I like my meat a little on the tender side. But I don't have a meat tenderizer. It always seemed like an unnecessarily bulky kitchen tool that I'd rarely use. The shape of a regular meat tenderizer (the one that is basically a modded hammer) is perfectly shaped to get stuck in drawers, and it's not useful enough to earn a spot on the countertop. And I so rarely cook meats that require tenderizing.
To bludgeon my beef, I generally just ball up my fist and punch. Repeat till tender. I'll maybe hum "The Rye or the Kaiser" under my breath while doing so, and my meats are usually sufficiently softened as a result. This was all fine until I discovered the ultimate in faux-badass kitchen accessories. The Knuckle Pounder Meat Tenderizer!
Ever since I saw that little gem, I knew that I had to have one. But I wanted the option of using the brass knuckles again for another project or perhaps a good old-fashioned street rumble. Welding was out because A: It's permanent, B: I don't know how, and C: this project is too ridiculous to learn a new skill that requires specialized equipment.
Luckily, the dollar store sells this wooden meat tenderizer that might as well just be a beef massager. (I suspect that's what they use when Kobe cows* get their luxurious and sensual massages.) With some zip ties, a drill, a handsaw, and a lot of patience, I was able to put together a brass knuckle meat tenderizer that is both less practical and more expensive than the one I saw online.
*Right? It's not technically Kobe beef until they get butchered. Or until they start a fight with a Los Angeles Laker.
Step 1: Supplies
- C clamp (also called a pony clamp or "that adjustable metal thing that goes over the side of the workbench and sticks stuff to it")
- zip ties
- wooden meat tenderizer
- brass knuckles
- a tough steak (optional)
Everything on here is pretty easy to find. Except the brass knuckles. They're illegal in some states. Including this one. California Penal Code section 12020 states that possession is at least a misdemeanor and possibly a felony (it apparently depends on what they're made of - metal is a possible felony, composite or wood is a misdemeanor.) Other states have other rules, so check before you order a "belt buckle" off of Amazon or visit the local flea market and buy yours out of some shady dude's trunk. If you're on parole, don't do this project.
I found mine at a little shop in Chinatown. I asked if they carried anything similar to brass knuckles, and the woman at the counter pulled some from a hidden cabinet. I decided against the ones with spikes on the front and knives sticking out the ends because they seemed impractical for this purpose. We haggled over the price and I got her to lower the price by a third. I then proceeded to pay. And she charged me sales tax.
Step 2: Behead & Bisect
That wooden meat tenderizer is not in the shape we want. So cut off the handle as close as you can to the square head.
Then carefully cut the square head in half. Use your pony clamps to ensure that you don't accidentally remove a digit. If you lose a finger, the brass knuckles won't fit properly.
You'll be left with two meat-tenderizing chunks of wood that you can attach to your brass knuckles.
Step 3: Cut a Channel
In this step, you'll be cutting a channel into the meat tenderizer. This was my least favorite part of the process, so if you've got the power tools on hand for this... you win.
Start by centering your brass knuckles on the meat tenderizer. Draw a line along each side of the brass knuckles in pencil. You'll want to cut along the inside of the drawn lines to ensure a snug fit. You can take more wood off later. Adding epoxy or wood filler will just ruin your Sharks v. Jets fantasy by making the brass knuckles impossible to remove.
Measure the depth of the brass knuckles. The top part. The part that will make first contact with whatever is being punched. It'll probably only be a few millimeters. A fraction of an inch. Mark the depth along the side of the meat tenderizer. This will mark the depth of the channel you'll cut.
Now start cutting. I did mine by hand, which I don't recommend.
Start by clamping the meat tenderizer to your bench. Score along the inside of the lines along the bottom of the meat tenderizer (the part opposite the teeth) with a razor blade. Be careful. These will help guide you as you saw.
Now saw. Try to keep your blade level so you don't cut below the depth mark you made earlier. Cut several parallel channels to the depth you marked. This will make it a lot easier to chisel the rest of the wood out of your channel.
Now chisel. Sand. Get the rest of the wood out. Use a Dremel. (If you don't have a good set of sharp chisels, use a screwdriver and a hammer.)
Step 4: Drill Baby Drill
Now we're going to drill out the holes for the cable ties.
This part is pretty easy, particularly if you have a drill press. If not, it's somewhat easy if you have a drill with a built-in level. If you have neither a drill press nor a drill with a level, you'll just have to do a good job of keeping your drill straight. Good luck.
Measure from the top and sides of the meat tenderizer to mark your two drill holes. Using an awl (or anything sharp, really), poke a hole so your drill bit has somewhere to sit.
Set up your C clamps again, this time with another piece of wood beneath the meat tenderizer to prevent punching holes in your work surface. Make sure you're drilling straight down, then drill through.
(You can still do this step without another piece of wood; just wrap a little bit of tape around the drill bit where you want it to stop going into the meat tenderizer. This can be hit or miss. After a few lazy drill sessions, my workbench looks like it had terrible acne as a teenager.)
Step 5: Zip Ties & Finish
We're almost done. In fact, you can probably figure this part out for yourself.
Put the zip ties through the meat tenderizer. Fasten them. Tighten them. Clip them. And you're done.
Time to beat some meat.