Pride of the West. Old school style opinions sought

John Cahoon

JWC Custom Knives
Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider
Apr 13, 2017
Greetings all, I had posted this prior to glue up in "what's going on" last week, my first dovetail bolster/pommel combo. Nickel Silver/ Bocote. Now it's rough finished to 400 grit and I thought I seek opinions before final finishing. I rough shaped on the grinder and paid for my many mistakes with many hours of file/hand sanding work, probably 6 overall going from 120/400 and many trips down in grit as flaws emerged. It's fairly clean now.

It's about 12" OAL, 18 ounces+\- and balances just in front of the front pins. It actually turned out better than I expected with respect to fit, the joints are quite tight and the pins exceeded my expectation. Every dog has his day!

IMG_1509.JPG IMG_1510.JPG IMG_1511.JPG IMG_1512.JPG IMG_1513.JPG IMG_1514.JPG
My question would be what do you not like, and what can I improve on this one, or the next going forward?

What I see is the front bolster could be shortened some and maybe the back too? How about the thickness of the scales at the center? The front pin is a tad high maybe? Belly too low? Do you agree with these assessments?

Please let me know what you think and example pics appreciated too! Your opinions are very valuable to me.

BTW Pride of the West is a movie title from 1938. Definitely old school.
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I like the look. Blade shape and handle shape. One point that immediately drew my eye, is the handle transition to base of blade. I'd like to see a little more rounding in that transition.

It is a little abrupt to the 90 degree.
Hi Bigfattyt Bigfattyt , Thanks for that, it's a pretty tight radius for sure, usually I'm inclined to more rounded look myself.
Hi Bill DeShivs Bill DeShivs , yeah I was trying for an arch effect but guess I didn't quite pull it off eh?
Looks great, the pins are not an issue but obviously offset, mechanically will be fine, I prefer a rounded choil otherwise it's quite cool.
You did an excellent job on the dove-tail. The only changes I would make is: 1. The pins should be in line and 2. This is just MHO, make the spine a straight line. The top knot disrupts the flow of the spine and doesn't contribute anything. Again, just MHO.
I would shorten the front bolster, and change the ricasso shape. Come forward 1/4" from the handle and round down to the blade edge so the unsharpened part at the choil is only 1/8".
Place an 1/8" half round choil at the end of the edge as it meets the ricasso.

The pins are obviously uneven and not in line with each other.

I like to drop the top corner of the butt instead of the fishtail you did, but that is more of a personal preference thing. I think it looks cleaner and less "fat in the butt".

The biggest thing that catches my eye in the photos is the length to width to thickness ratio. The handle is 4.5" and the blade is 7.5". Nothing wrong with tat, but the height and thickness of the blade and handle seem off. Placing a rule over the image, the butt appears be around 1.75' and the blade 2" wide at the wide place. The handle appears to be 1.5" high and 1" thick in the middle. By reducing the handle height and thickness ( but not the length) you would get a better "Bowie" look. I'm guessing the handle feels "fat in the hand". The options at the design stage would have been to make the handle 25% reduced in thickness and height ( raised from the bottom), or making the blade 10" long.

One thing to do to avoid the final product having these things is to draw the knife full size on graph paper. Draw it several ways and use the features that look best for a final drawing. Use that sketch as your guide while constructing the knife. Posting an image of the final sketch can also get you others opinions of the knife before you start cutting/grinding/sanding/drilling in steel.

The re-draw isn't perfect, but you get an idea of the changes I was talking about.

Bowie Knife re-drawn.jpg
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Hi everyone, thanks for the help and comments. Stacy, especially for the perceptive and detailed response. I actually have two in this batch similar to the one you drew up, Ones out in the world and one's unfinished. I like both variations. The handle on this is 1.3" tall at the belly and .85" thick so you are spot on there. Still it feels OK in my average size hands (not a big guy here). This one has a twin also and I could lose some belly fat I suppose. But I kinda like the slow rise in the spine and the fishtail, even though I haven't made many quite like that. I was going for an old fashioned western look.

It's currently at 2000 grit on the bolsters and looks pretty good, a couple of latent scratches to address, they always seem to emerge:(

I actually do draw up each design and make cardboard models etc and that really does help. Thanks again all!
Sounds good. What you like is your decicion. The fact that you planed it and it came out the way you wanted is what is important.