Several years ago in trade with a collector I ended up with a #47 Western Bowie knife blank. I don't know that the blank was ever completed with a handle. When I received it and had no handle and no evidence of ever having had one.
Early this year I was telling my Western customers about the blank and he said he would like the opportunity to purchase it and have me put stag handles on it. He thought the end of July would be a good time for him. I said, that I thought the timing was perfect and I thought I could find some good stag. Unfortunately, I didn’t know I was going to be in the hospital twice during the time I was working on it; once at the end of June for surgery and then July 26 to have the mesh from the first surgery removed. I came in a little later than I had anticipated but I was able to finish it this evening on August 1.
I didn’t take step-by-step pictures, but I did take pictures of some of the more important stages of the procedure. I thought our members might like to see the work in progress on this Bowie and I know my customer will like to see the pictures; he is an AAPK member also.
This is the starting point, the #47 blank and a piece of brass bar with the slot cut in it. The brass bar I got from Jantz and though the slot was not the right size to accommodate the tang, it was close enough that I was able to finish filing it to size without a lot of difficulty. I believe the bar cost $15 plus shipping which was a whole lot more cost-effective in my mind than starting with a three dollar bar of brass and drilling my own holes!
Here is the shape scratched and the brass after painting it with layout fluid. IMHO the layout fluid was also worth the price! It doesn't rub off like Sharpie does.
Hours of sanding and filing later, I have the shape of the guard roughed out.
I could not be content with a plain brass guard and I wasn't very excited about bending the guard like some of the original Western guards, so I file work the edge of the crossbar between the circles or discs either end of the guard. It's getting close, but still a long ways to go!
This is a trial fit of the guard, nice and snug.
Gluing stag to the handle.
Stag is glued into place in mosaic pin holes are drilled. Notice that the edge and the guard are heavily taped to prevent damage to the guard while attaching the handle.
This shows pith from the center of the stag slab that is at the bottom of the handle. The top of the handle has showing it is all the harder stag exterior.
This is pith that shows on the end of the handle. It is almost impossible anymore to find thick solid slabs of the exterior hard stag without having to deal with some of the interior pith as well. My cost on the set of handles as it was was about $75 with shipping, so you can imagine what a perfect set of slab handles would cost for this knife! The cool thing is this can be hardened, if you're patient. It only takes a couple dozen applications of thin CA glue like Zap-A-Gap than and then a few applications of the Zap-A-Gap medium. When you are all finished it feels like it's been stabilized.
Next I needed to make a sheath for the knife. I patterned it after a number of other Western Bowie sheaths, all the while trying to keep it simple enough to be in my skill level. I had a big heavy cowhide to make the sheath with.
I visited my local shoe repairman/Tandy leather store and had a lot of chats with the new owner. He wants me to bring some knives in so he can sell them, or drool on them one I'm not sure which, probably both. He sold me the hardware I needed to put the sheath together, and also some of the tools. Here I am clamping the welt to the back of the sheath. This is the first sheath I have made that used a welt.
Here are the two halves of the sheath after the glue dried.
Well, I think that's about all I can get on this post. I need to get some sleep because I have to see this doctor in the morning and have my surgical wound tended to. I have some very mediocre indoor pictures of the completed knife and sheath. Hopefully my wife can get some better pictures with her nice camera that I can with my cell phone.
The knife and sheath are completed. Hopefully we'll have some good pictures of both tomorrow. Otherwise you'll have to see my lousy indoor pictures.