The Grizz Project


One of my customers wanted a special custom Bowie Knife. This is a brief view of the project.

The customer, Tom, had a reproduction confederate Bowie that he really liked the blade design.

The reproduction Confederate Bowie - our starting point for this project.

Tom originally contacted me about making a sheath for his reproduction. I drew up some designs to consider.

The reproduction had a thin lightweight blade. Tom decided that he wanted a custom Bowie of the same style but with a hefty 1/4 inch thick blade of stainless steel. He also envisioned a more exotic handle and a really special sheath.

So I drew up some ideas for knife based on his original design.

Tom had seen other knives with stag handles like the one below

He decided that he really wanted a full tang knife with stag handles.

I found some wonderful India Sambar Stag

This is going to be a massive Bowie knife with a blade 13 inches long, 2 1/2 inches wide and 1/4 inch thick.

I gather the material to start with; the Sambar Stag, 440C stainless steel, and some brass for the guard.

I then cut and profiled the blade. Here it is next to the reproduction Bowie.

Next we tossed around some ideas for handle design

We decided to do a hollow grind rather than the flat grind like the reproduction so I suggested this:

Tom also wanted a sharpened clip rather than a false edge on top.

We were getting close to the design that Tom liked. He decided that he wanted 6 stainless steel handle pins instead of the 3 mosaic pins in this design so I drew it up. We first thought about a lanyard hole at the end of the handle but later dropped it. Tom also wanted "Grizz" etched on the blade.

Now that we had a direction, I proceeded to grind the blade

This is the rough grind done while the steel is in the relatively soft annealed stage. I will finish grind after heat treatment to harden the blade. I do my heat treating at the shop of my mentor, Gil Hibben. I wanted a picture of the red hot blade coming out of the heat treating oven so I asked Gil to hold it while I took the picture.

Tom had a coin with an image of a grizzly on it. He wanted this coin incorporated into the sheath somehow. I came up with this idea.

We had decided to go with a stainless steel guard and butt cap but we wanted a little more styling in the guard. Tom found the picture below and liked the guard style.

I incorporated the guard style Tom wanted with two pieces of stainless steel. Here is the knife after some more grinding, shaping the guard and the handle slabs test fitted.

We deiced to dress it up a bit more so I did some vine filework on the handle and then started assembling the handle with 6 stainless steel pins.

It's starting to look like a knife now.

I fashioned a stainless steel butt cap and ground the pins and cap to fit the contours of the stag handle.

Now things are really coming together

This is a BIG honker!

Now to do a little finish work, etch the blade and make the sheath. We also gave the stag a little more shaping and a light sanding to make it more comfortable in the hand and give it a little more contrast in appearance.

I made a window in an overlay to incorporate the "Grizz" coin. I also decided to use a little leather lacing on this section.


The finished product.

I took it for a little test drive. Tom wanted a high-ride sheath with a relatively short belt loop. That was a good call because this monster hangs down to my knee.

I say goodbye to this nearly 3 pound monster "Grizz" bowie and it is on it's way to it's new home.

This was a fun project for me. It always great when you have a customer who communicates well and is enthusiastic about the creative process. Big Bowies have always been a favorite of mine and I had a hard time letting this one go. My thanks to Tom for choosing me to make his "Grizz" and being patient while I worked through the process.


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