If you follow me on Instagram you’re probably aware that I enjoy throwing knives in my shop every once in a while. However, I’ve never purchased or made a target to throw at so when I throw knives I just throw them into the bathroom door which only gives me about 3′ max standing distance away from it. Not only does this limit me from ever stepping back farther and testing different distances but it also is going to chew up the shop door eventually. So this week I decided to take the time and make myself a target on a french cleat so I could hang it anywhere in the shop I want. If you are interested in building your own I do have a set of plans available to download.
Before jumping into the tutorial here is a video showing an overview of the build process:
When I was looking around at how other people were building their targets I noticed that most cut and glued all their inside pieces together so that the center is one big board at the end. Also, most targets have a back attached to the back to provide support. I wanted to try something different with my target because the thing about throwing knives is it eats up a target pretty quickly and I didn’t want to be locked into replacing the entire center if only the center section was in bad shape. So instead of gluing all my pieces together I instead drilled holes in the center of all my center pieces then threaded them onto a dowel rod which is then inserted and held into place by the frame. This will drastically cut down on time when needing to replace the inside pieces but is a longer process up front. If you want to build a quicker target to start with then check out this tutorial here. It’s put together like a traditional end grain cutting board.
Note: When making a target you only want to be throwing into the end grain of the wood. So on this target I will be able to use the front of the target, then flip it around and also use the back before having to replace the pieces.
Things I Used In This Project:
Start off by making the frame. You can make your target any size you prefer so if you want to vary from the size I made mine, now is the time to do that. You can simplify the project by using two screws to attach the frame together. The only reason I didn’t use screws is because over time, after taking screws out and putting them back in, they will eventually turn the wood to mush and new pieces will need to be cut. To get around this I decided to use some knockdown hardware called Cross Dowels. You see these in furniture pieces such as bed frames that are put together and taken apart.
Before cutting up the inside pieces, I would suggest running both edges through a table saw to square them off and take off the rounded edge. This will allow the 2×4 pieces, once cut, to sit snugger against each other. After squaring them off, set up a stop block on the miter saw and cut all your inside pieces. Once all the pieces are cut I did a dry fit just to make sure things fit nicely.
To make drilling a center hole on all the inside pieces easier I made a simple jig for the drill press from scraps laying on my floor. Basically you just need to attach two boards to act as two fences so you can take a 2×4 inside piece and set it in the same place every single time. To line up the first block I set a piece in the jig then lined up the center with my paddle bit. Once in place, I clamped down the jig to the drill press table so it wouldn’t move. Next I drilled all the center holes. Note: since all the inside pieces are square it doesn’t matter which way the pieces are placed in the jig.
Next, cut your dowels to length and thread the inside pieces on.
Now grab the sides frame 2x4s and drill the holes for the dowels to attach to. I only counterbored mine but to make things easier you could make these a through hole.
Fit the inside rows into the side frame boards then tighten the frame down
My method for hanging the target is attaching a french cleat on the back. This allows me to attach another cleat to any wall in my shop and start throwing. Or I could build a stand alone stand with a cleat on it then be able to move the target from the wall to the stand outside without much of a hassle.