In the eyes of one sitting member of the Cutlery Hall-Of-Fame, Bill Ruple, an award-winning custom knifemaker specializing in traditional pocketknives/slip joints and multi-blades, has done as much as anyone to promote the knife business. Bill served on the board of the Texas Knifemakers Association, taught many how to make traditional knives and is very free with his knowledge. In recognition of this fact, he was presented with the BLADE Show 2019 Aldo and Edda Lorenzi Award. The award went to a knifemaker who excels in terms of teaching and mentoring his or her fellow makers in the art of knifemaking.
Having built knives for 34 years, Ruple is a premier maker of slip joints and possesses a selfless willingness to teach others how to do it, usually in his shop in Pleasanton, Texas, and also at BLADE University, the BLADE Show, BLADE Show West and other venues. He has helped many get started with the slip joint, one of the oldest yet most challenging folders to make. His kindness and patience validates something other makers know all too well—that he is most willing to share knowledge with and encourage, critique and mentor makers everywhere.
A selection of Bill Ruple’s slip joints in an array of open, closed and spine images show Bill’s awesome talent and versatility as a knifemaker.
Bill has taught quite a few who have become award-winning makers in their own right, including Rusty Preston, Luke Swenson, Tom Ploppert, Phil Jacob, Bubba Crouch, Toby Hill, Enrique Pena and others. A number have gone on to teach also, spreading Ruple’s knowledge to others who no doubt do the same as well. Bill does not limit his shared knowledge to just stock removal makers, receiving the American Bladesmith Society’s President’s Award for teaching ABS members how to make slip joints. Finally, Bill has donated some of his knives to knife shows and other cutlery organizations to raise funds for their various needs. - Steve Shackleford for Blade Magazine, 2020