This is going to be entered in the knives and blades contest, please remember to vote if you like it!
Before we begin, I'd like to include a little bit of history on the karambit. The karambit, originally called kerambit, was first used as a farming tool in southeast Asia, specifically Indonesia. It was used similarly to how a sickle is used, to cut thick bundles of crop or to cut troughs for planting rice. Sometime after this, the karambit became weaponized. Inspired by the claws of jungle cats, the curve in the blade was made more pronounced to maximize its cutting potential. Primarily used as a concealed weapon, the blade was very small compared to the karambit we see today. I once heard that the motto of traditional karambit practitioners is "the karambit should be felt, but not seen". The idea of the small blade is to keep the fact that you have a weapon completely hidden from your enemy until you strike. Later on, as the karambit became westernized, the size of the blade grew to be an average of around 4 inches.
Anyhow, this style of blade has recently become very popular, but its design is notorious for harming the user. For that reason, many people will use training blades to practice with until they are good enough to use the real deal. Today, I will be showing you all how to make a wooden training karambit.
Step 1: Materials and Tools
Here is what I used to make my karambit:
*A basic design on paper
*1/4" - 3/16" thick piece of wood big enough to fit the outline of your blade. I used bocote wood
*Two 1/4" thick pieces of wood for the handle of the blade. I used cocobolo
*1/4" Brass round stock for the handle pins
*Some wood files/rasps
*A cutout saw
*A hammer and a hard surface for peening the pins
*1/4" drill bit
*Very large drill bit
Step 2: Design
First, I went online and find a karambit that I liked. Pay specific attention to its shape, not its aesthetics, because that will be the only thing that we will get from the picture. Resize the picture if needed (the blade should be around 8" from the ring to the tip, with an ~4" handle) and print it off. Cut out the design, and make sure it fits your hand. Get out the piece of wood you want to use, and tape the cutout onto it. Then, carefully trace the design onto the wood.
Step 3: Cutting Out the Blade
I first clamp the wood to a table, then use a jigsaw to cut out the shape as closely as I can. Ignore the index ring for now. After the rough shape is cut out, I highlight any extra material I want to take of with a sharpie. I clamp it to the table again, and use a half round wood file to take off the remainder of the material.
Step 4: Bevels and Ring
Now I draw in where I want my bevel lines and the index ring. For the index ring, I start by drilling through the wood with my largest drill bit. Then, using a cutout saw, I widen the hole so it will fit my finger. At this point the edges can be sharp and jagged, so I further refine and round the inside and outside of the ring with a round file and sandpaper.
For the bevels, I used a belt sander. The convex edge was simple, just sand up to the sharpie line and about halfway in on both sides. The convex edge was a little harder to figure out, I ended up sanding it on the top drum of my belt sander. Because this is a practice knife, you don't want to grind the edges in paper thin, you should leave approximately the thickness of a dime on each edge so that you don't end up hurting yourself when using it.
After the bevels were in, I sanded the entire blade up to 320 grit for a smooth finish. Make sure to test the fit at this point. It should be easy and comfortable to hold, and the index ring shouldn't constrict your finger. In order to be properly used, the blade will have to be able to be spun around your index finger.
Step 5: Fit and Finish
For the handle, I cut two ~1/4" thick scales of cocobolo. They are big enough to fully cover the area where the handle will be.
I then mark and drill three 1/4" holes in the blade for the pins. Now I have to transfer these holes over to the scales. This can be a little tricky to get perfect, but I have a pretty good method worked out. Lay a scale down on some scrap drilling wood, and then lay the blade down on top of it. Line the holes in the blade up with where you want the holes in the scale to be. Using two clamps, clamp one over the middle hole and one over the right hole. Drill through the left hole previously made in the blade all the way through the scale. Unclamp the right clamp and put it over the left hole you just drilled. Now drill the right hole. unclamp the middle clamp and put it over the right hole you just drilled. Now drill the center hole. Unclamp all the clamps, remove the scale, and flip the blade over. Repeat these steps for the other scale. When you are done, you should have three holes in each scale that perfectly line up with the holes in the blade.
Cut three 1/4" pins from a preferably nonferrous metal of your choice (I used brass). They should be long enough to go through both scales and the blade and a have a little extra length on top of that. Push the pins through the blade and one of the scales. Trace the outline of the blade onto the scale and cut along that line with a cutout saw. Then use a belt sander and sand right up to the line. Then push the pins through both scales (without the blade in between them) and sand the other scale so it is symmetrical to the first. Put all the pins and scales on the blade to test its fit. If it is good, you're ready to glue.
To glue the scales on, coat both of the insides of them with wood glue. Push them onto the blade and fit the pins in. take the blade over to an anvil and gently tap the pins with a hammer. This is called peening, it will widen the tops of the pins and keep the scales secure for years to come, long after the glue cracks and fails. After peening, clamp the scales together and wipe off excess glue.
I leave the glue to dry for a couple hours, then I come back out and unclamp the blade. Using a belt sander, I sand all the edges of the scales flush with the blade. Next, I add some contours for grip and comfort using the drum on the sander. After this, I sand the entire handle up to 320 grit. All that's left to do is give the entire blade and handle a light coat of mineral oil to bring out the grain and protect the wood.
Step 6: Finished
Well, I think it came out pretty well. :D
Even if you don't have any need for a training karambit, this would still be a great project for someone trying to get into knife making, or for someone trying to hone their handle making skills. I did this entire blade in a single day, so it's a fairly quick build too.
Anyhoo, let me know what you all think! I love reading the comments and hearing your opinions and suggestions.
For future instructables, the jewelry contest got pushed back, so I am going to wait a little bit to release my mokume gane instructable. :(
I am also hard at work trying to get my naginata blade done soon. It's coming along very well, hopefully I'll have the instructable out for it before January ends. Let me know what else you'd like to see me do, and don't forget to vote!
Thanks for the read! :)
Runner Up in the
Knives and Blades Challenge