When you’re a knife maker, figuring out how to price custom knives can be difficult. Factors you’ll want to take into account include the blade and handle material, your general costs for materials and equipment, the amount of time you put in, and the net profit you want to make. Even your skill and reputation can play a role in how much you should charge. Custom knives tend to sell in the range of $500-$1,000, but there are makers that sell knives for five to six figures.
If you’ve bought custom knives before, you’ve probably paid more attention to the knife than the price. Is it attractive? Well-made? Does it appear to offer good value for the money? If the answer to all these questions is yes, sold!
When you make custom knives, especially if you’re new to the practice, you’re going to have different questions. Probably the biggest one is “What do I charge?”
There’s no straightforward answer - it all depends on factors like your skill level, the material used, and even your reputation. In this ultimate guide, the team atRed Label Abrasives answers your questions about how to price custom knives by listing the main considerations and how they should be taken into account.
What Should You Consider When Pricing Custom Knives?
Pricing a custom knife can be a delicate balance between valuing the skill and time invested in its creation and ensuring that the price remains affordable for potential buyers. As such, determining the right price requires careful consideration of various factors. Below is an overview of the facts and features that can impact pricing.
Blade and Handle Materials
The materials used in making the knife can significantly affect its price. To begin with, high-end steels like Damascus, VG-10, or CPM-S30V are more expensive to work with and result in a higher quality blade, thus commanding a higher price. The same goes for handle materials: premium materials like exotic woods, carbon fiber, or G10 cost more to source, which will make the knife more expensive.
Blade and handle materials aren’t the only costs that can influence how much you decide to charge.
Other Materials:For custom knives, such costs include machinery,knife making sanding belts, drill bits, saw blades, hammers, tongs, and anything else you use to create the finished product.
Labor:Custom knives are more labor-intensive, which will also contribute to the cost. Complex or intricate designs require more time and skill to create, which can also increase the price.
Overhead:Costs such as workshop rent, utilities, marketing fees, and equipment maintenance will also factor into the final price of the knife.
Time and Effort
The time and effort required to create a custom knife can have a significant impact on its cost. These knives are typically handmade, and the artisan's time and expertise should be reflected in the final price.
For example, the more time and effort required to forge and shape the blade, handle, and other components, the more expensive the knife is likely to be. Similarly, if the artisan incorporates intricate designs or engravings, the price will increase accordingly.
Your Skill and Reputation
The skill and reputation of a knife maker can also impact its price. A maker with a well-established reputation for producing high-quality knives is likely to charge -and receive- a higher price than a less established craftsperson.
Your reputation can be influenced by factors such as:
The quality of your work
Your level of experience and expertise
Your track record for delivering knives on time and to the satisfaction of your clients
A knife maker with a strong reputation may also have a waiting list for their blades, which can further increase the perceived value of their work and justify a higher price.
It is important to factor desired net profit into your custom knife prices. To cover costs and (if applicable) earn a living from your work, you need to factor in your desired profit margin. There’s no right or wrong way to calculate your profit margin, but you’ll want to make sure that the final price is competitive with similar knives on the market while still reflecting the value and quality of your work. It’s common for makers to build a 30%-50% profit margin into their knife prices.
Many manufacturers use a variation of the following equation:
Material Costs + Labor + (labor hours x overhead allocation rate) + Net Profit = Final Price
You’ll notice that the formula above includes an overhead allocation rate. An overhead allocation rate is the overhead expenses incurred per labor hour. You can calculate your overhead allocation rate by dividing your total overhead costs by your total labor hours. This will give you the cost of your overhead per working hour. When you multiply your labor hours for a knife by your overhead allocation rate, you get the total overhead cost associated with one knife.
In the end, how much you charge for your custom knives will have to strike a balance between profitability and market demand. Your designs may also require different pricing tiers depending on the level of customization or complexity.
Where Can You Get Some Guidance on How to Price Custom Knives?
While you can -and should- experiment, looking for guidance is one of the best ways to ensure that your prices are fair to yourself and your customers. Here are some ideas for finding some helpful direction:
Research Online: Start by researching online to see howother custom knife makers price their blades. Look for knives that are similar in design, materials, and quality to yours, and take note of their prices. You can also joinonline knife making forums and communities to ask for advice and pricing feedback from other makers.
Check Online Marketplaces: Checkonline marketplaces like Etsy and eBay to see how much other knife makers are charging for similar custom knives. This will give you a general idea of the market rate for your products.
Consult with Other Knife Makers: Reach out to other knife makers, especially those with more experience, and ask for their input on pricing. They may be able to offer valuable insights based on their own experiences.
Consider Your Target Market:Consider who is most likely to buy your knives and how much they are likely willing to pay. If you are making high-end knives for collectors or enthusiasts, you can charge more than if you are making more utilitarian knives for everyday use.
How Can Your Choice of Abrasive Increase the Value of Your Custom Knives?
The abrasives you use can impact the finish, durability, and sharpness of your knives. For example:
Hard and durable abrasives, such as zirconia or EdgeCore ceramic, are best for sharpening knives. Both can enhance the sharpness and edge retention of the finished blade.
A fine-grit abrasive will produce a smoother finish, while a coarse-grit abrasive will leave a rougher finish. If you want amirror-like polish, you’ll need to use finer grits.
Using a consistent abrasive across multiple knives can help ensure that each knife has the same quality and performance characteristics.
For a quality, high-performance knife, selecting the right abrasive for each step is crucial. In this case, what’s ‘right’ can depend on the type of steel you’re using, how sharp you want the blade to be (think table knife vs. combat knife), and the desired surface finish.
Produce Exceptional Knives With Industrial-Grade Abrasives
Custom knives are a true work of art and precision, made by skilled craftspeople who pour their heart and soul into every detail. Whether you are a seasoned artisan or an enthusiastic novice, understanding the factors that impact custom knife pricing will help you price your knives appropriately.
At Red Label Abrasives, we manufactureknife-making sanding belt kits that provide the belts you need to grind, hone, sharpen, and polish your knives. We offer belts in sizes ranging from 1" x 30" to 2" x 72". No matter what stage you’re at in your journey, our products can help you achieve the results that you - and your customers - are looking for. For more information or to place an order, please call844-824-1956 orfill out our contact form today.
David Kranker is a writer and creative maker who has been covering the abrasive and knife-making industries on the Red Label Abrasives Blog since 2020. David spends his time continually researching sanding and bladesmithing to provide readers with the latest and greatest information. In his free time, David utilizes abrasives for many different home and auto projects at his home in Delton, MI.