Introduction: Make a Bowie Knife From Table Saw Insert

I had a few metal table saw inserts kicking around my shop to an old saw I no longer had. A friend of mine starting collecting knives for display so I decided I wanted to turn one of the old inserts into a Bowie knife. Build Video HERE

Step 1: Layout & Cutting It to Shape

I began by drawing in a generic shape I wanted the knife to be. Using an abrasive cut-off wheel in my rotary tool I cut the knife blank out from the table saw insert. I also made a pommel and blade guard from the same material and refined its shape on a belt sander.

Step 2: Refining the Cutting Edge

To give the knife an edge, I ground both sides of the metal to a point on the grinding wheel. It wasn't very sharp at this point because I didn't want to work on it further with it being sharp enough to cut me. It is worth noting this knife was going to be a display piece so I didn't heat treat the cutting edge being the knife wasn't going to be used to cut.

Step 3: Peening the Pommel

Before I began peening the pommel into place I made sure the blade guard was slid over the tang and in place. Had I forgot to do that, there would have been no way of getting it on there after the fact. With the blade tightly in a vise I heated the end of the tang with a mapp gas torch until it was cherry hot. Being the knife blank was cut from an old table saw insert, I had a large hole in the tang. While hammering and peening the tang onto the pommel the handle bent slightly. Once all done I could just hammer the handle back to straight.

Step 4: Making the Handle

I used a scrap piece of pine to make a two piece handle that I epoxied into place. The grooves to accommodate the tang were cut on the table saw. Some generic shaping was done on the bandsaw and refined on a 1" wide belt sander.

Step 5: Wrapping the Handle

As a design element I wanted to wrap the handle in cotton string. I wanted the finished handle to be jet black so I had to color the string. I used a scrap piece of 1/4" MDF that I filed a groove into to submerge the natural string in a small container filled with india ink. This worked out really well. After taking my time to wrap the handle nicely in the string, I went back over the string and brushed on some more india ink. Once that had fully cured I rubbed on some paste wax and melted it into the handle with a heat gun.

Step 6: Polishing & Sharpening

After sanding the entire blade to 600 grit I ran it past the polishing wheel to give it an almost mirror-like shine. To sharpen it I just used a carbide kitchen knife sharpener. It took maybe 50 or so passes and it was razor sharp.

Step 7: Finished Knife

Here are just some close-up pictures of the completed knife. I was extremely pleased on how it turned out and my friend thought it was a really cool gift. Thanks For Checking It Out!!

-Nick

Comments

author
Random Hacks (author)2016-05-03

Wow. Very Cool. Your tutorials are awesome!

author
nick ferry (author)Random Hacks2016-05-09

thank you kindly!

author
Saaraf (author)2015-07-05

I'm not very experienced but could I use a single vise instead of many clamps for gluing the handle?

author
nick ferry (author)Saaraf2015-07-05

sure that would work great as well

author
thegrendel (author)2015-06-21

A very nicely done project, but always exercise extreme caution when using a cutting wheel with a rotary tool, particularly when cutting metal. Always wear

goggles or eye protection. Always!

author
nick ferry (author)thegrendel2015-06-23

thanks - I couldn't agree more

author
tp.pa.12 (author)2015-06-23

I think you are fine with your handle material, as you say its a display piece, and it looks good. As far as leather ringed Bowie knives being the original, I do not believe that is true, I have seen some with that style, but the most popular material back then was, antlers / horns / wood

Jim Bowie's knife, 1830,

with a simple riveted wood scale handle

Nice build!

Him Too!

Tp

author
nick ferry (author)tp.pa.122015-06-23

thanks Tp - much appreciated!

author
B0iorix (author)2015-06-22

Nice knife, but not Bowie knife. Bowie knife must have a grip made of many o-shaped layers of rawhide tighened by a screw. This is what make a difference between just a knife and Bowie knife.

author
nick ferry (author)B0iorix2015-06-22

thank you - I've seen many variations to the Bowie knife including wood handles - being the history of it is uncertain I would say it classifies as close enough to be Bowie-esque

author
B0iorix (author)nick ferry2015-06-23

That's true. You needn't leather grip, if you aren't planning to throw your knife, like Bowie :-) Wooden grip seems to be a bit fragile ..

author
nick ferry (author)B0iorix2015-06-23

It is a gift to be used for display

author
charles543 (author)2015-06-22

I didn't know a saw insert was good enough steel to make a knife.

author
RayJN (author)charles5432015-06-23

many of the inserts are aluminum, which would work for a display knife, and easy to work.

author
nick ferry (author)charles5432015-06-22

It is no damascus steel but it was a gift that was going to be a display piece so I didn't even bother heat treating it.

author
DIY Andrea (author)2015-06-22

Awesome looking knife! I hope it goes on display with the table saw insert plate. Cheers!

author
nick ferry (author)DIY Andrea2015-06-22

Thanks much Andrea - that is a really good idea - I will have to give my friend the insert too

author
tuanlong (author)2015-06-21

Thank for share.

author
nick ferry (author)tuanlong2015-06-22

no problem - it was a fun one to make

author
THEJJRAT (author)2015-06-16

Johnny Toast would love this.

author
nick ferry (author)THEJJRAT2015-06-17

I am not familiar w/ Johnny Toast

author
THEJJRAT (author)nick ferry2015-06-18

http://venturiantale.wikia.com/wiki/Johnny_Toast

author
nick ferry (author)THEJJRAT2015-06-18

huh interesting

author
cocoboty (author)nick ferry2015-06-17

Nor am I

author
sosclosetsandfurniture (author)2015-06-18

Okay that is awesome! I tried making a blade a few years ago. Hack saw and grinder with terrible results. I shelved it out of frustration. Using the rotory tool is to cut out the shape is genius. I take tools like that for granted sometimes. Gonna whip out my dremel and try a couple little cuts on some scrap metal.

author

cool - yeah sometimes I overlook the dremel too

author
njreyn (author)2015-06-18

Nicely done! If you plan on continuing with the black string there's an easy way to save a couple of steps. Bagpipers use what we call "waxed hemp" for securing various parts of our pipes together. It's black, and as the name suggests, pre-waxed. If you have a piper friend he could help you out with some, or hit any bagpipe supply shop on the web. $10 or so will get you a ton.

Not that you need it, this came out very well. Just sayin'...

author
nick ferry (author)njreyn2015-06-18

very cool, I had never heard that before - thanks!

author
3366carlos (author)2015-06-18

awesome, you can sell them knives.

author
nick ferry (author)3366carlos2015-06-18

thanks but it was just a gift for a friend

author
jackowens (author)2015-06-16

I love your creativity! Only thing I would add is riveting the handle, but that is a personal touch

author
nick ferry (author)jackowens2015-06-17

would you put them underneath the string?

author
jackowens (author)nick ferry2015-06-17

That would probably work. I recently began experimenting more with rivets after I started learning the art of making medieval armor, and honestly I think they are amazing. Quicker and easier than gluing, and they are also extremely durable. You could drill two holes in the tang and the handle and then make rivets out of roofing nails very easily. I think it would work well well under the string or you could get rid of the string altogether

tang rivets.jpg
author
lilchumy (author)2015-06-16

Awesome knife. I just finished my first knife made from scrap parts that we were otherwise going to throw away. Cheaper than buying one and the quality is higher. Thanks for sharing.

author
nick ferry (author)lilchumy2015-06-16

Thank you - yeah I really dig the freedom in making it exactly how you want it

author
BelloPhil (author)2015-06-16

A knife that any friend would be proud to accept...nice one Nick

author
nick ferry (author)BelloPhil2015-06-16

Thank you kindly Phil!

author
marcellahella (author)2015-06-16

Really nice looking knife!

author
nick ferry (author)marcellahella2015-06-16

Thanks Much!

author
ClenseYourPallet (author)2015-06-16

Very cool knife! Great steps and pics... Thanks for sharing

author

Thank you - it turned out pretty cool

author
DIY Hacks and How Tos (author)2015-06-16

Nice. That sure beats buying one at the store. It is always better to make something yourself.

author

I agree - fun to create something from what I was going to throw away otherwise

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Bio: I like to build and make things with my hands. Think it, Build it, and repeat.
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