This is the first blog post to Bradford Hunt Design, so I thought it appropriate to tell a little bit about myself and what I'm trying to do here.
I started making knives around 2002 by putting together a couple of 'mail order' kits. This was influential because the only way you can personalize a kit knife is by choice of handle materials and 'fit & finish', so I looked around for the most interesting and beautiful handle material I could find and concentrated on putting together the kit with real attention to detail.
Way back then it was not too hard to find nice burl without paying an arm and a leg and I was immediately attracted to the swirly, curly patterns in the wood grain. As good burl became increasingly rare and expensive we started to see other makers using unusual materials such as various acrylic and urethane resins as well as pinecones and aluminum honeycomb.
I thought 'stabilized' wood sounded like a great idea so I bought a whole quart of Cactus juice and a manually operated brake bleeder vacuum pump, which I hooked up to a Mason jar. (Just so you know...it didn't really work - I got maybe a millimeter of penetration). Eventually I got a vacuum stabilization set up to properly treat the wood and a pressure pot to cast the resin.
There was a little bit of a learning curve, but it wasn't long before I was making passable knife handle material for my own knives. The setup had cost me several hundred dollars, and if you're not aware of this, Cactus Juice (stabilizing resin) costs nearly $100/gal., so I was eager to try and start selling a little bit to help defray costs.
I've been doing this for a couple of years now and a year ago really kicked it up when I retired from my job with the local electric power utility. I teach a knifemaking class at the local Woodcraft store, but aside from that have little time to make knives anymore and focus almost exclusively on making high end custom knife handles.
'Bradford Hunt Design' might sound impressive, but it is really just me working out of my garage studio. I make all of the knife scales myself, maintain the equipment, manage the online Shopify storefront at https://bradfordhuntdesign.com, and manage administration, publicity and promotion. I try to bring the same level of attention to detail, and 'fit & finish' in everything I do from knife scale production to managing the business end of things.
I'm not wealthy by any means, but I managed to put together a retirement portfolio that gives me a modest income and I really don't have to 'work' if I don't want to. As far as 'work' is concerned, I've never been that big of a fan, but for me, it's not really 'work' to try and create beautiful material for others to use in their craft is very fulfilling and making a few extra bucks for 'walking around money' makes me feel especially happy about the whole thing.
So what does this all mean for you? Well, I make knife scales pretty much one-at-a-time and although I will make variations on a theme, it is almost physically impossible for me to make the same thing twice. I occasionally think about ideas that might increase production (and therefore money), but as I said, I'm not really in it for the money and I think heading in that direction would cause me to lose focus on uniqueness and quality so I plan to continue making knife scales one-at-a-time the way I do now. In addition, there I days when I just don't 'feel it' and I have found it best not to try and force myself to be creative on those days, and that further cuts into production.
Finally, I have had many bad 'customer service experiences' where I walked away muttering "If I ran this place..." Well, now I DO run the place and hope no one ever walks away from ME thinking that. This is where not doing it for the money really ends up benefiting the customer - I don't want to (and can't afford to) LOSE much money, but if I have to give away a set or two of scales now and then as penance for my mistakes, it's a small price to pay to sleep soundly at night, knowing I at least tried to do right.
Time for me to get out from in front of the computer and make some knives.Keep coming back. I'm sure I'll have more to say about this in the future.