More Paleolithic Technology in the Shop

DSC_0001 (9)I recently finished another Paleolithic inspired spear thrower (a.k.a. atlatl).  This came about due to some throwing over the past year that re-energized my feelings about this technology and it’s sporting aspects.  As usual for this type of project, I made several at once since the tools were at hand.  Here’s a quick rundown on the process of connecting an antler hook to a wooden handle.

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I cut the antler and rough out a notch for the hook. A few hours soaking in water will soften the cancellous core for easy working.

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Drilling can easily be done on the softened antler with a narrow knife, stone flake, or tapered drill bit.

Argh! A moment of distraction means the snap of a stone bit!

Argh! A moment of distraction means the snap of a stone bit!  However, the show must go on.

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Once the hole is drilled (I take it down to about 3/8 inch or a little thicker) the handle can be roughly whittled, testing periodically for fit.

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A process of trial and error will eventually make a tight joint.

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Nearly there.

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Cleaning of the shoulders of the joint makes for a much neater look and solid connection.

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If the fit is tight, the drying cancellous tissue in the horn sticks surprisingly well. However, I want this to be maintenance-free for the owner so a drop of wood glue will insure decades of strength.  Now the slow and tedious shaping can commence.

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Antler hook after shaping.

Hickory handle after being painted with red ochre.

Here is the hickory handle after being painted with red ochre.

And, for mine, I added a turk's head knot in vegetable-tanned leather to keep hand placement consistent.

And, for mine, I added a turk’s head knot in vegetable-tanned leather to keep hand placement consistent.

My favorite style is the Western European Upper Paleolithic “hammer-handle” style thrower.  It works well with heavier darts and is a solid companion.

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About George Crawford

archaeologist, archer, primitive technologist, and wannabee musician ... mostly
This entry was posted in atlatl, primitive technology and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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