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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Bowie Knife Maker: James L. Rodebaugh

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I recently received an unexpected package in the mail. Inside I found the Damascus bowie knife shown above. The blade is 10 3/8-inches and the knife is 15 3/8-inches overall. The handle and sheath are wood, inlaid with silver wire. The knife is beautifully balanced and reminds me of something an elf warrior would have in the Lord of the Rings movies.

The mystery deepened, as there was no note included, but from the Tulsa, Oklahoma return address I figured out that it had been sent by my friend Mike Fletcher, with whom I have corresponded over the years but have yet to meet. I contacted him to express my surprise and delight, and Mike responded:
Enjoy! That was James L. Rodebaugh's first Damascus Bowie. James was a Journeyman Smith at the time and was practicing for his Master Smith test. The blade is maker forged Damascus in the "Southwest" style which typically has a longer point to the blade. . . . The blade is differentially tempered in accordance with American Bladesmith Society standards and is "good to go.” I was introduced to James by the late Al Barton who was one of the founders of the California or West Coast ABS clan.
A recent Rodebaugh Damascus bowie with mastodon ivory scales.

Rodebaugh’s contact information is here.

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