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Brett Cost




Location: Usa
Joined: 22 Jan 2020

Posts: 4

PostPosted: Fri 19 Jun, 2020 1:19 am    Post subject: How long is too long for a commission?         Reply with quote

So I sent out some work to be done on some swords I wanted customized. I had heard from numerous people that a certain craftsman was a reliable place to have work done. Sword groups and knowledgeable people said that he was a good place to go. After talking with him on price and space in his queue for him to do it, I sent off my swords and waited. And waited. And waited. About two years into it I got a little mad and had it out how upset I was that it was taking so long. I understand life can get in the way but how long is too long for waiting for a commission. I wanted him to just send what had been done if at all but he convinced me to just let him finish. That was about a year ago. He's since showed me work and it is almost done with the swords but not the scabbards which was the main commission. Now I'm just trying to get him to send me the finished swords and I'll wait for the scabbards though with better mindset as I'd finally have the swords at least. I'm not calling him out yet but damn if this hasn't taken forever and excuse seem to be a plague. It has killed any want of the sword community or buying or doing anything more with swords at all. If I get back what I sent I'll be happy.
So how long is too long? What are any recourse?
How long do typical customizers take? Like DBK or Fletcher?
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Fri 19 Jun, 2020 4:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've had several custom projects made on time to the quote or even delivered early; within a year. The makers that do this are few and far between.

I've had projects that were quoted at one year that took five years. I've had a project that was quoted for four months take three years. I had another that I paid the entire cost because I was told the parts were already in stock and it would take only a couple weeks to assemble that took two years to finally get to me. There is no norm in my experience.

The truth is that most makers are very bad at time management and estimates. This is an unfortunate reality. They're artists. Many are perfectionists. Many over-promise and are in need of money so take on too much work. Most are bad at business. There's a lot of reasons why delays happen.

The key is to manage your risk by managing the money you are willing to give up front. This limits your exposure and gives an incentive to the maker to finish the project and get paid. There's a balancing point to what is fair for both the maker and the consumer here. I think that's the key. Ideally, both parties end up satisfied at the end of every project.

My project with Christian Fletcher was done well within the timeframe he quoted. This was several years ago, but my experience with him was super professional.

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Jeremy V. Krause




Location: Buffalo, NY.
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PostPosted: Fri 19 Jun, 2020 6:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have had a few projects completed within the time period quoted but, like Nathan, most have been very late- in the order of months or up to a year.

Customer service just doesn't seem to be the strength of arms and armor makers in general.

There are a few really exceptional examples out there though- folks who are prompt and clear with communication, and if there is a delay they let you know about it. And that's all most of us want anyway- if something has gotten in the way we are informed. People are pretty understanding that we are dealing with small businesses or one man operations.

Jeff Helms, Josh Davis of Davis Reproductions, and Leo Todeschini of Toddstuff are examples of smiths who really demonstrate great customer service.
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Brian K.
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Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
Joined: 01 Jan 2008

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PostPosted: Fri 19 Jun, 2020 7:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

How long is too long? This depends on the level of patience one is willing to give. But for me, I try to avoid ever having to test one's patience level.

Though my queue is long, there is a reason for it. My work is reliable, excellent, and timely with great customer service. When I first started my business my experiences with business in this niche field told me what I should and shouldn't do. I pride myself on quick responses, proper business to client etiquette, and the best possible work I can do. When I start a project it generally takes about two weeks, depending on the project. Extensive metalwork, design, can take longer. But I will always answer emails, and provide a fairly accurate estimate in time & money. I would say my longest commission was probably two months with most of that time waiting on metalwork to arrive back from the foundry.

Brian Kunz
www.dbkcustomswords.com
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Brett Cost




Location: Usa
Joined: 22 Jan 2020

Posts: 4

PostPosted: Fri 19 Jun, 2020 11:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

All good to hear and makes me easier with the time needed.
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Harry Marinakis




PostPosted: Thu 16 Jul, 2020 2:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Your craftsman needs the sword to make the scabbard. Wait for it.
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Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
Joined: 08 Dec 2004

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PostPosted: Thu 16 Jul, 2020 4:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've waited a couple of years. Generally, I don't mind how long it takes if there is regular communication from the craftsman and an occasional progress pic.
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Chris Goerner




Location: Roanoke, Virginia
Joined: 19 Sep 2004
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PostPosted: Thu 16 Jul, 2020 6:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
I've waited a couple of years. Generally, I don't mind how long it takes if there is regular communication from the craftsman and an occasional progress pic.


That is a great point. Length of wait has been less of a concern for me than good communication and regular updates. I have found that "in progress" photos help me actually enjoy the wait to the point where I don't really even think about how long it is taking.

That said, when it comes to time estimates, I do appreciate the old customer service adage, "Under promise. Over deliver."

Sic Semper Tyranus
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Joe Fults




Location: Midwest
Joined: 02 Sep 2003

Posts: 3,574

PostPosted: Thu 16 Jul, 2020 9:18 am    Post subject: This comes up every so often...         Reply with quote

If you can't afford to write the advance cost of the project off, you can't afford to commission the project.

I will not do business with artists that demand full payment in advance because I've been disappointed by that model before. The problem with "pay in advance" is that it puts all the risk on you. The buyer. AND every artist in this industry will have life happen eventually. The problem with "pay on complete" is the opposite. All risk is on the artist. AND every buyer will have life happen eventually.

I'll advance up to half the final project cost as a deposit, balance on delivery.

If that's too much cash to burn, I can't afford the project! For the projects I can afford, I don't really worry about the time involved. I figure I've placed a marker and if something great comes back someday, I'm happy about it. If not, well, I accepted a risk going in and life will go on.

"The goal shouldn’t be to avoid being evil; it should be to actively do good." - Danah Boyd


Last edited by Joe Fults on Sun 19 Jul, 2020 11:09 am; edited 1 time in total
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Jean Thibodeau




Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
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PostPosted: Sat 18 Jul, 2020 8:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Too long for me is when the original estimated time for delivery has been exceeded by a large margin like 2X to 3X times longer than initially given and with very deficient communication and lack of updates.

As others have mentioned proactive communication with the buyer about any delays, mostly justifiable delays, makes me much more tolerant of any changes in expected delivery time.

If one has to chase after the maker, and it is almost impossible to get replies, it becomes very frustrating and does not inspire confidence to repeat the experience with the maker with a later commission or purchase something supposedly in stock or nearly finished.

But a few makers mentioned in previous postings have always given accurate time and price estimates and have been easy to communicate with like Leo Todeschini of Toddstuff in my personal experience.

As Nathan has written earlier in this Topic, some very talented and skilled makers are great artists but are disorganized and not very good business people and get into trouble taking on too many custom orders and not good at giving realistic time lines for finishing the work as initially promised.

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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John Dunn




Location: Frankfort, KY
Joined: 15 Apr 2013

Posts: 154

PostPosted: Sun 19 Jul, 2020 6:14 am    Post subject: Commission times         Reply with quote

It depends on the individual as stated.

Even some known production sword makers have delays for various reasons

I have an auxilia on order from Albion that I have been waiting on for 18 months

The reason for the delay is that the craftsman who makes wooden hilts has cancer and cannot do it anymore

Albion thought the mans son would take over but that ended up not working out.

So he is going to have to find another craftsman to make these type of hilt/handles. So it might be a while


My only irk Is that I have had to contact Albion over the months to find this out. They never contacted me about the extended delay to my order.

But he responds quickly to inquiries and I really have been satisfied with them over the years.


Last edited by John Dunn on Mon 20 Jul, 2020 4:43 am; edited 1 time in total
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Ian Hutchison




Location: Louisiana / Nordrhein-Westholland
Joined: 27 Nov 2007

Posts: 593

PostPosted: Sun 19 Jul, 2020 6:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've had a few orders take a year or a bit over, but most are less. That said, about half have been late to some degree, a few months usually.

So far I've had good luck regarding communication on every commission except one, but English was not his first language.

This year I have made three commissions; two swords from Czechia/Slovakia, each plan to take a year. One commission from India, comprising a sword and two daggers, one of which has engraving and silver work, and all with wood/leather sheaths. He estimated two months and is well on schedule. The smith has been extremely communicative, reachable every day in real time by messenger, and sends me progress pics every two weeks or so. He has even discussed Indian swords, antiques, and sword making in general with me at length when I have had some questions. Working with him has been such a pleasure, I just hope the products are good.

'We are told that the pen is mightier than the sword, but I know which of these weapons I would choose.' - Adrian Carton de Wiart
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Lancelot Chan
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Location: Hong Kong
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PostPosted: Mon 20 Jul, 2020 1:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've had money taken away by makers and not delivering at all... 2 famous makers. Sad
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Ian Hutchison




Location: Louisiana / Nordrhein-Westholland
Joined: 27 Nov 2007

Posts: 593

PostPosted: Mon 20 Jul, 2020 4:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lancelot Chan wrote:
I've had money taken away by makers and not delivering at all... 2 famous makers. Sad


Oh, that's awful. You weren't able to get anything back?

'We are told that the pen is mightier than the sword, but I know which of these weapons I would choose.' - Adrian Carton de Wiart
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Lancelot Chan
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PostPosted: Mon 20 Jul, 2020 4:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ian Hutchison wrote:
Lancelot Chan wrote:
I've had money taken away by makers and not delivering at all... 2 famous makers. Sad


Oh, that's awful. You weren't able to get anything back?


Nothing, not a single penny.

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Jeremy V. Krause




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PostPosted: Mon 20 Jul, 2020 7:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If I had a maker straight up take my money I'd write it up here.
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Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
Joined: 08 Dec 2004

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PostPosted: Mon 20 Jul, 2020 4:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lancelot Chan wrote:
I've had money taken away by makers and not delivering at all... 2 famous makers. Sad

Two words: "progress payments".

Pay a decent deposit to get the project started but the craftsman gets nothing more until progress has been demonstrated. Never deal with anyone who wants full payment up front.

Secondly, use a payment provider like Paypal so that you get protection for this sort of thing. They have a limit of 180 days to make a claim but if you make progress payments, at least some of your money is covered.

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