Concept sketch of a short Bowie...

#1
I've been plugging away at my little cowboy knife...trying to get as much done for semi-production as I can. But I've realized that most of this is just developing processes....and leaves the creative side a bit lacking. My reward for being nose to the grindstone is that when I get some actual production knives finished I get to do a "one off" project...I think a Bowie.

We all have our "design process"...I'll share mine:

I get an idea....sketch it out with out a bunch of limitations...as I'm sketching I am asking myself question of a more practical nature....what is the design philosophy/purpose of this knife...what materials best fit that purpose, etc,etc.....as the sketch nears completion (usually about an hour on a large knife) I have begun to second guess....so I write down any challenges to my initial design in question form....along with a short design intent/philosophy. All this makes it easy to solidify my design. I then hang my sheet up and analyze it for a few days....then re-sketch or modify the original...and do it again. Then I scan it and draw over it in a CAD environment.( I NEVER start out in CAD...the functions easiest to do in the CAD environment tend to lead you down the path to a lousy design.)

The sketch below is ready to hang up and analyze for a few days...I'm in no rush (in fact the best designs happen when you give yourself some time freedom...) because I have a lot to do on production still....by then this design will be more mature and ready for metal...

Just thought some of you might be interested in how I get it out of my head and into blade form....lol.

(7 1/2" blade....5 1/8" handle)

bowie concept.jpg
 
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BrandantR

Well-Known Member
#3
I'm really liking your design, Ted. It's nice to see the inner workings of someone's mind as they push through the creative process of design. We all have our unique methods and as long as you find what works for you, the final product is worth the front effort.
 

opaul

Well-Known Member
#4
Ted that is awesome. Beautiful design btw.
I unfortunately am not that disciplined when is comes to a design
Most times I put dye chem on the blade and break out the French curve and ruler. No bets there as it is likely to get recreated at the grinder.
You’ egivenme a new level to strive for.
 

EdCaffreyMS

Forum Owner - Moderator
#5
I like the design, my input, based on the the drawing notes....

1. "Handle a 1/2" shorter?" YES! Rule of thumb for handles..... NOTHING longer then 5", unless it intended for a two hand grip..... past 5" on a handle and things REALLY look and feel out of balance.

2. Although I like brass..... today, and in the recent past, serious knife buyers have a saying.... "Brass has no class." Where as Bronze is widely accepted. That being said..... I say do whatever pleases you the most.

3. Unless you already have it, and it's OK, any type of walnut is not a good candidate for for stabilizing.... just the nature of walnut.... it does not readily accept stabilizing agents, and when it does, problems tend to occur later down the line. True Oil is my go to finish for walnut handles.

4. As to the handle drop..... I would "straighten out" the top line a bit, and make the "hook" on the bottom a bit more dropped/pronounced. One of the most difficult things about teaching students is to get them to understand that a knife handle needs to "fit" the human hand in order to be comfortable..... the way I most often try to explain it is that a knife handle's general shape should be an upside down "teardrop"....... narrower at the front of the handle, and wider at the rear. If you close your hand around any object, the area of the index finger/thumb is always the smaller "fit".....and the area of the pinky finger/heel of the hand is the larger. If a knife handle corresponds to that...... then the knife "fits" and generally feels good in the hand.
 

Chris Railey

Well-Known Member
#6
Am I seeing the drawing correct? There is a drop tine (for lack of a better term) coming from your guard which will run down the handle? I like that thought if it is. I am not the best knife designer but I have always liked copper and the way it looks and ages. I wonder how copper would look and is there a strong enough alloy for a guard? I will have to say though that I have never used that big of a piece of copper in anything so it may not look good at all and I have never used it for a guard. It is still a very cool design.
 
#7
Thanks guys!

I think Pakistan ruined brass as a beautiful material for many things...if I see rosewood and brass...no matter the finish level...that's what I think.

Ed...Thanks for your input! I have been drawing knives since about age 15...so things that have become intuitive on paper need critique to tame the "crazies"...lol. Usually by the time I've finished sketching I'm second guessing the design. Having a skilled pro confirm the changes I thought may be necessary is proof to me that I've learned a bit the last few years.

I like working with bronze...some alloys are tougher than steel to work and most have a pleasing color that says "NOT brass".....

Good to know about walnut and stabilization...I'll do the true-coat as I really want to use some of Dad's stock wood for this one.

You know guys....my brother is a good designer on most things....does very little drawing and his stuff turns out well...he tells me he can see it in his mind....i have to get things on paper...then iterate...then make. Slower but that's how I'm wired. We are all different...Opaul, your method works well...don't let me get in your head if you don't feel the need to change methods...LOL!!
 
#8
Am I seeing the drawing correct? There is a drop tine (for lack of a better term) coming from your guard which will run down the handle? I like that thought if it is. I am not the best knife designer but I have always liked copper and the way it looks and ages. I wonder how copper would look and is there a strong enough alloy for a guard? I will have to say though that I have never used that big of a piece of copper in anything so it may not look good at all and I have never used it for a guard. It is still a very cool design.
Thanks Chris....Yes...I wanted the guard thin for looks...so I did a serpentine thing back into the handle for strength. Copper would be okay...it is on the soft side whereas bronze is colored very similar (some bronzes) and would handle abuse better than copper. Years ago I had to make some parts from a bronze that were so tough I hated working it...I think bruce Bump or J Doyle has done some work with copper that was very lovely...not anything like a guard that is supposed to turn a blade though...
 

Chris Railey

Well-Known Member
#9
I have never worked bronze at all but soft would be my fear with copper for a guard too. I just did not know if there were harder alloys out there which may be suitable, so that answers any future question about that.
 

EdCaffreyMS

Forum Owner - Moderator
#12
does very little drawing and his stuff turns out well...he tells me he can see it in his mind....
That EXACTLY how I am with knives...... I get a picture in my mind of the finished product, then take backwards through the sets (in my mind), and work out anything that might be a hurdle......then jump right into making it.

I think I have a "drawing disability".... I could sketch something as simple as a dog house, and never be able to make the finished product match the sketch....... but when I picture it in my mind.....it always works.
 

Von Gruff

Well-Known Member
#13
The same minds eye picture is how I seem to work best from knives through all the other things I have built the same way from M/C to rifles and all sorts of building work and furniture. In most cases I have completed the build in my mind including sorting out any problems that come about through assembly order and so when I go to make the actual product it is as if I am making a second one.
 

Motor City Mike

Well-Known Member
#14
Very interesting peek into your process. I guess we all have our way of doing things.

I think your Bowie looks great.

I do the opposite. I do all my designs in CAD even though I'm pretty good at drawing. Drawing is about all I really did in high school. Maybe that's why I graduated near the bottom of my class. :(

Designing in CAD keeps me somewhat restrained since it's a bit more cumbersome to add things that aren't really needed. When I draw a knife I find it very easy to go off into the weeds and end up with something that would fit in a dungeons and dragons game.

Plus I really like sitting behind a computer and tweaking lines and curves for hours. It's kind of cathartic.
 
#16
I've been plugging away at my little cowboy knife...trying to get as much done for semi-production as I can. But I've realized that most of this is just developing processes....and leaves the creative side a bit lacking. My reward for being nose to the grindstone is that when I get some actual production knives finished I get to do a "one off" project...I think a Bowie.

We all have our "design process"...I'll share mine:

I get an idea....sketch it out with out a bunch of limitations...as I'm sketching I am asking myself question of a more practical nature....what is the design philosophy/purpose of this knife...what materials best fit that purpose, etc,etc.....as the sketch nears completion (usually about an hour on a large knife) I have begun to second guess....so I write down any challenges to my initial design in question form....along with a short design intent/philosophy. All this makes it easy to solidify my design. I then hang my sheet up and analyze it for a few days....then re-sketch or modify the original...and do it again. Then I scan it and draw over it in a CAD environment.( I NEVER start out in CAD...the functions easiest to do in the CAD environment tend to lead you down the path to a lousy design.)

The sketch below is ready to hang up and analyze for a few days...I'm in no rush (in fact the best designs happen when you give yourself some time freedom...) because I have a lot to do on production still....by then this design will be more mature and ready for metal...

Just thought some of you might be interested in how I get it out of my head and into blade form....lol.

(7 1/2" blade....5 1/8" handle)

View attachment 63914
The handle of your concept Bowie may be a little longer than it should be, but that is just my opinion. I really like the direction you took the knife overall. As much as I like the knife, it comes in second to the words you've written on the right side of the drawing. I kinda have those feelings about every knife that comes out of my shop. I guess I've just shown my age...
 
#18
Thank you Axeman!

Yeah...I'll definitely end up with a shorter handle...and perhaps the blade a wee bit longer...though I do kinda like the blade the way it is...
The blade is perfect in length, width, and grind to my eyes. It's hard to improve on perfection! Again, just my opinion.
 
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