Making a Ritual Knife

Making a Simple Ritual Knife

Warning: You need to exercise extreme caution when doing this because the metal will become extremely hot (see below) and it is a very time consuming process so make sure you have the time to work on it. Please wear PPE if attempting this (gloves, goggles, closed shoes etc) Please ensure you are wearing PPE (such as gloves, closed shoes, and goggles!)

To Create the Blade

If you can't buy a suitable piece of steel, use an old file or chisel and work with that. Whatever steel you have, it is going to be hard so your first job will be to soften it for working. Heat the steel till it is a dull red. If you have no other way of doing it, lay it on the burner of a gas or electric stove. You may have to leave it there, with the control turned fully on, for several hours but it will eventually heat up to a dull red.

Once it has reached a dull red, turn off the heat and let it cool down naturally.

Mark on the metal, with a pencil, the shape you want it to be.

With a power handsaw (if you have one), or a simple hacksaw, cut out the profile and file off any rough edges.

Then start shaping the blade for sharpness. A grinding wheel could come in handy here, though you can work with rough and smooth files. If the blade is going to be double-edged, you are aiming for a diamond shaped cross-section.

Finish off the blade with 2 grades of wet and dry paper.

Now your blade will need to be hardened and tempered. Heat it up again, this time until it is red hot. Then take hold of it with a pair of pliers and plunge it into a bowl of tepid (not cold, or the blade will crack) water or oil. Allow it to cool off then clean it with wet and dry sand paper.

Next, to temper it, reheat the blade to a dull red. Again, plunge it, point downwards, into tepid water or oil, moving it up and down in the liquid.

Clean it with wet and dry sand paper, then heat it again. Watch the blade carefully this time as it changes color. It will go to a bright, light, straw color, then to a medium straw color. Immediately plunge the blade into the water and let it cool off (don't let it get past the straw color; it would go to blue, then purple and green.) Watch the point as that will change color first, At the first sign of "bluing" on the point, plunge the blade into the water. Note: The colors appear quickly. Keep the point the farthest from the heat.

Once the blade is cold take it outside and plunge it into the ground a couple of times. Now you have moved the blade through the Air, heated it with Fire, plunged it into Water, and buried it in the Earth and so it has been tempered by the elements.

To Add a Shaft (Handle)

For the handle, take 2 pieces of wood. Draw around the tang (the handle part of the blade) on each of the pieces of wood.

Then chisel out the marked sections, each one to approx ½ the thickness of the tang.

When finished, the 2 pieces of wood should lay together perfectly with the tang inserted between them.

When you are satisfied the pieces fit well, slightly roughen the inside wood and then spread a good quality epoxy resin glue all over the inner sides of the handle.

Put the tang in place, press the 2 wooden handle halves together and clamp. When clamping, put on the pressure slowly so as to give a better "spread" to the glue. Leave clamped for at least 3 days.

When removed from the clamp, draw a profile of the handle you want on the wood and start cutting/carving it to shape.

Some traditions call for certain signs to be carved on the handle. Even if your does not, you may wish to add some decoration. I would certainly recommend at least putting your Craft Name or monogram on it.

You might also like to etch something on the blade, this isn't difficult to do.

Making a Forged Blade

If you are a bit more daring and have the ability to access a forge you can try forging your own Knife.

Two words of Warning you need to exercise extreme caution when doing this because the metal will become extremely hot and it is a very time consuming process so make sure you have the time to work on it. Please wear PPE if attempting this (gloves, goggles, closed shoes etc)

Forging the Blade

First buy a piece of untempered steel (i.e. steel that can be tempered). To work this you will need a course and a fine steel file, a hacksaw with a blade tough enough to cut steel, and a barbecue.

Light a large fire in the barbecue early in the morning and, when all the coals are red-hot, carefully position your steel. Using tongs, make sure the steel is completely covered with hot coals. It should eventually become a dull red color. You will now need to leave the steel in the barbecue for several hours. Leave you steel until the coals are quite cold. Remember, do not leave a fire unattended. If the steel is still too hard to work repeat the process.

When the steel is cold, mark on it the shape of the double-edged blade. Remember to include a tang (this is the short point, which holds the blade into the hilt).

Using the hacksaw carefully, cut out the shape of your blade. Take great care when doing this, as the metal will be extremely jagged. Once you have your shape, file the edges down using the two different grades of file, until the blade outline is smooth. Finish the process with 'wet and dry' sand paper until it is completely smooth.

Now you have to retemper the blade so it will remain hard.

Light your barbecue again and this time try to make sure the blade becomes a bright, rather than a dull, red. You may have to fan the barbecue to get the right amount of heat.

When the blade is bright red, use your tongs to lift it into a large bucket of very warm water. Always remember to take great care — you should wear gloves (I recommend welding gloves as they cover more of your arm), a pair of protective goggles, and tongs with the longest handles you can find. Be careful when you place the blade into the bucket as the water may spit and boil.

Allow the steel to cool completely and then sand it down with 'wet and dry'. Repeat the heating process but, as in the first heating, only allow your blade to become dull red. It will then become pale yellow. Just after this stage is reached, the steel will dull to a warm yellow. Lift the blade into warm water again. When it is gold you can polish and sharpen you blade.

Making the Handle

This is fairly easy to accomplish by choosing two pieces of wood of the correct size, then carving them roughly to the shape you need.

Trace round the tang, onto one half of the hilt. Very carefully carve or chisel the shape of the tang from one half of the hilt. The two halves of the hilt should now fit together perfectly, enclosing the tang.

Glue the tang firmly in place, glue the two halves of the hilt together and then sand and finish the hilt until it fits your hand comfortably. It is essential to glue the tang into the hilt very securely (you do not want your blade coming loose during a rite).

When the hilt is finished, either paint it black or bind it with black cord or leather, or decorate it in whatever manner you wish.

Finally consecrate your blade and dedicate it to your magical aims.

Note: When making a handle for your blade I would recommend finding a small dowel pin and when you have the handle glued and secure find a drill press that can drill your steel and drill through the handle and tang with a bit just big enough for the dowel pin to fit in then cut the pin and sand it down smooth with the handle and finish the handle. one pin will make the handle secure and not go any where two pins would make sure the handle doesn’t come loose and wiggle back and forth on the pin. You should never need more then two pins on a small blade such as an athame.

Personalizing Your Knife

Etching the Blade

You can use an engraving gun to inscribe symbols into your blade, but this is the more traditional method.

Please be aware this is dangerous and needs extreme caution, this should only be attempted by an adult!

Very few people choose to make their own ritual knives, although it is possible to do so. Most practitioners will purchase one and personalize it in some way. This is most commonly done by inscribing symbols or runes upon it. In some traditions specific symbols are required and have been handed down through their lineage. In others and among eclectic Wicca groups, these can be personal.

Cover the blade with Paraffin. Then you let it cool.

Next you take a long sharp nail and inscribe the symbols in the wax.

Then you use dilute Hydrochloric acid — be very careful, this stuff is dangerous!, and drop by drop place on the blade where it shows through due to your inscriptions. When the acid has worked (usually fairly quickly) you rinse the blade under running water thoroughly and then you use very hot water and a lot of elbow grease to remove the wax.

Medical Note: If any acid falls on the skin rinse thoroughly under cold water immediately and if there is a burn of any type, seek immediate medical help. If it gets in the eyes, again rinse immediately and completely and call an ambulance! It is best when doing this if you wear either some type of glasses or goggles and rubber gloves. Do not ingest the acid or leave it where it could be ingested by a child or animal. Also be careful of how you dispose of the rest of it — do so in an environmentally safe way.

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