How Raffir came to life
Starting as knife makers
We – Jacob Schou Madsen and Michael Sort Mouritsen – started out as knife makers at the age of 13 in 1998. Soon after, we grew more and more passionate about knife making materials as well as about knife making itself. We found a whole new world of discovering, sourcing and later creating our own materials. The following years most of our spare time was used for knife making and material sourcing. We also started selling handle materials to other knife makers and turned our hobby into our spare time business.
Our first company
In 2003 we were finally old enough to register our own company, and started Sort & Schou knife supply. At the same time we collected all our private savings along with our children’s savings. We then went to Russia, and used all of it to buy fossil mammoth tusks. At the time, this kind of business required 100% upfront payment. Were our parents nervous about their kids traveling to a country far away with a load of money? Little bit… But about a month after we got back our mammoth tusks arrived. The next year or so we were cutting up and selling mammoth tusks to knife makers in most of Scandinavia. We used some of the earnings from this adventure to go to Russia again for more mammoth tusks. The rest of it was used for a different type of investment: developing our own wood stabilizing process.
Creating our own unique materials
Ever since we started making knives we also dreamed about creating and stabilizing our own unique handle materials. We started experimenting with ways to stabilize wood even before we started Sort & Schou. But after our first mammoth expedition we had finally earned enough money to really get started. We then invested in heavier equipment for the vacuum and high-pressure treatments that are key for a successful wood stabilization.
We launched our first stabilized woods at the end of 2003. The “factory” was located at Jacob’s parents garage. But the equipment was there, and so was the ideas. However, when it comes to stabilizing wood, and you think you’ve got it all figured out, you’ve really only just begun. It takes an enormous amount of effort to do it well. There is always something you can improve. Whether it is the input material, the pretreatment, the resin formula, the stabilizing process itself or the hardening procedure.
Today, after thousands and thousands of adjustments and improvements, we are very proud of the results we have reached. But even now, more than 15 years after we started stabilizing wood, we still improve the process and the products with every chance we get. We are determined to create and supply the best quality of stabilized materials in the world. We can only do that by continually pushing our abilities forward.
From Sort & Schou to Raffir
As we created and improved our own unique materials we started labeling them “Raffir”. We did that to separate them from the standard untreated woods and fossils we sold at the time.
/ r œ f ɪəʳ /
Raffir – an abbreviation of the Danish word “raffinere” (refine)
The word “Raffir” is an abbreviation of the Danish word for “refine”. We chose this brand name to support the basic philosophy of our materials. The starting point of our product development is to find something unique but fragile in nature. We then combine it with advanced resins and processing technologies to get the best from both worlds. The unique beauty of nature meets the strength and durability of modern technology.
Over the years this approach led us to our three main product categories: Raffir Fossils, Raffir Wood and Raffir Composites. Each product has the unique aesthetics of the natural raw material it is based on. Furthermore, the resin treatment improves the mechanical properties and reduces degradation. The results is an overall more homogeneous material suited for many applications, in which aesthetic, durability and machinability are important factors. Overall, the Raffir materials are used for a variety of products such as: knife handles, gun grips, jewelry, musical instruments, eyewear, accessories and a lot more. In 2014 we chose to focus all our efforts on Raffir materials and changed our company name from Sort & Schou to Raffir ApS.
The company setup
Today our designs, research and new materials are all created by Raffir ApS in Denmark. Here we also produce Raffir Fossils and Raffir Wood. In 2012 we founded Yangdong Raffir Hardware Plastics & CO. Ltd in China with guidelines and quality control by Raffir Denmark. This company produces our full range of Raffir Composites, such as Raffir Noble and Raffir Alume. We also develop and improve these products continually, which requires a lot of presence from Raffir Denmark in China. The idea of the Composite range is to combine our focus on novel and visually appealing products with the high strength of composites.
We test and develop new ideas every year, but we never launch them before we are happy with the results. Some times that takes years. And as we improve our products we also set the bar higher for every new project we start. This process has led us to the strong product platform we have today. You could say that we specialize heavily on the development and production of unique new materials. But to get the materials to the users we rely on a strong network of partners and distributors. We have a lot of distributors in Europe and recently started partnerships in Russia and USA.
Expansion in the East and West
Over the years we have seen increasing interest for our materials in the United States. So in 2018 we partnered up with Santa Fe Stoneworks in New Mexico and founded Raffir USA. Santa Fe Stoneworks are experts in cutting, grinding and polishing our materials. Therefore we see them as an ideal partner. They will not just sell Raffir materials; they will also give you professional advice on how to process the materials and make them shine bright. This is only possible through their massive experience in making knives with anything from our composites to stabilized mammoth tusks. Raffir USA also has the capacity cut and do finishing treatments to the materials.
In 2019 we went on a mammoth expedition in Far East Russia with our native supplier of mammoth fossils. This way, we could experience first hand how the fossil collection works, and make sure everything is done legally with respect for the nature. It takes a lot of permits and paperwork to collect and export mammoth fossils out of Russia, but this is the only right way to do it. Meanwhile, we agreed on a partnership with our supplier so that they would be able to distribute our materials as well as we distribute theirs. The result was Raffir Russia, which is now our base in Khabarovsk, Russia.
New partner in Denmark
Over the first 15 years Raffir went from a garage-model spare time company to a very specialized custom material production. However, we have long been dreaming of taking the leap to a more industrial production scale. So finally in 2019, our latest partner – Henning Rohde – joined the company and invested in a new and better Danish facility. Henning is a very enthusiastic knife maker and hunter. He has been making knives and customizing guns for more than 20 years. Via these interests he already has many years of experience and passion working with Raffir materials. Furthermore, his family business is a large auto paint shop. This gives him life long experience with lacquers and various surface treatments, which strengthens the future product developments in Raffir.
We hope you will find the time to browse through our many different materials. Maybe you will find just the inspiration you need for your next project! The standard dimensions and color options for the materials are written for each product category. However, we also customize orders, which give the possibility of making the materials in custom dimensions to fit your needs.
You are very welcome to contact us if you have comments, need information or price quotes.
The Raffir Crew
Jacob Schou Madsen, Founding Partner, Raffir ApS
Michael Sort Mouritsen, Founding Partner, Raffir ApS
Henning Rohde, Partner, Raffir ApS
Miles Wirtel, Partner, Raffir USA