I love forging. I think in every craft the artist has their favorite process, where they feel their right brain doing something indescribable, something outside of themselves. I protect that feeling as it's the lifeblood of my joy in what I do. That that process is what does it for me is one of the main drivers of why we've chosen to approach our work the way we have. There are perhaps more efficient ways to make knives and make money, but those reduce the joy in the work for me, and I think if that were to happen you would know. It would bleed out into the design and become tired, and you could see it as such.
My parents, who I learned much of my craft and art from, routinely ask me if I still love what I do, now that it's a business- now that there are waiting lists, deadlines, accounting, "customers" and pressures, and my answer, in some ways to my surprise, is absolutely yes.
I love it mainly because I have been careful to protect it, to identify what I love about it and maximize those aspects. This is why I don't use patterns and make every piece as a one-off- every knife is freehand design guided by conversations with a specific person, someone I know in even a small way. I can imagine how they will use it, how they will hold it, and from that relationship let my right brain fashion what it wants. Forging and profiling (those processes are inseparable) in themselves are probably 75% of this process in my mind.
A very successful knifemaking friend shared one of the secrets of his financial success: named knife designs or models that can be discussed, written about, etc. The design aspect is fully at the front-end of this process though. Once you develop a new model, you make many of them. Different handle materials perhaps, but essentially the same design. This is indeed a very powerful way to run your business, and much more accepted, but to do that would make me lose the everyday design process that I currently enjoy.
Starting with recycled metals is as much about keeping the forging/profiling process fresh (every piece is a different shape and requires a different approach) than for the materials' interesting sources, or for the environmental benefit. It does mean that not all of my knives are vetted, tried and true patterns, but it also means that I can't stop thinking about function, about every aspect that makes a good tool good. That way every knife, every day, is design school- there is no simple production- and the more I learn, the better the knives will be- the better I'll fit each particular person to the tool I build them.
I also like just making things for imagined customers and for myself, and these often come up on the site or on Tom's shop (Sharp and Shiny Shop). They're a good way to stretch and experiement with specific techniques. Tom understands kitchen knives in their detail and use more than most and has been quite helpful in guiding my thinking and critiquing my work. For a review he graciously did for me see the Sharp and Shiny Shop subforum in Kitchen Knife Forums.com HERE.