How to Make a Tomahawk (Head and Handle)
A tomahawk is a small axe resembling a hatchet that was originally used by European colonials and Native Americans for a variety of purposes. When in an emergency situation, it can be used to hunt animals and dress them. If you came across a hungry cougar or bear, a previously crafted tool like this could mean the difference between life and death.
It is useful for chopping wood for a fire and to chip off shavings necessary to start a campfire with a bow drill or flint. Other than to start a fire, wood is needed for other things such as a splint if someone gets injured. When an axe is too large and a knife can’t quite handle the task, this incredible gadget can be invaluable.
They can be made from stone, which is more primitive, or metal. Whether you’re in a survival situation or at home it still may be possible to make a metal version based on the materials you have. This style a more tactical version of the tomahawk, as it is more durable and can be more precisely measured. Now with these instructions, you can make learn how to make a homemade tomahawk.
Gathering the materials:
- A piece of hardwood such as maple, oak, or birch that is at least 16 inches long and 1 inch in diameter
- A flat, oval rock that is about the same diameter as a grapefruit. It must have no cracks and be hard stone such as granite or sandstone, but not so hard that you can’t shape it. This will be the blank for your stone head
- An even more dense stone for pecking, or pounding, that should be heavy and free of cracks
- A stone for grinding. This should be a granite or quartz type rock with an abrasive edge capable of grinding and sharpening. Alternately, sand or very small pebbles can be used.
- The best place to find stones for this project is in a creek or river bed.
- When looking for a hard rock, look for fine-grained and heavy rocks. The heavier it is based on size and proportion, the more sturdy and capable your head and tools will be.
Stone Tomahawk Instructions:
Now comes the real work! Resize the piece of wood if needed to make a 16 to 17-inch-long handle. Strip off the bark and burrs with a knife. Debarking can be made easier by getting the post wet first.
The most time consuming making the stone head. Finding a good blank for your tomahawk head that most closely resembles the end result will make it easier and take less time to complete your finished product.
The first step to this is shaping, or pecking, your head blank. Place the blank on a pounding log to save your fingers, and pound your rock until you get the approximate shape. Don’t be shy, but don’t pound it so hard that it breaks in a way that you don’t want it to. In that case, you might have to start all over!
When your basic shape has formed, it is necessary to have a way to attach it to the handle. For this, pound a notch on the top and bottom of your stone head about two thirds of the way down the head closer to the butt. This will allow a secure place for the cord to we wound around to minimize chances of the head slipping or falling off, which could be dangerous.
Once this has been done, it’s time to grind your head. If a rough and hard stone is being used for grinding, firmly rub the grinding stone back and forth along the head where it needs to be honed and shaped. (Don’t forget your pounding log underneath!) If using sand, put your sand on a boulder that has a slightly rounded or flat surface. Cover the area you’re working on and your stone head in water. Grind your stone head against the sand until it is the desired shape and sharp enough to cut wood.
With your tomahawk head finished, we must secure the handle. Make sure that it fits well! If necessary, a groove can be made in the top of the wood to ensure a tight fit before wrapping your cord.
Find Your Materials:
- 1 piece of 3/16th inch by 5-inch sheet of scrap metal, preferably steel
- 1 hardwood wooden dowel or stick 1 inch in diameter by 16 inches
- 1- ¾ inch pipe coupling will be used to attach the handle to the head.
- A welding table
- A metal Grinder
- A metal cutting blade or sheet metal snips
Cut out the sheet metal into the basic shape of the head using a metal cutting blade or sheet metal snips. After the pattern is cut out, use a metal grinder to grind the appropriate edges into a sharp blade.
Clamp the honed blade to a welding table and carefully weld the blade to the coupling on the butt of the blade. Make sure this is not crooked. This will allow it the blade to be attached to the handle.
Tip: If the blade ends up not completely straight, it will not perform well. Be very aware of that in this step!
Shave one end of the haft, or handle, down so that it will fit tightly into the pipe coupling. With the head clamped with the sharp edge pointing down, screw the haft into the pipe coupling until the top end sticks out about ¼ inch.
Clean up the edges and sand out the handle and you’re all done.
The exciting part is to test your new homemade tactical tomahawk!
Although early versions were made only for survival, today they are used for other purposes as well. The U.S. Army, law enforcement, and martial arts all have utilized this amazing tool. Now you have learned how to make your very own!
It might be time consuming, but making such a specialty hatchet like this can be not only fun and rewarding, but an important item in any survival situation. If you’re more adventurous and good at aiming, you could seek out a tomahawk throwing competition decked out in your traditional “mountain man” attire. Making and learning how to build your own tomahawk and efficiently use one could be both useful and satisfying. With this guide, now you can!
***Always use caution and exercise safety***