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Topic: The Craft of Gaffs...
Message: Posted by: allen_m (Oct 15, 2008 10:37AM)
OK, let's say that a guy, kinda handy with tools, and frequently in need of fabricating odd bits for the old motorcycles he restores, was also a coin magic enthusiast and looking for a secondary excuse to buy a few new bits for his shop...

How does one learn the craft of making gaffs?? I doubt Todd Lassen or Jamie Schoolcraft would just invite a fella over for a few beers and his trade secrets...

Beyond the obvious [i]practice makes perfect[/i] I think the hardest bit would be the technique for enlarging coins to make enlarged ['s... I have thoughts on the matter; but no real world evidence to support them... My goal is not a second career- I've seen too many flames thrown about in reference to ANY competent gaffer; but, I digress... Is this a matter of [i]'we'd tell you; but, we'd have to kill you'[/i] or, is there hope???


-Allen M. in Tucson. And maybe soon in Bisbee, too!
Message: Posted by: Lawrence O (Oct 15, 2008 11:55AM)
Seeing the time it takes to both of them for doing their craft and their work load, I don't think they would mind a little help for someone who really wants to put his hands into the real work rather than just stealing their manufacturing secrets. Call them...
Message: Posted by: allen_m (Oct 15, 2008 12:14PM)
On 2008-10-15 12:55, Lawrence O wrote:
...Call them...

I actually have an order pending w- Todd, and will be speaking with him again as soon as he finishes his re-location to Colorado and posts his new phone number. A simple phone call probably is the best start; but, I well understand their close guarding of [i]'trade secrets'[/i]...

[i]Nothing ventured...[/i]

Message: Posted by: MarkTirone (Oct 15, 2008 03:15PM)
I actually make almost all of my coin gaffs by hand. I have made almost ever kind of gaff you can imagine (Thats about 12 different kinds to me, idk if there are more out there) You can email me and I can help you out.
Message: Posted by: allen_m (Oct 15, 2008 04:25PM)
Thank you VERY much.

Email being composed!

Message: Posted by: jimmyj (Oct 15, 2008 05:51PM)
Hello Mark,
Is it possible to send any pics our way?
Message: Posted by: coinguy (Oct 15, 2008 07:21PM)
Yes, I second that. I would like to see the success rate of home made gaff coins.
Message: Posted by: Judah Vee (Oct 15, 2008 11:59PM)
Todd is moving to my state? Sweet!!!
Message: Posted by: MarkTirone (Oct 16, 2008 04:04PM)
I don't have a camera but if I can somehow get some pics, I will be glad to send them your way. Maybe in a youtube video slideshow. I had a karate coin and a David Roth eraser coin but they fell into the couch at one of my gigs lol.
Message: Posted by: rutabaga (Oct 16, 2008 05:56PM)
Anyone here tried making their own Ramsey stack out of Canadian Toonies? I'm thinking of banging out the inner section. Should be straight forward. Right? :)
Message: Posted by: MarkTirone (Oct 16, 2008 07:36PM)
I have always wondered if the center part could be taken out. It will probably be much easier than drilling the coins.
Message: Posted by: allen_m (Oct 17, 2008 12:37PM)
So none of you [i]handy with machine tools[/i] kind of guys knows the basics of enlarging a coin??? If I were to make a wild guess, pressing a coin into a die milled to the diameter you ultimately want your ] would work; but, I wonder how you minimize distortion and protect the face of the coin....???
Just thinkin' out loud. Kinda wish my Lassen order was ready!
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Oct 25, 2008 01:59AM)
Nope. Not even close. There is a lot of preliminary work before you get to that stage. There is material about this in the Secret Sessions, which is where it belongs.
Message: Posted by: gallagher (Oct 29, 2008 12:24PM)
Hey Allen, why don't YOU figure out how to do it? In this world, everything is so possible,.. and so very, very few are capable. So very few are willing to try. Pitiful.
out there trying,
Message: Posted by: Thomas Wayne (Oct 29, 2008 12:52PM)
Expanding a coin is easy. Expanding a coin without distorting the face is easy. Expanding a coin without distorting the face and without losing thickness is easy. Expanding a coin without distorting the face, without losing thickness and, instead, making it [i]thicker[/i] than a stock coin is easy.

All you need it the correct machinery and knowledge of the necessary techniques. I learned through trial and error and lots of $$$ in ruined coins. I also have [b]lots[/b] of expensive and precise machinery. And, like the other guys who really do know how, I'm not talking.

I will, however, say this much - if you want to learn how for just a few coins for yourself you will be a wasting a lot of time and a lot of money. If you want to learn how in order to start a new career, plan on a few years of heartache and a lot of expense before you make any money (at all)... and keep your day job.

Message: Posted by: allen_m (Oct 30, 2008 04:27PM)
Not planning a career; just looking for another excuse to buy a mill and a lathe...

Back to my day job...
Message: Posted by: Wes65 (Oct 30, 2008 06:15PM)
I have a cousin who is extremely talented with metal working and he has a very nice machine shop. He's been interested in making some gaffs, but was a little concerned about the price I pay for my coin (ungaffed).

What I was wondering is this: when a coin is absolutely ruined, can the silver be salvaged and sold? If so, then the risk is minimal....except for expensive bits and such I would suppose.
Message: Posted by: TWOCAN (Oct 30, 2008 06:33PM)
On 2008-10-30 17:27, allen_m wrote:
Not planning a career; just looking for another excuse to buy a mill and a lathe...

Back to my day job...
[/quote]I have racked my brain trying to do coin gaff work but after waisting lots of $ I could have just bought the gaff and be done with it. Unless you are 100% sure of wanting to learn about gaff coins and doing it yourself then just buy the gaff and enjoy it.
Message: Posted by: Father Photius (Oct 30, 2008 09:00PM)
You can sell salvaged coin silver, but most buyers are going to pay you below spot because spot is what they get paid, so you will lose money from what you paid. Most bullion type coins are sold at a spot plus price.
Message: Posted by: allen_m (Oct 30, 2008 09:47PM)
I figure around $3,000 is the minimum in machine shop gear to even attempt this; and, that probably isn't enough... But, think of all the other cool stuff a guy could make...

Message: Posted by: Father Photius (Oct 30, 2008 10:02PM)
Yes if he will do an apprenticeship as a machinist, and work as a journeyman for a few years, then take a couple of years learning the tricks of the trade to do magic stuff with it. In the interim, and considering the time and money spent, you could buy it all and still have a good hunk of change left over.

I don't begrudge the time it takes one of these guys to make a gaff, nor do I begrudge the prices they charge. If you want one of their gaffs you pay their price, regardless of who else is out there. Like going to the butcher and saying Hey, McVenny down the street only charges 1.25 a lb for pork chops your's are 2.75 a lb. And the butcher says "well then go buy it from McVenny". And you say "McVenny doesn't have any, he is out", and the Butcher says, "Well when I don't have any and I'm out they are only 60 cents a lb."

You pay the price the man you want it from charges or you go somewhere else. Plain and simple.
Message: Posted by: Thomas Wayne (Oct 31, 2008 01:33AM)
Coin Silver is not pure silver. To salvage scrap silver and machine shavings ("swarf") you will have to pay a minimum assay fee no matter how much scrap coin silver you bring in. After that, the cost of refining will be deducted from the below-spot rate so that the refiner can make money too.

I currently have about 8 lbs of scrap coin silver and am just about to the point where it will be slightly profitable to have it refined. You're going to have to ruin a lot of coins to get over that bar.

Message: Posted by: gaddy (Oct 31, 2008 05:50PM)
It's unfortunate that so much of the great skill it takes to produce certain magic items is just simply disappearing --and that which is left must charge such exorbitant rates for items that were so easily available in the past.

Ah well, such is life.
Message: Posted by: Sammy J. (Nov 1, 2008 10:33PM)
I think that anyone who does superb work deserves to be compensated accordingly. I don't own any of Jamie's stuff, but if the need arises for coins of that nature, I won't hesitate to invest in them. In all the magic items I have purchased, my main regrets have been slanted toward the cheap stuff I am embarressed to have ever purchased.
Message: Posted by: joseph (Nov 2, 2008 07:37AM)
On 2008-10-16 18:56, rutabaga wrote:
Anyone here tried making their own Ramsey stack out of Canadian Toonies? I'm thinking of banging out the inner section. Should be straight forward. Right? :)

Or maybe using washers the same color and size...The hole is already there.. :) ..
Message: Posted by: Thomas Wayne (Nov 3, 2008 09:25PM)
On 2008-10-31 18:50, gaddy wrote:
It's unfortunate that so much of the great skill it takes to produce certain magic items is just simply disappearing --and that which is left must charge such exorbitant rates for items that were so easily available in the past.

Ah well, such is life.

"Exorbitant" is an unfair characterization in my opinion, as the word itself suggests an [i]unfairly[/i] high price. The best craftsmen in the world are entitled to charge what the market will bear for their sweat and blood. And, as most intelligent people know, the marketplace will eliminate those businesses that charge too high a price for the value they offer.

Your concern for the shrinking field of skilled craftsmen in the magic industry seems compelling, however the cause of that shrinkage is revealed in the rest of your statement. You feel that the prices for high-quality apparatus are "exorbitant", which suggests that such prices are somehow unfair or unreasonable. They're not, but the idea that high quality can be had for cheap money is the very thing that drives many skilled fabricators to other fields of endeavor.

I have accumulated, over three decades, a shop full of equipment that can produce incredibly precise and intricate work; I have also acquired the necessary skills to use that equipment to manufacturer, [i]literally[/i], anything I want. I determine my prices based on material cost and time required to get the job done - but I [i]also[/i] determine my prices on my ability to create things that YOU can't. If you don't like that, or can't afford it then that is simply too bad.

John Ruskin, in an essay often quoted in business schools, wrote:

[i]"There is hardly anything in the world that someone cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price alone are that person's lawful prey."[/i]

Ruskin went on to write:[quote][b]
"It is unwise to pay too much, but it is also unwise to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money, that is all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything because the thing you bought is incapable of doing the thing you bought it to do.

The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot... It can't be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder it is well to add something for the risk you run. And if you do that you will have enough to pay for something better."[/b][/quote]

Amateur magicians seem to have a long history of wanting "something for nothing", whether it is simply the secret to an effect, or even the apparatus itself. Most professionals - the good ones, at least - know that a quality piece of apparatus will last a very long time and not fail when it's needed the most. They seem to know the most important tenant of all regarding apparatus: you get what you pay for.

Thomas Wayne
Message: Posted by: Douglas Lippert (Nov 5, 2008 07:53AM)

You do know forums like this are mostly filled with hobby magicians?