Using the video above and the instructions below, you can make your very own wooden tomahawk!
Step 1: Tools and Materials
- Dark Hardwood for the head, 3" wide x 2" or thicker 5" long . I used Brazilian Cherry (Jatoba)
- Lighter hardwood for the handle, 1" square x 12" long. I used Pecan
- Leather to wrap handle
- Needle and Waxed Thread
- Drill Press
- Belt Sander
- Round file
- Heat Gun (Optional)
Step 2: Cut Top Curve
Begin cutting out your shape on the band saw. Only cut the top and front curve for now, you want a flat surface on the bottom to reference during the next step.
Step 3: Cut Off Sides
Turn your blank vertically and draw a profile on the top, then cut off the sides. Make sure to leave enough room to drill out the hole for the handle.
Step 4: Glue Sides Back On
With hot glue, re-attach the side pieces so that you again have a flat bottom and can see your original design to finish cutting out the shape.
Step 5: Cut Out the Rest
Back over on the band saw, finish cutting out the design. Then, using a chisel, pop the sides off and clean off the hot glue.
Step 6: Drill Out the Hole for the Handle
Clamp your cut off from the head in a drill press vice to use as a backer and drill out the hole with a 1" forstner bit. Then, using files, widen the hole at the top of the head so that it has a slight taper toward the bottom.
Step 7: Finish Shaping the Head
Using a belt sander, shape the head to the finished design.
Step 8: Shape the Handle and Fit the Head
Using a spokeshave and sandpaper, shape the handle so that it fits through the head. Taper it so that there is a friction fit.
Traditional tomahawks are made this way so that you can easily replace the handle if it is broken. Since this one is made of wood, you won't be able to wedge the handle in as much without splitting the head, so use superglue or epoxy to attach the head.
Step 9: Strengthen the Head
This step is optional, but recommended. Coat the head with a slow setting epoxy. Use a heat gun and a brush to thin out the epoxy and work it into the wood.
Wipe off the excess epoxy before it starts to set. Once it sets you will still need to sand the head smooth, but if you wipe off the excess first, you will do less sanding.
Step 10: Trim the Handle and Apply Finish
Trim the bit of the handle that is protruding from the top of the head, and sand it smooth. You can leave as much as you'd like, as some traditional tomahawks had a bit of handle exposed.
For a finish, I used spray polyurethane. I applied two or three coats. I used gloss, but you can satin if you prefer that look.
Step 11: Wrap the Handle
This part is also optional, but it adds to the look of the tomahawk.
I wrapped mine with buck skin. I used two different pieces of leather because I already had the fringe laying around. You can do this with one piece of leather, just cut it out longer than you need and cut the fringe into it.
Cut your leather to where it fits around the handle, I like to cut mine about 1/8" short so that the leather will stretch when sewing and make for a nice, tight fit.
Then poke some holes with a scratch awl for sewing.
Apply barge glue to the leather and the handle separately, then wait 15 minutes for the glue to get tacky, then wrap the leather around the handle.
Sew the two ends together. I used artificial sinew for this, but you could use any thick waxed thread for this. (unflavored, waxed dental floss is an inexpensive option for this)
Step 12: You're Done!
Now go have fun, but don't hit anyone with it. That's not nice.