x

How to Make a Samoan Fire Knife

By Max Quigley
Samoan men perform dances with a fire knife.

A Samoan fire knife is used in traditional Pacific dance perfomances known as ailao. The history of the dance is hundreds of years old and is supposed to highlight a warriors prowess in battle. The knife itself looks much like a machete, except it has a large hook at the end of the blade around which a towel or rag is wrapped and set alight during the dance performance, hence the name fire knife. It also has a uniquely large handle between 1 to 2 feet long, usually wrapped in fabric.

Draw the design of the knife onto a large piece of stainless steel. A 3-foot-by-4-inch-by-0.02-inch bar of steel is the perfect size. As part of the design, include a large 2-foot tang. The tang is the part of the knife that later becomes the handle of the blade.

Cut the design out of the steel. Using a power jigsaw, cut the shape of the knife. This is tricky because of the large hook on the end of the blade, so take your time.

Polish the blade. Once you have cut the blade design out of steel, polish it using progressively finer grit sandpaper. Start with a 120-grit piece, then move on to 250- and finally 400-grit. This gives the blade a sheen. You can also polish using up to 600-grit paper, but it's not necessary to produce an attractive knife.

Attach the handle. There are several ways of doing this, but the simplest is to find two, 2-foot pieces of smooth wood, glue them to both sides of the tang and wrap them with fabric or leather to keep them in place. Test that the wood fits nicely into your hand and use a strong glue such as epoxy when applying them to the handle.

About the Author

Max Quigley started writing professionally in 2007. He has worked on publications such as "The Liberty," "Chrome," "DIT News," "The Kippure," "Ausblick," "Backpacker Magazine" and ciNews, holding such roles as section editor, copy editor, reporter and layout designer. Quigley has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and German from Dublin Institute of Technology.