There is nothing like a custom knife, and particularly one you make yourself. Making your own from this kit is very straightforward, and can be an enjoyable way to spend an evening, away from the internet or blaring television. This will be a quality evening, as you learn the basic techniques, and work with your hands assembling and shaping the pieces - all while developing these useful skills. Moreover, you may feel very proud of the finished knife, not only because of its beauty, but because you made it yourself. This will give your knife much more meaning than a store bought one.
And once you have made one of our knife kits, you may want to order others for gifts.
With Apache-Plume handle
With Cliff-Rose handle (reddish color)
Candy-Cane handle (mix of Apache-Plume and Cliff-Rose). The wood is a unique and beautiful variegated tone, from red to reddish pink and blond to gold. Like the Apache-Plume and Cliff-Rose handles, the "Candy Cane" is pleasantly fragrant and easy to work with.
Knifemaking is one of my hobbies and I find it most enjoyable. Making a knife gets me away from the daily distractions, and affords a bit of personal space and time to think. But most of all, I love making beautiful knives, fashioning them in various creative ways, and using them in the wilds - for preparing food, cleaning fish, making shavings for starting the campfire, carving wooden components for the bow drill method of primitive firemaking, for whittling, cutting basketry materials, and many other uses around camp. These knives would also be indispensable in a survival situation.
So in offering these kits I am introducing this interesting and creative hobby to anyone else so interested, and helping to pass along the art.
A Ray-Way Knife with an Apache-Plume handle
Advantages of our knife kit
What are the advantages of our Ray-Way Knives when you can buy a nice looking factory-made knife for about the same price? With our Knife, you get world-class steel for not much money. This steel will last a lifetime, and will run circles around any cheap knife.
As another advantage, our Ray-Way knife is considerably lighter in weight than almost all expensive knives with good quality steel in them. This means you can take your R-W knife hiking, backpacking, or whatever, with minimal extra weight.
Please note, however, that the Ray-Way Knife is so sharp that it is dangerous to carry on a belt, in a pocket, or on a lanyard around the neck, even in a leather sheath. It must be carried in a sheath and in the backpack, in a location furthest away from your body.
How do you make this knife?
Our knife kit is intended as a beginner's project, and can be assembled without power tools. The wooden handle comes in pre-drilled pieces. After gluing them together around the blade, you shape the handle to suit - by rasping, filing, sanding, or by carving with a second, sharp knife. Alternatively, you could use an electric disk grinder or belt sander.
Once you have shaped the the handle, you smooth it with the sandpaper, then apply a special varnish-type oil to waterproof and protect the wood, and to enhance its natural beauty.
That is all there is to it! Simple, yet the knife you create will be very beautiful and meaningful, and one-of-a-kind.
Left: Bolster, handle, butt-cap and knife blade. We mill-out the bolster and handle to accept the knife blade. The craftsperson first wraps the blade in adhesive tape to protect the fingers and hands, then epoxies these four together, draws the pattern onto the handle, then shapes the handle to suit. Note that the finished knife handle will be lighter and clearer than the one shown in this photo.
Please Note: Our knife kit is intended as a beginner's project, but it is not suitable for youngsters or even unsupervised teenagers. Due to safety concerns of handling a sharp blade, this is an adult project.
What comes in our Kit?
Contents of the Ray-Way Knife Kit
Each Knife Kit contains complete instructions, written and illustrated by R.J. These guide you through the construction, step by step.
The kit comes with a custom made, stainless steel knife blade 4" in length, with very sharp and exceptionally durable edge. It has no factory stamp or etching of any kind, freeing your completed project of such distractions. The edge features an extra-wide, 10 degree bevel, making for precise sharpening when necessary. And it weighs only 0.9 ounces!
The kit contains wooden parts for the handle. We select various woods from the forest in the vicinity of our Connection Camp in Arizona, dead branches only, and choose each piece carefully for the best looking knives. The handle is golden-yellow and highly aromatic while in the working stage. It is easy to rasp, grind, and sand, yet durable and lightweight. The other two pieces (bolster and butt-cap) are made from a harder wood for more durability and to protect the handle. All three wooden parts are not meant to be "clear," or blemish-free. To us, small knots, streaks, and color and grain variations can give the pieces individuality and enhance the beauty of the finished handle. The more variation, the less the handle looks like plastic.
Note: We call our handle woods "Apache-Plume" but they don't really come from the Apache Plume shrub. That is only the name we have given our product.
Epoxy for bonding the parts together.
Three sheets of sandpaper for smoothing the handle parts. These three are separate grades, from course to fine.
Small bottle of wood finishing oil. You can find extra (for other projects) on our Order Form.
Steel wool, to buff the finishing oil (when dry) to a beautiful gloss.
Another Ray-Way knife
From our instructions:
Please do not photocopy our instructions, or loan them to someone else. Our instructions are for ONE knife kit only. Your respect for our work will help keep us in business! Thank you!
WARNING: Working with a sharp blade can be dangerous!
Before starting on this kit, please tape the blade to protect yourself from the sharp edge and point. (We recommend something like Scotch tape.) Leave the tang exposed, but cover the entire blade with at least three layers of adhesive tape. Then leave that tape in place until you have finished your project. Remember: your hands have a host of nerves and tendons that would be very expensive to repair surgically.
The sharpness of our blade is exceptional and must be respected at all times! Keep the fingers and hands away from the edge during assembly and actual use.
An Apache-Plume handle and spacer
Making these kits is fun; I've made a bunch of them.
A few Ray-Way Knife-handles under construction - before applying the finishing oil. With handles this smooth, in this type of wood, the finishing oil should bring out a very pretty luster.
Finishing oil applied. Notice here again the protective adhesive tape applied to the blades.
If you enjoy working with wood and creating a beautiful and functional tool, try our Knife Kit. Once you make one for yourself, you might think of other friends or family who would also enjoy making their own knife. These kits make wonderful gifts.
Ray-Way knives. The knife on the far right is Apache-Plume with a big knot in the handle. We don't sell them this way; this was just an interesting experiment.
Also, see the information on our Sheath Kits on the next page.
Customer Photos of Ray-Way Knives
An Apache-Plume Ray-Way Knife Kit, made by Will Lady
"I finished my knife and sheath, as usual the components in the kit and instructions are of the highest quality. I was surprised how pliable the leather is when wet allowing a custom fit to the knife handle. The knife and sheath came out great. Keep up the good work providing motivation and inspiration." -Charles P
"I want to thank you for the great knife kit that I purchased not long ago. I feel the instructions and everything included made it simple yet a very satisfying and rewarding project." -Steven S.
"Here is the knife I completed recently. An enjoyable project, the instructions were clear, I really liked being able to decide the shape of the handle and work with the wood. Thanks" Andy S.
"I have built most of your kits over the past few years and find the finished products to be functionally superior to anything on the market today. The backpack is the first one to fit me perfectly. My wife and I will never use a tent on the trail again, as your tarp is vastly more enjoyable to sleep beneath, and the 2P quilt we've used happily for a year now. But the one kit that has given me the most down-right pleasure is the knife kit. After sharpening it using your instructional video, it is hard to stop finding uses for it... from slicing cheese in the kitchen to planing off excess epoxy on a wooden kayak project... so I bought more blades and made my own handles, as you suggest in the kit instructions. Shown from left to right are the Ray-Way cliff rose grip, a saguaro rib grip with mesquite end caps, and a mesquite grip with Arizona ash end caps. Thanks so much, folks!" Tom C., Arizona
"I purchased your knife kit. Got whittling at the dining room table this weekend and came up with the knife in the photo. It's pictured on a woolen cloak from a period Viking costume I also made. I plan to make a sheath for this knife, and think I'd better order some more knife kits for gifts--this was great fun!" -Jordan S. /*mith*/ ?>, Ontario
"I finished the knife yesterday. Couldn't be happier with it (I think I've found a new hobby). Thanks for the great kit! I think you can tell I custom fit the handle for my hands. I worked the notches so they weren't real deep, I didn't want to weaken the wood around the tang to much. The notches gave me a better grip with my right hand, improves the grip with the left, and would help keep the knife from slipping especially if wet or my hands are cold. I haven't done the sheath yet, but did purchase one. I used a small rounded rasp, a large flat rasp, and sand paper to work the handle. Once I got it shaped and sanded, I only used the finishing oil you supplied." -Steve K.
"I just wanted to show you my completed Ray-Way knife and sheath. I found your instructions to be very complete and easy to follow. Both the knife and sheath were much easier to craft than I had imagined and my friends can't believe that I actually made them!
The sheath was easy to sew. I enlarged the holes as you recommended with an ice pick. I couldn't believe that such large holes would ever shrink closed but they did.
And talk about light! The completed knife only weighs 2 ounces - the same as an Opinel #8! The knife and sheath together weigh just under 4 ounces. This is the perfect backpacking knife!
All in all, this was a great project, aided by your superb materials and instructions. Thanks again," - Brent P.
"I loved the kit and the instructions and the way everything went together just as the instructions said. The alligator juniper in the middle of the handle is much more beautiful than the pictures can show--it has fiddle and the colors change from a glowing golden yellow to a light brown as it is tipped in the light. I hated to use the sealer on it because now I can not enjoy its smell which was wonderful.
The color of the sheath was a great surprise--I had an old bottle of leather dye that was labeled "dark brown"--but upon application and drying it came out a navy blue. At first I was really disappointed because it wasn't what I was expecting at all, but now it is kind of growing on me. At least it is unique! Also if you look closely at the sheath you can see where I added a belt loop so that I can carry this beautiful knife. The belt loop was the final step of the sheath so the bottom of it had to be top stitched.
I'm looking forward to ordering more knives! Thank you so much for putting the kits together." -Dick M. /* agathan*/ ?>
Ray: We always encourage everyone to experiment, but the reason we did not include a belt loop in the sheath's design was that if the knife is sharpened to an extremely fine edge, it would pass through the leather sheath (any leather sheath) with surprising ease. Such a knife & sheath could not be worn safely on the belt, carried in a pocket, or hung around the neck.
"My girlfriend and I have just completed a knife kit each and are nearly finished with our sheaths as well. I want to say thanks for providing such great quality kits. The kinves are really top-notch!" Ben S.
"I appreciate your wonderfully designed kits, and continually marvel at the simplicity and genius of the directions. My knife has been complete for a while now, and every time I see and hold it I am overcome with joy. It is just as beautiful as anything I have ever seen on a trail." Nate O.
"The instructions were well written and the sheath went together easily." Ken C. /* haney*/ ?>
"I am buying these as the perfect gift for an outdoorsman." George H. /* arris*/ ?>
"These knife and sheath kits look great. My husband and I will each make a set. Thank you!" Cora H. /* ussey*/ ?>
"I have been looking at the photos of the gorgeous knives with sacred wood from the connection camp, and could not resist ordering one." Richard M. /* osley*/ ?>
"My son and I made our first knives and sheaths with your kits. We now want to get some other folks into it. Here is my order for two more sets. Thanks for a good product." Todd P. /* eters*/ ?>
"I am writing to thank you for providing an excellent service. I ordered your knife and sheath kits on Tuesday, and received the order on Thursday. This proves that you processed my order extremely efficiently. I have put the knife together and have just started working the handle into shape. I look forward to finishing the project and putting the tool to good use. Thank you very much for your great products." Eric C. /* hristopher*/ ?>
"I finished the knife kit this summer. This is the first knife and first whittling project I've ever done. I wasn't sure what to do with the blank block of wood, so I just started cutting and looking at other knives. The handle just worked it's way out of the wood. Your instructions were perfect. We've used the knife around the house and it's surprisingly sharp!" Steve S.
Questions: "Ray, I wanted to ask you some advice on my knife handle. I sharpened the blade the other night and then I sliced on a piece of Juniper to test it. But while I put pressure on the contoured butt-cap with my out stretching pinkie-finger, the buttcap broke off. The break showed 3/4 of the glue surface, and 1/4 with the adjacent piece towards the blade. My suspicion is that I might not have used enough epoxy on that piece. I've used the knife for months, cutting out spindles and notches and such, with great success. I want to repair it, so should I use the same glue? Do you have any additional advice?" -Nate O. /* live*/ ?>
Nate: The butt cap breaking off would indicate that the epoxy had gelled (partially cured) prior to being applied to the joint. This is easily repaired by sanding off most of the cured epoxy, applying a fresh coat of wet epoxy to both surfaces, and repositioning them back together. Gelled epoxy is a very poor adhesive because it does not bond to anything very well. Even though it might still seem reasonably wet, the moment it shows the slightest signs of thickening it must be discarded.
We developed the knife kits for use at our Connection Camps. The fall of 2004, each student made one - using no power tools of any kind- and each one turned out fabulous!