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Birth of a Bagwell Hell's Belle

JParanee Mar 29, 2009

  1. JParanee

    JParanee Little member

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    In days of old before firearms and even into the 1800’s when firearm’s where a single shot affair and far from reliable the blade was king. Louisiana in the 1830 was a cultural mecca and the blade arts reigned supreme. Gentleman still practiced the art of dueling and many schools of fencing and blade play flourished. This is the climate that the Bowie knife arose from and was eventually outlawed in some states to use as a weapon because of it’s lethal capabilities.. Through out history men have coveted certain blades some where the embellished type richly decorated and meticulously crafted but through out history the warrior class coveted the blades where the attention was put into the balance and how a knife really felt in the hand. Also every warrior put first and foremost the integrity of the steel. Through out history as civilizations have grown farther away from actually using it’s blade’s they have grown farther from how a blades dances in your hand to more of how they look and how richly they are embellished. I often wonder if in time we will grow on a whole to forget the old warrior blades all together and I wonder what we will loose if this happens. Just ask the Japanese for at the end of their warrior culture it was not uncommen for men to carry very ornate piece’s that had not steel but wooden blades. This thread is by no means an attack on highly embellished knives or knife maker’s that specialize in such blades. I love all forms of blades but my true love of steel is the purpose built pieces where balance and feel and quality of the steel is paramount. You may ask or wonder why so I will explain. I cannot carry a firearm at times so I regularly carry a much larger knife than most. A long time ago I made the decision to never be a victim and with three young daughters and a large family to protect lets put it this way I am in it to win it and I will take any advantage I can get. I have gravitated towards the fighting Bowie’s for I believe they are a truly American i9classic that as a fighting knife have no peer. This has led me on a quest for the ultimate fighting Bowie and although there are many talented makers out there my fascination with this subject has led me to my friend Bill Bagwell. As most of you know Bill was a founding member of the ABS and it is not just my opinion that he is the father of the modern combat Bowie and I believe one of the great blade smith’s of all time. I will quote James Keating as recently as 2005 in the book Masters Of The Blade here he said…. For top grade, custom fighting Bowie’s you need a Bagwell Bowie, for which you will pay over a -----. Is it worth it? Absolutely! If you can swing the dough, a Bagwell is the tiger of the knife world. Mr. Keating has spent his life training with blades and for him to say this and many others edged weapon’s experts to agree there has to be something to it. Our own Joe Mandt made the great Quote where he compared Bagwell bowie’s to a Chuck Berry riff by saying even thought lot’s pf people play Chuck Berry riffs a little bit faster and cleaner they are still Chuck Berry riffs and I agree when it comes to fighting bowie’s Bill is the undisputed king.

    The knife in this thread started actually a few years ago. I had asked Bill to make me a Hells’ Belle and he made me my all Damascus stag Belle . This is a fantastic knife and is one of my most prized pieces. It handle’s like a dream but with a 10 ¼ inch blade and a total length of 16 inches it is a bit much for me to carry as a daily piece. I found myself carrying a 9-½ inch carbon and stag Bowie that Bill made 20 years ago. By far this was my favorite carry piece. So when Bill and I got together last month I asked him to build me an HB with a 9 ½ inch forged carbon blade with a stag handle. At first he was reluctant and said he preferred to make HB’s with an 11 to 12 inch blade but when I told him I needed one that I could carry easily and concealment was critical he agreed to do as I asked and once he was committed seemed to generally get excited about the project. I sent Bill 4 piece’s of stag and although all where very good piece’s Bill said none where exactly what he was looking for one reason or another and he sent them back to me when he found a piece that he thought would fit my hand and carry style. The Helle’s Belle that Bill came up with I could not be more pleased with this is the smallest HB that Bill has ever made. There are only 4 stag HB’s in existence two Damascus and two carbons. I have 2 of the 4.
    Well to start out with when I received the knife the first thin I noticed was the strong right hand curve in the stag it almost looked like to much curve. Then I started playing with it and saw in an instant what Bill was shooting for. The way the stag curve’s in your hand allows you to keep your wrist in the strongest possible position. Everyone knows that when your wrist is straight and held in a natural position it is at it’s strongest and no matter what grip from hammer to the grip this knife really loves the saber grip the handle lines all of your bone structure up and the back curve nestles in the back pocket of your hand giving so much support that this knife is a thrusting monster. Of all the knives I have if I had to thrust through a cinderblock wall this would be the knife I would pick. The back part of your palm would take the majority of the impact not your thumb in a saber grip. If I had matching right and left hand knives I could easily do push ups off the point of this blade. That’s how secure the saber grip on this knife feels. I think Bill favoring the larger blades and knowing that this knife would not have the power of a bigger version really wanted to make this a thrusting monster and in that he has succeeded. When I speak of power please do not get the idea this knife does not have power. The shape of the handle really facilitates snap cuts and the way the handle curves down works like a trigger and enabler’s you to make blinding fast snap cuts. The stag bites into your hand and even soaked in STP this knife is going nowhere. Would not want to chop wood all day but that’s not what this knife was made to do. The knife is balanced extremely well slightly blade heavy with the balance point about ¾ of an inch from the guard. What this does is make a blindingly fast knife that feels like you are just holding a handle with no perceivable blade weight. This blade is truly chained blue lighting and the difference between this blade and other fast blades is that the stag and the curvature of the stag really facilitates a very secure grip no worries of changing direction quick and the knife keeping going in the wrong direction. A large C guard can be very hard to carry but this guard Bill has scaled down and sure it probable is not as effective but it carries very well. Speaking of carry and that’s what you do 99 percent of the time with a defensive knife the curve of the stag wraps into your body leavening a very minimal signature when you carry this knife IWB or cross draw the 2 way’s I carry. It is by far my most concealable knife in this size range that I have. Bill’s sheaths are a work of minimalist art as small and close fitting as they can be. When the knife is lying next to the sheath the blade almost looks bigger that the sheath. Bill carved a flower stud for the sheath and I really like the way it came out. There is also a flower on the steel pommel of the knife.
    If you guy’s have noticed I have not spoke of fit and finish at all which by the way are excellent the reason being I am just so impressed with the handling characteristics of this blade that I am blown away. But that’s what Bill is all about and I am so pleased that he really took the time and made me a knife that I really wanted and fits me this well. Thanks Bill

    So I will start with the pics Bill was cool enough to supply some photos of the making of this blade and this will be a rare look into the shop of a legend. I think you will all be amazed at the simplicity of his shop these are truly handmade battle blades no cnc no jigs all free hand. This is not a knock on the guy’s using that stuff just pointing out how Bill does it. Sorry to be so long winded been working a lot and this stuff makes me happy and let’s me escape the daily bull shit for a bit….

    Here we go Bill's Forge
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    Bill doing what he has been doing for along time
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    After forgeing
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    Grinding
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    Quenching
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    desmodus likes this.
  2. JParanee

    JParanee Little member

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    [​IMG]
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    By the way Bill used his signature stamp which he very rarely uses
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    This was a hard pic to try and get but it shows how the grip lines up your skeletal structure to put as much force as you can into a thrust and to also make achieveing point second nature
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    Parting shot
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    Thanks to Bill and to all of you for looking
     
  3. Mr.LaBella

    Mr.LaBella ←The № 1 Devil→ Administrator

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    I love this type of thread! :bow: :clap:
     
  4. Keith Montgomery

    Keith Montgomery Huge member

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    One of the nicest Bagwell knives that I have seen.
     
  5. Peter Lezard

    Peter Lezard Hobbit of Fortune

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    Great WIP thread! I got to meet Bill about 10 years ago, and its good to see him doing what he does. :)

    Awesome knife man, enjoy it in good health! :)
     
  6. SugarSkull

    SugarSkull Ring Of Bone

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    I'm always amazed at what an experienced knife maker can accomplish.

    Sweet looking blade.
     
  7. Stabber

    Stabber Stabber's Steel Connection Knife Maker or Craftsman

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    Great Score/pics!!

    I must get a Bagwell one Day:madaddy:

    Nice Shiva Ki[​IMG]
     
  8. JParanee

    JParanee Little member

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    Guy's thanks for all the nice comments .. I am very pleased with this knife..
     
  9. GSC

    GSC knifemaker Knife Maker or Craftsman

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    As everyone else said thanks for the great pics, I also like to see other makers shops and how they turn raw steel into works of art.
    Gordon
     
  10. Rover

    Rover Rock N' Roll Outlaw JDBA Official Member

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    Bump for a classic.
     
    seandavid55, desmodus and crogers like this.
  11. crogers

    crogers Magnus advocatus diaboli Brigade Member

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    I wish all bumps were as good as this! :clap:
     
    Rover likes this.
  12. desmodus

    desmodus Arc Sodium Lady Devil JDBA Official Member Super Moderator Brigade Member

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    I miss stuff like this so much.
     
    Rover and crogers like this.
  13. Gray Man

    Gray Man Tiny Member

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    That is just an amazing transformation into an awesome looking knife ! Thank you for the WIP pics , I really enjoy looking at them !
     

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