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!!
Third Prize in the
Runner Up in the
Participated in the
Before and After Contest