How can I restore my bowie knife to be like new?

restore my bowie knife

My uncle had a bowie knife that had an “Original Bowie Knife” tag made in Germany. The hunting knife was a gift from my grandfather (his dad), 50 years ago and he died shortly after that winter. Afterward, the knife got lost in his garage a decade ago only to find it recently in a bad condition while cleaning and arranging the garage. My uncle wanted to throw it away because of its bad shape as he did not know how to reinstate it to a good condition. I decided to clean the custom bowie knife so as to restore it to its original condition and leave it looking sparklingly new.

My Experience with Restoring Bowie Knives

I have from that time restored a bunch of other Bowie knives and I can confidently assert that it is easy to construct a knife from the scratch than to restore one that has been destroyed by poor management. If the process of restoring the bowie knife is done poorly, it will wipe out any monetary and sentimental value that the knife prior to its deterioration. It can be easy to restore the knife if you follow the right procedures but it is easier to destroy it as you try to restore it.

Quick Solution to Fix the Knife

If the blade is rusty or tarnished and is not that bad, you can wire it and restore the sharp edge back to its original condition. In case, it is badly tarnished, you can buy a rust remover and try to apply it on the blade. To make the blade shiny, you can try a metal polish such as Brasso after you wire wool it. Afterward, you can preserve it by wiping a thin layer of oil over it. If you want to keep the blade sharp, you can use a stone or a knife sharpener.

Steps to Restore a Bowie Knife

Steps to Restore a Bowie Knife


​Sand Blast

The first step to restoring a bowie knife is sandblasting. It is possible that you will be hesitant because you don’t want to damage your handle but when done well it will not damage it. The result of sandblasting is that it will leave your blade clean which is not to rough nor too smooth.

Steel Wool it

The second thing to do is to apply steel wool in the blade to ensure that your knife looks shiny. A knife should be kept shiny and you can start with coarse steel wool and then finish with fine steel wool. To get good results, you can do apply the steel wool for about 15 minutes and you will achieve some good results.

Polish the Blade

After the steel wool, you can polish the blade. The polishing can be done using a 400 grit and then use a 600 grit sandpaper (wet/dry sandpaper). Thus, the use of sandpaper to polish the blade will be done with water. This procedure leaves a good shine and you can use 40 minutes with the grits (20 minutes each).


Buffing entails the finishing procedures for softening the blade using a leather strop or abrasive ways. In this process, you can spend half an hour buffing using a polishing wheel on a bench chopper that is easier, safer and gives better results. I have seen other people using a clean cotton towel that is faintly damp and this is not recommended as you can easily pierce your hands. Buffing gives the blade high luster that is approaching a mirror shine.


After buffing, you can sharpen the bowie knife to be sharp. Sharpening a bowie knife can be done using a wet stone or a knife sharpener. It is essential to follow the instructions of sharpening your blade effectively to protect the blade and also ensure that you’re safe.

While sharpening, you need to keep a firm grasp on your hunting knife and apply complete control when sharpening. It is important that you keep the direction of the knife blade away from your body. After you’re through sharpening the blade, you can apply oil on the blade and wipe any fingerprints. The oiling ensures there is no rust and also lengthens the lifetime of your knife. If you want to see a video on how to restore a bowie knife click here.

Tips of Proper Sharpening of the Cutting Edge

Place the cutting edge on the sharpener at the suitable angle. Before sharpening your knife, ensure that you lubricate your whetstone using a suitable solution as failing to do so can destroy the edge of your knife.

You should exert some pressure on your knife as if you’re cutting into the whetstone and draw the knife along the whetstone from hilt to tip. As you do this, ensure that the edge is facing away from you to avoid any harm.

Flick the blade over. After sharpening one side, you can flip the blade over, inspect the angle and sharpen it. Whilst sharpening, make two passes per side and you can repeatedly switch sides and sharpen it. This ensures that your edge is even on both sides. Nonetheless, do not over sharpen your blade as this can make the hunting knife brittle.


After performing all the procedures, your knife will be restored and should be looking like a new deer knife. The knife should be able to cut through a silver skin easily or glides through meat likes its nothing. The most important thing after you’re through restoring your knife is to ensure that you maintain it so that it maintains its new look.

How to Maintain a Bowie Knife

How to Maintain a Bowie Knife​


Ensure it always stays clean

The first step to extend the lifespan of your survival knife is to always keep it clean. It is true that your knife will not last forever, but ensuring you keep it clean lengthens its lifespan and ensures that there is no buildup of bacteria in the blade or handle. Keeping your blade clean is not about extremely cleaning your knife after performing tasks. However, you can make it a norm to always wipe your bowie knife before you return it in your casing.

It is proper to use some soap and running water to clean your handle and blade. Afterward, you should thoroughly dry the blade and handle ensuring no moisture or fingerprint is left on the blade as this can lead to rust.

Oil the Blade

Keep the blade lightly oiled. It is necessary to oil your blade frequently to avoid abrasion. A small quantity of oil can prevent your blade from rusting. The best lubricating oil for this purpose can be purchased from hardware stores or firearm supply stores.

Keep the blade sharp

If you’re using your knife as a survival tool, it is important that you keep it sharp. A dull knife is dangerous as will apply more pressure to get the results of a sharp knife. Thus, the excess pressure makes it harder to control the knife as it can slip and injure your hands or harm someone who is near you.

It is important as discussed in this article to learn how to sharpen your knife and keep it sharp. The invaluable skill of sharpening your blade keeps it looking new while it protects you from any form of harm. Therefore, it is vital that you keep you sharpen your knife regularly and ensure it always maintains its shiny state.

Store the Knife in a Dry Place

If your knife is not hanging out in the pocket, it is necessary to ensure that you do not store it in a place that has humidity to ensure that there is no moisture getting to the blade of the knife and affecting it. Therefore, even if you admire some sexy leather casing, do not leave your knife inside the sheath for long as the moisture and chemical in the leather can harm the blade. I would recommend that you oil it and store it in some cool and dry place.

Final Thought

A badly tarnished knife can be restored to a good condition by following the simple procedure I have highlighted in this article. Nonetheless, whether you have spent a fortune or you have bought a cheap bowie knife, proper maintenance is what will ensure that it survives for long. It is important to follow the various tips given in this article to ensure you keep your survival knife for a long time. Additionally, always ensure that you don’t injure yourself or any other person while you’re performing any maintenance procedure on your knife.

About the author


Hey there, I'm Lisa, founder and editor in chief here at Recreation Space. We found fitness through recreational activities. And we want to share it with you. We believe in empowering people with knowledge to make smarter, healthier choices in their lives.

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