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Old 03-10-2010, 07:50 PM   #11
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Benning,

If you want a historically accurate cowboy knife you can look at the Bowies or an Arkansas toothpick as both were well used. Most of the real world historical knives were handmade by a blacksmith and pretty much unique to size and blade shape as specified by the smith or the customer who ordered one made. If you’re looking to make on for cowboy action shooting or re-enactors then I have a suggestion. Go to a junk yard and pick up a single leaf spring from a truck. Sketch the shape and size of your knife on the leaf spring with chalk or paint and cut it out with a saw. When you have the rough blank crank up your grinder and carefully, VERY CARFULLY, start grinding out the knife blade and tang. Then grind down the blade to where you can sharpen it with a proper sharpener. Decide if you want wood grips or bone or horn or whatever and shape them to the tang, You can drill the tang and using 10 penny nails make your own rivets to hold the grips on. Sounds hard but it really isn’t. I learned this from a “grito” from the Philippines who make their own knives. The steel from a car leaf spring holds an amazing edge. Now you have an authentic knife you can be proud to have and use.
I lived in the Philippines for 4 years and those folks can and do make some dandy blades from old car leaf springs. Hand crafted - each one...
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Old 03-10-2010, 08:39 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dzscubie View Post
Benning,

If you want a historically accurate cowboy knife you can look at the Bowies or an Arkansas toothpick as both were well used. Most of the real world historical knives were handmade by a blacksmith and pretty much unique to size and blade shape as specified by the smith or the customer who ordered one made. If you’re looking to make on for cowboy action shooting or re-enactors then I have a suggestion. Go to a junk yard and pick up a single leaf spring from a truck. Sketch the shape and size of your knife on the leaf spring with chalk or paint and cut it out with a saw. When you have the rough blank crank up your grinder and carefully, VERY CARFULLY, start grinding out the knife blade and tang. Then grind down the blade to where you can sharpen it with a proper sharpener. Decide if you want wood grips or bone or horn or whatever and shape them to the tang, You can drill the tang and using 10 penny nails make your own rivets to hold the grips on. Sounds hard but it really isn’t. I learned this from a “grito” from the Philippines who make their own knives. The steel from a car leaf spring holds an amazing edge. Now you have an authentic knife you can be proud to have and use.
Will definately try that, will post pics when done give us a week or so.
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Old 03-11-2010, 01:34 AM   #13
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I live in cattle country and have known many REAL ranch hands. I knew the driver of the last stagecoach in Colorado. I study old outdoorsmen and ranch hands and the gear they used. I am an antique knife collector as well. From my research the large Bowie type knife was more of a 1850's and earlier acsessory. In those days a man carried one as a last ditch defense since he only had single shot, slow loading pistols. As the revolver with multiple shots became common belt knives became shorter. After the 1850's the common belt knife blade length is @ 5". Bowies I have examined that are larger built after 1850 seem to be in excellent condition, giving the notion that they were never used. Seldom did a cowhand wear either a handgun or knife on his belt. These were working men and they didnt want to deal with the weight or nuisence of anything hanging off them when they worked. Most had their handguns in pommel holsters on their saddle. From what I have witnessed the pocket knife was THE knife a cowhand used and many used large folders. Most cowhands had small hatchets in their saddlebags for chopping and pounding duties. Outdoorsmen were of the same mindset, using folders mainly. If you ever fell off a horse or took a hard fall in the mountains the last thing you want is a large fixed blade handle jammed in your ribs.
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Old 03-11-2010, 02:03 AM   #14
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Check this out:

Antique Knives

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Old 03-11-2010, 03:56 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Dzscubie View Post
The steel from a car leaf spring holds an amazing edge. Now you have an authentic knife you can be proud to have and use.
I'd recommend against using recycled steel for a knife. Car leaf springs have no magical properties, they are just usually 5160 which is a decent steel for a large knife.

You don't know what sort of fatigue or stress that material was subjected to, you can't be 100% sure of the type of steel you're dealing with (and hence you won't be able to know exactly how to heat treat it). Too much guess work involved. Steel needs to be bought from a reliable supplier who can give you a precise breakdown of the composition of each batch and the recommended heat treat.

For anybody who wants to learn about bowie knives, I think this book is a good starting point: Amazon.com: The Bowie Knife: Unsheathing an American Legend (9781931464123): Norm Flayderman: Books
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Old 03-11-2010, 05:13 AM   #16
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Take a look at these knives: ML Knives Custom Made Knives hand forged in the USA Hunting Bowies

They are really good performers, I love their looks and they are well priced. They are quite popular with outdoorsmen who like classic knives with a frontier feel. I highly recommend them.
This is kinda what I had in mind. United Cutlery has a line that resembles the finish of these, but knife people understand what United Cutlery is all about.

Good deal, wish the majority wasn't already sold, there are some beauties in there.
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Old 03-11-2010, 05:18 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dzscubie View Post
Benning,

If you want a historically accurate cowboy knife you can look at the Bowies or an Arkansas toothpick as both were well used. Most of the real world historical knives were handmade by a blacksmith and pretty much unique to size and blade shape as specified by the smith or the customer who ordered one made. If you’re looking to make on for cowboy action shooting or re-enactors then I have a suggestion. Go to a junk yard and pick up a single leaf spring from a truck. Sketch the shape and size of your knife on the leaf spring with chalk or paint and cut it out with a saw. When you have the rough blank crank up your grinder and carefully, VERY CARFULLY, start grinding out the knife blade and tang. Then grind down the blade to where you can sharpen it with a proper sharpener. Decide if you want wood grips or bone or horn or whatever and shape them to the tang, You can drill the tang and using 10 penny nails make your own rivets to hold the grips on. Sounds hard but it really isn’t. I learned this from a “grito” from the Philippines who make their own knives. The steel from a car leaf spring holds an amazing edge. Now you have an authentic knife you can be proud to have and use.
Ever since I saw Benicio do this in "The Hunted", I've wanted to try this.

I have a bunch of trees down or broken from the blizzard, so I'll have a fire soon that should get me one or two good heatings for a blade.

I have no idea what I'm doing, but it might be fun to give it a whirl.
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Old 03-11-2010, 11:44 AM   #18
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Spring steel is very hard, enjoy your time in front of a bench grinder and wear some eye protection!
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Old 03-11-2010, 01:39 PM   #19
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Here ya go cowboy, lots of custom choices and you can stick to the authenticity script.

Deadwood Steel Custom Knives - The Last Best West

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Old 03-11-2010, 08:45 PM   #20
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You can always go for a nice Bark River knife, my favourite production company when it comes to fixed blades.
Some of their knives follow historical patterns, like the Searles bowie in the first pic.





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