The Cherokee people were one of the Native American tribes to use the traditional hatchet, or tomahawk axe, in their everyday lives. The Cherokees used the hatchet for killing animals for food, defending their territory and fighting other tribes. The Cherokees also used the hatchets for cutting wood and building tools and shelter for their families. These versatile tools were lightweight and effortless to use. You can make your own Cherokee hatchet from cardboard and a few everyday household supplies. 

Necessary Supplies



Cardboard box



Duct tape

Popsicle stick

Craft glue

Acrylic paints or washable paints, such as poster paint


Beads and feathers

Step 1


Find a Cherokee hatchet pattern, or other Native American tomahawk pattern, online and print it out. Keep the hatchet outline about the same size as a piece of computer paper. You can also make a slightly larger tomahawk pattern if you use two pieces of paper.

Step 2

Trace the outline of the hatchet onto the side of the cardboard box. If you don’t want to use a template, then cut a 12 inch long and 2 inch wide rectangle with a six inch long and four inch wide triangle near one end.

Step 3

Cut out the outline with scissors. Try to keep the lines as straight as possible. Cut out a second tomahawk outline. Place a popsicle stick between the two cardboard pieces for stability. Glue the two pieces together with craft glue. Allow the glue to dry for one hour. 

Step 4

Paint the hatchet with acrylic paints. Try painting the handle silver or bronze and the handle brown or black. Allow children to experiment with paint colors. If you are concerend about the paint ruining clothing, use washable paints instead. Allow the paint to dry two hours.


Step 5

Glue beads or feathers to the handle of the hatchet. Paint Native American designs onto the blade or the handle with acrylic paints. Allow the paint to dry for two hours before playing with the hatchet.


Tips and Cautions

Never use the hatchet on people or animals. Even though the hatchet is not actually a weapon or axe, it can still cause injuries. 


Try reinforcing the hatchet with duct tape along the area where the handle and blade connect. This will prevent the handle from drooping after a few swings. You can paint over the tape, or leave it silver for a fake metallic appearance. 


This craft would work for a Thanksgiving play prop, or a Thanksgiving craft.