The majority of the knives I make are used practically for a specific purpose, e.g. paring knife (to peel pares..?) I hope this one does not get used for purpose. The Bowie Knife was very popular before pistols were any good. At killing other men, that is. American men. They enjoyed it so much that even the Little Mesters here in Sheffield heard and started making thousands of them. Soon the Americans felt naked without a Sheffield bowie hanging from their hip.
Here is colonel Jim Bowie, famed for being stabbed 5 times without crying.
A bowie is halfway between penknife and sword. Designed for fighting someone armed with a penknife, it has a large finger guard to defend from wicked slashes and a swedge. This went on to influence the hair fashion of the 1990's. It is the end 3rd of the spine profiled into a semi blunt edge for stabby purposes. The blade is traditionally 9.5'' and has a clip point so its really pointy. A Bowie now describes most big knives with a swedge and a big finger guard.
Above is a typical Sheffield Bowie made by 'Little Mester' Reg Cooper. The Americans still love a Sheffield Bowie and this buffalo handled 10'' knife was made for Slyvester the Italian Stalione.
This is a Kershaw knife which my customer wanted to base the design on. I really liked the blade shape and bolster but modified the handle and choil. The choil is the rounded area at the base of the blade which can be used as a finger grip when controlled carving.
So here it is cut out of 5.5mm Sheffield spring steel En42. A Carbon steel is well suited to the larger blade as it is tough. Tough means that you can give it a really good chop and it won't bend, chip, break or fracture. 5.5mm is the thickest gauge steel I have ever used for a knife. It weighed 750g with sheath - not to be worn on a cheap belt!
People sometimes ask why I use hand tools so much; there is much more control and a machine can make mistakes much faster. This is the choil I mentioned. Many bowies are stick or file tang, but only a full tang can really balance and support a big boy.
I wanted to bring out the glorious colours of the olive wood so risked a royal blue posterior spacer. Framed by black, the blue is just subtle enough to complement the yellow /orange without standing out too much. The nickel silver rivets stand out proudly though, stating this is one strong handle who will be still lookin good during the next ice age.
With a long knife like this the sheath must be rigid to prevent the point catching on entry so I decided on a fold over style. This pattern has a good size opening for easy use and holds the blade tightly when the knife is at home in its little house. The door is locked securely with a heavy duty press stud so the blade cannot escape when entertaining guests with trampolining tricks.
The edges are painted black to bring out the leather's fine new colour and show off the stitch-work. You can see the gradient in the stitch spacing, getting closer together towards the heel and point. The whole sheath was then burnished and then infused with about half a pot of wax dubbin.
Standing with this reassuringly heavy blade weighing in my hand I could understand the confidence that inspired Jim Bowie to charge at a group of armed gunmen who had shot at his friend. Once recovered he proudly wore his big blade every day so everyone could see how a real man dresses for dinner.