The Stick Handled Athame
I make and sell some really, really nice athames, but it’s labor intensive work so they end up being expensive. It’s nice to have fine tools, but you don’t really need them - you could easily use a kitchen knife as an athame… but I’m thinking that a lot of people would enjoy making an athame for themselves.
I think I’ve figured out a way that almost anybody can make a nice athame quickly and easily, with very few special tools. I call this the Stick Handled Athame because… well… it uses a stick for a handle. You should be able to make one of these for around $30 - 40, even if you have to buy most of the tools. If you follow my instructions, here’s what you’ll end up with:
You will need a few tools and supplies. Here’s what you’ll need (from left to right):
A. A knife blade. The one I’m using is about 6 inches long. You can use a larger one if you like. I suggest that you get your blade from Atlanta Cutlery - they have good blades at excellent prices. Here’s a link: http://www.atlantacutlery.com/c-90-k...-supplies.aspx . They call this one a boot dagger blade, and it costs $13.
B. A stick. Ideally you’ll cut a sapling, let it dry in the basement for a year, then use it. Less than ideally you will find a fallen branch and use that. The problem with the branch is that by the time it drops from the tree it has already begun to deteriorate and is more likely to split when you are working with it. If you do use a fallen branch, I recommend that you do the “optional” step of wire wrapping the end - this will keep the wood from breaking later on while you are using it. Or, you could carve out a chunk of wood.
C. Some kind of metal for the guard. I recommend either copper or brass because they are easy to work with. I also suggest that you use 14 or 16 gauge metal (the gauge refers to the thickness) because that would be heavy enough to be substantial, but not so heavy that you’ll have trouble working with it. Your best price for copper or brass will come when you buy a 12” x 12” sheet from a jewelry supply company, like
Contenti (http://www.contenti.com/products/metals/560-123.html), but if you are only making one, you might want to get your small piece of metal from onlinemetals.com (http://www.onlinemetals.com/merchant...253&top_cat=87).
D. A set of files. The set I have pictured comes from Home Depot, and cost about $12. It has every thing you’ll need. It even comes with file handles!
E. Copper or brass wire. I suggest 18 or 20 gauge. You can get a spool of this from most hardware stores (like Ace) for around $5. This is optional, by the way, but I think it’s a nice touch.
F. Sandpaper. Get a variety pack of wet/dry sandpaper. This will work on both metal and wood.
G. Miscellaneous stuff - masking tape, pencil, two part epoxy glue, flat sticks, ruler, hack saw and hack saw blades, wood saw, a bunch of heavy rubber bands, a center punch, hammer, assorted drill bits and a drill.
---------- Post added at 09:18 PM ---------- Previous post was at 09:07 PM ----------
Here’s What You Gotta Do:
1. Saw your stick to the correct length. Using a wood saw (I’m using a coping saw because it was still lying around from the bone thing), cut off one end of the stick cleanly, use your fist to measure the length, and cut off the other end. Make it a bit bigger than your fist - it’ll be more comfortable to hold.
2. Drill a hole in the stick for the tang to go into. The “tang” is the part of the blade that holds it in the handle - you’ll need a drill bit that is about the same width as the tang of the blade closest to the blade. For the blade I’m using, a half inch drill is just right.
Now there’s a problem with this step. If you push a drill through the end of a stick, the drill exerts pressure outward, which will cause the stick to split, unless you can exert pressure inward to counteract the outer pressure.
For this purpose, I will use the wonder product known as “masking tape.” If your stick has bark on it, and you want to keep the bark, wrap a piece of paper tightly around the stick, and wrap several thick layers of masking tape around each end of the stick, and around the middle. See the red arrows in the following picture:
If you happen to have a vice, you can clamp the stick in a vice for drilling (notice that I’ve wrapped the stick in thick paper toweling to keep the vice’ jaws from chewing it up). If you don’t have a vice, somebody will have to hold the stick for you while you drill it.
Although I need to drill a half inch hole to fit the tang, I’m going to two-step it by drilling a hole with a smaller drill bit, then drill it out again with the half inch drill. This is another precaution to keep it from splitting.
3. Cut the tang to fit. Slide the tang into the hole in the stick you just drilled (you can take the paper and masking tape off). It most likely won’t go in all the way because the hole won’t be deep enough. You’ll have to cut a chunk off the tang to get it to fit right. For that, use a hack saw with a brand new, never been use blade - hardened steel is a bear to cut, and a dull blade won’t do it. Notice that I’m using the vice again, with the blade wrapped in thick paper towel to keep the vice’ jaws from chewing it up. Again, if you don’t have a vice, somebody can hold the blade for you while you cut.
Now I can fit it together and it looks like a knife…