ordering a smaller and cheaper item beforehand so that I could see the quality of their work and assess the entire process. Don't get me wrong, they have been an absolute pleasure to deal with in all respects, which is why I am just left mystified and quite dissapointed by what I received.
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Thu 12 Jan, 2012 9:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Christopher Lee wrote:
But, given that returning the item would involve further expense, adding to the overall cost, would it be better to just cut my losses at this point?


That's a tough call. If you think they're capable of making something you're happy with, I'd spend the extra $60-70. That's far cheaper than selling the piece at a loss and trying to have someone else make it down the road. Personally, I couldn't keep something that disappointed me; I'd be irked every time I looked at it. So I'd sell it, lose money, and move on. $370 isn't as cheap as $310, but is less than $310 - your loss when you sell it + the cost of a replacement.

I'm one of those weird people who will try their darndest to make people live up to expectations. Happy If I thought they could do better, it would be in the mail back to them... But if I felt the current piece was the best they could do, I'd cut my losses.

The discount-on-the-next-order thing wouldn't do much for me as I might be disinclined to order in the future.

Happy

ChadA

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Addison C. de Lisle




Location: Maine
Joined: 05 Nov 2005
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Posts: 613

PostPosted: Fri 13 Jan, 2012 8:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In my opinion, the finish on that blade is quite poor, not average. Even with the visible hammer marks aside (which aren't necessarily bad but doesn't sound like what you wanted), the sanding was not done properly. You can still see all the scratches from the previous grits of paper underneath the final sanding. The blade geometry is pretty sloppy as well. To me, the whole piece looks rushed.

Quote:
I provided multiple good quality photos and dimensions of the original custom piece I was wanting replicated. I was told that they could do the job and I was quoted a time frame and a price. I agree, we're not talking megabucks here, but if someone says that they can do it and that’s the price they quote, you tend to take them at their word


I agree with this statement; if they said they could do the work for the price quoted you have every right to be disappointed, assuming you were clear about your expectations.

Again, this all depends on how many of these flaws were evident in the photos you were sent for approval. If the flaws were evident in the pictures and you approved it I would take their offer to fix the blade at the cost of shipping.

www.addisondelisle.com
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Torsten F.H. Wilke




Location: Irvine Spectrum, CA
Joined: 01 Jul 2006

Posts: 250

PostPosted: Fri 13 Jan, 2012 10:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It looks pretty cool to me, and sure does seem to have plenty of character. Plus, the mis-happen parts give it a feel of real authenticity at first glance. Maybe it's not exactly what you expected right now, but you never know if it may grow on you down the line...
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Doug Lester




Location: Decatur, IL
Joined: 12 Dec 2007

Posts: 166

PostPosted: Fri 13 Jan, 2012 11:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As a hobbyest maker I would say that blade would have never left my shop with that finish on it. The person who made that needed to spend more time getting the hammer marks out or should have scrapped the blade if they were too deep. As already pointed out, they should have also spent more time getting the grinding marks out from the previous grit before going on to a finer belt or sand paper.

Over all, I would say that the design is good for a bowie knife, I really don't care for the pattern myself, I would say that the fit and finish on the handle is good. I wouldn't have used a peening block but would have peened the tang into the butt plate but it's really not badly done. I would say the the Spanish notch is poorly designed and not very artistic.

The next question to ask is what the cutting characteristics are like. If it was well heat treated with good blade geometry you at least have a funtional knife and you could follow the above advice to apply a patina to the blade to disguise the flaws in the finish and write it off to experience due to the cost of sending it back. I also would be rather reluctant to deal with this maker or broker, whatever they were, again if that's the quality of knifes that they deal in.
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Christopher Lee




Location: Sunshine Coast, Australia
Joined: 18 Apr 2006

Posts: 160

PostPosted: Fri 13 Jan, 2012 1:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It is perhaps a failing on my part but i wasn't sent photo's for approval prior to shipping, so can't complain there.

As far as I am aware, no hammer work on this blade at all, this is a straight stock removal job; so looks like someone was all over the place with the grinder (maybe it was the work experience kid Wink).

Doug, I would have to agree; the few small blades that I have made, just by stock removal, I have never left them that rough and unfinished looking - and the edges of my blades were always straight. There is always the expectation that when you buy something that you are buying an item you can't make yourself; not sure that was achieved in this particular case.

One of the things that i had liked about this particular maker was the clean, crisp, functional and somewhat utilitarian lines of their work; there was a certain austerity about their stuff that really appealed to me. I was hoping for that look on this knife; instead there is no crispness about it, the lines are all over the place and ill defined. I agree, it looks rushed and careless. I know that they can do a hell of a lot better than that so I am disappointed that it left the workshop without anyone looking at it and saying "Hang on a minute...", just no quality control.

Still caught in a bind but must admit wavering towards sending it back and asking them to fix it. However, to fix it would require a whole new blade and unless they are prepared to do that, then, as far as I can see, there is no point in trying to correct the current one?
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Daniel Wallace




Location: Pennsylvania USA
Joined: 07 Aug 2011

Posts: 580

PostPosted: Fri 13 Jan, 2012 4:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

it all depends on what your happy with

as you stated their only going to ask you to pay the shipping in resending the work to them . . . with that in mind, you could ask them to reimburse you for the shipping cost because your dissatisfied with the work and it wasn't what you were expecting. its worth a shot the worst they can do is tell you no.

if an entire blade will need to be remade, i don't see how that should effect your decision, as long as their not going to ask for an additional payment for that i'd get it done.

as for fixing the knife yourself, it can be done, but why bother with it if. you already paid someone to make it right the first time. your time is valuable that's why you decided to have it done by a quality maker instead of jumping into the project yourself.

i know it's not a huge amount of money you spent on the work but you paid for a service that wasn't leading up to your expectations. as long as you have a copy of an email stating that you wanted a "modern reproduction" i can't see how the maker wouldn't follow through for you.

in the end, your maker wants a satisfied customer, 1 satisfied customer makes 2 and 4 and etc. does he want 1 dissatisfied customer that may breed 2 and 4 and etc.
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Ken Speed





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PostPosted: Fri 13 Jan, 2012 4:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In part i agree with Jean when he said, "Another question would be the quality of the assembly, the quality of the heat treat ? If they are good, then it's a very rustic but functional knife. ( A glass half full way of looking at it ).

All the above aside, I sort of like the knife but only if I wanted one that was " rustic ". "


I haven't heard you say that the assembly is bad or the temper isn't what it should be. I think that little recess in the edge of the blade could be blended in until it wasn't even noticeable. I think the grind marks could be removed without damage to the knife but you'll really never be satisfied with it or proud of it and that is the deal breaker. If it was s hovel or an axe and it had some cosmetic flaws it wouldn't be a problem but this is a supposed to be a custom made knife and the visual quality doesn't even come close to the standard for a custom made item. I think the smith should either refund you the money or give you a satisfactory knife and I don't see any justification for the smith wanting you to pick up shipping costs. Did you make a defective knife? No, he did. You deserve a good knife, that's what you paid for.
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William Carew




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PostPosted: Fri 13 Jan, 2012 9:40 pm    Post subject: Re: Quality of work and what to do next?         Reply with quote

Christopher Lee wrote:


So, first off, am I being too ‘picky”? Is this a perfectly acceptable piece for the price? I’m after suggestions as to what to do; send it back and see if they either make a new blade or work over the current one? Or would you just walk away, put it down to experience and not go back to them?


Chris, I think I know the maker you refer to and I agree, this is not up to the standard of finish you would expect - the difference between this and other (longer) blades from the same maker are chalk and cheese.

To be honest, I would not be happy with that level of finish at all, especially given what your (quite reasonable) expectations of finish quality would no doubt have been. For the same amount of money you could buy a nice, crisply finished production knife. And while a similarly priced production knife wouldn't be custom, at least the grinds would be straight and the finish would be clean and tidy.

In this case, I fear "rustic" is really a 'glass half full' excuse for poor, rushed and sloppy work. Having said that, I'm not sure I can offer much advice on how to proceed, as it really depends on whether you can live with this knife. I can only say, if it was me, I wouldn't risk any more money to 'fix' it for two reasons - 1) I've already paid an agreed upon amount for a product, and paying more seems wrong 2) there's no guarantee I will like the end result any more than the original. If I needed a solid bush and camping knife and, assuming the steel and the heat treatment is up to scratch (no pun intended), I might be inclined to use it as a working knife. Otherwise, I'd probably sell it and recoup what I could, chalking the difference up to experience. But that's just me. EMMV.

Cheers

Bill

Bill Carew
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Robert Rytel




Location: Pittsburgh
Joined: 23 Oct 2011

Posts: 32

PostPosted: Sat 14 Jan, 2012 2:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I like it. I'd pack that with my woods kit anyday. After a few months of use by me I bet you wouldn't even notice any blade flaws anymore. If you lived in the U.S. I'd buy it off you.
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Christopher Lee




Location: Sunshine Coast, Australia
Joined: 18 Apr 2006

Posts: 160

PostPosted: Sat 14 Jan, 2012 2:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bill, it is utterly mystifying, comparing their current and past work with this piece.

Agreed Bill, 'rustic' is being polite and glass half full, but rustic ain't doing it for me; I'm a glass half empty sort of guy and I didn't order 'rustic'. I agree though, it would probably make a good bush knife (assuming that all is well with its construction though) but i'm not sure i could bring myself to use a $300+ knife to cut vines and stuff when i've got a couple of martindale machetes in the shed.

Robert, if i lived in the US, i think i'd sell it to you.

Still not sure what to do but am very grateful for everyone's input regarding the quality of the finish and the overall product. Its good to know that I'm not just being 'picky' or hypercritical. This is the first custom item i've ordered in 6 years or more so its not really an incentive to do it again.


Last edited by Christopher Lee on Mon 16 Jan, 2012 2:15 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Sat 14 Jan, 2012 5:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Christopher Lee wrote:

Agreed Bill, 'rustic' is being polite and glass half full, but rustic ain't doing it for me; I'm a glass half empty sort of guy and I didn't order 'rustic'.


Yes that is the " bottom line " NOT what was ordered and paid for and I was trying to give you a reason to feel better about it or salvage some use from it, but I agree that it is a really disappointing knife considering that the maker has shown in the past the capability to make much better finished knives.

So, maybe you could ask them " what happened " and are they proud of this work !

If they are proud of this work they should have no problem with your letting everybody here know who made it.

Note: I appreciate that you had the class to not identify the maker, and I'm not recommending that you should do so, but I would be very interested in hearing their answers to the above question even if you decide to continue to not identify them.

You are certainly not being " picky " about the quality or rather the lack of quality of the work and good customer service includes replacing a bad product that got out of the shop that should never have been shipped in the first place.

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