Introduction: Pallet Wood Katana

Picture of Pallet Wood Katana

This is my entry for The Pallet Upcycle Challenge 2016 which is organized by Sterling Davis ( ) Sterling started this challenge a couple of years ago. This isn't a contest and there is no judging to enter, all you have to do is make a video showing what you can make from the wood of a pallet. I planned to enter it last year but didn't make the deadline. This year I decided to try and make a katana with a scabbard all out of pallet wood. Originally I was only going to make a wooden sword but decided to give the scabbard a go. There are many things wrong with both the sword and the scabbard but overall it was a fun project. I hope you enjoy this Instructable and hopefully can learn from my mistakes.

Here is a video of the build.

Step 1:

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Here are a few glamour shots of the sword I also made the stand from pallet wood.

Step 2:

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First I broke down my pallet using a reciprocating saw and pry bar to remove the slats. Then I found the slat that had the least amount of nails and removed them.

Step 3:

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I made a template from a picture I found online. I printed it out on three sheets of paper and then taped them together and cut out the shape. I secured the template to the pallet wood slat and traced the image.

Step 4:

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I used a jigsaw to cut out the shape. Then I used my belt sander to clean up the wood a bit. I didn't make it perfect I just tried to remove any rough sawn marks.

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Next using a forstner bit that was the same thickness as the wood slat I ran it along the center of what would become the edge of the blade. All this does is make sure that I have a line in the center of the board. The line was to faint so I went back over it with a pencil so it would be easier to see. This will be the centerline guide for when I go to shape the bevel on the blade.

Step 6:

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Next came lots of sanding and shaping. Here I try to shape the bevel of the blade and work towards the centerline guide. I do this on both sides trying to keep them symmetrical. I also used a rasp and hand sanding to get the bevel just right.

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In order to fit the handle I had to remove some material from the tang of the blade. Using my scroll saw I removed material from both sides of the tang. I also refined the shape with a rasp and sandpaper.

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Using another piece of pallet wood I cut out a square that I would use as the guard of the sword.

Step 9:

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Then I mark the hole in the guard for the tang to slip through. I used my drill press with a slightly undersized drill bit to remove most of the material.

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I then used a file to remove some more of the material and square up the cut to match the tang. Check the fit as you file the hole. My hole turned out a little loose.

Step 11:

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Next I took a part of the skids which are usually made of 2x4s and cut out the handle. I used my table saw to square up the piece.

Step 12:

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I traced the shape of the tang on to the handle and marked the center area so that I could drill out the material.

Step 13:

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I started off by using a brad point drill bit so that my drill wouldn't slip off the wood. My drill press was too small so I had to use my hand drill. Once I drilled out the initial hole I got a longer drill bit to make the hole deeper.

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As I drilled the hole out I would test the fit. I soon discovered that the tang wouldn't go any deeper than about 5 inches. I believe its because the hole wasn't square or rather it didn't match the shape of the tang. So I cut off the excess on the tang.

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Here I am testing the fit of all the parts.

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Next it was time to shape the handle. Again a lot more sanding. I also decided to make the guard an oval shape, so I cut out the shape and sanded it smooth.

Step 17:

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With all the parts sanded and cleaned I glued them up. I did have to use a small wedge in the handle as the blade had a slight twist. The wedge straightened the blade out.

Step 18:

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Initially I wasn't going to clamp it but I decided it couldn't hurt so I taped it and clamped it as best I could. In the end it worked out well.

Step 19:

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This is the finished sword after removing the tape and clamps.

Step 20:

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Now it was time for the scabbard. I traced the shape of the blade on to two pieces of pallet wood. The only thing to remember here is that you will be tracing out the mirror image of the blade on to the second piece of wood.

Step 21:

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Using a straight bit in my mini-router set to half the width of the blade I routed out the shape of the blade. I used a marker to give me a better line as the router shavings made it difficult to see the pencil line.

Step 22:

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I tested the fit after I was done. Here in the second pic you can see what I mean by mirror image of the blade.

Step 23:

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I clamped them together and checked the fit to see if I needed to make any adjustments.

Step 24:

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Next using a compass I drew a line that was about 1/4 inch all the way around the routed out section of the scabbard halves. I used my jigsaw to cut out the rough shape. I clamped it together again and tested the fit.

Step 25:

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I sanded the inside of the scabbard halves. Then I glued them together. Once it was clamped I inserted the sword to make sure it still fit. I made sure to remove the sword before the glue dried so that it wouldn't be glued in to the scabbard.

Step 26:

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The rough scabbard after the glue dried.

Step 27:

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Next I had to clean up and shape the scabbard. I used my angle grinder with a flap disc to remove most of the material. Then I hand sanded it until smooth.

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I masked off the handle and sprayed a few coats of clear coat to the blade. I spray painted the handle, the guard and scabbard black.

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Here is the finished piece. As I stated earlier the scabbard was an after thought. This caused me a few problems down the road. Ideally the handle and the scabbard lines flow right in to one another on an actual katana. In other words the handle is the same thickness as the scabbard. Since I decided after the fact to make the scabbard I soon realized that the scabbard would have to be wider than the handle. I could have made the blade smaller but I didn't want to change it. In the pics you can see where I burned through the scabbard glue joint. If I were to make this again I would make sure to take in to consideration the handle, blade and scabbard sizing. I hope some one finds this helpful and you learn from my mistakes. Thank you for taking the time to read all of this.


rcharizard1013 (author)2017-11-07

Great tutorial except it was a little advanced for me (i don't have all of those wood working tools). However, it gave me some great ideas to make something similar

23singram (author)2017-04-11


Enricommuter (author)2016-10-13

I am loving the video, especially the fast motion footage; it is instructing and amusing.

Cool glad you enjoyed it. If only I could work that fast in real life. :-)

Enricommuter (author)2016-10-13

Congratulations on another fine instructable you have created! Nice looking katana and scabbard. As you said in your knife-making 'ible, making stuff is a transformative experience.

Thank you!

DjNiX9011. (author)2016-09-30

i love the detail--very well done kind sir!

Thank you.

ClenseYourPallet (author)2016-08-31

Great use of a pallet! Thanks for sharing

Thanks man, BTW I love your username very clever.

Xexos (author)danthemakerman2016-09-06

Cool instructable! It looks pretty darn nice, especially considering how big it is and that it is made out of pallet wood.

I actually just uploaded an instructable on how to make the scabbard and handle portion; check it out, you might find it interesting

danthemakerman (author)Xexos2016-09-06

Thanks man you are too kind. I really wish I had planned ahead for the scabbard then it probably would have looked a lot better. Live and learn.

Xexos (author)Xexos2016-09-06

My bad, that was supposed to go in the main comments, not be a direct reply

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