Future of the Custom Katana Series...

Hi Everyone,

First off, a quick update for casual readers of this blog (customers have already been notified some time ago) - but batch 21 of the custom Katana has ended up somewhat delayed due to two factors:

1) The most senior Smiths father died as we were trying to wrap everything up to go out before Chinese New Year - and naturally he stopped work to grieve and make arrangements for the funeral.

2) Half of the shipment went out before Chinese New Year, but the other half was not completed due to the Senior Smith absense, and as the Chinese New Year celebration lasts almost a full month, I regret to advise that for half of the shipment at least, we are again seriously behind schedule..

It's all rather unfortunate, because as you can see from the pictures below - some of the swords in this batch are really quite special..

Some of the batch 21 swords (click for larger image)
And the blades have continued to improve, below you can see the prominent natural hamon that this line has been famous for, and the continually refined yokote line and boshi of the kissaki (tip), an area that is so often left unfinished or unsatsifactory on swords around this price point (simply because, it is so time consuming to do).

A batch 21 blade, note the true geometric kissaki with yokote and boshi
Sadly, it would seem that recently - every batch has been delayed much longer than what we are happy with - and the stresses of managing delayed shipments is really getting to be too much. But it is compounded by the fact that we are still selling these swords at 2008 prices despite massive increases in our costs, domestic and international shipping hikes and the fact that with more possible combinations than every before, the slightest error causes us to either remake the sword or offer some kind of compensation - and the losses have reached the point where it is no longer viable to continue the operation as it stands - especially when the amount of time spent managing the project is in the hundreds of hours per batch...

So as customers from batch 21 know, the future of the project is very uncertain..

As such, we are basically left with three choices:

1) Raise the base price and lower the number of orders within a batch to make it more manageable.  The demand is such that now when we open a batch, orders literally flood in and we have to close it up very quickly.

2) Create a new line, custom Katana 3.0 as it were, with less but better options (and again, at a higher base price). Options on ito colors and fittings will still be available, but blade lengths will be standardized and the fittings will be all iron and brass.

OR

3) Call it a day and end the project entirely...

Essentially, we won't know for certain which direction we will take until batch 21 is all in and accounted for, so I regret to advise to everyone who is waiting for batch 22 - I cannot provide an estimate as to when or if this will happen..

The only good news is that we do not plan on ending our relationship with the forge itself. Their blades are some of the best I have seen, and the SBG exclusive design line - such as the Black Dragon Katana, Yukiken and other limited edition designs that I create myself will continue, and indeed will likely grow larger as the year goes on. Indeed, right now we have two designs in stock and for sale - the SBG Black Dragon Ko Katana and the Oyabun Shirasaya (pictured below)

One of my own designs, the 'Oyabun' (Yakuza Godfather). More designs coming soon..
 Anyway, I really can't say too much more until batch 21 comes in, the forge re-opens from the Chinese New Year shutdown and we sit down and do some serious price calculations..

I'll keep you all posted, but in the meantime - thanks to everyone for their support. Hopefully we will be able to come up with something in the coming months - I already have some rather interesting designs for the SBG Limited Edition series - but in the meantime for the freestyle custom Katana series, let's get batch 21 in and see..

Thanks all,

- Paul Southren


SBG Custom Katana and the Black Dragon Forge BLOG: Future of the Custom Katana Series...

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Future of the Custom Katana Series...

Hi Everyone,

First off, a quick update for casual readers of this blog (customers have already been notified some time ago) - but batch 21 of the custom Katana has ended up somewhat delayed due to two factors:

1) The most senior Smiths father died as we were trying to wrap everything up to go out before Chinese New Year - and naturally he stopped work to grieve and make arrangements for the funeral.

2) Half of the shipment went out before Chinese New Year, but the other half was not completed due to the Senior Smith absense, and as the Chinese New Year celebration lasts almost a full month, I regret to advise that for half of the shipment at least, we are again seriously behind schedule..

It's all rather unfortunate, because as you can see from the pictures below - some of the swords in this batch are really quite special..

Some of the batch 21 swords (click for larger image)
And the blades have continued to improve, below you can see the prominent natural hamon that this line has been famous for, and the continually refined yokote line and boshi of the kissaki (tip), an area that is so often left unfinished or unsatsifactory on swords around this price point (simply because, it is so time consuming to do).

A batch 21 blade, note the true geometric kissaki with yokote and boshi
Sadly, it would seem that recently - every batch has been delayed much longer than what we are happy with - and the stresses of managing delayed shipments is really getting to be too much. But it is compounded by the fact that we are still selling these swords at 2008 prices despite massive increases in our costs, domestic and international shipping hikes and the fact that with more possible combinations than every before, the slightest error causes us to either remake the sword or offer some kind of compensation - and the losses have reached the point where it is no longer viable to continue the operation as it stands - especially when the amount of time spent managing the project is in the hundreds of hours per batch...

So as customers from batch 21 know, the future of the project is very uncertain..

As such, we are basically left with three choices:

1) Raise the base price and lower the number of orders within a batch to make it more manageable.  The demand is such that now when we open a batch, orders literally flood in and we have to close it up very quickly.

2) Create a new line, custom Katana 3.0 as it were, with less but better options (and again, at a higher base price). Options on ito colors and fittings will still be available, but blade lengths will be standardized and the fittings will be all iron and brass.

OR

3) Call it a day and end the project entirely...

Essentially, we won't know for certain which direction we will take until batch 21 is all in and accounted for, so I regret to advise to everyone who is waiting for batch 22 - I cannot provide an estimate as to when or if this will happen..

The only good news is that we do not plan on ending our relationship with the forge itself. Their blades are some of the best I have seen, and the SBG exclusive design line - such as the Black Dragon Katana, Yukiken and other limited edition designs that I create myself will continue, and indeed will likely grow larger as the year goes on. Indeed, right now we have two designs in stock and for sale - the SBG Black Dragon Ko Katana and the Oyabun Shirasaya (pictured below)

One of my own designs, the 'Oyabun' (Yakuza Godfather). More designs coming soon..
 Anyway, I really can't say too much more until batch 21 comes in, the forge re-opens from the Chinese New Year shutdown and we sit down and do some serious price calculations..

I'll keep you all posted, but in the meantime - thanks to everyone for their support. Hopefully we will be able to come up with something in the coming months - I already have some rather interesting designs for the SBG Limited Edition series - but in the meantime for the freestyle custom Katana series, let's get batch 21 in and see..

Thanks all,

- Paul Southren


10 Comments:

Blogger Will Davis said...

Hey Paul, I was just wondering why you didn't consider potentially doing like one batch a year, at increased pricing (I get that you need to eat) and maybe try having the detail work done by your American customization guy?

February 22, 2013 at 4:38 AM  
Blogger Billy Guthrie said...

Paul, I understand the problems, but could I beg you to complete just one more batch? Some of us need to finish personal projects. I love my batch 20 katana. I determined to get a matching wakizashi but missed batch 21. If there's to be no batch 22, what are my options? Perhaps you could sell the blade with a set of matching fittings as do-it-yourself projects for us orphans. A daisho for me, relief from labor and inspection costs for you. You're not making me go to the TV Knife Show for my daisho, are you?

February 23, 2013 at 1:06 PM  
Blogger Karl Olson said...

I just recently discovered your custom katanas and was hoping to get in on the next batch. I would still think it a great deal even with a $100 increase and that might make it easier for you to cope with. Whatever you decide to do I hope you start the project up again so i can customize a ko-katana. Good luck.

February 26, 2013 at 5:59 PM  
Blogger Christopher Citty said...

I'd say option 1 makes the most sense from both a collector and 'vendor' standpoint. It'd keep the custom aspect in place, as well as keep you making money, and keep the process available for those who can afford a custom blade. As a hobby smith myself, I understand that with just about any custom work, delays are almost inevitable. You can't rush art. And a handmade katana is most definitely art. But, art is not life, and when life happens, delays result. I can say from personal experience that I would rather pay more for the options I want, than to have less options, or none.

Plus, Paul, this project is a passion of yours. And, you should always embrace your passions. Keep them alive, and they reward you in time. I can't afford an SBG custom at the moment, but I'll be saving up for the time when I will. Please, don't end it.

Chris

March 1, 2013 at 4:44 AM  
Blogger Dantes said...

The best choice is the # 1 Rise the price to match the actual cost of life, if the costumer can pay 1,000 for projet X they can pay 500 $ or 600 $ for a customize sword the 300 $ price is unrealistic, so get a small batch with a fair price for those who really enjoy this hobby, because nobody offer costumize sword for sale nobody, so in this case set a price that is fair for you and make you feel comfortable with it, because everybody knows that this is not a church this is bussiness

March 1, 2013 at 6:23 PM  
Blogger Tim Lemmon said...

Just raise the price. I've not been able to get in on the action due to a pay cut I took at my job. I was hoping to scrimp enough together to eventually get one of these blades. I'd rather save more and wait a little longer than to just have the option disappear forever.

Tim

March 2, 2013 at 5:33 AM  
Blogger Miles A. said...

I think the best option is to raise the price. Like you said, I'm sure the forge would love your continued business, and there are many people on this front who would also like to see this service continued as well.

I recently found this service, and hope for a 22nd batch. Since nobody else offers a service, I would be more than happy to pay an extra $175 for a custom sword from you guys.

The project in all looks amazing in both artistic tallent and quality of the end product, and I hope that SBG has continued successes with the forge and resumes the project.

- Miles

March 5, 2013 at 7:52 AM  
Blogger Adam Freel said...

+1 for option 1
This is something I will definitely be saving for so charge me a little extra.
Keep this project alive!!

March 12, 2013 at 6:54 PM  
Blogger troy harmon said...

Everyone agrees keep it alive we will pay extra

March 13, 2013 at 9:07 PM  
Blogger Billy Guthrie said...

Heck, yeah! I change my vote and go with the majority. Just raise the price. Make it fair to yourself and it'll be fair to us.

You're the first person I found online who told me what to look for and where to go for a decent sword. I'm already in for four and want more!

We love this! More custom swords!!!

March 20, 2013 at 2:12 PM  

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