Iconic. Rebellious. Montana – Ruana Knives
Left home at 13.
Lied about his age at 16 to join the Army
He was stationed at Fort Knox, Kentucky as a farrier in the Cavalry. Working by the sweat of his brow shoeing horses, a task more akin to blacksmithing than ranching, Rudy seemed almost on a destined path to bladesmithing.
After presumable making his own blades due to his need for an edge to perform highly at his everyday task as a farrier, others from Fort Knox started to take notice. His first “knife collectors” or more appropriately customers were Montana Blackfeet tribe members who were working as horse breakers. They needed a blade that was stout enough to withstand their rigorous job but yet still retain a sharp edge to skin a frozen horse in the dead of winter, and as will become the definition of Ruana Knives themselves Rudy met the challenge.
He met the need for Montana hunters and ranchers who were sick of the wasteful mass-produced knives that you could buy off the shelves, “A lot of knives back then, the guards would come off or the blades were loose,” says Hangas (son-in-law to Ruana and eventual owner of Ruana Knives). “But Rudy was what I always called ‘hell for stout,’ and he wanted to make something that would never fall apart” (source 1).
Rudy Ruana didn’t just make knives he made a tool that would last the users life time, their kids lifetime and so on. “Quality over quantity” as Mark Hangas would say (source 1). Over the years I, Tucker of North American Auction Co. have seen many a Ruana which had been passed through multiple generations of family members showing only the obvious signs of use. Ruana knives were made to be used, and used they were.
His work wasn’t about looks, but inevitably his iconic design of cast aluminum integral handles paired with antler grip scales being dovetailed and paired with heavy leather sheaths all bearing the Ruana name has now become the prize for many a knife collector.
A Ruana blade is crafted in the very same shop Rudy forged, even using many of the very same tools and machines he used as well, keeping the same spirit Rudy had, that of Montana.
That spirit, a quiet rebellious, hard working, roll your sleeves up, build for quality and longevity attitude that is woven into the fabric of all Montanans. We built North American Auction Co. and founded it here in Bozeman, Montana under these same principles. We wanted to work harder, put in more time and give our customers the best product we possibly could. We’ve put our neck on the line time and time again, being told by competitors and mentors that we put too much into our photography, too much into our descriptions, that we spend to much on our catalogs and should focus more on easier things to sell like other auctioneers. Instead we put our heads down, rolled up our sleeves and for the last decade we worked.
I hope that you all enjoy the several Ruana handmade knives along with other collector knives that are in the next sale as much as I do and that you put into your lives, your work, your everything the same attitude that Rudy did.
I would also love to hear from you about what you’d like to interact with in upcoming blog entries. It’s kind of a cliche to say customers make our business or that we couldn’t do this without you, but its true. Let me know what you think about these amazing Ruana Knives and what you’d love to hear about in our next blog entry.
Tucker Markovich, NAAC VP (Auctioneer, IT-Guy, Item Repair Man, Coffee-Maker, Blog-writer, Chief Bottle Washer and whatever else hits my work bench)