Byron Ray, Wolf Dog Armory: The Knife Junkie Podcast (Episode 472)

Byron Ray, Wolf Dog Armory: The Knife Junkie Podcast (Episode 472)

Byron Ray of Wolf Dog Armory joins Bob “The Knife Junkie” DeMarco on Episode 472 of The Knife Junkie Podcast.

A self-proclaimed IT nerd by day and bladesmith by night, Byron’s knife company is named after the family dog, and he sees his knife-making as therapeutic, calling it “The Art of Recreational Hammer Therapy.”

Byron Ray, Wolf Dog Armory: The Knife Junkie Podcast (Episode 472)Byron’s great-grandfather was a blacksmith, and though Byron never knew him, his anvil sat behind his granddad’s shop while he was growing up. He used that anvil to pound out spears and knives from a welding rod, but when he bought a knife blank and put a handle on it, he was hooked.

College, a career, and raising kids put knife-making on hold for a few decades. After finding an old railroad spike at his granddad’s shop, Byron began researching how to make a knife out of it.

In 2013, Byron made his first “soup can” forge and made several knives with it, graduating later that year to a brake drum coal forge. Eventually he created his own propane forge and adopted a more professional process; after all, bladesmithing will be Byron’s encore career.

Wolfdog Armory produces traditional American-style fixed-blade knives, from hunters and scalpers to choppers and bowies.

Find Wolf Dog Armory online at www.wolfdogarmory.com, Instagram at www.instagram.com/wolfdogarmory, and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/wolfdogarmory.

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Byron Ray of Wolf Dog Armory joins Bob on Episode 472 of #theknifejunkie #podcast. A self-proclaimed IT nerd by day and bladesmith by night, Wolfdog Armory produces traditional American-style fixed blade knives. Click To Tweet

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The Knife Junkie Podcast is the place for knife newbies and knife junkies to learn about knives and knife collecting. Twice per week Bob DeMarco talks knives. Call the Listener Line at 724-466-4487; Visit https://theknifejunkie.com.
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Announcer [00:00:03]:
Welcome to the Knife Junkie podcast, your weekly dose of knife news and information about knives and knife collecting. Here's your host, Bob the knife junkie DeMarco.

Bob DeMarco [00:00:16]:
Welcome to the Knife Junkie podcast. I'm Bob DeMarco. On this edition of the show, I'm speaking with Byron Rae of Wolfdog Armoury. I met Byron at the Texas Custom Knife Show when I was helping check Makers Inn, And he strode up with a massive Bowie slung over his shoulder like a sword. Later, I broke bread with Byron at the evening's barbecue meet and greet and got a glancing picture of what inspired him to turn his knife making hobby into a serious, prospect for a retirement career. His work is firmly rooted in classic American patterns, hunters, scalpers, choppers, from what I've seen, and what seems to be his favorite, buoys. We'll find out why and how forging has been Byron's therapy, but first, be sure to like, comment, subscribe, and hit the notification bell, And download us wherever you listen to podcasts, and join us on Patreon where you can get all the free extras, including interview extras from the interview we're about to have here, so be sure to go to the knife junkie.com/patreon and check it out. Again, that's the knife junkie.com/patreon.

Announcer [00:01:21]:
Do you carry multiple knives? Then overthink which one to use when an actual cutting chore pops up. You're a knife junkie of the first order.

Bob DeMarco [00:01:30]:
Byron, welcome to the show, sir.

Byron Ray [00:01:31]:
Oh, thank you for having me, sir. It's good to see you again.

Bob DeMarco [00:01:34]:
Yeah. It's good to see you too. And, we had a chance to catch up on the phone the other day. That was That was cool, and I was, I was sort of recollecting to you, my first impression of you. You came walking up with that gigantic Bowie, And I was like, oh, man. I'm gonna ask this guy. You know? You can't walk around with a knife like that without asking to see it. Let's break the ice that way.

Bob DeMarco [00:01:57]:
I'm pretty sure you have it right around you. Let's see this thing. This was my first impression of you.

Byron Ray [00:02:03]:
So it is so big that I opted for a swing to ride under your arm and shoulder here. It's too big for the screen.

Bob DeMarco [00:02:15]:
Big ol' Musso Bowie with that or Bowie Bowie. You know, man, I'm gonna be jumping around. I'm trying to get myself to say buoy, but I'm a Yankee, so it's always been buoyed. That back strap of copper, what's that all about?

Byron Ray [00:02:28]:
So this whole knife came about as a contest of sorts. Saint Towns out of Australia does his annual Bowie build off. And at the same time, he, announced his contest, which required a Bowie to be at least 10 inches long and have a sparring bar on At the same time, I had just watched the 2004 version of the Alamo, and Jim Bowie carried something similar to this. And I thought, okay, I wanna build that knife. Let's do this. Now, the whole thing about a sparring bar is kinda silly to me. The idea is it's literally for blocking in a knife fight. I mean, if I'm in a knife fight, I'm swinging for the fences, you know? I hope I never be in 1.

Byron Ray [00:03:13]:
But the idea is if you block with the backside of the blade, this is a renewable resource. You can replace this. It doesn't damage the Spine of the blade, you're not damaging the cutting edge. So that's the whole thing behind the sparring bar, which I I just learned this in the last year, but it's kinda I get it, but it seems so.

Bob DeMarco [00:03:34]:
Yeah. Yeah. I've also heard that those are used because, it's a softer metal. It might catch The blade, you know, catch the sharp end of the and and to me, you know, they're all cool theories, but But the reality of Bowie knife fighting, I would imagine, is not that, nuanced. I would imagine it like you said, there's a lot of swinging for the fence.

Byron Ray [00:03:55]:
It's, Yeah, it's gonna be it's gonna be brutal. I don't ever wanna be in a knife fight. I've I've always been told if you're in a knife fight, you've lost already.

Bob DeMarco [00:04:03]:
Yeah. Yeah.

Byron Ray [00:04:04]:
Because you're not coming out of it without getting cut.

Bob DeMarco [00:04:06]:
Yeah. I've been told, the guy who wins is the guy who dies second, What's that? Let's not forget

Byron Ray [00:04:11]:
that funny. Exactly.

Bob DeMarco [00:04:14]:
So okay. Where where where did you come from with this giant, beautiful piece of cutlery here? I happen to know, and I'm gonna tell everyone now, you're a self professed IT nerd as you said it, but but really, you're one of those guys who keep our Modern day infrastructure going, in in the IT realm. How did you get into knife making?

Byron Ray [00:04:35]:
Well, I have been a knife nerd my entire life. I've always loved knives. I've always carried knives. And I always carry multiple knives, because 2 is 1, 1 is none. And, I made my 1st knife when I was 18 years old, and it was that little boot knife right there. And it's a kit. I didn't make the blade. When I was working for my father down in Houston, Texas, I discovered Right across the street from where we picked up our tempered glass, he was a blazer doing commercial storefront.

Byron Ray [00:05:07]:
It was a place called Texas Knife Maker Supply. I was, like, boom, we have to stop in there. We have to stop. And I hounded him for a week or two. And finally, he stopped one day. We had a few extra minutes, and I went in and dropped, I have no idea how much money on, some brass scales, this blank, and some cocobolo wood, and some brass pins. And I went home and attempted to shape a handle and do, well, just a little bit of file work and stuff. And I made my 1st knife, and I was hooked.

Byron Ray [00:05:36]:
It I spent 2 days out there doing this with hand tools and epoxy and stuff, and I mean, it's simple. There's nothing special about it. But I was hooked, And then I didn't make another knife for 20 years.

Bob DeMarco [00:05:49]:
20 hooked, but, Jones in for 20 years.

Byron Ray [00:05:54]:
Well, I I made, I made the, classic mistake that a lot of men make. And I'm kidding you, it wasn't a mistake. But I got married. And upon getting married, I instantly had a stepson, instantly owned a home, and Had my wife, and was working for the school district. I've been 28 years in IT in the school district, and life got busy. And my wife, my wife likes to grow, liked to grow things. She had 4 kinds of cancer over her wife, breast cancer 4 times. But anyway, it was just I never had funding.

Byron Ray [00:06:34]:
I was paying doctors. I and I was just taking care of her, taking care of the house, and, you know, doing my thing. And then I, When she got cancer the 2nd time, breast cancer was the 1st time we could never cut it out and send it down the hall. I I kinda lost my mind because I'm a guy. I'm an IT nerd. I fix things. You know, I mean, it's it's what I do. I can't help myself.

Byron Ray [00:06:59]:
If you come to me and start talking about a problem, I'm working on a solution. It's just in my DNA. So when I couldn't fix her, I couldn't help her. All I could do is take all the load off of her, do the housework, whatever, and just take, you know, everything off of her I could, but I couldn't fix her. I kinda started losing my mind. I don't like being helpless. I don't do helpless. And I started looking for something to do with my hands.

Byron Ray [00:07:23]:
And she went and left me unsupervised. She went with her girlfriends down to Florida 1 weekend for, for a long weekend, like 5 days. She came back, and I had built a soup can forge in my garage and hammered up my 1st knife shaped object. I mean, it's not a knife. It's a knife shaped object. I mean, I put a nice little twist on it. That was my very first forged knife. That was 2013.

Bob DeMarco [00:07:52]:
So, you're saying you made that in a soup can, Ford?

Byron Ray [00:07:56]:
I started off I mean, The backstory is I found this railroad spike on my grandfather's workbench. My grandfather passed away in 1997. So he'd been gone 16 years at this point. But I found this on his work bench. And I brought it home, because I'm sentimental like that and silly. And, she was, My wife had went on her trip, and I walked out. And I found this thing, and I looked at it. I said, you know, people make knives out of these.

Byron Ray [00:08:22]:
How do you do that? I was left unsupervised and got asked myself a question. And I started looking around, and I first thing I found is that propane forges cost $700 entry price. Okay, that's out. I don't have funding for that. And I started doing a little more research, and then I found a YouTube video of this guy that took a, Literally, a large can of soup, plaster of Paris, playground sand, and a Benzomatic torch, and made a soup can forge. I mean, it's this big. And, I thought, I can do that. And, $20 later, I already had the torch.

Byron Ray [00:08:59]:
I bought some Clai Grand San, plaster of Paris, and a can of bushes baked beans. I ate the beans, and next thing you know, I'm hammering out railroad spike knives. And that's Where I started was railroad spike knives, which I think is just about every bladesmith that's ever started started on either railroad spike knives or farriers for us.

Bob DeMarco [00:09:19]:
Yeah. I made one at, the Texas Custom Knife Show. I I pounded out a My own approximation of a knife using a, actually, it was a horseshoe. Yep.

Byron Ray [00:09:29]:
Yep.

Bob DeMarco [00:09:30]:
But I didn't get to grind it. Someone else did a beautiful job on that, but, it it I I wanna go back to something you said. You don't do helpless. You're talking about how you couldn't fix your wife and, you know, I've been Trying to get to the bottom of the knife obsession for a long time, and a big part of it to me is the idea of self reliance and, how a knife is, Paramount. It's like, it's prerequisite to that, to self reliance as far as I'm concerned.

Byron Ray [00:09:57]:
It's like one of the first tools. It's like one of the first tools that Rand started to carry.

Bob DeMarco [00:10:02]:
Exactly. So, I I put those together, and and I I see you kind of in that same camp where, you know, how do I make this knife? Oh, I'll figure this out. So I'm interested in, you know, you do you do these 2 kinds of things that are in very opposite worlds, IT And knife forging. They're in seemingly very different worlds, but is there any sort of, crossover in terms of your thinking or your mental approach?

Byron Ray [00:10:37]:
It's all thinking. It's Being an IT nerd is, I mean, I'm a, I need to get to D. And it's figuring out what B and C is. And it's the same thing with knife making for me was I I asked the questions, like, okay, I have this. I know they make knives out of this. How do you do this? And then I start I start doing research. And I like to tell people that I'm a graduate of the University of YouTube. I hold a master's degree in Reddit and a PhD at Google.

Byron Ray [00:11:08]:
That's, You know, that's IT nerds in general. We're not the smartest people. We're just better at Google than everybody else. You know, we we can figure this stuff out. And so for me, it was needing to do something with my hands, because I was kinda having this, I don't know, midlife crisis or something, because my wife is sick. I can't fix her. And then I'm kinda looking at my own life going, okay. Everything I do is digital.

Byron Ray [00:11:35]:
Nothing I do lasts. When I was 15, I was working for my father, and I can still drive by places and show you that I put in that storefront. I built that. Nothing I do in my my IT world will last. I mean, it's all it's all in the cloud. It's all on somebody else's computer. I mean, I ran an email server for us that I built from the ground up for 17 years. It no longer exists in any form or fashion.

Byron Ray [00:12:02]:
The data is gone because we retired 7 years ago. So I felt the need to do something with my hands, do something and actually Make something that I can hold. And so I started knife making became my therapy. In fact, that's the tagline of my of my forge is the art of recreational hammer therapy. I don't care how bad of a day you've had, You can go outside, fire up the force, throw a piece of steel on it. You can write on that piece of steel whatever your you know, whatever was vexing you this day. Maybe it was cancer. Maybe it was your boss's name wrong, you know? Whatever.

Byron Ray [00:12:41]:
But, you can throw that in the forge and Heat it up, and then you can work out all your frustrations, and maybe by the time you're done, you've created something beautiful.

Bob DeMarco [00:12:51]:
Yeah. It's that, And the idea of what what comes out of it, long lasting. You're dealing with elements that are, you know, steel and How however you're building the handles, these are things that are going to outlast us. And I would imagine at the time when you sparked up the The forge for the first time, really, that was probably on your mind, permanence and nonpermanence and all that. And, that's Something that, people keep coming back to who I interview, here is that there's a sense that that, they're they're able to not make themselves immortal in any way, but they're able to, you know, make their mark. Things are so fleeting. You know? If you can leave knowing you've left, you know, a number of knives out there that you have no idea where they are or what their stories are and how they're getting passed down through their families and all that, but The fact that you made them and put them out there is something.

Byron Ray [00:13:47]:
I'm turning 50 years old in March, so I have somewhere between 0 50 years left approximately. But some of the knives I've made in the last 3 years are gonna be handed down to people's great grandchildren. You know, there's no reason they shouldn't last, I I mean, unless you just leave it outside or something, you know. So yes, it's it's it's something that'll last long after me. And At the end of the day, they're all tools, but in some cases, they're art. It's just It was something to do that just when I was you know, every time I finish a knife, it's just like, okay, wow, I made this. I I can't believe that I made this. How did I do this?

Bob DeMarco [00:14:29]:
Yeah. Well, you know, it's not surprising to me that that's where you went either because, like like I said, military guys, engineers, and IT, like, engineers, like, mechanical and product engineers, And, military guys seem to go into knife making. I think there's something, that that is relatable in that without following certain order of things, you don't get a knife?

Byron Ray [00:14:57]:
The number it's it's funny because the number of military guys that I know that make knives and the number of IT guys, It's it's crazy the number of IT guys that do this. And I think a lot of it is because we ride a desk. We need something to do with our hands at the end of the day. I've Sitting behind a keyboard for 8 hours, and it's just I'm going nuts. I need to I need to do something to kinda release some, Get some exercise, release some pent up frustration. I mean, there is I mean, I'm in my town, this, City of Conroe is, one of their IT guys is Nick is Nick from Nick's Knives. Yeah. I mean, he he's an IT guy just like me, and I think he's planning on retiring at some point and going full time into knife making just like me.

Bob DeMarco [00:15:44]:
Okay. So let let's get back to this, the soup can forge. You build the soup can forge. You make you make your 1st knife, which we just saw, which is cool to see. It's awesome that you've held down to it. Where where do you go from there? Did you build a bunch of knives in that soup can forge and graduate out of it, or how how did that

Byron Ray [00:16:02]:
I Started making, railroad spike knives. I made probably 30 or 40 of those, and I sold them to friends and family and people that just happened to Hear about them on, Facebook through word-of-mouth. And every time I would sell 1, I would turn around and take the money, and I would buy a new tool. I would buy, you know, starting off with angle grinders, and then I bought a Harbor Freight 1 by 30 grinder. You know? I shoulda had a banner Sponsored by Harper Freight, because that was that's when I told us when I first started. But, I started with that, and then I was I I you know, I Grew out of it, got tired of them. I I don't know. But I was like, you know what? I'm gonna I'm gonna make I'm gonna try and make a real knife, not a railroad spike knife.

Byron Ray [00:16:48]:
And I actually made my fur my first, full tang knife and, gave it to my dad. Now The thing is, he still has it, and I really don't want anybody to ever see it because, it's mild steel.

Bob DeMarco [00:17:03]:
Oh, goodness.

Byron Ray [00:17:04]:
I I didn't know what I didn't know. I was still so green behind the ears. You know, wet behind the ears. I made a mild steel knife, and then I moved from there. I moved to Ferrier's Rest. I, made friends with a farrier here in town, and I would trade him a case of beer, and he'd bring me about 30 farriers for us. And I started making knives out of that.

Bob DeMarco [00:17:23]:
Okay. Wait. Hold hold up for one second. Just going back to the, the spike knives, are those railroad spikes? I know railroad ties are not hardened. They're work hardened by by trains rolling over them over and over and over. They get hardened that way. But the steel that goes into this, can you harden that?

Byron Ray [00:17:43]:
Not really. Okay. These make fun knives. They don't make good knives. They are they are most of them are mild steel. You can get some high carbon steel railroad spike knives, and they're generally marked with an h c on Oh, okay. But even those are not that high carbon. It you can put an edge on it, you can make them cut, They will not stay sharp.

Byron Ray [00:18:07]:
It's they're they're not good knives. They're just fun. And if you're starting out, they teach you they teach you forging technique. They teach you grind technique. I mean, you could you can make a functional knife, but it it just doesn't make a good knife.

Bob DeMarco [00:18:20]:
Right. Right. Right. But you're but you're kind of Cutting your teeth, hammering, and and learning how to shape hot metal without necessarily maybe burning through the good stuff

Byron Ray [00:18:30]:
And It's a way of learning cheaper.

Bob DeMarco [00:18:32]:
Yeah. Yeah. Developing that bucket full of, you know, high value steel knives that you can never use.

Byron Ray [00:18:39]:
I have a 5 gallon bucket full of aero spikes that I collected when I first started. I told peep I told my friends about it, and I had people just bringing me bags and buckets of them that they you know, My grandpa collected these, and, I've kept them because I've started turning, I've started hammering these things out as and, making steak turners out of them. And I made a couple of steak turners, and that's fun. I actually have a special set that was given to me by my neighbor about 8 houses down, And, he is a maintenance guy working on Tinker Air Force Base. Oh. And and he collected these spikes from Tinker Air Force base, and I'm gonna make some steak turners out of those.

Bob DeMarco [00:19:19]:
My my father served at that air force base right before I was born, So I I never lived there, but my brother and sister did. Tinkerly.

Byron Ray [00:19:26]:
Okay. So I need to make you a steak turner out of one of these, so you know, or a knife or a knife, you know?

Bob DeMarco [00:19:32]:
Or a knife. That's pretty cool. Before I move on to the rafts, I wanna talk about the farrier and and and that, but, I'm gonna nerd out here for a second and say that I, where I went to school, there was a railroad track behind where I went to college, and We used to wander around in the woods, and that's when I first discovered railroad track, the spikes. And I would nerd out over them

Byron Ray [00:19:57]:
Man, someone was human, and someone pounded this in years ago.

Bob DeMarco [00:20:00]:
Like like, there is history in each one of those spikes, and there's blood, sweat, and tears. And, they are kind of interesting. I could almost see why someone would collect them, but certainly turning them into something, with a new life is kind of A, a valiant f I don't know, a a cool thing to do.

Byron Ray [00:20:19]:
You know, I mean, it's something that was scrap anyway. I mean, you know, because most of the time when they're pulled, they're never used again. It might be recycled, but it's a great place for a beginning smith to start. I mean, I I don't care how well you're funded. I recommend starting on them just because It teaches you technique. It teaches you moving metal. And especially if you're starting out like I did, I had an anvil about this big. It weighed about £8, And I had a $20, tractor supply, you know, hammer, 3 pound hammer, and that's what I started with, and a pair of Allen wrenches, You know, for not Allen wrenches, crescent wrenches for, you know, holding on to holding on to it.

Byron Ray [00:20:58]:
You know, I I didn't have tongs. I didn't have anything. I was starting off with nothing. Like I said, I started making the railroad spike knives. I sold some of those, and next thing you know, I built a coal burning forge. And I bought myself a decent pair of tongs, and I was off to the races then.

Bob DeMarco [00:21:13]:
Yeah. Yeah. But before that, you were Rambo in the field, you know, fashioning knives out of the raw element. So so you you were talking about developing a relationship with a farrier and getting a bunch of rasps. Now I saw those knives on your Instagram page. Some beautiful, Bowie knives. I I know I remember seeing some sort of recurve chopper things and stuff like that. What's it like working with these rats? And do farriers that they they just go through them and then they can't do anything with them? Or like

Byron Ray [00:21:43]:
The the files wear out quickly, And so they you know, they buy these things for $30, and then they turn around and and get 15¢ for them at the scrap yard. I mean, they every farrier has got a bucket of these Worn out, worn out rasp. And so, you know, they're they're taking them to the scrap yard, but they're getting pennies on the dollar. And, So I just I just posted on my, my Facebook page going, hey, any farriers out there? And I had people, you know, refer me, and, I made friends with 1, and I was like, man, I'd like some, because I'm gonna try and make some knives out of your, you know, your worn out stuff that you're gonna throw away or take to the scrap yard. And he goes He goes, I like Shiner beer. Yeah. Yes, sir. I'll have a case of Shiner beer for you.

Byron Ray [00:22:27]:
And, We met the parking lot at my work, and he handed me a big box of, like, 30 different rasp in it. And, yeah. And, you know, I I was making I was making those, I started making knives out of that, and, you know, I was selling those for $150 a pop And, you know, for just full tang or the occasional hidden tang with an antler handle and stuff. And, you know, I because I didn't know what I was doing. I was still learning. And, I mean, I I I was I'm self taught and everything. Like I said, I I I stand on the shoulders of giants. I I watched I've watched all these experts and stuff.

Byron Ray [00:23:04]:
I mean, and I've learned from you know, I mean, I bought every DVD that Jay Nielsen put out. Just Right. So, that's where I started. And every time I would sell a knife, I never made any money at this, because every time I'd sell a knife, I'd go buy a new tool. You know, sell a couple of knives and come back with, you know, carbide file guides, or buy and you know, I mean, the big day for me was when I traded the harbor freight 1 by 30, and bought a Grizzly 2 by 72. It was a $500 grinder at the time. But oh my lord, I went from you know, I spent when I started I made a Bowie knife, my very first Bowie knife I made for one of my best friends for his 40th birthday. I spent, like, 4 days grinding on this thing in the evenings because that harbor freight thing was so slow, so underpowered, and so terrible.

Byron Ray [00:23:54]:
When I got the new Grizzly, that 2 by 72, and I bought a good 2 by 72, you know, a Norton Blaze or something at the time. I mean, I've moved on to Other people now, but I took that I took that Norton Blaze, and I said, alright, I'm just gonna start with a, you know, just a a file. And I wanna see how fast I can do this. And I had a shaped knife ready to go, ready for heat treat in 18 minutes. So That's the speed difference of having, you know I mean, you know, Wayne Goddard wrote the $50 knife shop. And, yeah, you can make knives with You know, you don't have to have a drill press. You can have a $5 hand drill you bought at a yard sale. You know, you can have a just a regular claw hammer and a, you know, I mean, an anvil shaped object.

Byron Ray [00:24:39]:
And you can make it work. I mean, you could you could build a, you know, a fire pit in the ground and get a piece of steel hot enough that you can heat it up and beat up. That being said, having the right tools is nice.

Bob DeMarco [00:24:51]:
Yeah. No doubt about that in whatever your pursuit is. But you're talking about, you then made a Charcoal Ford. What are some of the disadvantages to that? There are there are a couple of guys on YouTube I've been following for years. 2 of them are Polish knife makers who, even after years years, still use charcoal forges. They have really cool setups, but, I know that there have to be like, because people who are serious Ford, bladesmiths in the United States, they're always going for, a propane forge.

Byron Ray [00:25:27]:
Well, there's multiple reasons for that. And for me, the The coal burning forge was the next step because it was you know, coal was readily available. There was a, fair air supply house nearby in, 20 minutes from me, and so I could buy 50 or 80 pound bags of coal really relatively cheaply. The downside to coal is I'm operating in my garage. I can't do that inside. So I had to set up in the driveway. It had to be a nice day. It couldn't be a threat of rain.

Byron Ray [00:25:58]:
It takes Took me an hour to get the coal burning forge up to heat. It, it it just, It's time consuming, and it's messy. And here's the funny part. So my wife, my late wife, was, She's about half hippie. So here she is trying to lower her carbon footprint, and I'm burning coal in the driveway.

Bob DeMarco [00:26:20]:
I love that.

Byron Ray [00:26:21]:
So My birthday rolled around 1 year, and I looked at her and said, I would really like to build a coal a, propane forge. I Found some designs on YouTube and everything else, and I think I can do this for, like, $250, you know, buying my own pipes and and taking a Old propane tank and cutting it up, lining it with K Wool, and, you know, Satanite for refractory. She was like, this means you're gonna stop burning coal in the driveway? Yes, please. So it was an easy sell, and, I built it over about a Course is about a week and a half, and, you know, it's just originally it was just a simple 1 denture burner. And, I used it like that for a while, and then I converted it to forced air by putting a, a blower on it. And when I did that, oh my lord, it got so hot. It got It got very hot. I set the cart on fire underneath it.

Byron Ray [00:27:15]:
I had to lose some modifications to it.

Bob DeMarco [00:27:18]:
Woah. Wait. Wait. But, so you're you're talking about you have a a Propane jet coming through the top.

Byron Ray [00:27:23]:
So it's, it's just a peep piece of black iron pipe. It's got, Goes from 1 to 2 inch on either end, and it's gas is being ignited down in. And when you light the fire on this end, it's Sucking air from the other end like a jet engine. That's a venturi burner. Now, it's sucking its own air by force of the combustion. Now, What I did later was cap off the end with a hose and a blower so it actually was air being forced through. So instead of sucking air, it's forced air.

Bob DeMarco [00:27:56]:
Yeah. And that It's like a ramjet.

Byron Ray [00:27:59]:
It yes. It went from I mean, it went from, okay, I can get things up to where I can forge, to I got to the point I Forged well if I wanted to. I mean, it it made it made a colossal difference going to forced air, and I'm still using that forge. I bought the stuff a year ago to build, a bigger one that's gonna be a ribbon burner, which is more efficient and burns hotter. But, Hasn't been time for that. I keep I keep finding my show from the middle of show prep. It's, you know, it's like, okay, my next show is in 2 months. I gotta build my inventory, you know, and I still have a day job.

Bob DeMarco [00:28:33]:
Well, so you seem to be the, a really good example of, not letting, not letting expense and machinery be your, what am I trying to say, your bar to entry. You know, like, sometimes it's like, Oh, well, I can't start this because I can't afford the machine or this or that. Right? I can't afford a $3,000 forge. You can really you can Really start for dirt cheap.

Byron Ray [00:29:02]:
You can start with next to nothing, and that's what I did. I started with Absolutely, you know, the absolute bare minimum. I mean, I had a lot of hand tools and stuff, but, I mean, in terms of I like I said, I started with a soup can forge. I then My coal burning forge was built out of a brick drum and $40, black iron pipe, 2 inch pipe, and a $10 Walmart hair dryer. You don't think I got looks when I was buying that? Because I was spear balled at the time. I know. And did didn't have all this. I was clean shaven.

Byron Ray [00:29:31]:
And I'm buying a hair dryer, you know. And that's I did that for a year or 2. And then I when I built the Propane Forge, that was a game changer. That really took it to the next level because I can walk out and have the forge up to heat in 20 minutes. I could do it rain or shine because I could do it inside the garage. I just put it near the door where it's denting out, and I had you know, it worked it worked great. So I could you know, any night of the week, I could go out Fire it up and start heating up and hammering, that was that was a game changer for me. And then I started I just every time I'd sell a knife, I'd buy better tools.

Byron Ray [00:30:10]:
And so I was self funded for I was self funded for the first 7 years that I was doing this. It was just sell a knife, buy a tool. Sell a knife, buy a tool. Sell a knife, buy some more steel. Buy some more knife handle material. You know? I never made any money at it. It was just, you know, I was always chasing the next what can get me the next performance upgrade? And, what changed after that, what really got me to this level was when my wife passed away. I I had we had life insurance on her.

Byron Ray [00:30:41]:
And when she passed away, I paid we went up a mountain of debt, and I paid off all the medical bills. I paid off the house. I Cleared the slate. I had no one for anything. And I asked myself at that point because I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life. I was lost. It was the 1st time, you know, 1st time I'd ever lived on my own. I had, we've been together for 23 years, and I I'd never lived alone.

Byron Ray [00:31:07]:
I never you know, so I just didn't know what to do. And I was, like, well, I love making knives. It's been my therapy. It's been our refuge through all this. And I think that's what I wanna do with the rest of my life. I kinda wanna be like Jim Moore, 90 years old, still working on stuff out in the shop, you know? And so I doubled down, and I invested in my retirement career. I built myself. It's in a 2 car garage, but it's every amateur knife maker's wet dream.

Byron Ray [00:31:33]:
I, I start I asked myself, if money was no object, what would you buy? And I called that the Bugatti list. I scaled back the Cadillac, and that's where I started buying them.

Bob DeMarco [00:31:44]:
Cadillac's a fine automobile, sir. You don't need a Bugatti.

Byron Ray [00:31:48]:
I I didn't buy I didn't buy the $16,000 and yang. I bought a 25, you know, pound Little Giant instead. You know?

Bob DeMarco [00:31:55]:
Well, I I I I'm I'm glad you mentioned what you just mentioned because I wanted to ask you that because it It it kind of begs the question, but it's kind of a difficult question to ask, how how that major life change of, you know, losing your wife Changed your approach or how you view knife making?

Byron Ray [00:32:16]:
I was lost. For 20 years, I was her caretaker. I mean, from We got married, and 6 months later, she had surgery. And then she had surgery every 6 to 12 months for the next 5 years. And I was always chasing medical bills and chasing whatever. And so I my job was to earn an income, take care of her. And, I mean, she worked too. I mean, she actually she taught school for, the last 11 years, and she only retired in 2018 And, I guess she just couldn't do it anymore.

Byron Ray [00:32:48]:
And I'd you know, laying down and dying wasn't an option, so I was like, what am I what do I wanna do? It's like, well, this is what I truly love. I mean, this is this has been my refuge throughout all this, and I I like every time I finish a knife, I I like to tell people it's, it's like that scene in Cast Away with Tom Hanks, where he makes fire for the 1st time. Did you ever see that movie?

Bob DeMarco [00:33:11]:
Oh, yeah.

Byron Ray [00:33:12]:
It's like every time I finish a knife, it's, look look what I have created. I I have made fire. That's me every time I finish a knife. It's like, okay. This is awesome. I made this. But here are all the flaws, and I see more flaws than anybody because that's it's it's the artist's curse. And then, I would've do better on the next one.

Byron Ray [00:33:34]:
And I'm always it's the IT nerd in me that always wants me to chase The next thing, what do I do for what do I do next? What can I do to improve? How can I change things? And, Oh my god. The rabbit holes I have gone down in the last 3 years. You know?

Bob DeMarco [00:33:52]:
Yeah. Well well, I'm sitting here Thinking, and I I keep bouncing back and forth between, you know, computers and knives, and And it occurs to me that, when you're working with IT, your tools are not disposable, but they are Not even renewable. They go out of date somewhat quickly and they get replaced whether it's software or hardware, whereas When you're making a knife, you're going for the exact opposite. You're going for a timeless design or maybe you're going for something, You know, more flashy and unique, but you're going for something that is always gonna work, and you're going for something that you hope lasts forever. You know, that's no no one makes a knife hoping, oh, I I hope this lasts 20 years. No. You're thinking, like you know, everyone always mentions It's going down to the generations. I hope my knives continue.

Bob DeMarco [00:34:46]:
So they're they're they're very they're very different. One's pretty ephemeral, and and one is so Very not.

Byron Ray [00:34:54]:
I I have I I make 2 different kinds of knives. I mean, I make a production line of everyday carry

Bob DeMarco [00:34:59]:
Let's see. Let's see. We've been teasing about with talk. Show Show what you're talking about.

Byron Ray [00:35:04]:
So, like, that's a basic everyday carry. It's just over a 4 inch blade, Very simple. Fits in your hand. I have big hands, but I mean, it'll fit just about every hand. And this knife, it's a 3 16th inch fine, and I want you to just use and abuse this thing. I don't do a mirror polish. I do a satin, I do a satin Scotch bright finish. I mean, you can still see a little bit of lines on it and stuff.

Byron Ray [00:35:33]:
I don't wanna I don't want you I don't want these to be a safe coin. I want you to Just absolutely abuse this, though.

Bob DeMarco [00:35:41]:
So that's that's the model, that oh, that is beautiful. What is what's this model called?

Byron Ray [00:35:46]:
Okay. Same thing. This is I call it my EDC, and this is, my everyday carry.

Bob DeMarco [00:35:51]:
When I in my intro, I I said that you made scalpers, And to me, that looks like a scalping knife, and and how I define a scalping knife is something that's very all arounder, Something that you could use for everything, for, for hunting, for camping, for fighting, for EDC, but just like that classic, old American knife. Oh, look at that.

Byron Ray [00:36:16]:
That's my hunter. That's the hunting design. And, I actually one of my one of my best friends got one of these and actually went hunting with this weekend. And he too is a knife nerd, and he's been collecting knives and carried 2 to 3 knives on him is and, he took one of these hunting, and, they processed a deer and a hog with it this weekend. And what he told me was, I have, you know, a half a dozen different skinny knives and, you know, production knives from, you know, You know, Buck, Sherry, and all these different ones, he said, and they're all going in a box because I will never use them again. He said, this this thing, he said, It it cut so what really impressed me is when we got to the hog, and it cut through that inch and a half fat armor on it, you said, like it was butter.

Bob DeMarco [00:37:07]:
What kinda edge is is that a is that a oh, yeah. That that's a huge endorsement. Is that a convex edge you have on there?

Byron Ray [00:37:15]:
Yes. I put I I sharpen it down to them, down to the point, but then I don't know if I can show you this on here, but I put an apple seed edge on the very end.

Bob DeMarco [00:37:23]:
Okay. So you kinda 0 grind it and then and then apple

Byron Ray [00:37:27]:
seed it. I take it down almost to a point and then finalize it. I take it down to just Timing so I can get it, and then accuracy

Bob DeMarco [00:37:35]:
Don't put it away. You keep putting it away too fast.

Byron Ray [00:37:37]:
There's

Bob DeMarco [00:37:37]:
something I I wanna talk about here. The shape of the blade. So I I really love, and I know for for hunting, there's a lot of use for this too, but, I know for the hunters, they're gonna use that big, generous Belly up front a lot. I love the the downward, raking angle of the flat of the straight bit of the blade. I'm talking about From the ricasso from the sharpening choil down to the belly. I like that angle there because if you're using this knife other for other things like, cutting straps or cutting rope or cutting through leather or cardboard or whatever, the material's gonna get, trapped in that sort of downward angle part that little triangle created, and it's just gonna feed material into the belly, And, I I I love that in in in all sorts of knives. I love it in swords. The swords behind me do that, but in, Even your your best little slip joints do that.

Bob DeMarco [00:38:34]:
I I really like that shape.

Byron Ray [00:38:36]:
It I this is, right now, one of my favorite ones that I make. And like I said, this is the production line. This I make I make the same one all the time. And, we're actually My friend that was went hunting this weekend, he said, okay, I love this. I want it an inch shorter. Mhmm. He said, it's So big, he said, man, we need to shorten it about an inch. He goes, but I wanna keep the same shape because, basically, I just wanna make everything just a little bit smaller.

Byron Ray [00:39:03]:
So we're gonna we're gonna look at making a midsize hunter.

Bob DeMarco [00:39:06]:
Oh, right on.

Byron Ray [00:39:07]:
Something in the middle range.

Bob DeMarco [00:39:09]:
So are these production or Or or what you're calling your production line, are these also forged, or do you do a all

Byron Ray [00:39:17]:
stock removal.

Bob DeMarco [00:39:17]:
Stock removal. Okay.

Byron Ray [00:39:18]:
Yeah. I start with, a 2 inch bar, a 3 16ths 10 90 5. And I cut them out, Cut the bubbles on them, heat treat them, and then finalize them, clean them up.

Bob DeMarco [00:39:30]:
So, with the with the forging, Now you how do you decide when you're gonna forge a knife, and, like, do you work out new designs in the forge, and How do you decide what is relegated to that?

Byron Ray [00:39:46]:
I play more than anything. I if I wanna forge if I decide I'm gonna forge a knife, I go out. I start hammering on the tip, and then I start working on it and just see where it takes me. And, I just I have fun with it. Most of my stuff is stock removal. Sometimes, I do a lot of forging the tip. I mean, but, like, I started doing Damascus. And of course, you start with a block, you know, stack of, you know, layered steel.

Byron Ray [00:40:13]:
And, I mean, like this one. Oh. So that right there, it is far from perfect. But that is my 1st Damascus bowie. Wow. It's a 160 layer ladder pattern. The guard is 80 layers, because that was a piece I couldn't use because it had an inclusion. I had to cut it off, and I Squished it flat, but this started off as 20 pieces of steel just stacked together, and then I used my hydraulic press.

Byron Ray [00:40:44]:
I I I just it took me a day and a half. Wow. Most of most of the guys are a lot faster than that, but I was you know, It was my 1st time. I was completely, you know, wet behind the ears. I was going off of what I learned on YouTube and stuff, You know, watching watching Jay Nielsen's Damascus DVD.

Bob DeMarco [00:41:06]:
So this was the first, and it was did you say 10.95 and and And 69 or not I mean

Byron Ray [00:41:12]:
This one is, this one's 1084 and 15 and 20.

Bob DeMarco [00:41:16]:
15 and 20. That's nice. Okay. Oh, you said 10.94. So, this was stack alternating stacks. Those of us who watch Forged in Fire are are vaguely, familiar with some of these, processes. So That's where you weld 2, alternating stacks of alternating slabs of steel together, And then you heat them up and you compress them and then you cut them back up and do the same thing over and over until you have however many it is.

Byron Ray [00:41:49]:
Twenty layers on a 4 inch by 2 inch thick block. You draw it out. I think I draw it out almost 18 inches. Wow. Cleaned it up, Cut it up, restacked it, and I got 4 pieces. That made it 80 layers. Drew drew it, heat it up, drew it out again. And then as I as I cut it up this time, I was cutting it 3 equal pieces.

Byron Ray [00:42:10]:
And then the last piece, I discovered an inclusion about an inch into it, So I couldn't use that piece, so I just stacked the other 2 pieces, the 2 80 layers, which gave me a 160 layer billet. And then I was looking at that last little short Damascus piece, and I'm like, well, I can't let that go to waste. So I squished it out, and it became the guard.

Bob DeMarco [00:42:29]:
Sweet. So have you noticed a difference in performance, between, the Damascus steel or a monosteel blade? A friend of mine actually, I was showing a friend of mine. It was a 1095 and a 15 n 20 Damascus, one of the He, well, the only Damascus that I have, and he was asking if it was stronger or weaker, and I was like, oh, it's, Well, you see, it's, and actually, I didn't have an answer for them, except if it's made well, it should be as strong as

Byron Ray [00:43:02]:
If you got your heat treat right, A Damascus knife and a Monistil knife should perform well. I mean, it it they there should there shouldn't be really a difference. I mean, honestly, the Damascus is just sexier. I

Bob DeMarco [00:43:14]:
mean, okay.

Byron Ray [00:43:14]:
At the at the end of the day, it look it looks better, but I wouldn't say Damascus is any more, You know, any more effective than a mono scale, it just looks better. And it's also much harder to do, and much more, you know. It took me the same amount of time to make that Bowie that I'm you know, it's one of my others. But it took me a day and a half to make Bob to start making the knife. You know? Right. So there was an extra, you know, there was an extra 2 days worth of work in there before I ever started. I mean, whereas, like, this Bowie, that right there is just a bar of 10.95 that I started playing with them. And,

Bob DeMarco [00:43:59]:
That is sweet.

Byron Ray [00:44:01]:
This is what I like to make. I like big knives, and I cannot lie.

Bob DeMarco [00:44:06]:
So, like, what what kind of oh, god. That is beautiful, and I love that, downward turned guard. That guard is so cool.

Byron Ray [00:44:14]:
Yeah, I struggled with this one. It was, it it it was a work in progress, and I threw away 2 guards before I got there. I mean, I still would like to do more stuff to it. It's super plain, but, you know, I keep looking at them thinking, okay, what can I do better? And I have a fiber laser, And I'm doing all my own my own engraving now. You know, I can I can engrave my logo and stuff into the blade now? And So I got to thinking. It's like, well, the next time I do a guard before I bend it, I'm gonna lay that thing down and engrave some kind of pattern on here. You know, do some do something decorative. Stepping up a notch.

Bob DeMarco [00:44:50]:
Is that a sharpened swedge I see there?

Byron Ray [00:44:53]:
It's it's a false edge. It's not sharp. Okay. It I mean, It'll still

Bob DeMarco [00:44:58]:
it'll still do the still do the trick on a on a back cut, but

Byron Ray [00:45:02]:
Yeah. It will. It's not it it just comes to a point. It's not it's not Anything close to a sharpened edge or bevel and stuff. I mean, I think if you were doing a backswing, it would probably cut, but I'd rate I'd rate it slightly sharper than a butter knife on the Oh, my package.

Bob DeMarco [00:45:18]:
So, tell me about the company name, Wolfdog Armoury. What what is that where does that come from?

Byron Ray [00:45:25]:
So I was, you know, trying to think of a name, and when it occurred to me that the perfect example was in the living room. I have 2 giant Alaskan Malamutes. My wife fell in love with the, the snow dog, And she was actually teaching it in her classroom. She's a science teacher. And so we 10 years ago, we got this amazing solid white Alaskan Malamute, and he grew into a monster because anything above 85 pounds is considered a giant. And so Finnegan became the mascot of the forge, and so, you know, I mean, they're as close to a wolf you can get before actually having a wolf hybrid or a wolf. And so wolfdog armory. And then 2 years later, I got Fiona, which is his little sister and from another person.

Byron Ray [00:46:15]:
She's the descendant of monsters too. She's also she's just as big as he is, which is unusual for a female to be as big as the males, but Fiona's dad was a 175 pound Malamute. I got the medium the day we picked her up. I mean, it looked like somebody cross bred a dog and a grizzly bear.

Bob DeMarco [00:46:31]:
That's how much I weigh. Jeez, man. That's that's like a big dog.

Byron Ray [00:46:37]:
Oh my god. This thing was just a monster, And it's just like, well, if he decides he wants to eat me, I'm done. There's just but the malamutes are the most lovable dogs in the planet. I mean, they're They've never met a stranger. I mean, if you if you were to walk in my living room right now, Finn's gonna look at you and he's gonna run at you, but he's gonna turn Sideways at the last minute, swam into your knees, and then look over his shoulder at you, which is the look of adoring love, having never met you.

Bob DeMarco [00:47:03]:
That's I love that. I love knowing that. So, so when people come to your house, they're they're they're careful at first, but

Byron Ray [00:47:11]:
They're intimidated. My, the 1st time I had the 1st time a friend came over when Finn was about a year old and was about £97, My friend walked in, looked at him, and said, I'm not sure what kind of dog that is, but I would ride that into battle.

Bob DeMarco [00:47:28]:
So, Wolfdog armory, what how how do you wanna see the company grow? What are the what are the knives You wanna make and, you know, how do you wanna see this operation grow in your in your retirement?

Byron Ray [00:47:43]:
I I am I'm gonna keep making my, I'm gonna keep making my EDCs and my Hunters and, like, my little mini flavors and stuff. And, You know, I'm trying to make I wanna make knives for, you know, for blue collar. I want people that that wear a knife on a belt every day, And just they're gonna use it, use it for years, and then give it to the grandkid, you know? But at the same time, my love is Making big, honking, ridiculous building knives. Yeah. Completely impractical. I mean, there is there is absolutely nothing practical About this silly thing here, and I love it.

Bob DeMarco [00:48:23]:
It depends on your lifestyle, Byron. I could I could find a way to work that into my lifestyle, My very suburban

Byron Ray [00:48:29]:
You know, I mean, if the zombie apocalypse breaks out, I'm covered. I'm I'm good. You know? But

Bob DeMarco [00:48:34]:
So you did mention okay. So I like this. Getting Getting knives in the hands of, blue collar. I would like you to pull out the mini cleaver and show that off as I wax poetic because I like this idea of, you know, it doesn't have to be every tool you have, and if you're someone oh, that's beautiful. If you're someone who's using tools And using them on the regular, and a knife is is, you know, chief among them. Yeah. To have something real special, You know, you're not gonna do that for your hammer, your wrenches, and everything, but to have a knife doesn't doesn't mean you have to be a a fancy pants knife collector to have a sweet knife, in other words.

Byron Ray [00:49:14]:
You know, I watched a lot of NCIS growing up and everything, and rule number 9, always have a knife.

Bob DeMarco [00:49:20]:
Yep. No doubt. I I got to Hold a couple of these at the knife show. These are really cool. Tell me, you know, you have all these other knives with points and big gnarly. What What inspired this?

Byron Ray [00:49:35]:
This was a happy little accident. I was in the process of making The hunters. Wow. And all of a sudden, as I was cutting them out, the last piece of steel I was doing ended up short. I was about an inch short of having enough steel to make one of these. And I was like, okay, well, I can't do that. I guess I can make an EDC. But I'd already made 25 ABCs.

Byron Ray [00:50:01]:
I was getting ready for Bladeshit Texas, and I was my 1st big production run of, this knife. Mhmm. And I was flat sick of making them. I like I said, I had made 25 in a row, and I I was just kinda done. And At the time, this was two and a half years ago. I guess it was Blade Show Texas. I was getting ready for blade it was it was Christmas of 21. I was getting ready for Blade Show Texas 22.

Byron Ray [00:50:28]:
And my 1st knife show was the 2nd largest knife show in the world. I mean, go big or go home. Right? But anyway, I was trying to make this. I was gonna make another one of these, and I was like, you know, mini cleavers are kinda hot right now. I've seen people making one of those. I'd like to I'd like to make one. You know, what the heck? Let's just try it. So I made one that looked like this.

Byron Ray [00:50:49]:
It had a blue Cholla handle on it, and, it was fun. And I made the nastiest, jankiest sheath for this thing, because I didn't because I didn't know how to do it. I was in a hurry. I was in a time crunch. And so I but I put 1 together, and I thought it was gonna be good. And it was honestly it was terrible. If I ever run into the person at Blade Show Texas, if y'all are watching this, Come see me. I will give you another shot.

Bob DeMarco [00:51:16]:
You heard it here. But then again then again, Byron, there is something to to be said for having an early Byron

Byron Ray [00:51:23]:
Yeah. It's you know, keep it. Oh my god. You should see the 1st Bowie sheath I ever made. So I made my 1st Bowie knife on my my Harbor Freight 1 by 30. And it's rough. It's, You know, I mean, it's cool. It's rough.

Byron Ray [00:51:39]:
It's my my my my friend, Jones, it it was his 40th birthday present. Well, A year later, he didn't get a sheath, because I wasn't doing leather work at that point. A year later, my friend Boyd Turn 40, and I made him a Bowie knife. So this is, like, 16 months later. The difference between the 2 Bowie knives is night and day. I mean, you wouldn't think it was the same person that made it. I my skills have just improved that much over you know, and I upgraded equipment at the same time so I could do it faster and better. And I made I made him this beautiful Bowie knife with a zebra wood handle.

Byron Ray [00:52:17]:
And, then I had to make a sheath for It is horrible. I had begged him to throw it away. I'm I told him I will make him another sheath, and he won't do it. He said, because, no, it's the first one.

Bob DeMarco [00:52:31]:
Yeah. I I think he's right. I think he's right. Even if, I mean, if I were him, I'd accept the new one and keep the old one, but, you you indicated just a couple of seconds ago, when when you were talking about the the, genesis of the cleaver, that you were kind of at the tail end of a run of 25 EDCs. You were just kinda tired of making them and and wanna slip. So how do this was a happy accident, but with other new models, what's your, MO for coming up with new models? Is it go out The forge in play, is it designed, or is it to see what happens?

Byron Ray [00:53:06]:
Sometimes it's just messing around. It's just coming up with something. Honestly, the EDC, the original EDC, this design, I mentioned my friend my friend Jones. He requested a knife for his dad's 70th birthday. And he and I worked on it. We drew it up. We came up with this design. And he has number 1.

Byron Ray [00:53:29]:
I made it, and I put, like, their family brand is engraved on one side, my logos on the other. And it was, you know, it was a gift to his dad for his 70th birthday. But the design was so functional, I liked it so much, I started making them. And when I started making them, everybody was, like, oh, I want one of those, you know. I mean, it was so much nicer than anything I'd come up with so far. Some of my first ones were terrible. The knife I was making for myself was I mean, it was similar to this, but, I mean, the blade was 2 inches wide, and I made it out of quarter inch steel. I did Uh-huh.

Byron Ray [00:54:06]:
Weight reduction holes on it. I mean, That's a damn good club. It's a

Bob DeMarco [00:54:13]:
good it's a good barbell. Sounds like a great barbell.

Byron Ray [00:54:15]:
It was just part of the learning curve and stuff. So This thing turned out to be you know, it started off as a single knife designed for, you know, one of my best friend's dad's 70th birthday, and now I've made, you know, I I

Bob DeMarco [00:54:29]:
don't know. 60 of them. I think the beauty of that design, that you're holding in your hand is that it's, you could scale that too. I mean, That could easily be a smaller knife or a larger knife. That's that's like a that's kind of a magical I don't mean that. That's sort of What's the word I'm look it it it kinda hits all the balance points, that design.

Byron Ray [00:54:50]:
It's simple. It's I mean, there's no finger grooves or anything on it other than right here. And I mean, It's it's design I designed it so that it would fit. If you have, you know, just bare paws like me, or if you have smaller hands Mhmm. I mean, I've I've put one of these into the hands of a of a 100 pound woman, and she would've loved it, you know? And it just, So the designs just happen naturally. I mean, for instance, the mini cleaver. So the mini cleaver has the exact same handle, But it's a little wider, and I didn't wanna I I didn't have enough steel to do, like, you know, the hunter handle on it. So I decided to adopt The EDC handle and just tried to make a mini cleaver.

Byron Ray [00:55:34]:
So I made the 1 mini cleaver with a really horrible sheath, and it was the 1st knife I sold at Blade Show Texas within 30 minutes of the show open. Wow. Yeah. And it was

Bob DeMarco [00:55:44]:
That's funny, man.

Byron Ray [00:55:46]:
So I was, like, okay, and I went home and made 10 more. And I have been slowly selling those off the whole year. You know? I I'm I'm down to, like, 2 left, and I'm gonna I'm gonna make I'm gonna make another batch soon. But it was suggested to me by a master snuck more or less that, perhaps I should Shorten it a little bit. Maybe it's a hair too long to actually be considered as a mini clover. So some people called it something similar to a bullcutter, but Not with that end on it, but but it was suggested by a Master Smith to shorten it down to somewhere into here, and just make it truly a mini flavor, And maybe thin this out a little bit. So

Bob DeMarco [00:56:31]:
That could that could be the XL. So in in closing here, Byron, what is the knife that you really, what's your white whale in terms of knife making, something that you really wanna make you haven't attempted yet?

Byron Ray [00:56:44]:
More Damascus buoys, Because that was that was Damascus is a whole another level. I mean, there's so many things you could do with it. And having made just, you know, 3 or 4 Damascus knives now, it's time consuming. The failure rate is Hi. Because you can have inclusions and find problems along the way, but, I mean, walking around I know you do go to Blade Show Atlanta every year, And my god, walking around there and seeing some of these guys, some of the stuff they do, you know, it's like, I aspire to be that good, you know. I've made friends with Niels Vandenberg down in South Africa, and, you know, I aspire to have as much talent as he has in his pinky No, it's not. No. I mean, there's these guys that are just artists, and I'm, I'm learning.

Byron Ray [00:57:35]:
Everything, I'm self taught. I see the rabbit hole, and I go down it. And it's it's it's fun. I mean, I it's like I said, it goes back to being the IT nerd. I I see something new, and it's like, I wanna do this. How do I do that? I mean, it started off by making the railroads fight knives, and then do the farrier's rest. And then Then I started looking at okay, well, you know, put wood on it. Like, I made this handle.

Byron Ray [00:58:01]:
I mean, not just made and shape it. I harvested Cholla cactus off my brother's property in Alpine, Texas. I learned how to pour aluminolite. I learned I mean, I talked to Jake Thompson on YouTube And figured out how to, you know, use a limolyte and stabilize wood and do all those things. And then, You know, I started with making knives, and people were like, well, this is nice, but I need a sheet. Okay. Okay. I gotta learn leather work now, so I started learning leather work.

Byron Ray [00:58:27]:
And, you know, my 1st sheets were terrible. My latest ones are not bad.

Bob DeMarco [00:58:31]:
Pretty sweet. Rabbit holes, Byron, we're, we're looking forward to you going down the Damascus that's where we all grow is when we go down those rabbit holes and get obsessed. Anyway, we're looking forward to seeing you go down the Damascus buoy rabbit hole. I know I, for 1, am very excited about that.

Byron Ray [00:58:49]:
That's the summer.

Bob DeMarco [00:58:50]:
Oh, that's the summer.

Byron Ray [00:58:51]:
That's where I'm starting.

Bob DeMarco [00:58:53]:
We will check back in with you and we will we will see what you're doing definitely by summer. Thank you so much, Byron, for coming on the Knife Junkie podcast and and talking about Wolfdog armory with us. It's been awesome talking to you, and, I'm so glad we had a chance to meet.

Byron Ray [00:59:09]:
It's been a lot of fun. Thank you.

Announcer [00:59:22]:
If you search Google for the best knife podcast, the answer is the Knife Junkie podcast.

Bob DeMarco [00:59:30]:
There he goes, ladies and gentlemen. Byron Rae of Wolfdog armory. You've gotta go to his Instagram page and check out his absolutely gorgeous buoys. You know, that's always my entry point. I'm a big fan of Buies. So, yeah, I said that twice in a row, the quote, unquote proper way, but also his production knives are so sweet. That EDC reminds me, like I said, of a scalper. To me, that's a classic, old school American do all knife.

Bob DeMarco [00:59:58]:
So go over to wolfdogarmory on Instagram. I I think he's working on his web page. I was there today. Lots of cool stuff, but I think IG is the way to go. Alright. Another way to go is to check us out on Wednesday for the midweek supplemental and Thursday for Thursday night night. Alright. For Jim working his magic behind the switcher, I'm Bob DeMarco saying until next time.

Bob DeMarco [01:00:20]:
Don't take dull for an answer.

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