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Students Compete to Create the Best Bowie Knife

Pam Lechner

The original plan was for students to design and cast a Bowie Knife, Ben Abbott from Forged in Fire would test those knives, and the winning school would be announced during the 2020 Metalcasting Congress. 

Even though the plan had to be modified, the second annual student casting competition, sponsored by Steel Founders’ Society of America, was a success—and a lot of fun for all those involved.
The 2020 competition focused on “the use of modern casting tools such as computer modeling, alloy development and selection, and additive manufacturing to design and produce a functioning cast Bowie Knife.” Seventeen college and university teams participated. Each team was required to submit the final product for testing, along with a video of their work process and a technical report.

All the knives were sent to Ben Abbott, where he and Raymond Monroe (SFSA Executive VP) tested them for chopping and sharpness. Several SFSA members served as judges for the technical reports and videos. Then, in the same manner as many meetings and events were held in 2020, the winners of the competition were announced during an online event held on July 17.

The team that received the Best Performance award was from FEF-certified school, Virginia Tech. Five students worked together on molding, melting, casting, grinding, finishing and preparing the written report until the undergraduate team members had to leave campus due to COVID-19. The Bowie knife’s handle followed similar details found in a knife dating from about 1830.

The 2020 competition gave students the opportunity to showcase their creativity while also benefitting the schools financially. Thanks to the generosity of SFSA, all the Bowie knives (except VA Tech’s) were donated to FEF to auction off. Proceeds of the auction—over $6,000—were then made available to those specific schools. FEF thanks the Steel Founders’ Society and all the individuals who participated in the auction.

See the 2020 results and view related videos at www.sfsa.org/castinsteel. You will also find information about the 2021 student casting competition—Thor’s Hammer.

Watch for 2021 auction information. Participation benefits the schools, and you may end up the proud owner of an original Thor’s Hammer.