This Instructable shows how to make a wooden dagger for use as a toy or a prop and is being entered in the Halloween Props and 3rd Annual Make It Stick Contests. Don't forget to vote! Even if it's not for me. :(
I took my small family to a Renaissance Fair recently and while there I bought my young son a small wooden sword. It was very simple, but it's still cool and I was all too willing to support the people and their craft (especially considering it was very inexpensive). Even though I bought one there I decided I had to try and make one myself as well. There's no such thing as too many toy swords, am I right?
This project took a lot of elbow grease because I used a very hard wood, but it's actually very simple.
Let's get started!
Step 1: Supplies
The supplies are very simple:
-Wood: You can use a variety of different things. I used a slat from a pallet, but you can use anything from a good branch to wood from the hardware store.
-Leather: You can use real or fake leather or you could use some sort of cord.
-Glue: Use any glue you want.
The tools are also very simple:
-Saw: I used a coping saw because it's good for manuevering around corners but any saw will do.
-Rasp and Files: Whatever size, shape, and type that you feel comfortable with.
-Sandpaper: Various grits.
Step 2: Design
I drew a basic design on some carboard to figure out how I wanted it to look and then traced it onto the wood. My design was almost too wide for the slat I was using but thankfully it fit.
You could just draw it straight onto the wood, but I like to play around with the design and make sure I get it right before commiting it to the wood.
My initial design was fairly simple and straightforward, but have fun with it. Do whatever your tools and the wood will allow you to do.
Step 3: Cut It Out!
Grab your saw and go for it.
Try to get it as close to your design as possible because it will save you time later when your refining your shape, but if it's not exact that's okay too. Just go with whatever happens.
For instance, I got a little crazy with my coping saw and accidentally cut a big notch into the middle of my blade. To fix this and keep my original design I would have had to bring the sides in further and it would have ended up a lot shorter, so instead I just went with it and updated my design. I have my pattern so I can still do that one later if I want to (another plus side to making a pattern).
Once you have your basic shape cut out it's time to refine it.
Step 4: Refining Your Shape
Grab your rasp and/or files and start shaping your dagger. Don't worry about trying to get it perfectly smooth at first, just work on getting the shape right. Remember to go with the grain of the wood though, not against it. It might not remove wood as quickly that way but it also avoids deep gouges that will be hard to remove later.
On mine I had several things to work on. My pommel wasn't very symmetrical so I had to work on getting that to look more like the octagon I had designed it to be. I also wanted the handle to be more round so I had to remove a lot of that wood.
The most labor intensive part of this was the blade. My original design had a place for a crossguard which would have created a separation between the handle and the blade. With the new design I didn't have that separation so I had to create one. I started by taking a round file and filing a line all the way around the dagger. Then I took my rasp and shaved the blade side of the line down so it was thinner than the handle. It's not much thinner than the handle, but it's enough of a difference to give it the look of a blade. Then I gave the blade a bevelled edge.
Step 5: Sanding
Once you're comfortable with the look and feel of your dagger grab some sandpaper and start sanding. The best way is to get several different types of sandpaper, start with the lowest grit (the roughest) and work up to the highest (the smoothest). The sandpaper I had was 60, 100, and 150. Go over the whole thing as thoroughly as possible with each grit before moving onto the next.
Step 6: Finishing
This is the part where you really make it your own. You can paint it to look like a flame blade, glue jewels on it, or etch designs and runes into it. You can do whatever you want!
I decided to go with a simple finish. Boring I know. I liked the way it looked and didn't want to paint it, but I did want to do something with the handle. I had a length of faux leather around that happened to be just the right size.
To secure the grip I used Mod Podge. Probably not the best glue for this application but it's what I had around and it seems to have worked well. I've noticed it seems to dry rather quickly so to insure I had enough time to get it wrapped correctly I spread the glue on the handle as I wrapped the faux leather around it. Once it was wrapped I tucked the end under and painted the leather with the glue to make sure it was sealed.
Now my son and I can have epic battles with our swords! That is until he takes mine away because he wants to take a turn sword fighting with Mama. I really need to make another one of these...