A ďSabersmithĒ is a person who is good at designing, creating and competently installing electronics into said designed hilt.
A Sabersmith DOES NOT NEED to be able to create something from raw material or tubes (I.e. need a lathe, mill, etc). Several excellent Sabersmiths have and may still use MHS stuff as their ďbaseĒ, and that is perfectly fine. The fact that you may not recognize the pieces once the hilts are done are a testament to the individuals ďartistryĒ..
Jbkuma is right that volume isnít necessary to become a Sabersmith, I happen to know a few excellent Sabersmiths, who donít build much, or build for profit, but have both won multiple awards and contests. People have seen their work and gawked appropriately (and yes, their works are posted here on the forums). However, one name is fairly well known, while the other is not (partially by choice). And I (and several others) also know who actually coined the term Sabersmith way back when.
An installer is basically someone who will put electronics into any of the myriad of empty hilts floating around out there like (Korbanthís and others). Conversions also fall into this category in my view, because barring any major metalwork, itís just a gut and re-install.
To echo what Bombarta said, Solos Hold is classified as a ďmachinist/manufacturerĒ. He basically machines empties and others do the installations, which is fine,
Yes, there are many people who crop up on FB and hang their shingle, because that is the easiest way to do it. But if someone is going to be serious, and wants to be taken seriously in this hobby, they have to put in the work, and Build their reputations.
What most donít know, and/or probably donít realize is that most of the OG Sabersmiths and a few others all know each other in real life and have for many years. We all watch, take notes, trade notes, etc. and periodically discuss people as necessary. The SABER GUILD here was established by several people to help establish standards or quality and conduct for future Sabersmiths to follow and aspire to. Membership to The Mining Colony is usually the first step on that road.
People think that because they hang their shingle up on FB, theyíre just as good as anyone else, and that couldnít be further from the truth. The saber community is a bit like a video game, there are several levels, INCLUDING some that fairly few know of. Those who really read and try to learn the hobbyís history may eventually stumble across clues to the levels of which I refer to. Like everything else, there are grey areas, and subtle differences but this is the general way of things.