Okay, so this post is going to be picture-heavy (in the ‘lots of pictures’ sense, as opposed to the ‘small amount of weighty pictures’ sense). Aaaaaand the photos are mostly mildly crummy iPOD photos, because my iPOD is so darn transportable and I was spending a lot of time hunkered down in the barn being covered in tiny shavings.
I have now escaped the tiny-shaving-oclypse, but it was touch and go there for a bit.
I’d been wanting to make this knife for a while, ever since I decided to do a lady Sam Winchester cosplay (if you’re not familiar with Sam, he’s from the show ‘Supernatural’—- which is basically about a couple of brothers named Sam and Dean Winchester, occasionally aided by an angel named Castiel, travelling around the country in a cool car fighting the forces of evil. They have a distinctive knife that’s capable of killing demons). The tricky part was figuring out how to make a decently realistic replica that could ALSO be allowed into conventions. I decided to make mine all out of wood, and it ended up working out very well.
Here’s the demon-killing knife from the show:
Despite the tiny picture, you can see it’s serrated, pointy as hell, ancient rune’d, and with a little handguard. The hilt looks like it might just be horn, but it’s hard to tell. I decided to call it old stained wood, because I formally refused to ninja into a neighbor’s field and try to nick a horn off a bull (it just wouldn’t be fun—-for either of us). The hilt also kinda flares out at the base, which ended up being one of the trickier things to carve.
The finished knife! (Surprise surprise, people-folks, it turns out looking SNAZZY. Which you probably guessed by the fact that I’m doing a tutorial on it rather than pretending it was all a bad dream, so it’s not really a surprise, but darn it I’m excited). Anyway, in this picture, we’re mostly looking at what the knife’s sitting on, which is my initial sketch of approximate length and shape of both the hilt part and the blade part. This is the thing I took out to the barn/workshop for guiding purposes.
Here in the vise is the stick I selected for the hilt part. There’s a big knot where it curves outward, which I thought would be a good jumping-off point for the flared base.
And here’s the completed hilt part! I cut it to size, took all the bumps off, sanded it down on the grinder, filed it with wood files, and then finished it off with sandpaper. You can see a few scorch marks from the grinder—-I left them because I thought they’d add to the old look I was going for.
I found a scrap softwood board (much easier to carve down) for the blade part. Here it is sitting in the vise, with the outline of the blade sketched onto it. I cut this initially with a saw, then ground it to the sketched outline. Most of the sharpening was done with files and sandpaper.
Here be the rough version! It looks kinda blade-y, but not perfect yet. I still need to take off the sides, sand it all, and carve in the serrations. You can see that I left part of the original board on the left side—-this is so I can stick that sucker in the vise and hold it securely in place for filing/sanding/brain surgery. If you’re ever working with wood, remember to do this. The last thing you need is the rough clamp of the vise damaging part of your actual prop.
And here she is, all sanded, nice, and detached from the bit of board. Also I totally screwed up the serration, not gonna lie. Look at it, it looks like I did good and then some really vindictive hamsters took tiny little chomps out of my blade. Not cool, hamsters. Not cool at all. (If you’re worrying at this point, cease. I ended up deepening the serrations and adding another one in front of the current ones, so we still have five but we’re lacking the whole Hamsters Of Evil vibe).
This is the handguard, all cut and sanded and stuff. If at this point you’re saying, ‘But Anne, the handguard in Supernatural is totally rectangular’, then, well . . . you’re very right. Oops. In my defence, it really looked round in the pictures I was going from. Cue the awkward laughter.
And all the pieces together, looking pretty awesome except for the whole strange-assed serrations thing and the fact that the handguard isn’t supposed to be round. At least the hilt is good.
Except that it’s maybe supposed to be horn.
Next, painting. The silver knife blade is a base of FolkArt’s ’Silver Anniversary’ acrylic with Delta Ceramcoat’s ’GLEAMS Metallic Silver’ acrylic overtop. The latter is a truly excellent paint that I strongly recommend getting, if you’re interested in making things look like new metal. It’s a little too shiny for old metal. I use it a lot (it’s the paint on my Mjolnir as well), and it’s quick-drying, fills in cracks and unevenness, and gives things a protective plastic-y coating. For the ancient script on the knife and the blade outline thing it’s got goin’ on, I actually used kohl eyeliner, dabbed it to make it look old and worn, and then sealed in with a clear nail polish. The eyeliner was great to work with because if I screwed up a line, I could quickly erase it and begin again. Which is something I personally require.
The hilt is all Apple Barrel’s ‘Dark Chocolate’ acrylic. I diluted a few drops in water as an all-over wash, tinting the pale wood a more aged caramel color. Then I went over it with little patches of slightly diluted and non-diluted paint, to sort of mottle it and make it look even older.
Here we are with just a little patch of bare wood remaining! You’ll also notice that the handguard is now rectangular. I actually glued the parts together (with a wood glue), then looked at the pictures again and went OH GODS IT’S NOT SUPPOSED TO BE ROUND, took it all apart, fixed the handguard, and then glued and clamped it all again. So, uh, ‘look at them pictures twice’ would be the moral here.
The knife! Together! Looking knife-y! Also the serrations have now been fixed, muahahaha, I feel all capable and shiznit. The blade part couldn’t be clamped to the handguard/hilt part without messing up the point, so I just glued it and left it sitting upright to dry overnight. Seemed to work!
BAM. DONE. I painted the hilt all over with polyurethane to seal it, then painted it again with Mod Podge matte spray to stop it being so gosh-darned shiny. Please ignore my supervillain face here (if I try anything, Tiny Background Thor will stop me). I’m so pleased with how this knife turned out. It looks very similar to the original, isn’t dangerous and is therefore convention-takeable, and it has a pretty good weight to it versus the usual plastic knife replicas. It took me a day to carve all the pieces and assemble them, with an hour or so of work (the rest being waiting for it to dry between gluing/paint coats) over the next few days for painting, writing, and sealing.
End result: I LOVE this knife.
Platonically, mind you. Platonically.
And finally, here it is in its native environment with me as lady Sam Winchester and my friend Dean as . . . Dean Winchester. Double dose of Dean, folks. Oh yeah. If you’re swooning (or humming ‘Eye Of The Tiger’), nobody will blame you. Promise.
I really hope I can post the rest of this series of photos on here soon! I think we look decidedly badass, despite the fact that Dean’s necklace hadn’t been finished yet and thus he’s wearing a vial of fairy dust (which is actually a remarkably fine substitute. Fairy dust, people. Tell your friends). We also had an ADORABLE lady Castiel, who had the whole I-am-a-confused-angel-and-humans-are-strange look down pat.
Back to the knife, it also won first place in a props competition at a recent convention, which made me feel decidedly legit (as the cool kids say).
Anyway, I hope this inspired you to make your own Totally Legit cosplay knife, if a Totally Legit cosplay knife is something you feel you need in your life. The knife-shaped gap in my own life has now been filled. Awwwww yeahhhh, victory is SWEET.
Let the cosplay demon-slaying begin!