Hello again!! I'm starting to really love this prop-making stuff!! This is one I actually already made and am throwing on the blog, so this one is going from step one straight to the end!! In it's completed form, it's very comfy on top of my TV where I can bask in it's knife-y glory. :) This project cost us not very much, as it is basically just paint, clay and a paint stick. It's mostly the tie it took me to make it, probably at least 2-3 hours. If I started making lots, I might get that time cut down, but for now while I sorted out what to do, it took me a little longer.
Here we go!!
Here we have the original I wanted to create. I like this picture the best because you can really see the varied tones in the handle. I'm still not sure if it's wood or horn for the original, but I decided to go for a wood look. If you're going to try doing one, do whatever strikes you as easier or whatever you think it might be, if you're a more serious Cosplayer.
So, first thing I got was a paint stick because I felt it looked good as far as the length, width and thickness. And, of course, they don't cost much. We already had this one in the garage. I also liked that it has the pinched spot where you stir from, because that created an instant hand-guard for me, and it was much easier to measure out.
I put the image up on the computer screen, sizing the hand gripping it in the picture I used to give me some proportion (as I am not as big as the guys holding the knife, and neither is my Cosplay buddy or my Huz, so smaller was good!!) I traced out the outline of the shape of the handle and the blade on some index cards. I always have index cards hanging around. No end of uses for them.
Here we have the blade after I cut out the rough outline, and before I sanded it and shaped the blade's edge. I had used the index cards to make the outline to follow, leaving what you call a "tang" to fit into the handle to give the knife blade stability. I used the index cards like carbon paper, putting extra pencil on the back of the lines and then tracing the original on top so the pencil line showed right where I needed to cut. I don't have pictures, but look up carbon copying if you find my directions clear as mud. ;)
After I shaped the edge and got the outline right, I used a bur in my flex shaft (you could use a dremil, too.) I followed the outline of the knife and made the etch mark around the outside of the blade. this is really important to do before you do the center etching detail. I just eyeballed it, but you could use something like a compass to mark it out for you. The bur skipped a lot, trying to fly off and mar places I didn't intend. Go slowly and don't press super hard, just in case!!
A close-up detail of the etched outline. Like I said, I eyeballed it, but you could mark it out with something like a compass. That would be too time-consuming for me. If I make them to sell, I will probably make the time for it. I simply don't care. It'll look nice when I hold it. I also sanded both sides a little bit to give them a bit more tooth for the coming treatments.
The etched design in the center I created by tracing the design off my computer screen (make sure to keep the proportion the same so you can end up with the same size, not bigger or smaller) and I used anther couple if index cards to trace them on. (Really, 1000 uses for those!!) Make sure to make 2, there is no removing one and using it for the other side. They get completely destroyed and tore when I pulled them off.
Check the fit using the shadow, to make sure you aren't sliding off the knife blade or getting too close to your outline anywhere you don't want to. Again, you could probably be more mathematical, but I'm not worried about it for myself. I just wanted it to look good when viewed. I'm not a perfectionist.
Here, I started the etching design. I'm using the same bur (typically used for my jewelry work) that I used to make the outline, since I don't know how to use other tools. The bur essentially works like a fountain-tipped pen, with what is basically either a think side or a thin one. I just very carefully copied what I saw using the best fit of either thick or thin, or sometimes a transition. Again, go slow because the tendency for skipping is very real. On the bright side, with the cards as buffers, they kept the bur from doing much damage I didn't mean it to because it sort of cushioned the edge if I slipped. Don't rush and make thoughtful marks. This took about 15 minutes per side. Follow up with a light sanding afterward.
The knife blade, etched around the edge and in the center. After sanding.
Close-up detail. I'm really proud. Again, I'm not a perfectionist, so I don't mind that they don't look identical, they look good and I'm happy with that. It's a little hard to see the etching detail, though in the picture.
Around this time it dawned on me I needed to make the hand-guard to go between the blade and the handle, and I realized the handle of the paint stick I had cut off previously worked perfectly for this purpose. It already had those nice, notched corners on two sides. I used another paint stick to put the notched corner shape on the other side, cut it off with my jeweler's saw, and traced the bottom of the tang from the blade. I made the mistake of making it the size of the paint stick, but then it will slip off the edge and fall off. So I made it approximately the size of the current tang, drilled a couple of holes where the edged of the mark are and used my jeweler's saw to cut the inside. Again, there may have been different tools I could use or a more mathematical way, but I used what I know and I got pretty dang close with what I had.
The hand guard on the tang, stopping just before it gets too far up the blade. I did notch one side of the hand-guard a little so it would fit better one way, and kind of lock itself onto the blade. I also curved it, because the original is curved so it's thinner at the outer edges. I didn't go as thin as they did, since mine is wood and I didn't want to sacrifice the integrity, but I think it looks nice. The etching design stops well before the hand-guard, too, which is nice.
Here it is after I did the base coat (x2, sanding between each). I'm using a Kilz spray base coat that I got at Walmart upon a suggestion from Mum, who does a lot of painting things. This worked well, but I did it outside, of course. It's kind of hard to see the etching design, and it looks like the woodgrain is showing through, but it looked great once I did the top coat...
Tada!! Here are the pieces of the blade (and the handle that I will get to.) All nice and shiny. Of course, they aren't quite as shiny as the real one, which is mirror-finish, but this spray paint (from Hobby Lobby) is pretty good. I liked the way it came out. This is two coats, light sanding in between.
Detailed view of both. You can see the Hand-guard has got some pretty good shine to it. And you can really see the etched designs.
The knife blade and the handle were not very good friends at first. I shaped the handle using clay and my grip to get it the right shape and size for a hand like mine, and then forgot to actually stick the knife blade in it, so I ended up mangling it a bit when I fit it just before I tossed it into the oven to bake. The handle is just white scupley clay from Hobby Lobby. Follow package directions for use.
After baking, it was all nice and white. Once it was cool and hard, I had to file out the inside where the knife blade attached to make them fit together. I used my jeweler's file (a big one I use for wax) and it worked. It ended up fitting really tightly, so it's just held in by friction, which is awesome.
Bit of paint- well, I thinned down a medium brown acrylic paint with water to make a glaze so I could apply it little bit by little bit. I wanted to keep the bottom lighter than the rest so it would look like I had cut it from a tree. That light coat is the only one the bottom gets.
Sides got darker with every coat, and while it looks really shiny, it actually dried pretty matte. I also didn't toatlly mix the acrylic paint and water so that there would be spots that would get the paint more solidly than others, and that looked really good.
Finished product, the bottom is lighter by a lot. I'm told it definitely looks like actual wood. I need to put a clear coat over it, though, because the paint is flaking off where I wear rings. I need to fix that.
Side picture so you can see the blade detail. On the original, there's a black antiquing in the etched areas, so I used a fine-point sharpie and touched it lightly to the etched places so they would have that nice darkness. I missed a few times, so it's not perfect either. Again, if I were selling it, I would be more careful, but I'm not so I didn't worry about little mistakes. They're not overly visible and when the knife is held you can't see those little flaws. Besides, what good is life without a few flaws? I know I have plenty!!
There you have it. I really hope this has been a helpful tutorial for you if you're thinking of making a knife cosplay prop. I guess I did a pretty good job because when I posted it on Facebook, even though I had posted my pictures along the way, when I posted the finished product, my sister-in-law suggested her son might like one for his collection for Christmas or his birthday. I gleefully told her I didn't think it was up his alley, since it's just a paint stick and clay. !! I am obviously really happy with the result!! I hope to make many more. Next will be the Colt (x2), and Dean's gun. We'll see how it goes. I'm really hoping I can make the first blade soon, too. It will take a bit more work.