Throwing Knives in the House: Making a DIY Knife Throwing Target - ITS Tactical
 

Throwing Knives in the House: Making a DIY Knife Throwing Target

By Bryan Black

DIY-Knife-Throwing-Target-Main

This year at SHOT Show’s Media Day at the Range, I had the opportunity to learn the skill of throwing knives and tomahawks from a very skilled and knowledgeable woman by the name of Melody Joy “Montana Hale” Cuenca, who was demonstrating these techniques at the SOG Knives booth.

Melody and her Husband, John “TJ Quicksilver” Cuenca, are internationally recognized within the blade arts community and known as the Quicksilvers. Melody recently won the 2014 Women’s World Knife and Axe Throwing Championship in France, where she set two world records. Needless to say, she knows what she’s doing!

DIY-Knife-Throwing-Target-Melody-Cuenca

While Melody was able to give me some solid pointers that had me throwing knives and tomahawks like a boss, what my DIY brain was really drawn to was the wooden target they had set up at the booth to throw the knives and tomahawks into. Since acquiring this skill has been on my bucket list for some time, I immediately knew I wanted to build my own to practice and figured it would be a great DIY to share here on ITS.

What I’ve put together below is not only a walkthrough of the construction process with photos, but a complete video embedded below that we filmed during the process.

DIY Knife Throwing Target

DIY Knife Throwing Target 00

The design for the target is fairly simple, although I had to improvise a bit during the construction, since I didn’t have any real plans to follow. I had a few photos of the target from Range Day and through those, I was able to easily figure out the dimensions.

This is a very easy and cheap DIY Project and I hope you’ll find it as fun as I did to put together. Before we get into the assembly instructions, here’s a list of materials you’ll need for this project. Some aren’t mandatory, but will make life easier if you happen to have them available.

Materials

As mentioned, there’s some optional items here, but I would highly recommend the SOG Fling Knives and the SOG Fasthawk Tomahawk for a practice hawk and knives. I purchased them for a very good price through Amazon and they fly exceptionally well.

Construction

The overall Knife Throwing Target is made up of 72 “blocks” encased in 2×4 framing. There are six rows of 12 blocks that each measure the width of a 2×4. As many of you probably know already, a 2×4 is really a 3.5” x 1.5”, so the blocks are simply 72 3.5” cuts.

DIY Knife Throwing Target 01

After measuring out all the blocks and cutting them (this is where a mitre saw comes in very handy), make sure to briefly sand them to clean up the edges. Make sure you measure twice and cut once, you need your cuts to be as close to 3.5” as possible.

DIY Knife Throwing Target 02

DIY Knife Throwing Target 05

With 12 of your cut blocks, line them up on a flat surface so the cut edges are facing you. Ensure they’re even along that front edge and the lined up stack measures 18”. Flip the first block to your right and start gluing. Each consecutive block out of the 12 are then stacked on top of the next until you have all 12 assembled. Check the stack with a straight edge again and then apply the bar clamp to hold the stack while it dries.

DIY Knife Throwing Target 06

Repeat this to the other five stacks of 12 blocks, so that you have all 72 glued in six stacks of 12. Each stack should measure 18” long by 3.5” tall when glued.

Outer framing consists of two 24” long 2x4s that make up the sides and two 18” long 2x4s that make the top and bottom. This is the extent of all the lumber necessary, minus the particle board backer. Take one of the 18” long 2x4s and start placing the 6 stacks of blocks on top, ensuring the cut edges are facing forward. Place the second 18” 2×4 on top.

DIY Knife Throwing Target 07

Even out the stacks of blocks so that the entire front face is as straight as possible and everything lines up. If you have discrepancies in your cuts, it’s better that they’re to the back side. Pressing down on the top 18” 2×4, drill three pilot holes evenly spaced across the top and all the way through to the block stack underneath it. Follow these holes up with a Counter Sink Bit so that the screws you’ll drive in next will sit flush.

Drilling pilot holes and a counter sink isn’t mandatory, but the pilot hole will prevent the wood from splitting when you put each screw in and the counter sink bores out the top of each hole to allow space for the screw to sit flush. Plus your project will look a lot nicer and last longer.

Once the top 18” 2×4 is held in place, flip the entire target over and do the same to the bottom 2×4, driving three more screws in to hold this 2×4 onto the block stack below it.

DIY Knife Throwing Target 08

Now place one of the 24” sections of 2×4 on the ground and flip the target sideways onto it. This now becomes the bottom of the target temporarily. Place the other 24” 2×4 on what’s now the top of the target. What you’ll be doing now is drilling two pilot holes into each end of the longer 2×4 sections to secure them to the 18” sections and creating the frame. Follow these holes up with the counter sink and screws.

Next, you want to drive a screw (first drilled with a pilot hole and counter sunk) into each of the six block stacks. This will hold each block stack and also allow you to replace a section of the target if a particular block stack gets destroyed, rather than having to build a whole new target. Secure each block stack with a screw from each end. Meaning that to remove one of the interior four block stacks, all you need to do is remove two screws to replace it.

DIY-Knife-Throwing-Target-FullMounting the completed target to the 33” x 48” backer was a lot simpler in theory than in practice. The backer was cut from a 4’ x 8’ particle board sheet, commonly used for roofing. I knew that I wanted at least 6” of backer all the way around the target to protect the wall this would be mounted to.

Having the 4×8 sheet, I simply made a 33” cut to the shorter 4’ side of the sheet using a circular saw. This gave me the 33” x 48” section and a total of 12” of backer on the top/bottom of the target and 6” to the left and right.

Using the dimension of the completed target (21” x 24”) and the knowledge that each side had 6” of overhang and the top and bottom had 12”, we were able to place the spray painted backer over the back side of the target and measure out the space underneath to set it square. A pilot hole was then drilled in each corner of the backer and through into the target. Lastly, add a screw into each corner.

The rest of the construction process is simply mounting the backer to whichever wall you deem necessary. There’s some weight to the completed target, so ensure you use a wall anchor in each corner that’s capable of supporting enough weight.

The SOG Knife Target at the SHOT SHOW Media Day at the Range was freestanding and mounted to multiple large sheets of plywood that had legs on each side to balance it. You could also look into making a version like this that was portable, as opposed to the version we’ve made that’s mounted to the wall.

Throwing Technique

First I’d like to dispel the myth that you’ll be able to hurl a knife through the air at someone that’s running and take them out. The reason I say that isn’t because it’s impossible, it’s because you’d really have to know distance and be able to judge the strength of your throw based on that.

Sticking a knife or tomahawk into this DIY target we’ve created is relatively simple, once you figure out your throw and distance. The technique Melody taught me at the SOG booth was different for the knife and the tomahawk. Here’s what’s worked for me.

DIY Knife Throwing Target 09

Knife

Hold the knife by the tip while standing about 8 feet from the target. Extend your arm out and sight the target using the handle of the knife. Bring the knife back past your ear and throw, releasing the knife when your arm is extended back to the position you were originally in when you sighted the target.

The knife should make a single rotation, sticking in blade first. You can also turn your wrist as you throw to stick the blade into the target running parallel to the grain of the wood blocks. You’ll see in the video I was doing this in the SHOT footage, but wasn’t in the throws into our DIY target.

Tomahawk

Throwing the tomahawk is similar in principle, but you’ll need more distance along with a slightly different technique. Stand about 10 feet from the target and hold the tomahawk out like you did with the knife to sight.

Bring the tomahawk back until the handle passes your ear and throw forward. With the knife you released when it was extended back out in front of you, but with the tomahawk, you need to release before then. When you feel the weight of the tomahawk transferring to your fingers during the throw, that’s the time to release your grip.

Allow the weight of it to carry it to the target. It should also make a single rotation like the knife and bury itself into the target.

Closing

I’d like to thank Melody of Blade Aces for showing me these techniques and SOG Knives for providing the opportunity at SHOT Show’s Media Day at the Range. Throwing knives and tomahawks is a fun skill to practice and provided you have the right backdrop and target, can be done nearly anywhere.

I hope that you’ve gotten some inspiration to make one of these DIY Knife Throwing Targets for yourself and try out this skill. There’s nothing like throwing knives in the house!

 

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Discussion

29 comments
Ed
Ed

Thanks for the design idea! I added a few pieces and some stain to mine. It's mounted on the door at the end of my hallway :)

Ejz09
Ejz09

Try throwing with a no spin or quarter spin technique. There are many variations. With enough training these are the most realistic technique to use with a moving target. Especially if the target is closing distance.

Scott
Scott

My son and I made a portable version of your target. He got a cool target, and I had a good excuse to buy a mitre saw. I made him cut the 72 pieces of course.

DonaldHolmes
DonaldHolmes

I'm just glad to hear I'm not the only one throwing knives in my house. I started this on a whim a couple months ago and I can't stop. I figured I was crazy, but It's too much fun to only do outside. This target looks awesome. Good ideas. I've been going to Home Depot and having them cut me pieces of Douglas fir 4'x10"x4" and lining 4 of them up standing 4' tall 40" across and surrounding the entire area with plywood. It's easy and cheap and the boards take several thousand throws to wear out. I'm sure this target would last much longer though. Thank you for the advice!

Netira Sandoz
Netira Sandoz

That is awesome! We should totally make one :D

Eric Jacobs
Eric Jacobs

down in Florida, we cut palm tree trunks into discs for this effect. gives you a bunch of circular targets with very fibrous wood so wear and tear on the blades is lessened (unless you miss the discs and hit the backing, in which case rolled points become your new company if you're not careful)

Amanda Hake
Amanda Hake

Lol hey this Mom actually made a target so she could teach her boy how to throw knives! ;)

Kim Killion
Kim Killion

I'd share but I'm afraid Wil or Jesse would see this. LOL

Joel Tabb
Joel Tabb

Now for the "knife throwing" instructional.

Rhiannon Jackson
Rhiannon Jackson

This is also cool but I still want to learn how to knife fight

Elizabeth Holdal-Frey
Elizabeth Holdal-Frey

Saved this a while back, it's actually how I stumbled across you guys. Can't wait to build my own.

sash
sash

What type of (2x4) wood did you use? Or does it not matter?

Q SQN
Q SQN

O I cringe at knives being lodged into wood though Japanese makiwara would be the way to go. A friend of mine Otsuka Yasayuki has a Japanese shuriken school Meifu Shinkage Ryu and his literature is a good read, translated in both english and Japanese.

CW302
CW302

Wouldn't it be easier to just make the border boards a slight bit smaller than they should be? then just use some real sturdy decking screws and compress the whole thing. It would save quite a few screws and definitely some time. Plus it would make replacing the inner boards a whole lot easier. 

JohnO1
JohnO1

@CW302  Without glue the blocks can get pushed out.

kenkidd
kenkidd

If you're a bit less energetic, check with your local tree company and tell them you are looking for a slice of tree trunk about 2 - 3 ft in dia. about 6" thick.  Once you have this, you can add a mount to the back.  I've been using a slice like this on my fence for about a year.  Works great and looks cool too.

BrettVaughan
BrettVaughan

Has anyone tried using kunai for this?  They make great throwing knives, they're well weighted and though it's only my personal opinion, they also add an air of sophistication to the art/sport.  

Rev666
Rev666

Great throwing weapon. Dislike them with the traditional tail. They are not a tumbling weapon though, also depending where your from legality of a 3 sided blade can be an issue after NATO ruled triple blades weapons inhumane after WW1 therefore places like Sydney Australia they are prohibited.

Rev666
Rev666

I'm a blacksmith builder of very high end edged weapons the rarest of steels and timbers to tac weapons g10 and paracord.

I've made many throwers over the years I a prefer s smaller blade and fumble my blade whe throwing as opposed to the half rotation with a large heavy blade. However each to their own. Great instruction on a target board.

If you find get umber getting damaged from excessive use saturate with water or leave out in the rain . It will cause the fibers to swell I've done this works great.

Also

If your blades penetrate deeply and you have difficulty removing , rocking back and forth will damage your target try spraying your blades with cooking spray prior to throwing. It does help to remove.

Keep up the great work guys.

All the best!

Rev666
Rev666

P.s. My appologies for the bad spelling!

Jon
Jon

To get a consistent cut on the pieces, you can simply clamp a cut off piece of 2x4 to act as a stop on the right side of the miter saw fence.

karl
karl

There are 2 general throwing techniques, spin and no spin, no spin is much more combat effective. eg hitting the running guy.


Mad Casual
Mad Casual

@karl 

tl;dr - Knife throwing less about strict combat effectiveness and more about psychological coolness/intimidation, mastery of physical skill(s), and general situational awareness.

Not trying to start a debate but, as someone who can reliably (90+% stick) throw 1/4 turn ("no spin") out to about 15 ft. and 3-4 turns out to about 30 ft. and generally anything in between; "combat effective" is highly subjective.

No-spin throwing doesn't impart any gyroscopic stability (think about the knife rolling and yawing) and, because of this, is generally less accurate and is *probably* ineffective at any sort of range where running vs. walking makes a big difference. Not that, short of throwing anything smaller than a shot put or sledgehammer, you're going to stop your attacker through physical force anyway. Further, the terminal ballistics of a thrown knife are questionable at best; and the universal standard of penetration into/through fixed plywood carries a dubious translation to denim (or Kevlar/Zylon/etc.) wrapped flesh.

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