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Author Topic: Ruana  (Read 18228 times)
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radicat
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« on: October 28, 2007, 10:35:19 AM »

I always try a google search like " ruana knife ebay" first. If that doesn't work , I go to ebay and search there.
A Google search usually has a cached page, if the bid is over. But, there is no guarantee that any photo will be still available. So, if a person wants to save a photo or print one out, they need to get it before it sells.

The ebay descriptions come in handy for reference later. In fact it may be the only place you will ever see a knife. And, usually there will be several views of it, including stamping. I got tired of buying ink and started storing stuff off-premises. Besides, the warden around here isn't impressed with binders of knife photos cluttering up the place. You can save the complete ebay page or just selected images and text for your library.

Let's see if I can find that  Ruana that Ed asked about and post it.    

« Last Edit: October 28, 2007, 06:39:49 PM by radicat » Logged
radicat
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« Reply #1 on: October 28, 2007, 11:14:11 AM »

This bowie by R. H. Ruana tells us a lot about him as a knifemaker. He was giving us a lesson in history as well.
He was a genius who never ran out of ideas, just time.

http://cgi.ebay.com/1940S-R-H-RUANA-40-A-C-GUARD-BOWIE-KNIFE-14-BLADE_W0QQitemZ160173170132QQihZ006QQcategoryZ43322QQcmdZViewItem


* 0904_3.JPG (50.49 KB, 640x480 - viewed 236 times.)

* 21c2_3.JPG (66.54 KB, 640x480 - viewed 219 times.)

* 29ff_3.JPG (61.93 KB, 640x480 - viewed 235 times.)
« Last Edit: October 28, 2007, 09:50:50 PM by radicat » Logged
Ed Fowler
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« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2007, 07:15:21 PM »

One man's dream! Thanks for posting it.

The belief that the brass back of Bowies came from (I believe) a comment by Lucie Bowie (no relation to the Bowies of fame) who metioned a brass insert in the back of a blade. She was reffering to a name plate or brass filled engraving and not a full brass back like the one we see in the photo.
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radicat
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« Reply #3 on: October 28, 2007, 09:59:02 PM »

Could it be that the small tabs created in the guard edge next to the handle were pressed slightly inward to better secure it all?  I don't believe he did that cutting just for looks. Although it does add to the appearance.
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davidm
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« Reply #4 on: October 29, 2007, 06:05:22 AM »

I would like to hear some explanation on how Ruana was able to make the numbers of knives he did, did he have some templates that he could basically stamp out the frames, the aluminum frames? .. Then, the heat treating must have been a simple process, right?  Keeping the production high and costs down..

Ed, you told me (if I remember) that Ruana practically gave away his knives, charging miniscule prices, what the customers could afford as a daily wage.  I guess there's records somewhere, it would be interesting to hear what this bowie sold for, new.

I don't see anyone copying Ruana's patterns in the custom arena the way that Scagel's have been imitated so much..  The first Ruana knives I remember seeing, my first impressions were that they didn't have much appeal, I didn't like the aluminum, and the grinds were somewhat crude.  Then, seeing some older knives and hearing his story, I did start to get an appreciation.  Also, Ruana knives age well.  Like old Marble's knives.  A few collectors that I know, who like Marble's knives, are always interested in old Ruana knives also.

The newer Ruana knives, anyone ever used one?  Any comments on these?
David
 
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« Reply #5 on: October 29, 2007, 08:32:53 AM »

The Bowie knife is definately not a typical Ruana style. I have no idea why he would deviate so drastically from his methods.

David, he decided he would make knives that the average working man in his area could buy one with a days wages.

Rudy was a workaholic, he forged the blades individually himself, his son in law did the leather work.

He learned how to cast the aluminium handles and could do them in batches. He made his own milling machines to cut the aluminuim and elk horn to exact tollerances.

There were a lot of elk harvested in his area and he would trade knives for antler. He aged his horn and was in absolute control of all aspects of his knives.  This is a significant aspect of sole authorship and along with knowing what a knife needed to be is what made his knives so special.

Trying to copy a Ruana would be quite a job for the average knife maker, as it would require many talents. This is why you don't see many copies.

Scagels knives from a makers perspective are easier to copy as far as what the average man can see. Very few understand the knives of Bill Scagel and those who have developed a comprehensive understanding
are very few. This is why you can usually spot a copy instantly. The integrity of his design is what makes copies difficult. Scagel was also in absolute control of the materials that went into his knives.

Jim Lucie is working on a book that will bring this understanding to be realized to more individuals. Jim has spent a large portion of his life in a very intelligent study of Scagel's knives, I can't wait until it is available.
« Last Edit: October 29, 2007, 05:50:23 PM by Ed Fowler » Logged

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davidm
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« Reply #6 on: October 29, 2007, 12:13:05 PM »

Thank you Ed!  I guess he had a near endless supply of horn, so the material cost must have been minimal. 

Interesting about the aluminum casting.  I can't think of any knives made by custom makers that have the cast pommels, except for two makers that come to mind, Joe Cordova and Bob Patrick.  I'm sure there are more...I've seen knives they made in the Woodcraft style, and I'm not sure where they get, or how they do the pommels.

I can't think of one knife I've ever seen that was copied off of Ruana's design of aluminum frame.  The closest i can remember may be something of German design, but nothing too similar. 

Ed, do you know how he heat treated his blades?  ... it also occurs to me, you may have been around when he was making knives.  I do not know when he died..  But, have you ever met anyone who knew him well, have some insights about how he tested his knives.

I remember reading an article once, a fellow was doing an article on him and paid him a visit with a Ruana knife he had recently purchased. When Ruana offered to show the man his knife throwing skills, using the man's new knife, he reluctantly refused to oblige, fearing for the condition of the knife. He said he felt bad, and Ruana looked genuinely disappointed.   
David 
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radicat
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« Reply #7 on: October 30, 2007, 12:25:30 AM »

And, the remaining photos of this piece of knife history.



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* 1906_12.JPG (39.1 KB, 500x375 - viewed 199 times.)
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« Reply #8 on: October 30, 2007, 05:58:44 PM »

As I understood the legend the brass back acted as a blade catcher in a "duel the death" It would catch or slow a glancing blow. I would have to look but I belive Rudy passed away in 86'. I couldn't find anything in the book about his heat treat but I'll keep looking.
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« Reply #9 on: October 31, 2007, 07:13:39 AM »

my thoughts about the brass insert on the spine, if the knife was full hard and it was brazed the act of brazing the spine to acheve the brass insert would soften the spine and leave the edge harder ...gust a guess ...i might be way off
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« Reply #10 on: October 31, 2007, 09:14:18 AM »

I 'm not sure whether he brazed it or casted it. The little craters do occur either way. But, the orange-peel affect is strange to either process. Am I wrong?  If he casted it, the steel would have to be very hot too.

Like I said before, this man knew blade making history. He could make a perfect fit and finish knife, but everything he did to make this knife appear authentic would lead me to believe that he used whatever process that he thought would be within the capability of a bladesmith during the period.

Can you imagine the fun he had answering the questions about how he did this knife? He'll get the last laugh when someone x-rays it someday and discovers what's under that brass. Skyline of New York City??
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« Reply #11 on: November 01, 2007, 09:57:03 PM »

Nobody bid after the $10,000 mark was hit. That was the 122nd win for that bidder. Too bad no one pushed it any further. Could have been very interesting. Opening that package will be fun.
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« Reply #12 on: November 02, 2007, 09:23:37 AM »

David:
Rudy's knives were made to use. I have cut with them and they do very well, better than most of knives bveing made today.

I have never seen a broken Ruana, considering that he made them for working men in working country this speaks very well for them. They were made and sold as users.

Had Rudy decided to go for more expensive knives he certainly could have done so. I have seen some of his knives that knew excellent fit and finish and still maintained the honest strength through design and materials that a working knife needs to have.

Rudy forged his blades on a 50 pound Little Giant and did his own heat treating. I have never sought to know how he heat treated, but there is no question that he knew what he was doing. Next time I talk to his grandsons I will ask.

I am told that he made his own milling machines out of parts from other machines. A friend of mine told me that he knew Rudy well when he started making knives, he was also a pretty good machinest and was there when Rudy set us his milling machine for handles.

Rudy had a knife throwing set up behing his shop and liked to throw his bowies. When you study his designs, the probability of damaging one is very remote. The elk antler is very very effectively protected form damage should the handle striking an object or be pounded on to add force to the tip.

As Rudy's "art knives" come to the surface, we gain a greater appreciatiion for his knowledgable workmanship. In my book he was one of the best makers in our history.
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davidm
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« Reply #13 on: November 13, 2007, 06:15:13 PM »

Ed,
I mentioned the ebay Ruana knife, (sold for $10,000) to a friend of mine who has been collecting Ruana knives for years.  He knew the man who sold it, said he had 600 of Ruana's knives.  He thought the high price wasn't an indicator that the market was skyrocking (though it is creeping up, he said), just it was a fluke the knife went so high.  I really don't know the particulars of that knife, to know what about it was unique or rare. 
Thank you Ed, for the information about Ruana, the man and maker.   it is always good to hear some testimony from you, what your impressions are.  I regard what you say highly.   Does he (Ruana) strike you as similar to Wayne Goddard, in how he has made a great many ordinary things into his own tools?  (such as written in the "$50 knife shop") 

Ed,
I would also like to probe your mind about Harry Morseth, and Webster Marble, what your views of these men are, the knives they made, impact on what has become known in your own terms as the "using knife".  I do remember you saying they were also men that you held in high esteem.  I have some doubt now,  if I remember correctly, you did say Harry Morseth, or is it my memory faltering ?
David
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« Reply #14 on: November 14, 2007, 09:15:06 AM »

My opinion of Rudy Ruana as a maker has changed greatly in the past 6 years. I feel that he stands alone when it comes to knowledge of cut and design of lady knife when it comes to function. Rudy also made an individual and creative statement of origonal design, the intregity of all his blades was as good as it gets and made a living doing it. Very few makers have been able to achieve these objectives.

I remember a time when new makers criticised Rudy's knifes as crude and laughed at his 'lack of craftmanship'. Most of those 'superior' makers are no longer making knives. Looking at his early knives he could have gone after the high ticket market had he chosen to do so, (the Bowie that I have written about and this latest $10,000 knife are examples of superior craftmanship) instead he identified the market he wanted to serve, designed a great knife and brought pleasure to many men who needed a knife.

Rudy was in complete command of all the materials that went into his knives, they were his, he understood them well and made it work. These are the hallmarks of a true master.

Morseth had a good idea and made it work, he was not the first, and others still try to make the laminated blade work. He put a lot of good ideas into knives and campaigned them well.

Marbels, again the knives had been made before, they put together an outfit to make them, advertised well and developed a fine line of knives.
Their knives were dependable, did their job and remain appreciated by many fans.

All three of the folks you mention were leaders and remain an inspiration to many who still appreciate their contribution to the world of knives. Integrity is a common element of all three and again to be admired.

Good Questins David - keep them comming.
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