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J. Doyle

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Bill’s method of knife making is unlike any other high-end knifemaker’s methods; in that Bill tempers his blades primarily for the rages of close combat. In the 21st century, this is still relevant as you would want a long blade that could take a hit from a crowbar or bat/club, and not be damaged. 21st century fencers should be warned that most custom ABS blades are for wealthy collectors who like pretty toys that could cut down water bottles and apples. If you want an expensive art piece, knock yourself out (don't cut yourself).

Hi. Welcome to bladeforums. Congrats on your new blade. We love pics if you've got any to share.

I'm curious if you wouldn't mind elaborating on this part of your post that I quoted? How is the tempering of the blade different than what one might see in other ABS style blades? Thanks.
 

SharpByCoop

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Sigh. Stephen, welcome to our forum. We have been discussing Bowies and fighters, for many years. EVERY aspect.

If you want to 'contribute', start by offering a less condescending tone to your knowledge of 'most custom ABS blades' as less than adequate. Since you have declared yourself as a new person to this extensive community, I think you are quoting others opinions. Be forewarned.

Bill Bagwell and Greg Covington are notable makers, who understand what is required for a large blade.

So are SO many other ABS makers. They aren't a Forged in Fire apprentice bunch.

Show us photos of what they have accomplished. Thanks.
 

PaulDiStefano

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Not for nothing but I’d bet a lottt of money that a damn good number of us ABS guys’ heat treat for a “combat/hardcore battle blade” in a similar no nonsense style would be pretty damn similar. Especially the tempering. For many high-end ABS guys it would be pretty indistinguishable I’d say.
 

JParanee

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Thats a down right interesting post

Folks be kind .... he’s interested in the topic to say the least :)

We’ve been talking about Bill and the attributes of high performance blades for decades around here

https://www.bladeforums.com/threads/bill-bagwell-knives.594449/

Bill is still making knives and some of us know him pretty well

Craig makes a great knife congrats please post pics and welcome to Bladeforums








 
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First off Stephen...thanks so much and it was a pleasure working with you. As Bagwell would say "thanks for the roses"....I am humbled

I want to clarify a few things for forum members so there isn't any speculation, etc.

I was very fortunate to have Bill lend me advice, techniques, and methods and the ability to employ them in the work that I do. It's pretty well established that Bill closely guarded his "secrets", partly or good reason at the time, but much of it was born out of the fact that he was a true pioneer and very instrumental to where we are today as bladesmiths. I would try to pick Bill's brain about things but he only shared things because at that point I had made plenty of knives, and he knew that I knew what I was doing.

Bill walked me through his heat treating methods including "combat tempering" which as you can see in the "Birth of a Bowie" vid, he's keeping that secret. Bill does show you a blade that has been tempered and any maker that heat treats their own blades should be able to figure it out to some degree. Sure there are specifics but out of respect to Bill I refrain from details. In this, I make my Bowies using his method, however I do add a few things....Bill is really old school.

As I mentioned above Bill walked me through a full knife I made as a test which included what he wanted me to do to test it. It performed those tests. For the life of me I can't remember all of them, but cutting through a penny was one. I also sent him a Bowie for evaluation.

Again, I was very fortunate to have his help. He told me that he was getting older and that he felt someone should have these things passed along. He's helped many other makers....I am not going to claim this to be exclusive, but this is the story.

I've been making period correct SOG knives, Bagwell style Bowies, and other Bowies lately. I can get pretty close to a Bagwell but I don't think you can actually ever duplicate someone else's work, particularly the "organic" style of his knives. It's easier to duplicate sterile looks than his blades which are made by feel. A friend of mine, a very well known guitarist who has worked extensively with big names, including Brian May of Queen, says...."I can't play like Brian May, but I can make you think you are hearing Brian May"

Link to pic of Stephen's Bowie
https://ibb.co/9sBGYYS
 
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9sBGYYS
 

Richard338

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Greg, I'm glad you posted. I wasn't sure what to make of Stephen's post given that there was no photo and he is a new member who blocks viewing his profile. I guess Joe made the right call, forgiving a bit of enthusiasm.
Anyway the cable damascus piece looks great and I'll be sure to check out more of your work.
 
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Thats a down right interesting post

Folks be kind .... he’s interested in the topic to say the least :)

We’ve been talking about Bill and the attributes of high performance blades for decades around here

https://www.bladeforums.com/threads/bill-bagwell-knives.594449/

Bill is still making knives and some of us know him pretty well

Craig makes a great knife congrats please post pics and welcome to Bladeforums









Hello sir,

If I ever manage to get in touch with Bagwell on the phone for a knife, what should I expect from the conversation beside questions about my physical characteristics? I heard he makes whatever he wants to make for each customer; but does he offer any options for knife materials?
 

Kevin Jones

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Greetings all,

My name is Stephen, a newbie to Bladeforums; and I would like to contribute to the Fighting Bowie community. The following is a relation of my journey in researching Bagwellian battle blades; and contains my frank opinions.

Earlier this year, I stumbled across Robin Brown’s (“Brownie”) Youtube video on Panther Concealment’s sheath system w/Bill Bagwell’s custom Bowie. At first, I was only interested in the sheath, but after further investigation into Bagwell Bowies, I realized I knew very little about the uniqueness of the Bowie. A new world was opened to me, and I started digging into the wealth of info available on the subject. I soon got Bagwell’s out-of-print book “The Bowie, Big Knives, and the Best of Battle Blades”, a volume of old articles from the Soldier of Fortune magazine. Most of the info therein is still relevant today.

After reading through Bagwell’s book, I wanted to get in touch with the man himself; so I could get a blade made for me. However, I was unable to reach him through the number on River City Sheath's website and later found out that he’s no longer as active as he used to be due to age and sickness.

Bill’s method of knife making is unlike any other high-end knifemaker’s methods; in that Bill tempers his blades primarily for the rages of close combat. In the 21st century, this is still relevant as you would want a long blade that could take a hit from a crowbar or bat/club, and not be damaged. 21st century fencers should be warned that most custom ABS blades are for wealthy collectors who like pretty toys that could cut down water bottles and apples. If you want an expensive art piece, knock yourself out (don't cut yourself).

Newbies who’ve never owned a Bagwell-forged Bowie are in luck, as Bill was gracious enough to entrust his techniques to Greg Covington in Ohio. Greg’s work is the closest in quality to a Bagwell blade you can find. Depending on what you want, Greg’s costs may range from $900-2000+. My Sifu once told me, “…Always go for the best…” Folks, Greg is the best we’ve got for a BATTLE blade right now. Your wallet may cry, but hopefully, you won’t be crying in a life-death situation (if you’ve got the right tool and the right skills).

Greg made me a big Cable Damascus blade tailored to my physical characteristics within a month’s time (though he gave a few month’s estimate turnaround time). It was hard work, but he was gracious enough to dedicate himself to my project. If you’re a serious bladesman, contact Greg on his Facebook page “Covington Edged Weaponry”.

If this information is somewhat "over your head", I recommend looking up Birth of a Bagwell Bowie Knife on Youtube, along with its related shorter clips (download those videos before they are taken down!).

Don't know how we got along here for so many years without your sharing of knowledge.
 

JParanee

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Hello sir,

If I ever manage to get in touch with Bagwell on the phone for a knife, what should I expect from the conversation beside questions about my physical characteristics? I heard he makes whatever he wants to make for each customer; but does he offer any options for knife materials?


Hello

like many custom makers that are in high demand Bill will only make what he would be proud to make

as in materials he works in carbon steel , Damascus , stag , wood etc

I just spoke to him this morning to wish him a Happy Thanksgiving

If you would like I’ll pm you his number you can call him he is still making knives and taking orders he wants to take








 
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JParanee

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All


From Bill Bagwell


Gregs entire post is erroneous and I never showed him how to heat treat and the information I may of given him could easily of been gotten by going to any ABS seminar


I have only spoken to Greg a few times on the phone and only meet him on one occasion to the best of my knowledge at a shooting match in Friendship Indiana.


He did send me a knife to examine and I looked at it returned it and made some suggestions.


Bill especially resents the comment that he wanted to pass his legacy on to anyone.


Only person that I have given technical help to is Erik fritz


To Stephen


I would like to know who told you all that stuff ??
 

Lorien

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when I read the op, I'm like "oy!". What a load of BS from someone who would do better to listen than to speak, but then things got super interesting. Now I'm going to actually make some popcorn!

Joe, photos of Bagwells are always great to see- love it when you get the op to bust em out
 
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Egad...what a thing to wake up to.

First, Joe Paranee, I would have sincerely appreciated you contacting me prior to making a post like this. Perhaps we could have clarified a few things.

I approached Bagwell for input and suggestions only after quite a few years of forging, making damascus, etc.

What Bill says is true, we've met in person once in Indiana, however, I have had multiple, extensive, and highly detailed telephone conversations with him mainly in the timeframe of 2000-2006.

In these conversations he extensively detailed what steel to use (what he sources it from), the combat tempering process, and testing. As I mentioned in my previous post, he walked me through that (on the phone) and I tested it like he told me to. That particular knife is out there somewhere and if it were easier to post pics here, I would do so.

Later, I produced a large Bowie in the same format for Bill to test. He commented upon the knife's return that it was "impressive" and flattered me by saying I am making them as nice as anything he could do (I beg to differ). He also commented that he felt the cutting edge was too hard. I had the edge tested at a later point by the manager of Winston Heat Treating in Dayton, OH. It consistently measured 57-58 Rc.

What I found genuinely interesting was that Bill was not just some "old man on the mountain" but really interested in how I was doing thing, particularly with a press and cable damascus. At first Bill indicated he didn't use cable. Later we discussed how to manipulate it and another gem of Bill-isms was when we discussed what flux to use. I told him I had anhydrous Borax and he said just use regular because "any Borax becomes anhydrous and 2500 degrees". I also starting picking his brain about his "double extra forged" process. I told him what I thought it was. He said "how did u guess that?" I had read every writing, pamphlet, etc that I could find by Bill and he had left enough clues that a bladesmith could make a good assumption. (as a side note I do not perform this step)

Finally, I feel genuinely bad that Bill resents anything I have said. I am telling the truth about my relationship with Bill Bagwell and the content of my discussion with him. I would also like to note that never once did Bill ever say anything about "passing his legacy" to me or anyone else. I don't want someone else's "legacy"...but I do appreciate the he trusted me with the tips and techniques he shared. Sometime in the period of 2002 or so, Mike Sastre , (the guy responsible for the Birth of the Bowie vids), and I were supposed to make a trip from OH to TX and work with Bagwell in his shop. I can't remember the circumstances but Bill had to cancel on us which was a major disappointment. Mike was privy to much of this time period and knew Bagwell quite well. I am not sure if Sastre is still on these forums, but if someone wanted to "investigate" I am sure he verify all that I have said.

I don't consider myself the "keeper of the flame" or "heir apparent" as quite a few people have claimed. I have nothing but sincere admiration and appreciation for Bill's help in the way that he did. I am saddened to see this.
 

betzner

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I knew this would be an "interesting" thread the instant I saw the title suggesting an "investment". It has certainly not disappointed on at least the entertainment front.

I do hope the new member who started it understands, by now, that he perhaps is not nearly as knowledgeable as he might think..........
 
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