SCALE TANG AND WHITTLE TANG BOWIES.
Trade terms can be helpful, or confusing, depending on our personal knowledge of the trade in question! In the world of Sheffield Bowie knives, and knives generally, there are two popular ways of securing a handle to a knife.
The tang is that part of the blade that does not have a sharp edge. Part of the tang is usually exposed below the guard, and is often the place where the maker stamps his mark. Where two slabs of material are riveted to the tang to make the handle, this is known as a “scale” tang. (Scales is another word for handles).
The illustrations below show a scale tang construction on a 6 inch Sheffield Bowie. In this example the part of the metal tang that is visible to the eye has been nicely decorated to enhance the overall look of the knife.
A whittle tang is more like a spike and is hidden inside the handle. The Sheffield Bowies that are made using this method have a threaded whittle tang that is secured into the zinc pommel at the top by means of a brass nut. Here is an image of our 4 inch whittle tang Bowie.
Both methods of construction go back a long way and similar techniques are used in the manufacture of table cutlery and kitchen knives.