Help me design a custom bowie

Jan 13, 1999
Hi guys,

I'm having a custom bowie made for me. Can you give me some recommendations ask to what qualities I should as for?

It's utility should strike the balance of a camp knife and an animal slayer (remember the nine point stag thread?)

As is, it's a 9-10" blade made of 5160. I can't change the choice of steel. I asked for a flat grind, but the maker recommended a cannel grind. Is that a variation of sabre or hollow?

[This message has been edited by tallwingedgoat (edited 18 July 1999).]
Animal Slayer- Are you planning to hunt animals with the knife or use it to field dress game?

It would help if you tell us how you plan to use the knife as an "animal slayer" (throwing knife/spear/close combat????).
Actually I have never hunted in my life. I don't need to field dress anything. If I do, I'll bring a small skinner. I also will never throw my knife at anything.

Basically it will see outdoor use as a camp knife. From spliting fire wood to food preparation. I don't forsee a lot of chopping as I have other tools for that. But it would be nice to have an animal killing knife handy should I run into a boar and become overwhelmed with the desire to stab it repeatedly

[This message has been edited by tallwingedgoat (edited 18 July 1999).]
Any advice on choice of wood for the handle will also be appreciated.

I'm going to have the sheath ride horizontally on the back of my waist. Anything I should beware of?
For a working field knife I would recommend a micarta handle. It will be easier to maintain than wood and a whole lot stronger.

As for the horizontal carry, I see two immediate drawbacks:
1) the knife is only readily accessable to one hand.

2) With a 10" blade your knife will be approximately 15.5" wide; which means (unless your a size 45-50 waist) you will have a large slab of knife pertruding on either side. Also, this might interfere with your backpack.

Regarding the blade - a bowie configuration is very good; you might also want to include a slight recurve. Take a look at John Greco's combat blade (no longer available by the way, he only made a few from excess steel stock) in the June 1999 Blade, pp.26.
I would ask the maker to incorporate a couple of rare earth magnets into the lip of the sheath to help secure the knife in cast the snap comes undone.

A longer than average handle 5 1/2"-6" would not go wrong. There is nothing worse than trying to hang on to a handle that is too small when chopping.


You might look at a convex grind - when done right it is only a few thousands off a flat
grind and much stronger. Stabilized wood is
quite strong and much more character but tough to go wrong with mic. for utility.
Are you looking for full guard or just lower half. Camp knives are much more usefull
with out guards ie. cutting and preparing, but extra care is always needed without guards and definatly needed if you plan on sticking something. clip point is better
for thrusting than trailing point. Can't
remember who said it now, but snaps and straps are definately made for loosing things
that go cut. for carry with a back pack you might look at a high center carry to be reached overhead with either hand. There's
a book on early americana period knives that
has some realy good pics. "Knives in home spun America" might give you some ideas.


------------------ The race is not always to the swift, but he who hangs loose.
Don't walk in tradition just because it feels good!!!!!

Sounds like a cool project! Horizontal carry would be pretty awkward with a knife that size for the reasons stated. Using rare earth magnets wouldn't be needed on a Kydex sheath, though, if that's what you're going for. BTW, I could make it for you, too! :) Shameless plug.
Ummm...let's see...oh! <a href = ""> Mel Sorg (Madpoet Custom Knives)</a> would be my first logical choice of makers, especially for a hardore using knife. Check out the link I provided and you'll see some big-time awesome camp knives. Mel only usues wood in the handles, but he does great work. You may have to do the handles yourself if you want Micarta! <a href = ""> Rob Simonich</a> could also make a great camp knife.

My Custom Kydex Sheath page
Palmer College of Chiropractic
On Two Wheels
Gee it sounds like you`re describing a Marbles Trailmaker. 10" blade ,convex grind in 5160,singe guard and a choice of several handle materials. If you have your heart set on a custom ( I know there`s just something about custom stuff!
) you`d probably do well for yourself if you had it made close to that design. If I were doing so I`d probably opt for a single subtle finger groove and a sharpened false edge to aid in penetration in case a wild boar tries to steal yer wallet in the woods.
If you`re not going for a traditional look canvas micarta might be a good choice along with a kydex or concealex sheath. If you`re gonna stalk any critters though be aware that they do make noise when you withdraw the knife. Good luck with your quest. Marcus
Thanks guys for the tips.

Right now I am going for a bowie that pretty much look like some of the trademark Jerry Fisk. Full guard and all.

I'm afraid I can only get the handle in wood. Anyone have experience with Cocobolo or Desert Ironwood?
For what it's worth, I've never understood a double-guard on a single-edged knife (or even one with a substantial back edge). A single guard is all I need to keep my hand from slipping onto the blade under any circumstances, and this lets me put my thumb on the spine and get several more grips. I've ground the back guard off a few Blackjacks and Alley Kats, and all have been improved by it, IMO. Unless your guard is a true fighter/sword guard used to intercept other blades, I say go single-guard all the way.

-Drew Gleason
Little Bear Knives
Are coco or iron the only two choices of wood? There are a myrid of differences within the two woods. both are dense and oily
iron more so than coco. The problem with
hardwoods is that no matter which one after
awile they MAY shrink back. Thats the nice thing about stabilized wood it doesn't it
stays put. It's not subject to the different ranges of humdidity
we have in this country. I've had both iron and coco
blocks on my shelf as well as ebony that were supposed to be dried and stable and have
shrunk and or developed cracks. If you get a chance to look at old handles you'll notice
shrinkage of just about any of the hardwoods
even the ones that are cared for.


------------------ The race is not always to the swift, but he who hangs loose.
Don't walk in tradition just because it feels good!!!!!

Many thanks for all the help. I have placed my order with an ironwood handle.

There's still plenty of time to change my mind though. I wouldn't get my knife 'till next March! Ah the joy of custom knives. I'll just have to wait, and wait, and wait.

Khukuri brother in arms, may I suggest you take a gander at Ted Frizzell's work over at Mineral Mountain Bowies and Hatchet Works.
He crafts a panoply of Bowies out of 1/4 inch 5160, zone hardened ,razor sharp,Spring Steel,Parkerized Blades with the kydex sheath (as per copy in ad)for......drum roll.....

175.00 for the 10 incher
205.00 for the 12 incher

Of course, prices are subject to change, but sounds more than reasonable to me. Might just be what you're lookin for.
Prices above were in the May 99 TK.
Bowie Models listed in the Ad I'm looking at in the May 1999 Tactical Knives on page 70 are;
Combat Bowie,Survival Bowie,Deep Woods Bowie, White River Bowie, and Ozark Toothpick.
I do not currently own a Frizzell, but I sure hope to real soon. Modern materials, snappy designs and reasonable prices. He has a fine reputation, according to people whose opinion I respect. Additionally, ag russell has a shot of one of his more expensive double edged bowies on his website and has good things to say.
Go take a peek.

With the possible exception of carbon goodies by John Greco or Newt Livesay, blades of this size including a kydex sheath look hard to beat. Good Luck.
Any members that own a Frizzell, your first hand comments would be appreciated. TIA

Ted Frizzell,Cutler
Mineral Mountain Hatchet Works
14056 Low Gap Road
West Fork, AR 72774

(501) 839-2516

Stay safe and all the best, Phil <--------<

[This message has been edited by Phil Squire (edited 21 July 1999).]