Spanish Notchs

rhinoknives

Well-Known Member
The purpose that I put a "Spanish Notch" in some of my knives is to work as a blade brake.
If someone is pushing forward with the blade it will help stop the knife if you push to far forward.
Also it gives you a open area at the end of the edge for sharpening before you get the ricasso.
Don't have any pics handy right now.

Does that help?

Laurence

www.westsidesharpening.com/
 

Church & Son

Well-Known Member
Mr. Jim Cooper ( Sharps by Coop) put a colage of pics with Spanish notches back 5-6 years ago.
Had a tremendous amount of beautiful knives in it. Maybe ask him...
 

Drew Riley

Well-Known Member
From Wikipedia:

"Some Bowie knives had a notch on the bottom of the blade near the hilt known as a "Spanish Notch". The Spanish Notch is often cited as a mechanism for catching an opponent's blade; however, some Bowie researchers hold that the Spanish Notch is ill-suited to this function and frequently fails to achieve the desired results. These researchers, instead, hold that the Spanish Notch has the much more mundane function as a tool for stripping sinew and repairing rope and nets, as a guide to assist in sharpening the blade (assuring that the sharpening process starts at a specific point and not further up the edge), or as a point to relieve stress on the blade during use."

John Fitzen incorporates a spanish notch into a lot of his "frankenstein" bowies. He subscribes to the "blade catching" purpose as mentioned above.
 

firecog

Well-Known Member
Bagwell was putting them on his bowies for awhile, especially the Hell's Belle, but later discontinued that practice because he found that it really didn't provide any use as far as a blade catcher or assist with disarming an opponent
 

BossDog

KnifeDogs.com & USAknifemaker.com Owner
Staff member
it seems the original intend has been lost with time. I just can't see them as catching a blade. No one has yet mentioned the other speculation that they stop blood from dripping back to the handle. I mostly believe them to be aides in sharpening as a separation from the ricasso. Maybe they were just put there for looks way back then and we are all trying to guess a use for them that never existed? I am entitled to be wrong about all of this.
 

rhinoknives

Well-Known Member
I never thought the Blade catch theory had any credence to it! The blood dripping to the rear is possible,
I have seen brass spine wraps and slots on top of Bowies towards the guard, "That why swords have guards" That seemed like they may work as blade catch features.
Partly Like Boss Dog said, Sometimes the origin is lost or there was no function they just looked cool and here were are guessing and coming up with all kinds of theory's.

It makes me think about all the buzz about the world ending on the ancient central American calendar in 2012.

Well maybe they just ran out of room on the rock to write anymore and said!
Let's just end it here! It's so far in the future that we can just let them worry about it then! :s12137:

Laurence
www.rhinoknives/
 

firecog

Well-Known Member
It makes me think about all the buzz about the world ending on the ancient central American calendar in 2012.

Well maybe they just ran out of room on the rock to write anymore and said!
Let's just end it here! It's so far in the future that we can just let them worry about it then! Laurence
www.rhinoknives/

I think the guy's wife just gave him more stuff on the honey-do list becasue he was spending too much time in the shop "working on that d*mn calender !! How many years does it really need to go on !?!?"
 

sfbreed

Blade Field Editor
Can't remember where I heard it but I think the spanish notch aided in removal of percussion caps and cleaning out the nipple(on flintlocks). Dont know for sure, but is was gun related.
 

BossDog

KnifeDogs.com & USAknifemaker.com Owner
Staff member
Can't remember where I heard it but I think the spanish notch aided in removal of percussion caps and cleaning out the nipple(on flintlocks). Dont know for sure, but is was gun related.

That makes the most sense of all the explanations I have heard. The older knives with the niotch always show it quite a bit bigger than the modern version.
 

Bruce Bump

Forum Owner-Moderator
I've always wanted to make one that would open beer bottles. hehe
Can't remember where I heard it but I think the spanish notch aided in removal of percussion caps and cleaning out the nipple(on flintlocks). Dont know for sure, but is was gun related.
 

GHEzell

Well-Known Member
When I first started making knives I really liked the look of Spanish notches, so I put them on most of my early knives. Then I started using and testing my knives, and realized that unless they are correctly designed they tend to hang on whatever is being cut... Needless to say, I rarely use them anymore unless it is a style of knife that had them historically, and I make a point to round them so that they are less likely to catch...
 

ChuckBurrows

Well-Known Member
[/I]
Can't remember where I heard it but I think the spanish notch aided in removal of percussion caps and cleaning out the nipple(on flintlocks). Dont know for sure, but is was gun related.

It may sound reasonable but....
1) The Spanish notch was used on knives well before the introduction of the percussion cap (which was developed in the 1820's) and even before the introduction of the flintlock in the early 1600's. (PS flintlocks do not have nipples - only caplocks do.)

From Wikipedia:

"Some Bowie knives had a notch on the bottom of the blade near the hilt known as a "Spanish Notch". The Spanish Notch is often cited as a mechanism for catching an opponent's blade; however, some Bowie researchers hold that the Spanish Notch is ill-suited to this function and frequently fails to achieve the desired results. These researchers, instead, hold that the Spanish Notch has the much more mundane function as a tool for stripping sinew and repairing rope and nets, as a guide to assist in sharpening the blade (assuring that the sharpening process starts at a specific point and not further up the edge), or as a point to relieve stress on the blade during use."

-Andrew

The blade catcher is the basis of the Spanish notch - the Spanish school of fencing incorporated the use of a left hand knife such as the main gauche or the specifically made blade breaker knives (used for breaking rapier blades, not just any type blade) during the 15-1600's. However the use of the Spanish notch on later knives (post 1700 or so) or so there is no practical use for the notches or were they intended to be anything more than a decorative element - the Spanish notch is a relic from the earlier specially designed and made blade breaker knives. Being that it is only a relic from a previous style that was designed to break rapier blades, it's no wonder the folks that tried them found they had no real use as that function.
As for other specific usages such as stripping sinew or mending fishing line or hand lining fish, etc. - again such things sound good but in fact have no relation to the actual purpose which again was simply decoration without any practical use intended. Sometimes when I read such as things as stripping sinew or hand lining fish - it makes me wonder have people ever done these jobs? I've used and continue to use a lot of real sinew in my work and hany kind to use anykind of tool to strip it with since none is needed. As for hand lining fish - the last thing you want in your hand is a sharp knife blade!
Yep there are all kinds of theories about the Spanish notch, but once you do the deep research into historical blades the simple fact is that such notches were nothing more than a decorative element - a relic from an earlier patten - despite what some maker's and collector's may claim. No where in the current historical data base of the written word (including the dueling and knife fighting books written during the 17-1800's) or preserved items, is there anything anywhere suggesting that the Spanish notch had any use other than decoration, but then again it's one of those things that will continue to be shrouded in "mystery" for many and it makes a good story.
 
Last edited:

Lagrange

Well-Known Member
Wow, I never knew any of this...I just used the "spanish notch" as you call it, to assist in sharpening the blade because I didnt want to scratch the edge of the hilt. How dumb could I be.
 

D. Crawford

Well-Known Member
Here's a great pic by Coop. Hope he doesn't mind me linking to it.

TheSpanishNotch.jpg
 
Top