Introduction: Wooden Knuckle Dusters

WARNING: These are illegal to possess and carry in many parts of the world. You're responsible for knowing and understanding your local laws. You're also responsible for your own actions. Act right.

I wanted to make a few gifts for some old college buddies and my brother in law. I thought long and hard about what would make an awesome gift they'd never forget or get rid of. And the first thing that came to mind were these wooden knuckle dusters.

My first idea was to make them out of solid walnut. But after a few sketches and some more thought, I figured I'd dress them up with a Maple inlay. And while I was at it, I would change the grain orientations of the laminations to add strength.

What makes this project so interesting to me is the contrast between violence and beauty. The aestheticization of violence has been a fixture in art, literature, theater and then film as long as they have been around. Nowadays we call stuff like this "cool". But that same interest can be traced back to the beginning of human culture as we know it.

Alright. That's enough of all that. Let's get down to business.

Step 1: The Template, Materials & Tools.

Picture of The Template, Materials & Tools.

The above PNG template isn't scaled, it's only for reference. If you're looking for a scaled model, there's a PDF below.

The Materials

  • Black Walnut
  • Maple
  • Wood Glue
  • Spray adhesive

The Tools I Used

  • F-style clamps
  • Table saw
  • Table saw sled
  • Belt sander (I now have a thickness planer, so I would approach this a little differently.)
  • A small paint roller & pan for the glue up.
  • Printer and printer paper.
  • Awl
  • Drill press.
  • Forstner Bits (Sizes: 1", 3/4" and 3/8")
  • Band Saw
  • Router table
  • Round over router bit
  • Disc sander
  • Sanding cylinders (I used a pencil and homemade sanding drums on the drill press.)
  • Sand Paper
  • Tung Oil
  • Finishing supplies

A Scaled Template

Below if a PDF template, scaled to 1:1 on 8.5" (215.9mm) x 11.0" (279.4mm) letter sized printer paper.

Step 2: Rough Cut Your Pieces.

Picture of Rough Cut Your Pieces.

I used the table saw sled, set up with a stop block held with an F clamp, to rough cut all of my pieces. I don't have a miter saw set up, so I use the table saw sled for a lot of operations.

Step 3: Re-saw Your Laminations.

Picture of Re-saw Your Laminations.

Then I used the table saw to re-saw my work pieces. Resawing on the table saw is dangerous. You really run the risk of a kick-back when you do this. So make sure you know what you're doing, and use common sense.

Step 4: Cut Your Pieces to Length and Width.

Picture of Cut Your Pieces to Length and Width.

Then using the table saw, and table saw sled. I cut my work pieces to their rough dimensions for the blanks. I cut these a little bigger than the template so that I was sure to have enough enough space on the blank.

Step 5: Sand Your Laminations.

Picture of Sand Your Laminations.

Then I used my belt sander to sand my laminations. I didn't have a thickness planer when I did this project. But now that I have one, I would have used that to put a smooth flat finish on my work pieces before I cut them to size.

Step 6: The Glue Up.

Picture of The Glue Up.

Get glue on every surface that will be in contact with another surface. Both sides even, and glue up your blanks. I used regular Titebond, which is my go-to for projects like these.

Step 7: Apply Clamping Pressure.

Picture of Apply Clamping Pressure.

Then I used a couple plywood scraps to apply even pressure on the blanks, and clamped them up with F clamps. I let the blanks sit over night, and they were rock solid the next afternoon.

Step 8: Apply Your Template.

Picture of Apply Your Template.

Then I used spray adhesive to apply the template to the blank. The template can be found above. I always use just a little bit of adhesive because the template will come off. If you use too much, you're going to be sanding it off.

Step 9: Punch Your Centers With an Awl.

Picture of Punch Your Centers With an Awl.

Then I punched the center points on the template with an awl, so that the Forstner but could find the centers of where I wanted to drill my holes.

Step 10: Drill Out the Holes on the Template.

Picture of Drill Out the Holes on the Template.

I made the rounded areas of the knuckle dusters with the drill press. I used a forstner bit, your size will vary to the size of your dusters, to create these rounds.

Step 11: Cut It Out on the Band Saw.

Picture of Cut It Out on the Band Saw.

Then I cut the knuckle dusters out of the blank on the band saw. The band saw leaves some tooling marks, so these will have to be sanded.

Step 12: Sand the Fronts Flat.

Picture of Sand the Fronts Flat.

At that point, it was time to start some sanding. I used my disc sander to sand the business end of the knuckle dusters flat. This gets rid of the tooling marks left by the bandsaw.

Step 13: Round Over Some Edges on the Router Table.

Picture of Round Over Some Edges on the Router Table.

Then I rounded over the edges that would be in contact with your palm and finger on the router table with a round over bit.

Step 14: Sand With the Drill Press.

Picture of Sand With the Drill Press.

First, I put sand on a pencil so I could do a little detail sanding in the smaller rounds. Then I used these homemade spindle sanders to sand the larger rounds.

Step 15: Sand, Sand, & Sand.

Picture of Sand, Sand, & Sand.

Then I sanded the knuckle dusters by hand, starting at 150 grit and working my way up to 220 grit sand paper. This took a long time because there were so many nooks and crannies. But they came out beautiful.

Step 16: Apply Your Finish.

Picture of Apply Your Finish.

Then I applied some Tung Oil with a rag, and let that dry. After it was dry, I sprayed a few coats of aerosol poly to seal the dusters, and give them a bit of a sheen.

Step 17: And You're Done!

Picture of And You're Done!

And that's it. After they were dry, they're ready to go. You can use them for anything except hurting another living being. Because that's not cool.

These were intended as a novelty, not a weapon. Use common sense and be a good human with these.

Thanks for checking it out, and I'll see you on the next one!

— Adam


gunguru (author)2017-06-24

Metal detectors ............. screw um!!

Pezzster (author)2017-02-12

The pencil with sandpaper glued to it in the drill press was such an awesome idea. That is serious inginuity.

Adam Gabbert (author)Pezzster2017-03-23

Thanks, man. It was born of necessity.

JoshR153 (author)2017-03-23

I wood have made it out of a solid piece if I intended to use it for defense.

Adam Gabbert (author)JoshR1532017-03-23

Why would you have used a solid piece?

still disturbed (author)2017-02-23

Nice job mate

Seoulbrother (author)2017-02-03

I can't seem to print out the template in actual size. I downloaded the pdf but can't print out only the template. Any help?

Seoulbrother (author)2017-02-02

Is there a way of getting the template size without having to pay for a year of premium plan which i can't see myself using more than 2 or 3 times.

RodrigoS94 (author)2017-02-01

U can make the inner layer of brass or aluminium, will be nice to see, or punch someone kkkk

EdwardR49 (author)2017-01-21

This going to break when I hit my opponent...

BossyRangs (author)2017-01-19

Great job! When you make a wooden bow, you're a hero. But making knuckle dusters suddenly makes you a criminal, apparently :-)

JustinM97 (author)BossyRangs2017-01-19

Obviously. Think about it. A wooden bow has legitimate and legal uses, in sport or hunting. Knuckle dusters do not.

BossyRangs (author)JustinM972017-01-21

I do respect archery as a sport. But bows are also used to kill wild animals for the fun of it.

Adam Gabbert (author)BossyRangs2017-01-19

You're right. I couldn't have said it better myself.

Thanks. :)

Pa1963 (author)2017-01-19

Cool! But I don't think these would be all that effective as a weapon. Probably just crush your own fingers.

Adam Gabbert (author)Pa19632017-01-20


But I beg to differ. These came out very stout.

Jakes workshop (author)2017-01-19

Awesome project, and useful as well !! :PP


WannaDuino (author)2017-01-19


Where from? daar is gabbertje daar is gabbertje, met zijn kale kop.

love it. thanx, wil need it.


Adam Gabbert (author)WannaDuino2017-01-20

Thanks. :)

Adam Gabbert (author)WannaDuino2017-01-19

Nope. Not the bald headed Gabbertje.

But my family was originally from that part of the world, yes.

Chucklesnews (author)2017-01-19

I noticed on the PDFs. On page 3 the template doesn't print full size. I then copied the template at different sizes so I could pick one to fit my hand. Nowhere could I find the thickness of the layers and finished product. What are the dimensions of your knuckle busters?

I uploaded an updated template. That should help.


CircuitToaster (author)2017-01-19

Adam, beautiful work man. I bet your buds really appreciate the gift. Thats a better gift than anything bought off the internet hands down!

Thanks man. They really do love them.

DaleC16 (author)2017-01-20

what are the dimensions of the wood,? thickness of each laminate?

Thanks for the great project.

Like they said it's a great paper weight.

Adam Gabbert (author)DaleC162017-01-20

I uploaded an updated PDF template this morning. I design and modify so much stuff, sometimes I forget to include the smallest details.

lbrewer42 (author)2017-01-19

Although I don't personally desire a wooden knuckle duster, these are nice looking. As to people posting negative comments, they need to attack ebay also.

Look on ebay - search "Brass Knuckles." Metal units are readily available inexpensively and are being sold as jewelry.

Drake88 (author)lbrewer422017-01-19

Sorta off topic, but also not. Nearly ANYTHING can be dangerous or even lethal in the hands of someone trained or just naturally talented to think that way. For instance, I can think of at least THREE ways a simple feather can used to cause severe, if not lethal, damage to another human - without much modification(like glue).

The simple fact is, there are a number of people in this world who would like to make the world a 'safe place' for everyone. The sad part is, to really accomplish this goal, you need the complete and total co-operation of every human on the planet - which is NEVER going to happen.

I prefer to be someone who hopes for the best, but plans for the worst - especially when interaction with other humans occurs. Oh, by the way - the bloody-mindedness? It comes natural to me, even as a kid, I was fascinated with weapons. One the most basic is the simple weight held in a hand during a conflict.

JustinM97 (author)lbrewer422017-01-19

What negative comments ? What attacks ? And what does eBay have to do with this in any way ? So you can buy illegal weapons from eBay, and that somehow makes this... ? Better ?

Look, I appreciate the craftsmanship as much as anyone, more perhaps than some because I dabble in woodworking BUT there's a reason for the big BOLD FACED TYPE WARNING at the top of the article. These are illegal in many places. Period. People are just pointing that out (albeit one would think unnecessarily so, until reading some of the other comments).

JustinM97 (author)JustinM972017-01-19

OK, I see one comment that could be taken as negative, even an attack (if, well, "be nice" nuff said) but even that wouldn't be much skin off my nose. Hey, if it bothers you, flag it. There was a comment much earlier that was more direct, but it seems to be gone now. Maybe it got flagged, or the person deleted it. Again though "be nice" nuff said.

random_builder (author)2017-01-19

Although knuckle dusters aren't very nice, this one looks pretty good!

2419 (author)2017-01-19

Ain't it crazy? Anybody can carry a "walking" stick, weighted or un-, but not a KB. Go figger! But maybe for my bed-side table, along my LED'd Ruger.

spark master (author)24192017-01-19

uh no it isn't crazy, I make and carry walking sticks, in fact I just got back from a 1 hour high speed walk. My stick will not do what K-bar or KD will do. I do like his piece, but in NY I think that might be a felony.

If you think that your walking stick is less dangerous than brass knuckles, that's your fault for not educating yourself.

JustinM97 (author)24192017-01-19

Not so crazy if you think about it. It comes down to intent, design, and purpose. A walking stick is legitimately not a weapon until and unless used as one and not concealable. Knuckle dusters are designed and intended only as a weapon, and a concealable one at that.

2419 (author)JustinM972017-01-19

Yeah, but you & I both know "knuckle-draggers" who could legitimately claim your creation is just protection for their delicate hands ;)

And we all know that a roll of pennies is just as effective as custom-made brass or wood knucks and are totally legal.

By the way, as a lawyer I can tell you that I know of no state that does NOT outlaw "knucks" so all should be aware they're looking for trouble if they are carried outside your property. To see what your state's laws are just Google "GA (or your state) brass knuckles"

JustinM97 (author)2017-01-19

Just a minor spelling error that's been bugging me ;-) It should be Tung oil of course, I'm sure you know, auto-correct probably "fixed" it for you lol.

Adam Gabbert (author)JustinM972017-01-19

Ahh. Good call. Thanks for looking out.

JustinM97 (author)Adam Gabbert2017-01-19

You're welcome, almost hated to mention it but I'd have wanted it pointed out myself :-)

jayhitek (author)2017-01-19

Love the paper weights. Look great. i'm going to make some and give them out as gifts.

Adam Gabbert (author)2017-01-19

Thanks. I just added them to the instructable, but they were 1", 3/4" and 3/8". I have big paws, and it fits me pretty well.

muadibe (author)2017-01-19

Why not a club, or a club made out of Walnut, with Maple inlay, or a club made out of Walnut, with Maple inlay and a six inch nail knocked through it !!!!!!

cheap survivor2 (author)2017-01-18

Do you think a scroll saw would work

2419 (author)cheap survivor22017-01-19

Naw! No scroll-saw would fit my hand as well as this great little KD ;)

I've only used a scroll saw a couple of times, but I don't see why it wouldn't.

7miles (author)2017-01-19

Look great, Fine work my man. Keep it coming.

Adam Gabbert (author)7miles2017-01-19

Thank you very much!

TODICH SA de CVT (author)2017-01-19



About This Instructable




Bio: I'm a husband, dad, contractor, woodworker, tinkerer and all around busy dude. That said, I put projects out when I can. A weekly basis ... More »
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