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Historical Inspiration This forum is dedicated to the discussion of historical knife design and its influence on modern custom knife work.

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Old 06-18-2014, 06:09 PM
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Gary Mulkey Gary Mulkey is offline
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The Making of Bowie No. 1 (a Work in Progress)

Last February I was privileged to have viewed "The Bowie Knife: A Sure Defense" exhibit at The Arkansas Historic Museum in Little Rock. This was the largest collection of authentic 19th century Bowie knives ever assembled and was tremendously inspired to recreate some of them.

For my first, I decided to build "Bowie No. 1" by James Black. Here's a bit of how it has progressed:

The rough stock: A piece of 2" W2:



Drawn into a billet:



Bladesmithed & rough ground:



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Last edited by Gary Mulkey; 06-18-2014 at 06:27 PM.
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Old 06-18-2014, 06:13 PM
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The tang filed into a rope roll pattern (the slot is for a silver overlay):



The silver soldered to the back of the blade & roughed out handle scales:



Handle scales with silver wrap added to front:



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Old 06-18-2014, 06:26 PM
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The handle scales ready to attach to tang:



The scales attached. X-rays showed that the original scales were attached with tubing since the fine silver wire that attached the domed pin heads wouldn't have been strong enough. The pommel wrap is fine silver as well.



Domed pin heads attached & a sealer coat given to the walnut burl scales.



Now that the walnut scales have been sealed. I am ready to do a final sanding of them as well as the various silver pieces of the hilt. Then after another 6-8 coats of finish I should be ready for the escutcheons when they are finished being engraved.

Once the knife is completed, it will be on display at The Arkansas Historic Museum until February when I will take it out for the annual Arkansas Knifemaker's Show.

I have pledged $1000 of the sale price to the museum for all of their help, without which I couldn't have made such an accurate reproduction of the original which is housed there.

I hope that you enjoy this as much as I have in making it.

Gary


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Last edited by Gary Mulkey; 06-18-2014 at 06:29 PM.
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Old 06-25-2014, 03:04 PM
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The knife is fully assembled now. The blade has a 400 grit finish & the silver 600. The handle has 12 coats of a wipe-on poly finish that I went over with 0000 steel wool. I should complete the handle finishing tomorrow.







The overall knife is very close to the original dimensions.

Let me know what you think.

Gary


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Old 06-25-2014, 05:54 PM
Doug Lester Doug Lester is offline
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Overall fit and finish look great but the angle of the handle looks strange. I did a knife with not quite that much of an angle upward from the blade and it really feels strange to grip.

Doug


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Old 06-25-2014, 06:02 PM
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I know what you mean. There's been a lot of speculation of why Black built it with the upswept hilt.



I had the advantage of having a Xerox copy of the original to work from and profiled this one exactly from it.

Gary


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Old 06-25-2014, 07:08 PM
argel55 argel55 is offline
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In some of the old publications, they reasoned the handle was that way to be held up side down when in fighting use. I have one of the old mags that explained it that way being wrote in the 1980s.
It looks like to me Gary you did an outstanding job on it.
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Old 06-25-2014, 07:15 PM
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Thanks, Mike. I appreciate it.

I have heard two different theories about the handle angle. One is as you say. The other was that it kept your hand back on a slashing swing of the knife allowing more of the cutting edge to work. Who knows which Bowie had in mind when he designed it. Either way it was unique.

Gary


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Old 06-28-2014, 05:46 AM
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The Musso Bowie also has an angled grip.
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Old 07-05-2014, 04:21 PM
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The knife & I made a trip to Little Rock this week to visit it's inspiration:





My thanks to Lin Rhea, Bill Worthen, and all of the museum staff for their warm hospitality.
It was a day that I will long remember. I was very fortunate in that the original
"Bowie No. 1" had just been taken out of it's temporary display and hadn't been put in it's
permanent one so I had a chance to actually handle the knife. What an honor! For a guy like
me who loves the historic Bowies it doesn't get much better.

Gary


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Old 07-05-2014, 09:50 PM
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Truly Gary, how often can you get a pic of your knife next to the original! Great knife and pics, and enjoy the moment! And what a great display they had at the Arkansas Museum!

Tony Z
Kansas City, MO


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