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James Sponaugle, Excellent and Underappreciated knifemaker
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Recently I "discovered" Mr. James Sponaugle of Gordonsville TN as a maker of fine quality hunting and fighting knives. I first saw his work on Arizona Custom Knives and now after a number of communications and purchases with him realized that his knifemaking skills are outstanding. Many of his knives are in the Loveless tradition with the typical dropped point hunters, Big Bear and other styled knives. His prices are below market value in my opinion and his turnaround time is very short.


If you are looking for a high quality finely finished knife check out his Web site at https://www.jesknives.com/.



Here are three knives that exemplify his work:



Loveless style 4"Drop Point Hunter, Black Micarta, stainless steel hilt, and furniture




Loveless style 3.5 inch Nessmuk Hunter, Green canvas Micarta



Same Loveless style Nessmuk but with 4" blade


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Posts: 979 | Location: Southeastern PA, USA | Registered: 14 February 2001Reply With Quote
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Did Loveless make a skinner like those two on the bottom before?

That knife style has been around for a long time, there is a company that makes knife blade blanks that calls that style a Wyoming skinner.

Being a native Wyoming son, I am not sure I would call it that, but it is a nice design.

I have a couple of Doziers in that design, and a few Pakistani knives that are of the same design.

I have a Nessmuk made by Ontario or someone else that is actually a copy of the real Sears knife.
 
Posts: 7351 | Registered: 10 October 2012Reply With Quote
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BWW,

Yes, Loveless made a Nessmuk Skinner. It was listed in his catalogs as far back as 1972, I know because I just sold my Loveless catalog collection on eBay in the past month and he had photos of Nessmuks in the catalogs. While I suspect it was not one of his most popular models it was available in a couple of blade length but mostly the 4" length. I asked James Sponaugle to make me one after seeing one that he had listed at Arizona Custom last summer. He had the middle photo one available with a 3 5/8" blade and I bought it not wanting to wait for a 4" blade model. About a month later he called me and told me he had a 4" blade knife and would swap me for the shorter one which I did. I will say that the short blade mode was very controllable in the hand and would have been perfectly acceptable for a using knife, but I wanted to have a "Loveless Like" version which is the bottom photo. They are very useful skinning and field dressing knives IMO.

With regard to the history of the Nessmuk knife, I found two Web articles that describe the development of the knife and the biography of George Sears aka Nessmuk.

THE NESSMUK IDEAL – A KNIFE’S HISTORY
and
Know Your Knives: The Nessmuk Knife

I live and grew up in Pennsylvania and remember as a kid some old-timers having Nessmuk styled knives. Nessmuk frequented the woods and hills of north-central and western PA so it was no surprise to me that I like that knife, probably saw a bunch of them as a kid and my subconscious probably told me to buy one! I think the design has been widely copied and modified but I think it is one that works.

I really can't emphasize the quality of James Sponaugle's knives enough. The two that I have exhibit a fit and finish that is second to none and would stand with the best makers out there. Plus he a wonderful southern gentleman to deal with. A knife guy like you should give him a call and order a Nessmuk, I think mine cost $295 and it took him about a month to build it if you can believe it.

Paul


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Posts: 979 | Location: Southeastern PA, USA | Registered: 14 February 2001Reply With Quote
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4" blade looks better.

I visited his website but I did not see Nessmuk knife listed as being one being offerred for sale.
 
Posts: 3059 | Location: NW Arkansas | Registered: 19 December 2006Reply With Quote
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If this is not a safe queen, I would want the cutting edge closer to the guard with a half round hole separating the cutting edge from the tang to aid sharpening without scratching up the knife too bad. other than those personal preferences, a stellar knife.


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Posts: 27229 | Location: Where tech companies are trying to control you and brainwash you. | Registered: 29 April 2005Reply With Quote
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Marley7x57-Yes, same for me in not seeing a Nessmuk. I saw one for sale on Arizona Custom, called him and he was perfectly happy to make one for me so that is how I ended up with the 4" blade model. Give him a call, I think he can accommodate you.


Boom Stick-I would agree with your comments and I also prefer some kind of separation between the blade edge and the guard that does help with sharpening. I think James tries to replicate a Loveless as exactly as the original drawings show. But I bet he would be willing to modify to your wishes though I don't want to speak on his behalf. I'd say call him and talk with him to find out.

His phone number is 615-946-4156. If you mention to him that this conversation came out of Accurate Reloading Forums and mention my name, Paul Reed, I think it will help him place a connection to the knives I purchased. I have no relationship with him other than a satisfied customer.


Thanks


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Posts: 979 | Location: Southeastern PA, USA | Registered: 14 February 2001Reply With Quote
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I shot James an email, got a prompt response and ordered one with a 4" blade. I am happy with the way the blade is designed and really see no need to adjust it myself. However, I might do so on my second one!

Thanks for posting information on him, and a photo of his knife.
 
Posts: 3059 | Location: NW Arkansas | Registered: 19 December 2006Reply With Quote
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Just received my knife from James and am very happy with it. I have a few custom knives - Lee Ferguson, Ohta, Frank Pummell, and Bayley - and this is as good, if not better than theirs.

Thanks for posting this maker Paul.



 
Posts: 3059 | Location: NW Arkansas | Registered: 19 December 2006Reply With Quote
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Marley,

That is a really nice rendition of a Sponaugle Nessmuk. I really like the orangish handle material, eminently serviceable for a hunting knife that could get dropped in the snow while field dressing. Glad to hear too that you also feel his workmanship is of high caliber. I think Loveless would agree. I'm going to order a Loveless Big Bear from him shortly... to defend myself when law and order breaks down from the pandemic Smiler

Thanks
Paul


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Posts: 979 | Location: Southeastern PA, USA | Registered: 14 February 2001Reply With Quote
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I have no doubt that James can make it and it will be every bit the quality of a Loveless. Please post photo of it when you recieve it.

I thought the orange handle would help me find it as I have a tendency to misplace stuff!

For my next one- thinking a Chute, Camp, or Hunter style. Either way it will be ordered from James.
 
Posts: 3059 | Location: NW Arkansas | Registered: 19 December 2006Reply With Quote
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quote:
eminently serviceable for a hunting knife that could get dropped in the snow while field dressing.


I can think of two very nice knives laying somewhere in the woods near my hunting stand that I wish would have had those nice orange handles!
 
Posts: 2059 | Location: Mpls., MN | Registered: 28 June 2014Reply With Quote
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quote:
Originally posted by lindy2:
quote:
eminently serviceable for a hunting knife that could get dropped in the snow while field dressing.


I can think of two very nice knives laying somewhere in the woods near my hunting stand that I wish would have had those nice orange handles!


Got me rethinking green handles on the next one! Definitely easier to find, especially in my advanced age.
 
Posts: 3059 | Location: NW Arkansas | Registered: 19 December 2006Reply With Quote
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quote:
I can think of two very nice knives laying somewhere in the woods near my hunting stand that I wish would have had those nice orange handles!

I was just looking at one in my knife collection that I found as a kid on a Utah deer hunt 55 years ago. Big Grin
 
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