Karate Practice Dummy

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Project by BigEd posted 08-24-2009 03:29 AM 7462 views 5 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Yes, it’s a karate practice dummy that I made for a friend at work. Definitely the most unique project I’ve done to date. Most of it was done with vintage hand tools using techniques I’d learned from nearly 20 years of watching Roy Underhill.
The body started out as a white ash log from a tree that came down about 4 years ago. After getting it into the shop, I started chopping away with a variety of hand tools including an adze, broad hatchet, firmer chisels, and anything else I could find that was sharp. I finally cheated a bit with a handheld power planer and, a few drive belts later, had worked it down to the desired 9” diameter.
After establishing a centerline, I laid out the 1 1/2” square mortises for the arms and leg, got my cordless drill (a.k.a. brace and bit) and wasted out most of the wood. Squared it up with a chisel. Did the same for the through mortises for the two rails. Seems like it should take more than three sentences to explain cutting those mortises given the amount of time that it took….
The framework is made of Honey Locust because 1) it was cheap, and 2) it’s very durable. The uprights attach to the base with a through mortise and tenon, and the two rails are attached with wedges through exposed tenons.
The leg exits the dummy at a 15 deg angle and has a large mortise & tenon joint at the knee. It’s about 3” square with rounded corners.
The arms and legs are held in place with wedges through mortises as shown in the last photo. The wedges give it a bit of an Asian look.
All in all, a pretty challenging project given all the handwork and joinery. While I am by no means a Karate expert (I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a practice dummy until I was asked to build one), I’m told that this type of dummy is for Chinese style training.

-- BigEd, sawdust maker in Ohio

5 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


117328 posts in 3778 days

#1 posted 08-24-2009 03:36 AM

Very cool

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View kolwdwrkr's profile


2821 posts in 3791 days

#2 posted 08-24-2009 04:17 AM

Holy Cow, that looks like it will hurt when hit. Here’s my karate punching dummy. I envy you, just don’t hit or kick me. LOL


-- ~ Inspiring those who inspire me ~

View Dalbergian's profile


74 posts in 3401 days

#3 posted 08-24-2009 04:22 AM

Very nice Wing Chun dummy,crisp joinery.
I’ve built one myself out of Maple but my one is minus the throat,which is a good addition,& frame,which I have been meaning to build (nearly 3 years now,though I do mostly handwork so haven’t felt the need)..
where did I put that photo?

-- "Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible." ~ Frank Zappa

View deucefour's profile


285 posts in 3455 days

#4 posted 08-24-2009 03:49 PM

Really Cool, I always wanted one of these when I was younger, This is an old school kung-fu dummy, You’re friend must be impressed, I believe they used to be made of Teak, Could you imagine the cost of that? Good Work

View BigEd's profile


45 posts in 3639 days

#5 posted 08-25-2009 04:03 AM

Thanks for the nice comments! I did read somewhere that they used to be made of Teak and had the same, jaw dropping reaction. I think (and hope) that my friend will get some good use out of it. If he can cause damage to this, I certainly wouldn’t mess with him!

-- BigEd, sawdust maker in Ohio

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