Sometimes in life, if you are fortunate, you meet a person who is known
and defined by what they make rather than by what they say. A person who’s character and spirit are infused into the art
they create. The image comes to mind of the famous Japanese sword-makers,
or of classic artists known for their statues or paintings. Ray Rantanen is such a precious find. Every item he
creates represents his in-depth studies, meticulous attention to detail
and his striving for perfection.
Our family has purchased several of his creations and all of them are
better than expected. His Damascus blades are
more beautiful than their pictures and are the finest quality and
workmanship to be found anywhere. Most recently I sent Ray a HUGE
horseshoe to make a knife out of. The size and composition proved very
difficult, but Ray hung in and made it work. Beyond that, there was
enough raw material left so he took up the challenge again and made a 2nd
knife for my son, a Captain in the Air Force.
He really went out of his way to create something special
for me because he knew how much it meant. Once again, the horseshoe knife
he made has exceeded all my hopes and expectations.
Do yourself a favor and own at least one of Rays creations. He makes the highest quality product
available and each one is a completely unique work of art that is
guaranteed to be a family treasure. When you hold a Ray Rantanen knife you will know the man, more intimately
than you would by talking to him. Thank you, Ray, for being the artist
you are and for creating such beauty for others to share!
These are a few of the comments I’ve received
that keep me making knives. I have many, but these few show how folks are
responding to my efforts. Thanks to all of them. The first one is long
winded, but written buy a guy who does know knives.
----- Original Message ----- Dear Ray, I received my
Number six a few weeks ago and to say that I was extremely pleased is a
gross understatement. As the owner of a high end cutlery store
dealing primarily in high end customs and an avid outdoorsman in the toughest
country on the continent, Fairbanks Alaska, I am extremely lucky,
spoiled, and VERY critical of all knives but even more so in the one's I
choose to use. I have literally used about every steel out there by
some of the top names in the industry in stainless, carbon and damascus. I've used hammer
forged as well as stock removal. I
have my favorites of course, but I can HONESTLY say that i HAVEN'T EVER used any knife that performs as well
as yours. I have never seriously considered using a damascus knife as my primary field
knife, but I think I've changed my mind as yours hasn't been off my belt
in over a month. I put it through a battery of tests "a la
Blade magazine reviewer style" including manilla
rope, cardboard, chopping and serious whittling
on river wood full of sand. But more importantly, what
impressed me most was how it's held up doing normal daily knife chores
like cleaning fish, stripping wire, skinning game and the hundred other
things we do with our knives. I was skeptical at first when I read
your literature about just using a few laps with your Coors stone, so you
can only imagine how happy I was when I followed your directions and your
knife and stone did exactly what you said it would. The edge
retention is absolutely UNBELIEVABLE and even as I write these words, I'm
still having trouble believing it, or sounding like a paid
advertisement! Your knife is not the typical knife I would buy for
resale in my shop as most of my customers never use their knives and put
them in a safe or display case. I'm usually in a higher dollar
bracket catering to serious collectors who are only after
"Names" After all I've put your knife through, those
customers are getting ripped off and missing the whole point of
what quality cutlery can do for you and how much easier it makes your
tasks. These are the same kind of customers who will drop thousands
for a Moran or a Ruanna but hunt with a
Buck. I don't mean any of this in a negative way as your knives fit
all of these bills as far as beauty and performance. They just want
to spend more money so they can say " look, I have scimshawed mammoth ivory by so and so with Devin
Thomas damascus and lots of gold and
jewels" They are missing out and I
will convert them all to a real knife! Your fit and finish was
perfect, some of the smoothest fitups I've seen
and your solder joint was perfect. I bought this knife for
myself after reading your website (several times) as I am quite picky and
something told me I should own one of yours as you obviously knew your
business when it came to damascus forging, heat
treating, and metallurgy in general.. It was the smartest thing
I've done in the knife world in a long, long time. I could also
tell that performance was first and foremost in your mind and in your
work, and that I wasn't reading "Hype". I'd put your
knife up against anybody's in a real world competition and come out on
top. And remember, I've used about everything!! I skin
several moose, grizzlies, caribou, beaver and wolves a year and can't
wait for moose season as I know the hard work wil
be so much easier. That's why I've already ordered your large camp
knife and will probably have you build me a hatchet as well.
In today's grossly overpriced knife market where production knives are
reaching 500.00, your price's were a steal, in
fact, I feel guilty everyday when I use it. Like I stole from you
as I know how much work, effort, sweat and love you put into each
knife. The damascus patterns are
beautiful and th sheath, though not the most beautiul I've ever seen, fits the knife like a glove
and is of extremely high quality and will last as long as the knife does.
Also the literature and owner's kit and stone you sent me with my
knife was very impressive and a nice classy touch that proves to me that
you care agreat deal for your customers. You have a new
faithful customer for life! best regards
and good fortune in all your endeavours, Mike Tranum, Owner Greatland
Knives, Fairbanks, Alaska. PS. I'm sorry if this
endorsement/review was a little long winded, but that's how strongly I
feel about your product. This endorsement was in now way solicited
and I do not sell Ray's work in my shop. I paid Ray's posted
internet price and I know I got the better end of the deal. ‘Ive also never given any maker anywhere near this
glowing of a field test review.
“When I opened the first carving set, I was so
taken back by the beauty of the carving set I wanted to sit down and cry.
Since, I have received the other two and they are just as beautiful” Barbara,
Email response to carving sets I had sent to her as Xmas presents for her
“That serrated kitchen knife cuts bread and
tomatoes like no other knife” My dentist remarking on knife he bought his
I got my knife yesterday. To say I was pleased would be an
I kept looking at the knife and could not put it down. I own
damascus knives, but they cannot
compare with this one. I told my wife that
if she has a problem deciding what to get me for Christmas or Birthdays
get in touch with you.
I received my knife a few days
ago and decided to wait a few days to calm down before writing you, so as
not to be too euphoric. What a beauty it is Ray. Since I'm pushing 70 yrs
old I have had my share of "custom toys" but nothing like this.
Don't know how you did it but somehow you captured exactly how I imagine
myself in this knife. I have to admit I've been told I'm pretty
demanding but you exceeded my expectations.
So here goes my laid back, calmed down, series of one word, descriptions
of my knife:
The blade file work is a crowning touch and the Rayburst
blade pattern can't adequately be described in words. When I showed
the knife to my sons and friends they were equally impressed. Perhaps the
best complement I can give you is this - I can't wait to order another! -
and neither can they!!
Well, you expert craftsman, you, not many
things leave me speechless, but I gotta tell ya, this knife has done just that.
.... I'm recovering
... slowly. I must, so I can tell you about my
I received my "Rantanen
Falcon" today, and I absolutely don't know where to start to
describe my feelings! Ray, this is clearly the nicest knife I own
(and I own nearly 100 "keepers," all of which
are crafted by some very skilled and well-known makers.) This
is such - SUCH - a beauty!! Until today, I had no idea what
I had ordered - not even close! They often say when
selling knives that pictures don't do justice to the real thing.
Well, this experience has taken that description to a new level of
meaning. The detail in this knife is unbelievable - it's eye
catching and intricate, and, subtle - all at the same time!! I
had no clue what the falcon head pommel was going to look like close
up. I mean, I liked it before, in the pics,
but the marvelous, subtle details in the carving of the
brass are beautiful. You did a superb job on EVERY
component - the combination of spacers is very impressive, and
thanks much for adding the longitudinal ones and the fancy filework - the overall effect is
exquisite! The fit and finish of this knife are FLAWLESS, in every
respect (I mean ... EVERY respect)!! That damascus
pattern turned out really special - the effect of the wing pattern,
complemented by the design in the guard and the pommel is so
I may sound pedantic (one who stresses minute
details), but I assure you that I feel what I say. I could not be
any more pleased than I am! This knife is obviously totally strong
and tremendously capable in its potential as a most dependable tool; but
even more than that respected level of utility, the knife is
absolutely extraordinary as a work of art. Truly.
Thank you for all the special additions.
Thank you for doing such a wonderful job. Thank you for
the creative work on this gorgeous sheath - another work of
art! And, I have to tell you sincerely that the letter you
included, with its references and descriptions, is a much appreciated,
Ray, I am genuinely a happy man. You have
done yourself proud, and I am so very fortunate now to be able to share
that pride ... in ownership.
As a knife enthusiast, I know that getting
acquainted with a new knife-holding it, touching it, hefting it-is always
a special kick. I know the feeling well. I can talk about it, define it,
and even write about it (see Jim Weyer’s Points
of interest, Book IV). Today’s new knife, though, falls into a category
of satisfaction I honestly have yet to describe, even for myself.
This afternoon I received the extraordinary
knife you made for me. There is no
describing how thoroughly pleased I am with your fine work, your talent.
the entire knife, is perfection. I hope you will show prospective clients
photos of this piece. I am very proud to own it.
Do I display it as the work of art it is, or do
I carry it? Take it from me, I’ll manage both. I’m not going to cloak
this piece of Damascus in
Renaissance Wax and keep it idle.
It’s a whole knife, a really good knife, and it should be used.
The finger notches on the top of the blade and the
file work on the tang are those extra touches few of us think to ask for.
It does make a difference. Adding the sharpening bar to the package is an
Letter from actor/comedian Shelly Berman about
knife I sent him.
The Knife arrived today, and you don't need me to tell you what a
stunning piece of work it is. As I was waiting for it to arrive over the
past couple of days, I fully expected to be writing you an "all
note, but instead, the damnedest thing has happened. From the very first
moment I held the sheathed knife, before I even drew it out, it felt
like an old friend. When I saw the file work -- well, you know, the
feeling was the same kind of pleasure that you get when you see an old
friend after some time has passed and he's picked up a tasteful bit of
style; nothing ostentatious, but definitely a statement. It's a good
feeling. Then I looked at the blade, and that quiet satisfaction and
sense of familiarity just intensified.
As I said, I was expecting to be all blown-away excited, as I was when I
first held both Ben's and Josh's knives. But this Knife felt right at
home right from the get-go--it's not that I wasn't excited about it, you
understand, because I was/am. But the more durable sense of "my
kicked in immediately, and I sure didn't expect that--I like it, but I
didn't expect it! So, of course, I couldn't just let it sit there; I had
to put it on my belt and wear it pretty much the rest of the day. This
is my first sheath knife ever, so you can imagine just how surprising it
is that it feels so natural for it to be sitting on my hip. Feels like
I've owned it for years.
So as you said in your certificate, this one's definitely a keeper. I've
had it out a ton of times today just to look at it, feel its heft,
generally just enjoy having it in my hand. Thanks for making it for me.
I can't wait to show it off!
Comments from James- a satisfied customer who
has bought 4 so far.
”I just received the
knife today and was completely stunned! The picture (which is very good)
does no justice to this knife. You must hold this knife in your hand to
feel it’s true beauty. Thank you sooo much for hand crafting this work of art and
function into one piece.” Keith commenting of 4-inch chefs
Good evening Ray,
I rec’d the “starburst” knife today, and my,
what a beauty it is!! Your craftsmanship once again is absolutely
magnificent! The starburst pattern is breathtaking, as I look at the
detail and try to imagine how in the world you managed to forge those
rays so evenly and still sprinkle them with small sparkles.
I surely wish we lived closer together so I
could watch you actually create one of these masterpieces. The fit and finish in the handle are
perfect, just as my “Falcon” is, and the pin design and spacers are
perfect decorations for the moose antler and the brass furnishings.
Once again my friend, WELL
DONE! I am so very proud to have not one, but TWO Rantanen
masterpieces to display and cherish.
Thanks also for sending the certificate and the
sandpaper. And a special thank you for the sharpening rod. I wouldn’t
dare use it on one of your knives, because I’m determined to keep them in
mint condition, and I don’t want to screw them up. But I’ll give it a try on one of my
Comment from Ged
after receiving second knife from me.
“Ray I wanted to take a moment and let you know how
useful your knife has been this fall. I have had a very successful
hunting season and have used your knife on quail, blue grouse, pheasant,
and ultimately used it to skin my first elk! It worked like a dream,
holding an edge for a long while and sharpening with just a few swipes
along the Coors stone.” Marc, Boise, ID, commenting on a Damascus
knife his parents gave him as a gift.
“He (referring to a veterinarian in Dubai)
said Sheikh Mohammed uses his “falcon” knife when he hunts in the desert.
The knives he ordered from you are for Sheikh Mohammed to use as gifts to
his friends. I thought you might want to know that. You should be proud
that the soon to be ruler of a country uses one of your knives on his
falcon hunts because it is the best one he has.” Dr. Norm Rantanen, Vet consultant to Sheikh Mohammed.
Contacting me after a trip to Dubai, United
“Falcon knife is a big hit and talons are works of
art” Dr. Mike Hauser, Dubai Equine
Hospital. Commenting on
Falcon knife I reconditioned for Sheikh Mohammed and first four talon
knives I sent him.
“We did two bear that day with that knife and never
had to sharpen it” Bob, Blanchard, Idaho.
Comment to me in my shop when I asked him how the knife performed.
Knife” I received is the most beautiful knife I’ve ever seen. Your
knowledge, skill and artistry are very evident in the soul of this knife.
It will be well taken care of, and in time, passed on to my sons. I look
forward to meeting you in person, and to my next
purchase” Clyde, Wrightwood, CA. Responding to Xmas gift from his wife
by calling and sending me a card.
“The knife is
awesome!!! It looks great, handles
like a dream and does at least one elk without any problem. You are a true craftsman and artist,
and your work has really given me a unique pleasure which I believe I
will pass on to my son. We had a
great hunt, got a nice 5 by, which is more than enough elk in a 3 man
camp when you have to back pack the sucker out”, T.G., Albuquerque, NM,
message sent via email.
“The knife was more than I expected. The figuring in the blade,
the curve of the handle, the weight and balance are just wonderful. I
find myself picking the thing up every other day, expecting to find
something that would make it feel ordinary, but I just wind up with a
smile on my face. All those who have handled the
knife and appreciate knives is thoroughly impressed. I am sure that this
knife will generate a lot of interest at our banquet this April. There is
a bit of mystery in a Damascus
blade that is hard to describe.
I’m sure this won’t be the last knife we order.” Comments on a
knife ordered by Nick of trout unlimited that was ordered for a raffle by
“Just wanted to tell
you that I went on the annual mule deer hunt and used your Damascus
knife to skin and gut three huge bucks- I never had to sharpen it once!”
Al from Spokane
describing a knife I made him.
“The fillet knife you made for my friend has
been used all year cleaning salmon and he has never had to sharpen it!”
Comment by Ralph Post falls, ID commenting on knife he had me make for a
friend in Alaska.
“We drove to Haines and put the pickup on a ferry
to go to Sitka for The King Salmon Derby. We had a great time and caught
limits of two fish per day. Phil was finally able to try out his knife.
He said to tell you it works beautifully!”
Email note from Margaret, Anchorage, Alaska
about a large fillet knife I made her husband.
CARBON STEEL KNIFES
“I love the knife. The weight and fit are
perfect. Thank you very much-the craftsmanship is amazing.” Dr. Steve, Bonsall,
CA commenting on magnum trail point hunter.