Introduction: Wooden Knuckle Dusters

About: 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 is a dream that one day I hope to attain. I love making things, buildin…

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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

Homemade Gifts Contest 2016

Runner Up in the
Homemade Gifts Contest 2016

Epilog Contest 8

Participated in the
Epilog Contest 8