I made my first knife over 40 years ago under the guidance of Rudy Ruana, my grandfather. I was only in grade school at the time, when most kids were playing baseball or riding bikes. My two brothers (Dennis and David) and I spent 4 years (1978-1981) learning the "art of knife making" with Grandpa Rudy leading the way.
Pounding red hot steel the old fashioned way!
For Rudy, business was business. We would go to the knife shop here in Montana (God's country) on Saturdays, where we would clean the shop in exchange for lessons in crafting handmade hunting knives and bowies. Not a bad swap, considering Rudy is world renowned for his ability to build a top notch knife.
Where have I been since those early days pounding out knives with Grandpa? Working full time as a carpenter in the Bitterroot Valley, putting out a few knives on the side time permitting. Like Rudy, I would trade knives for elk horn, mostly from friends and family. Knife making has always been a part of me. I get a sense of joy working with the grinders and buffers. There is a creative freedom I enjoy while crafting a knife, one you don't often get a chance to exercise with house building.
Don Ruana's Home - Built with the help of my dad and brothers.
I've decide to transition from a part time knife maker to full time in 2009. It's a big step, but I've got to follow my dream. I am a member of the American Bladesmith Society and plan to test as a Master Bladesmith.
Don Ruana ... doing what I love.
Like in those early days, Bud, Dave and I still meet up to pound some steel and refine our skills. I remember where I started, but look forward to the future.
Don Ruana, Dave Ruana, and Dennis (Bud) Ruana gathered around the forge.
Now for the other half... I couldn't do this without the love and support of my wife Cindy. We have made our home in Philipsburg, MT, mountain country. It's a small community, where neighbors will still help with chores and stop over for bite to eat. When I'm not in the shop, you can find Cindy and me riding horses, skiing, hunting, or hiking. It's nice to enjoy the simple things in life.
View of the mountains from my front porch.
I take great pride in the knives I make. You won't find a knife maker more dedicated to his customers, than I am. It's all about building a top quality knife for YOU!
Bladesmith & Owner
DER Knives, LLC.
Not affiliated with Ruana Knife Works, Inc. of Bonner, Montana. RUANA ® is a registered trademark of Ruana Knife Works, Inc.