Introduction: Build an Antler Knife From Epoxy
If yah wanna have yer own antler handle frontiersman's knife without shellin' out the hefty $30 for it, then yer in luck, 'cause we're gonna make one outta supermarket epoxy!
This rough and ready guide'll show yah how to build not just the knife, but a nice leather sheath for it too. Total cost? Maybe $5. Ready to build? Let's go!
Step 1: Assemble the Goods
You'll need the following raw materials to make both the knife and the sheath:
1 x Crummy old knife
1 x Packet of epoxy clay (any brand should do)
1 x Rusty nail (rusty means it's lucky)
1 x Section of not-too-flimsy twine
1 x Tube of superglue
1 x Spraycan of clear matte fixative
* White, brown and black acrylic paint with one mid-sized brush
You'll need the following raw materials for the leather sheath:
1 x Not-so-crummy leather or leatherette sheet
1 x Leather sewing kit and thread
1 x Clear plastic strip
1 x Bottle of contact cement (sniff, sniff!)
1 x Tube of superglue
* Wood and glass beads
* Brass rivets and rings for décor
* Turkey feathers and horsehair (your grandpa's old wig should do) for décor
* Hammer, scissors and drill
* The spirit and craftiness of a mountain man
Step 2: Prepare Yer Knife
Our first step's to drill a nice clean hole through the butt-end of yer knife. This is to thread a lanyard through it - a must for the safety-conscious cowboy!
To make the butt-end of yer knife curve up or down like an antler point, carefully drive an old nail into it at an angle. Make sure it's tightly-hammered in. Should be good enough to crack ice with!
Step 3: Form the Antler Point
For this step, we'll use epoxy clay, which is kneaded for a few seconds and applied like regular clay. It hardens in under three minutes, so ye'll have to work a bit fast to get the shape right. Moisten yer fingers and wear gloves if yah wanna keep those pesky fingerprint marks to a minimum!
Let the tip dry for about an hour before proceeding to the next step.
Step 4: Flesh Out the Handle
Using the remaining epoxy clay, flesh out the rest of the handle.
This shouldn't take too long as epoxy clay is pretty easy to work with. Pay particular attention to the grooves and ridges of real antlers. Use antler pictures from the web as a guide.
When the entire handle is covered, etch both deep and shallow lines usin' a knife or any other tool. Remember that the more details you add now, the better the knife'll look once finished. Once yer satisfied, leave the knife to cure overnight.
Step 5: The Devil's in the Details
Real antlers have knobs, ridges, cracks and such.
Fortunately, these can all be crafted quite easily using epoxy clay and basic scribing tools. Try beadin' a few knobs and sealin' 'em with a layer of super glue, to set 'em properly and ensure they'll be solidly attached to the hilt.
Spend as much time as yah want here but ensure yer additions are solidly integrated. Ye'll want yer knife to be as rugged and long-lastin' as possible. Leave the superglue to dry and cure overnight.
Step 6: Prime and Paint
Now comes the fun part, painting!
Carefully cover the blade with tape and prime yer knife with matte white acrylic paint. Let it dry for two hours. Primin' is important to see the irregularities in yer sculpting, which yah can fix with fine-grit sandpaper or scribin' tools. Patience and attention-to-detail is crucial to makin' quality crafts.
After, apply successive washes usin' darker and darker shades of brown, ending with near-black. The base of the 'antler' should be darker, while the tip should be lighter. Dab excess paint with an old rag and repeat the process as many times as yah want.
When yer satisfied, spray the entire handle with three coats of clear matte fixative. You can also use varnish, but it yellows with age. The more coats yah apply, the sturdier yer build'll be. Let it dry overnight.
Step 7: Finish Yer Knife
Yer knife's nearly finished! All that's needed is to add a safety lanyard using not-too-flimsy twine! Knot it using a double-fisherman's knot . . . . and yer done!
Next up, a nice ole' sheath to store and display yer blade!
Step 8: Spine for Yer Sheath
To protect yer blade against moisture - and to protect everyone from yer blade - let's make a secure plastic spine for yer sheath. This can easily be made from discarded plastic sheetin' from toy boxes.
Simply fold the plastic sheath tightly 'round the blade and hammer it to shape. A snug fit's best. Trim it down with scissors and secure it with scotchtape.
Step 9: Enter Leather
Now wrap yer leather or leatherette hide tightly 'round the plastic sheath, gluin' it in place with contact cement. Leave it to dry for an hour before proceedin'.
Step 10: Trimmin' Time
Trim down the excess leather with a pair of scissors. Leave a generous amount of leather below the knife's blade. These'll make for good fringes later on.
Step 11: Rivetin' Ideas
Punch a few holes where the two leather or leatherette ends overlap and secure 'em with brass rivets. Maybe not as strong as stitchin', but pretty cool-lookin'.
Step 12: Puttin' Spurs to Good Use
Use a leather rowel or metal roller to etch small holes near the edges of yer sheath. These are mighty useful in helpin' yah make even stitches for the next step.
Step 13: Stitch 'em Up!
Use sinew or beeswax thread to stitch the two leather or leatherette ends tightly. I wasn't so good at stitchin' so the sheath looks as rugged as a trail-weary cowboy!
Step 14: Fringe Benefits
Next comes the detailin' and to start things off, we'll turn the remaining leather or leatherette flap into a western fringe. Yah can do this by carefully cuttin' it with razor-sharp scissors. Cut the edges diagonally facin' backwards to make yer sheath look sleek.
Step 15: Embellish!
The best part of any build is to add the finishin' touches that make it come alive.
Here we've added some glass and wood beads, an old Victorian-era coin, some turkey feathers and even horsehair scrounged from an old black wig. Feel free to embellish yer knife as much as yeh want. It'll add good 'medicine' to yer weapon.
Step 16: Finish Line!
Congratulations partner! Ye've just learned to make yer own antler handled frontier knife.
I've made quite a few knives and it keeps on gettin' more and more fun each time.
For more American frontier and native American builds, stop by White Wolf Weapons & Crafts. Happy buildin' and enjoy the outdoors!
Step 17: Little Keepsakes
These ole' knives are perfect for adornin' yer home and damned useful in the kitchen.