While it is rare for anyone nowadays to make his or her own edged weapon, it’s still useful to understand the process. And while I would recommend taking at least a small knife with you whenever you venture into the wild (hell, I’d recommend taking a small knife with you almost anywhere!), there’s always the chance that you will either lose it or forget to bring it. Keep reading to learn how to construct knives and other edged weapons using materials found in nature.
An invaluable tool, the knife has three primary functions: puncturing, chopping/slashing, and cutting. In terms of survival, the knife is an irreplaceable tool that has nearly limitless potential. A few uses that come to mind:
• Skinning an animal
• Cutting rope/wood to construct a shelter
• Self defense
If you find yourself in need of a knife, Mother Nature provides several materials you can use to build one: stone, wood, bone, and metal.
To make a knife using stone, you will need a chipping tool, a sharp-edged chunk of stone, and a flaking tool.
A chipping tool is blunt-edged and light. This will be used to break off small bits of stone. You can construct one using bone, wood, or metal.
A flaking tool, on the other hand, is pointed and is used to break off flat, thin bits of stone. You can construct one using antler tines, bone, or soft iron.
Step one: Shape the blade. Strike the chunk of stone with the chipping tool. Use hard, glancing blows aimed near the edge of the chunk. This will eventually create a thin edge.
Step two: Sharpen the blade. Using the flaking tool, press downwards on the stone’s edge or push the tool along the edge. This action will cause small fakes to slough off the opposite side, leaving a sharp edge. As you continue this action along the entire length of what will become the “blade,” you will eventually have a sharp edge that can serve as a knife.
Finally, lash your new knife to some sort of hilt for easier handling. If you’re looking to make a spear, simply lash the stone knife to a straight sapling (approx. 1.5 meters long). Split the end of the sapling, insert the sharpened stone, and lash tightly with rope.
Bones can make great edged weapons. Keep in mind, however, that a bone knife should be used only to puncture. Other uses may cause the object to break.
First, look for a suitable bone (in this case, larger is better). A deer’s leg bone (pictured at left) is ideal. Place the bone on a hard object, such as a rock. Use a heavy object to shatter the bone. Select a pointed splinter from the pieces. Rub the piece on a rough rock to shape and sharpen it. Lash the bone to a hilt if possible (hardwood works best).
If you can manage to find bamboo, you can make an excellent edged wooden knife. If not, your wooden knife should be used only for puncturing.
Look for a piece of hardwood that is straight-grained and approx. 30cm long and 2.5cm in diameter. The blade should end up being about 15cm long. Using only straight-grained sections, shave the piece of wood until it comes to a point.
Note: the core or pith of a piece of wood makes a very weak point.
The drier the wood is, the harder the point will be. You can harden the point of a wooden knife using a small fire. Dry out the blade until it shows signs of charring. Sharpen the blade on a rough stone.
Metal, although the hardest material to find, is the best option for a handmade knife. A metal knife can be used to slice/chop, cut, or puncture. Look for a piece of metal that already looks like the weapon you’re trying to make. Depending on the type and size of the metal, you should be able to create a point and sharp edge by rubbing the object on a rough stone.
If the metal isn’t so malleable, you can use a hammer to flatten one edge (while the object is cold). To do this, you will need a hard, flat surface and a hammer (or hammer-like object). You can make a hilt for a metal knife using bone, wood, or any other material that is comfortable to hold.
You never know what you may have access to during an emergency situation. Shards of glass make wonderful edged weapons or tools if you can’t find anything else. They may not be useful for heavy work, but they already have a natural edge. You can also create an effective puncturing tool using thick plastic.