How to Make a Stone Head Tomahawk

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Traditional stone head tomahawks are lightweight weapons or tools that Native Americans originally built. Tomahawk roughly translates into “light battle axe” from the Algonquin language. Older tomahawks usually have a rounded stone head (as opposed to the more modern metal-headed tomahawks with a sharp edge) and a simple wooden handle. The functional tomahawks were plain in design and meant only for straightforward use. The exceedingly decorative (covered in feathers, colored leather and beads) tomahawks that most collectors enjoy were actually reserved as gifts to build truces between two Native American tribes.

Things You'll Need

  • Stone
  • Sandpaper
  • Grinding stone
  • Drill
  • Gloves
  • Goggles
  • Wood branch
  • Carving knife
  • Pot
  • Epoxy
  • Cloth
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Pliers
  • Leather sinew
  • Scissors
  • Select a strong type of stone (such as granite or quartz) for the head of your tomahawk. It shouldn’t be so strong that you can’t carve it, though. The stone should be roughly half the size of a softball and shaped like a thin oval.

  • Rub the coarse side of sandpaper over the face of the stone to make the oval shape more accurate and smooth. Start with 60 grit sandpaper but switch to 120 grit once the stone is the correct shape. When you finish, the top and bottom of the stone should look like a 3-inch wide and 4 1/2-inch tall egg while the sides are only 1 1/2 inch thick.

  • Attach a 1 1/2-inch wide grinding stone to a drill. Ask a friend to hold your egg shaped stone in place (while both of you wear gloves and goggles for safety) and press the grinding stone to the center of your stone. Move the grinder until you create a 1/4-inch deep groove along the width of the stone.

  • Flip the stone over and create another 1/4 inch deep groove on the other side. When you finish, your egg shaped stone should have a groove across it on both sides.

  • Select a hard, yet slightly flexible wood branch, like sassafras or oak, for a handle. Strip off the bark with a craft knife. The branch needs to be 1 1/2-inch in diameter and 18 inches long.

  • Carve a 4-inch deep groove into the top of the handle. The groove must be 1/2 of an inch thick. This gives the end two 4 inch long prongs.

  • Set the grooved end of the stick into a pot of boiling water. Remove it once the stick is extremely soft and flexible. This allows you to mold the handle around the stone without breaking it.

  • Fit the prongs of the grooved handle into the grooves of the stone. Make sure it fits well and then remove it from the handle.

  • Coat the insides of the wood handle grooves with epoxy. Slide the grooved stone back into place. Pinch the handle prongs closed over the top using pliers.

  • Clean any remaining epoxy using a cloth dampened with rubbing alcohol. Clean while it is still wet for best results.

  • Cut out seven to ten, 10-inch lengths of leather sinew. Wrap the sinew around the head and prongs in a figure eight pattern while the epoxy is still drying. When you finish with the first piece of sinew, it should form a cross where the prongs and the stone meet.

  • Smooth the end of the sinew using some epoxy. Add four more pieces of sinew, applying epoxy after each layer. Cross them all in a figure eight pattern and secure ends with a dab of epoxy.

  • Wrap the tips of the prongs together using a piece of 10 inch sinew. Wrap a piece of sinew around the bottom of the stone where the main part of the handle begins as well. This helps keep the wood from separating from the stone.

References

  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images
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