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Cas City Forum Hall & CAS-L  |  Special Interests - Groups & Societies  |  The Cutting Edge (Moderator: St. George)  |  Topic: Track of the Wolf Cumberland Bowie Knife 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: Track of the Wolf Cumberland Bowie Knife  (Read 43267 times)
1961MJS
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« on: September 10, 2014, 12:50:54 pm »


Hi everyone

I'm in Illinois for a while because my Mother is sick.  Since I'm here, I have a basement workshop to play in so this is where I work on putting scales on store bought blades.  

Track of the Wolf sells a Cumberland Bowie knife.  It is effectively a HEAVY DUTY Chef's knife.  



I didn't originally like the way that it looked and wanted a Natchez blade, but they're out.  I'm also working on both a 5 inch and 7 inch more traditional Bowie, hand filing the guards to fit is taking time...  After receiving the blade, I'm VERY impressed.  It appears that it will be a very useful knife to carry while hunting etc.  It's heavy enough to use as a cleaver.

Being named a "Cumberland" Bowie knife, I would guess that it's of an earlier vintage than a tradition clip point Bowie.  My guess would be that it is an early knife, well before the Old West time period.  I suspect that a Curly Maple or Birds eye Maple handle would be the most authentic to the blade, BUTTTTT (a large but), I don't really want to put Maple on it because Maple usually needs to be stained.  Would Walnut be authentic also?  I ASSUME that Mesquite would not be, but it sure would look good.

Thanks
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St. George
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« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2014, 02:59:30 pm »

Walnut would be correct - and so might Rosewood.

Scouts Out!
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1961MJS
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« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2014, 04:33:54 pm »

Hi

I also have some Osage orange from our back yard that I'm considering, but I'll probably use it on butcher knives etc.

Later
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ChuckBurrows
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« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2014, 11:02:37 am »

First off the names applied to these blades are more salesman terms than an historic one. For instance the Natchez blade is a pattern that goes back to at least the 1200's amd the clip point Bowie style is at least as old as the early Vikings. There is a circa 900AD seax blade in the British Museum that is the spitting image of an 1840's Bowie. So basing time periods on such monikers is more or less a lesson in frustration. The Cumberland appellation is just that and the blade style can pretty well fit any era from the 1820'ds onward.

As for handle material walnut is more than appropriate as would be ash or maple or Osage. In Fact Noah Smithwick a famed maker of Bowies from Texas used Osage and the blade described is very similar to the Cumberland style.

Quote
Charley Eckhardt got to see one of Smithwick's original knives in 1953 as part of the collection of John R. Norris, a noted collector of the period. Charley was also smart enough to measure it all over and take meticulous notes. In his book, "Texas Tales Your Teacher Never Told You", Charley described what he saw and held that day.

"The Smithwick Bowie in Mr. Norris' possession had a blade ten and one-half inches long, two inches wide and a quarter-inch thick. The clip or 'gut-tickler' was three inches long and perfectly straight, not dished. The point was at the center line of the blade. It had neither fuller or ricasso...It had a perfectly straight iron crossguard, a full tang and a grip made of two pieces of light colored wood--possibly bois d' arc (Osage Orange or 'Hossapple')--which was fastened with two large rivets. The blade was marked near the guard with a large spread eagle and N. SMITHWICK in capital letters in a semicircle over the eagle.
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aka Nolan Sackett
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1961MJS
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« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2014, 12:33:02 pm »

Thanks Chuck

I knew from Carl Russell's book about Mountain Man Tools, that most Bowie knives are an older design.  Carl's book doesn't have anything like with the "Natchez" or "Cumberland" designs in it though.  I'll look at the Osage orange that I have and see if I have anything cut that I can use, otherwise, I'll use some fancy Walnut that I got from Jantz Supply.

Thanks again everyone.
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Mogorilla
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« Reply #5 on: September 16, 2014, 09:21:24 am »

Will be interested in seeing the final product.   I agree, mesquite would look great on that.   I love the look of it when it is finished.   Question.  Is that a knife that lends itself to having a guard in place?   Due to tequilla and youthful stupidity, I severed the tendons to two fingers in my hand (stabing a knife without a guard into a chopping block and hand ran length of blade, ouch)  Anyway, like guards now.
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ChuckBurrows
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« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2014, 12:41:32 pm »

Mo - perhaps not so oddly that's supposedly the reason Rezin Bowie, (Jim's older brother and pronounced Reason) hada guard fitted to his Bowies. Guards of course were used long before the 1820's on may if not most fighting knives, but seemed to have more or less "disappeared" on most more regular knives, except daggers, during the 1700's - go figure..
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aka Nolan Sackett
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1961MJS
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« Reply #7 on: September 16, 2014, 03:27:16 pm »

Hi

I don't think it will need a guard, the handle is offset an inch from the blade (roughly).  I've been rust browning (Laurel Mountain / Canyon forget which) a few blades.  Since the easiest way to stop the reaction is with oil and steel wool, I've sliced and diced my hands some, but I'm not doing that much more.  The browned blades are "too pretty", I'm letting most of the other blades I have get weathered on their own.

I picked out a decent piece of fancy Walnut to use as the handle for this one.  I think I'll build a friend of mine one and use the Mesquite.  I need to drive the 60 miles down to Davis and pick up a few sets of scales from Jantz when I get back to Oklahoma.

Just my $0.02 and worth close to that. 
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Octagonal Barrel
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« Reply #8 on: September 17, 2014, 03:31:36 am »

1961MJS,

I've looked at that blade more than a few times (along with the Natchez, which I agree I like even better).  I'd love a report on what you think of the blade itself, if you get around to testing its cutting and edge-retaining mettle (pun absolutely intended).
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Drew Early, SASS #98534
1961MJS
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« Reply #9 on: October 06, 2014, 08:19:12 pm »

Hi again

No pictures yet, I need to get access to a grinding wheel and shine up the blade.  The cardboard sheath I worked with it in gave it some very small scratches.

I have a question on the finish.  I used a few coats of Linseed oil, and a couple of coats of Tung Oil Finish (as opposed to pure Tung Oil).  How shiny should the wood on an authentic Bowie knife be for 1850 to 1870?  I don't have any ideas on where to even look for something like that.  I read Carl Russel's book on Mountain Man equipment and even it isn't THAT detailed.  Even though I used the $20 Walnut scales, I think I'll give it a good going over with #0000 steel wool and leave it matted unless I get advise to keep it shiny.

Thanks
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ChuckBurrows
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« Reply #10 on: October 06, 2014, 08:36:57 pm »

Quote
How shiny should the wood on an authentic Bowie knife be for 1850 to 1870?  I don't have any ideas on where to even look for something like that.
If you are interested in original Bowies the following book is IMO a must have with 520 pages of info and color photos

The Bowie Knife: Unsheathing an American Legend Hardcover Ė October 1, 2004 by Norm Flayderman (Author)
http://www.amazon.com/The-Bowie-Knife-Unsheathing-American/dp/193146412X

finishes will run the gamut from rough to finely finished (I go to 4-600 and finish with wax for a low sheen shine which is close to the upper end originals  I have examined) much depends on who made it - Sheffield import, high end American cutler, local blacksmith, farmer, et al and the type of wood.

PS to stop the reaction of the browning or bluing use house hold ammonia followed by a good wash with hot soapy water and then oil (I use flaxseed oil which is food grade linseed oil) or a good paste wax - it's what most of the better Muzzlestuffer gunmakers use as well as the majority of the guys makings Damascus knives as well as those of us who age our blade and other metal parts.
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aka Nolan Sackett
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1961MJS
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« Reply #11 on: October 31, 2014, 03:18:45 pm »

If you are interested in original Bowies the following book is IMO a must have with 520 pages of info and color photos

The Bowie Knife: Unsheathing an American Legend Hardcover Ė October 1, 2004 by Norm Flayderman (Author)
http://www.amazon.com/The-Bowie-Knife-Unsheathing-American/dp/193146412X

finishes will run the gamut from rough to finely finished (I go to 4-600 and finish with wax for a low sheen shine which is close to the upper end originals  I have examined) much depends on who made it - Sheffield import, high end American cutler, local blacksmith, farmer, et al and the type of wood.

PS to stop the reaction of the browning or bluing use house hold ammonia followed by a good wash with hot soapy water and then oil (I use flaxseed oil which is food grade linseed oil) or a good paste wax - it's what most of the better Muzzlestuffer gunmakers use as well as the majority of the guys makings Damascus knives as well as those of us who age our blade and other metal parts.

My daughter used that book as some kind of catalog.  I've ordered some deer antlers from a place called Promised Land Tannery and will eventually get to make a few more Bowie knives.  I think I'll try a hidden tang with wood handle and brass guard and pommel, AFTER I try a plain old antler job.  The antler with the rosette looks somewhat easier.

Later
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1961MJS
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« Reply #12 on: November 13, 2014, 11:46:29 am »

Hi

I have gotten the handle attached to the Cumberland Bowie and have finished the medium priced Walnut Burl handle from Jantz Supply.  I need to put together a sheath for this knife soon.  Leaving the knife in its shipping cardboard has lead me to refinish the bladeÖ  I use it as my letter opener because Iím still finishing a bunch of Green River blades right now. 

What sort of sheath would be decently authentic for a Cumberland knife?

I own  Plains Indian Knife Sheaths: Materials, Design & Construction by Alex Kozlov, so I have access to various Plains type designs.  I would use a thicker leather backer rather than Rawhide I think.  I MIGHT be convinced to try beading at some point for this knife, but I need something I can work out a little quicker.

Iím not sure a Mexican Loop Holster would look good, and I donít think itís what I would pick for this knife.  I suppose I could just make a plain sheath on the order of a Slim Jim Holster.

What does the forum recommend?

Thanks
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St. George
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« Reply #13 on: November 13, 2014, 01:46:52 pm »

The Plains Indian style is always good - either plain or with tacks, since the beadwork takes time - it would appear appropriate to the time frame of use.

A Mexican Loop style is a modern affectation.

Scouts Out!
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« Reply #14 on: November 13, 2014, 02:55:20 pm »

There are a couple of ways to go depending on if you wanted it to be more pioneer or more Indian influence. Crazy crow site has some styles that would work. Below is a picture of one done by a master, Chuck Burrows. Hope he does not mind but it is very apropros to what you are doing.




* cumberland knife sheath.jpg (18.3 KB, 300x241 - viewed 770 times.)
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ChuckBurrows
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« Reply #15 on: November 13, 2014, 03:32:54 pm »

A Mexican Loop style is a modern affectation.
Scouts Out!

reckon it depends on how you define modern. The one I based my pattern on was from a photo in a Texas Ranger Museum calendar from some years ago and was worn IIRC by Jack Hayes circa 1900. Here's the image.


Don't mind at all Camano - while that is one apropos style (instead of beadwork you could use spots or tacks on the upper bands) or take a look at my site and see if something strikes you fancy - be sure and check out all the Galleries if so,,,
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aka Nolan Sackett
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« Reply #16 on: November 14, 2014, 07:32:51 am »

Quote
A Mexican Loop style is a modern affectation.

Where did you get that idea? Company D, Texas Rangers, early 1890s. Front row, second from left has a "modern" loop style sheath.


Better look.


The man third from left in the front row, Captain Frank Jones, was killed in the line of duty on June 30, 1893, so that pretty much dates the photo as before that date and decidedly not "modern".
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1961MJS
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« Reply #17 on: November 18, 2014, 12:48:39 am »

Hi

I finally got the handle to where I wanted it.  I put on quite a few coats of Low Gloss Tung Oil, but the coats are very thin.  I need to take a picture outside.

Later


* 20141117_230819_resized.jpg (54.14 KB, 640x384 - viewed 555 times.)
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MJN77
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« Reply #18 on: November 18, 2014, 05:18:44 pm »

That looks great.
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Camano Ridge
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« Reply #19 on: November 18, 2014, 07:02:31 pm »

Good looking knife. Now it's time to go to work on the sheath.
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1961MJS
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« Reply #20 on: December 19, 2014, 06:05:54 pm »

Hi

I drew up a pattern for a tacked style knife, but the dang thing will take about 1.5 square feet of leather.  I'm now trying to have other thoughts.  That there blade is WIDE!!!

Later Y'all, have a good Xmas   Smiley
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1961MJS
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« Reply #21 on: February 12, 2015, 04:57:58 pm »

Hi

I ended up working my way forward on the design that Chuck suggested.  I've gotten the sheath itself cut out, the edges are sanded, the interior is sanded, died, and finished, the welt is cut and finished, and I'm working on a carving pattern.  I'm busy trying to sell a house and a car so don't hold your breath waiting or anything.

Later Y'all

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1961MJS
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« Reply #22 on: February 22, 2015, 09:20:45 pm »

Hi everybody

I'm still at work on the sheath and learning to carve roses and the leaves.  I used my Lansky sharpener to put an edge on the blade.  It cut up celery really well, I just started chopping the last stalks.  Mr. Bowie would be SOO proud. 

Later y'all
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Bruce W Sims
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« Reply #23 on: April 29, 2015, 01:30:19 pm »

Where did you get that idea? Company D, Texas Rangers, early 1890s. Front row, second from left has a "modern" loop style sheath.


Better look.


The man third from left in the front row, Captain Frank Jones, was killed in the line of duty on June 30, 1893, so that pretty much dates the photo as before that date and decidedly not "modern".

I'm not sure how others feel. Speaking for myself its enough to evoke the period I am interested in (1865-1890) without getting too hung-up on every little detail. For instance, I have an oversized chocolate colored suede coat that I had cut down so that I could wear it as a range/scout coat. I'll change out the plastic buttons for brown wood buttons and I don't see me running around to find bone buttons if those are what were really used. I'll probably hit one of the period clothing INTERNET places to get pants and braces, shirts and whatnot..... but trying to make every last detail accurate seems like diminishing returns, unless I'm planning to go the re-enactor" route.  Just sayin.....

Best Wishes,

Bruce
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Camano Ridge
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« Reply #24 on: April 29, 2015, 02:17:48 pm »

Bruce be contacting you over next few days about progress on your other project. However if you would like some antler buttons I can help you out.
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