Introduction: Pimp Out a Machete- Warhammer 40K Style

About: Tall nerd, degree in manufacturing tech. I dabble in everything. Many of my projects in here are pretty old. These days I mainly do 3d printing and run startups- ask me anything!
My friend is heavily into Warhammer 40K lore and culture. He likes sharp things. He likes the Blood Angels. 
All of this resulted in a mad 5-hour modification of this machete. He loved it. 

Don't know what 40k is?-,000
Don't know what the Blood Angels are?-

Here's how you can make your own- I encourage you to make one themed after something else, the possibilities are endless (although here are a few ideas to get you started)
-Assassin's creed knives
-Batman Villains
-A historical group you are fond of
-For whatever interesting designs you can come up with! 

Warning- the methods I use here are not up to my personal standards of perfection! Read the steps before you build it so you don't repeat my mistakes!

Step 1: Design!

This project involved a lot of design. When designing something, take stock of all your available materials, skills, and tools, as well as what you want out of the final product.

What I wanted from the final product
-Incorporates common Blood Angels colors like red and gold
-Looked menacing, no little pointy knives, this thing has to look like a weapon with a capitol W.
-Physically tough, I don't want it breaking from normal showing off
-Incorporate something that would be really unique to my friend

Here's what I came up with, and the explanations behind it
-Use a non-standard machete-for a more unique look
-Paint half the blade gold, and use a machete with red in the handle
-Incorporate some red paracord into the blade, for a unique accent, and to add more color.
-Use the tools I had access to in my shop class to punch my friend's birthdate into a dog-tag, and attach it to the handle, for the unique touch.
-Drill holes in the blade for a cool visual affect
-Write Blood Angels relevant slogans on the blade, in Latin, which is the proper language according to 40k lore, as well as do the birthdate in Roman Numerals, for added effect
-Incorporate the blood angels logo onto the blade- in red, of course.

Remember, you can design a blade around anything, let your imagination go wild! 

Step 2: Materials and Tools

Your materials will vary depending on what kind of blade you want to make, but here's what I used:
-Machete, made by Black Widow tools, comes with a sheath, 20$ at the local army surplus store
-Red paracord, 6$ at the same place
-Metallic Gold spraypaint
-Matte acrylic spray sealer
-Spraypaint primer (use it, I didn't!)
-blank dogtag, 1$ or so at the army surplus place

-power drill, various bits and a countersink
-masking tape
-cigarette lighter
-cutting oil (use it, I didn't!)
-screwdriver and pliers
-razor knife
-ruler and marker

Step 3: Preparation- Sanding and De-branding

This is a cool machete, but it needs the brand name taken off the sheath, and the black coating taken off the blade so it will take paint better. 

I took the craft knife and cut the label off the sheath, and used a lighter to seal off the loose nylon threads so they wouldn't run.

For the blade, I used 120 grit sandpaper to sand it off. It came off fairly easily. I took the handle off and sanded all the way down past where it meets the blade, so the whole blade would be sanded, and I wouldn't scratch the handle with the paper. 

Step 4: Marking and Drilling

For the holes, I marked them 1 inch apart and 1/4 inch from the back of the blade.

I had originally intended to drill all the holes clean through, but instead was only able to drill 7, and had to drill little dimples for the remaining ones. I countersunk the holes, and cleaned up the edge burrs with sandpaper.

The metal that machetes are made from is very hard, most likely some kind of carbon steel. Because it is so hard, drill bits do not like it. Over the course of drilling those 7 puny holes, I wore out three drill bits. When you drill your machete, use a high-speed cutting oil on your drill bits, use a drill bit that is designed for that specific metal, and go slow, stopping occasionally to let your bit cool. If you see the oil smoking, stop let it cool down. Drill bits are expensive! Also, it would be a good idea to drill a smaller pilot hole before you drill to the intended diameter, to ease stress on the drill bit. Also, if you have access to a drill press, use it, they make everything so much easier. 

Step 5: Painting Episode 1

Now that everything is drilled, it's time to paint.
Grab the masking tape and mask off what you don't want painted. I chose to paint the rear of the blade, the part with holes in it. 
Make sure the tape is stuck on tightly- it helps to flatten it with an edge, like that on a credit card. 
When you paint, shake the can for 30 seconds before you paint, and a few times during the actual painting. Well mixed paint just looks better, there's no question. ALWAYS PAINT OUTSIDE! Spraypaint is very toxic, and you need good ventilation. When you paint, hold the can about 16 inches away and don't concentrate on one area too much, get paint on the whole piece evenly. It produces a much better finish if you do multiple light coats rather than one heavy one. I did three light coats on this blade, and allowed a good ten minutes of drying time in hot sun between coats. The finish looks great!

Once the paint has dried fully, carefully peel the masking tape off and see how you did. 

LEARN FROM MY MISTAKES!- Use Primer! For all that you hold holy, use primer! Specifically, one rated for the surface you are painting, in this case one for finished metal. Primer makes paint stick better, last longer, and look better. Nearly all paint is designed to be used with a matching primer, so it makes sense to use primer for best results. I did not use primer, and my paint came off really easily later on when I put masking tape over it. 

Also, clean the surface! When it comes to painting metals, this is very important. Metals have all kinds of oils and chemical oxides on them that can affect how your paint sticks. Use a strong solvent to clean the metal, and sand it thoroughly. Another option is to run a flame over the surface of the metal lightly to burn off any surface oils, but you must prevent the metal from getting too hot or it will weaken it. Always handle cleaned metals with rubber gloves before you paint, because the natural oils on your hands can also damage the finish. 

Step 6: Painting Episode 2

After the gold paint came the Blood Angels insignia and the slogans on the blade.

The logo was pretty simple, so I just free handed it on some tape where I wanted it, then cut it out with a craft knife. Then, I painted it in with a few coats of acrylic art paint and let it dry. Then I carefully peeled off the tape to reveal the insignia. 

For the sayings on the blade, I free hand painted them with black acrylic craft paint. On one side it says "For the Emperor!" and on the other it says "In the spirit of Sanguinius." Both are written in Latin, and mean important things to warhammer 40k geeks.

LEARN FROM MY MISTAKES!  Don't mix paint types! I used acrylic over spray paint. Spray paint is an oil-based paint, so it doesn't bond well with cheap latex-based acrylic at all. For full coverage with the acrylic I had to use a lot of coats, which made it really thick, and caused it to stick to the tape stencil around it, which made it very difficult to get the stencil off without damaging the design. If you put stenciled images on the blade, use the same kind of paint as you did on the blade! Also, avoid brush painting logs where possible, spray pained stencils look MUCH cleaner. Another major mistake I made was to try to dry the acrylic faster with heat. I held a lighter flame near it for a few seconds to dry it faster, and I feel that this may have contributed to the peeling of the gold paint around the logo. It also failed to dry it any faster. 

Step 7: Sealing

To prevent the paint from getting scratched, I applied clear matte sealer to the blade. I only applied sealer to the parts that I had painted, leaving the blades edge and whatever was under the handle masked off. I used two light coats of sealer. The sealer actually made the colors stand out a little more. Make sure that all your writings haven't been damaged, and if they are, fix them before you seal them, it's permanent! I had to fix a few letters where they had rubbed off before I sealed it. Acrylic paint does not like to stick to bare metal! 

Once the blade is all sealed, take off the masking tape and put the handle back on. 

Step 8: Finishing

Next, I weaved the paracord through the holes on the back of the blade, and through the loops to make an interesting design. I then tied it off and cut it. The loose ends of the paracord I melted with a lighter to keep them from coming apart. Careful, hot nylon is HOT.

Finally, I attached the dogtag to the handle with more paracord and a keyring. 


This project could have used a lot more attention to the hole drilling and the quality of the paint job- Don't make the same mistakes I did!

The final product is more decorative than practical, because the paint will scratch off pretty easily if the machete is used for any real cutting. 

I hope you enjoyed this Instructable, and if you make an awesome machete like this, post a picture, and I will reward you! 
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