So, one of your cosplay friends calls you up and ask if you could build them an axe engraved with runestones like this one from a popular video game.
He says it can be single edged. He leaves a small coin purse with a few gold pieces and says he will check back next week to pick it up.
Ok,. that is our challenge. Here is how I crafted mine. I began with a full-sized paper pattern. The empty shape is where the engraving will go.
I sketched for a few hours until I had a celtic knot pattern that I liked, that would fit in the empty shape. It is easy to just draw lines all over and worry about where they cross over and under later.
I went into the wood shop and made a wooden ax head shape. How I made that is not really the focus of this post. We are here today to learn how to do the engraving part.
Ok, here is the trick. We are not going to engrave anything. We are not going to dig out wood in the shape of the engraving. We are instead, going to lay a raised design on the ax head. It will be a lot easier. You might remember the dwarven anvil. I did the same trick. Instead of carving a dwarven symbol in the anvil, I just cut out a pattern shape and glued it on the surface. That is what we are doing here as well. Watch this.
I took two pieces of thick plastic. For this I used a plastic tub. I cut two pieces out that would fit in the empty shape on the ax head. Thick plastic at the hobby store is really expensive. So, if you can find an old barrel, or storage tub, the plastic can be found for free.
I used spray adhesive to attach the paper patterns to the pieces of plastic.
To make cutting easier, I taped the two pieces of plastic together so I could cut both pieces out at one time. I will use a scroll saw. You can see below holes in the plastic that I drilled for the scroll saw blade to go through.
Here is the ax head attached to a piece of wood I found. The plastic is waiting to be cut out. Cutting the plastic celtic knot out is not super easy, even with a nice scrollsaw. There are several ways you could do it. If you made your pieces out of thin wood or cardboard you could even do the cutting with a razor knife.
This photo shows the plastic piece laying where it will go. Some of it has been cut out, some still remains. I am cutting away the white, and leaving the black knot lines.
Just so you know, the ax head was thickened with extra wood to go around the stick. This was sanded, puttied, and sanded some more.
So, it took some time, and some patience but the plastic pieces are cut out. Plastic won’t splinter, is smooth, can be painted, and is actually stronger than wood or cardboard.
So, now we have our ax head and our plastic pieces. Now we could glue the pieces on, and build up a ledge all around it to make it look recessed. Pretty easy. In this case though, I used a router and a chisel and dug out a recess the same shape as the paper shape we drew on the original paper pattern. This recess will allow the plastic piece to sit flush with the surface.
So, I glued the plastic in the recessed area. I know you are thinking, wow, this is still a lot of work. Yes, it is, but you don’t have to do any carving, or engraving. All you have to do is to cut out a plastic piece. This would have taken me forever if I had to carve it into the wood, and it would have been almost impossible for me to really engrave in metal.
Next blog post I will show you how it was painted and how the final prop turned out.
Go ahead, make a mess, fake your engraving, have some fun.