Buried deep within every little boy's heart, is an unexplainable fascination with weapons. No matter how dull the toy or pathetic the object, young boys always finds a way to turn the plain things of this world, into a LEGENDARY WEAPON OF MASS DESTRUCTION!!!!!!!! Maybe my dad and I just never grew up.........
Despite this staff's simple aesthetic, the internal mechanism that extends and contracts the blade is quite complex. Just the wooden switchblade itself took us about a week to perfect and get functioning correctly.
One thing that some of you may have noticed by now is that the handle to this contraption is exceptionally large. And this is because the internal knife mechanism is made out of wood which forced us to make the handle much larger than any metal knife.
It is also worth noting that this was our most complicated build yet. A bunch of the parts for this item had to be made in succession, so if it seems like we're jumping around a lot with the creation of separate segments, it's only because most of the pieces in this project require the dimensions and scale of prior objects to work. So believe us when I say that we're not scatter-brains, this build just required loads of pieces cut within millimeters of each other to work properly. Since there's no doubt that there were faster and more efficient ways for us to build this, we'd love to hear about some of your suggestions down in the comments.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.
Step 1: Tutorials
Since this staff took us so long to make, we had to break it down into two separate videos. Each one dives deeper into the creation process and gives some added details where this instructable may not. Enjoy!
Step 2: Materials
1/4" Sheet Metal
1 Bolt 1/4" X 1" Long
1 Dowel 5/16" X 3"Long
2 Thick 1 1/4"long Springs (Assorted: https://amzn.to/2D48Fv4: Make sure they are thick and strong, this kit may not have the strongest springs.)
Exotic Wood Cutoffs: https://amzn.to/2Tlhwzf
Belt Sander: https://amzn.to/2SQUdNH
Bench Grinder: https://amzn.to/2SQUdNH
Die Grinder: https://amzn.to/2SQUdNH
Metal Detector Wand: https://amzn.to/2WHOV9w
Chisel Set: https://amzn.to/2GfGBb4
Scroll Saw: https://amzn.to/2GfGBb4
Assorted Enamel Paints: https://amzn.to/2GfGBb4
Chop Saw: https://amzn.to/2Ca5xNE
Combination Square: https://amzn.to/2VFLgbJ
Dark Walnut Stain: https://amzn.to/2MY9hXm
Natural Elmers Wood Putty: https://amzn.to/2SGY67r
1 Foot Quick Grip Clamps: https://amzn.to/2VO2W54
Woodburning Kit: https://amzn.to/2LYCJfm
Wood Glue: https://amzn.to/2SJXzSj
Hot Glue Gun: https://amzn.to/2EagdOD
Step 3: Dimensions
YOU MIGHT NOT WANT TO USE THE EXACT DIMENSIONS IN THE ABOVE PICTURES! These were drawn up in the very beginning of our build and we quickly realized that the measurements in these drawings weren't going to work. We had to make many small adjustments to the design throughout the project, so just use these more like a set of guidelines rather than direct blueprints.
Step 4: Making the Double-Action Launcher (Preparation 1)
This piece is probably the most difficult part to make throughout this whole build and requires several intermittent steps to complete. It will be made out of your 3/8" plywood and should be cut to around the same dimensions as your future blade will be. Keep in mind that the length and width of your blade can only be as large as your launcher if you truly want to conceal it. We let the very tip of our blade stick out of the top so that we could have an extra inch of wood to give it a better overall size compared to the staff.
The two square openings on the end will be for your spring. Make sure that the width and depth of these openings are cut just slightly larger than the dimensions of your springs. If they're not, then your springs will have too much room to flex to the left or to the right decreasing their overall elastic output.
That thin groove that goes all the way down the middle of the launcher will be the pathway for your bolt. This just needs to be slightly larger than the width of your bolts so that the blade bolt can move quickly through the path.
One thing that's not in these pictures is a little node on the inside of these squares. These will help with attaching your springs to the launcher with hot glue. See 6:09 of Part One to see what I'm talking about.
Step 5: Making the Metal Flanges
We're not sure if that is the correct term for these, but essentially these are the moving parts that will absorb the majority of the force transferred from the springs to the bolt on the knife blade. We didn't make these out of wood because we felt that they would quickly break after many repetitions of being slammed into the metal bolt.
Once again, the groove in the middle of the flange should be just wide enough for the bolt to slide back and forth. We found that cutting your 1/4" piece of steel with a dye grinder is the easiest way to cut these. We first tried cutting them with a hacksaw but found that the process was not precise enough to give us a clean groove.
Something else to keep in mind is that these flanges should be fairly dense so that more power will be applied to the bolt. Don't choose a metal that is too light otherwise you won't have enough force to launch your blade.
Step 6: Making the Double-Action Launcher (Preparation 2)
After you've got your flanges made, you can then hollow out a space right in front of your spring boxes. These should be to the exact height of your flanges so that when you put your lid on, the flanges won't flex up or down.
Step 7: Blade (Preparation 1)
Since I felt like a kid in a candy store trying to create a legendary weapon, I decided that a legendary stick should get a legendary blade! The blade for our walking stick was made out of Patagonian Rosewood which has a Janka scale rating of 3,840 lbs! That rating puts it in the top 5 toughest woods in the world! Anyways we got this piece in a random cutoff box from Amazon that sells exotic cutoff boxes for around $40 which to me seemed like a steal. Here's the link if you want to check it out: https://amzn.to/2Tlhwzf
At this point, you don't really need your blade to be complete. You just need it cut to a length that is to your liking and is roughly the width of your launcher. In this project, there are a lot of pieces that need to be cut to the size of others, so I hope you aren't getting tired of them yet!
Step 8: Launch Pad Construction
The launching pad for your blade needs to be made out of smooth wood. Nothing fancy, just smooth enough so that the blade can move back and forth with a very small amount of friction. We made ours out of a 1/8" piece of Dark Walnut.
Make sure that the width of this pad has at least 3/8" of space on each side of the blade. You'll need this space for when you install your runners to guide the blade smoothly.
Step 9: Runner Creation
For our runners, we merely cut 8 strips of maple to the size of the space left over from our launch pad. Your first four runners you'll want to glue down right next to where your blade sits. Leave only about 1/32" of space between your bottom runners and your blade. There just needs to be enough of a gap on both sides of the blade so that it can go back and forth in a straight line.
After your bottom layer of runners is dry, you can then clamp and glue your second set of runners 1/8" for your launcher onto the bottom rails. And just like when you glued your bottom rails right next to your blade, you will do the same with the top, just with the launcher this time. These will be a little bit skinnier than your bottom rails as there needs to be space on top of your bottom rails for the launcher to move on.
Step 10: Prepping the Staff
It is around this time that you'll want to cut the boards for your staff to size and glue them together. We used 4 separate pieces of Hemlock barn-wood for ours. And actually, you'll want to compose your staff out of multiple boards rather than just one. The reason for this is because you have to make a compartment for your knife to rest in. So what we did is took about 2' off of the top of our middle two boards so that later on, we could create a socket for the knife.
Once you've got all of your pieces cut to size, glue all of the boards together except for the 2 smaller pieces that you cut off. These you'll want to save for later.
Step 11: Making the Double-Action Launcher (Preparation 3)
The last couple of steps for assembling your launcher is making the angled cuts on the sides. Making these angled cuts are extremely important as they are needed for the movement of your wooden locks that we will be making later on. These angled cuts are to be made in between the gaps of your rail runners (See 6:02 of Part 1 for Placement and :55 of Part 2 for function/operation).
The area where the angle begins to change direction should be right in line with the edge of your runners. The degree and location of these angled cuts are very dependent on the location of your wooden locks and blade, so be ready to make a ton of fine tuning adjustments.
Step 12: Blade (Preparation 2)
After you've got your angled cuts finished on your launcher, go back and grab your blade. You'll then want to screw a bolt into the back of it. Make sure that it's very tight in its hole otherwise it might come loose over time. If your bolt doesn't come even with the top of your launcher, you can just cut the top off as we did in ours.
Now that the bolt is in place, set your blade on your launch pad under your launcher, and then mark on your blade where the angles start to change direction on both sides. These marks will then receive notches counteracting your wooden locks which we are finally getting too.....
Step 13: Making the Wooden Locks
When I said earlier that making the launcher was the hardest part of this project, I was being truthful. For some, however, making the locks could be tougher. Even though they are relatively simple thin pieces of wood, their exact placement has to be perfect.
The length of these pieces should extend from where you glue the back of it to the side rails, all the way to the turning point of the angled cuts. Watching :55 of Part 2 might help you understand how these work.
One other thing we did to these pieces that seemed to help their movement, was sanding the ends that would be in contact with the launcher and blade. This helps reduce any drag from the bottom of the launch pad when the locks want to move.
We found that gluing the locks down is a good way of securing them to your pad. Be warned though, obviously, you have to wait for the glue to dry. So if you happen to be off by just a fraction of an inch, you will have to rip them off and start over.
Step 14: Making the Double-Action Launcher (Preparation 4)
At this point in the project, you can now insert your metal glides and glue your metal springs to their proper locations with hot glue.
One added feature that you may or may not require are some very thin lids for your metal flanges. We found that ours kept wanting to pop up every time we went to cock back the launcher. These just helped in keeping our metal flanges flying straight.
If we just left this knife as is, we would just need a very small lever to pull our launcher back. But since this thing is going to be inside a staff, we had to add a small dowel into the side of the launcher that would at least stick out around 1 1/2" so that we could actually pull it with our fingers.
Step 15: Creating the Blade Compartment
At this point, your knife portion should be complete and you are free to move on and start constructing the storage area for your knife. To construct this area, simply layout your knife on the two smaller pieces that you chopped off your middle boards earlier. Then router out the selected section on both boards. This can be a little time consuming, but just take your time and be patient.
You also can start on cutting out some of the shapes of your handle on the bandsaw and oscillating sander. You can save this for later, but it's really up to you.
We just used screws to attach these two pieces together so that we could come back in and repair the mechanism whenever we need to. We also used screws to secure the compartment back onto the staff.
Step 16: Shaping Your Staff
This part is fairly easy. Simply draw out the designs for your staff on the glued boards. And then cut them out on a bandsaw.
Then you can finely sand to these lines until you get your desired shape.
Step 17: Detailing
Doing your detailing can always seem tedious, but in our opinion, don't ever skimp on it! If you're going to put hours and hours and hours of work into a project, take the time to make it look good so you can show it off to your grandkids one day!