Here are a couple of photos of the one I still think of as the "new horse." It is made up of mostly recycled and scrap wood that I was hoarding for just such a project. More than ten years later, I am still quite happy with the size and design of this one. It … Continue reading My Favorite Working Pony
I'm calling this one the Ranger Bag - It takes a lot of work to prototype a new bag design. To get just the right shape and proportion, find the right materials, and choose the appropriate construction technique is a big deal; especially if it's going to be done well. I wanted something that looked … Continue reading Prototyping a New Belt Pouch
Robyn Hode – An hundred shefe of arowes gode, The hedys burneshed full bryght; And every arowe an elle longe, With pecok wel idyght, Inocked all with whyte silver [or silk]; It was a semely syght. A Gest of Robyn Hode, lines 523-8 in English Popular Ballads, 1922 edition England, ca. 1450 A.D.
After you have carefully selected the tree, cut it down, and (hopefully) had time to age the wood it is time to prep the bow staves. Prepping bow staves is a fair amount of work but made easier with the right tools and a little experience. The examples below aged for nearly seven years in … Continue reading Prepping Bow Staves
A pictorial step-by-step of the bow-making process. This quick look isn't intended to replace the one-on-one learning of a real teacher or to cover all aspects of the art that come from years of practice. Expect both success and failure and don't let either one dominate your learning. Education is a process, not an instance. … Continue reading Making a Self-Bow
I've added a photo gallery in the sidebar to the right of the main blog feed. I think nearly all these projects have been shared here over the years but this makes for easy viewing. I'll continue to add images and re-post some older work as I get time so please check back feel free … Continue reading Photo Gallery
Dowel Cutter - A useful tool for large-scale production A version of this post appeared here in 2012 but here is an update as prelude to a coming post. I've been using a Veritas dowel and tenon cutter to rough out arrow shafts from planks. Quite a while ago I posted about the jig I … Continue reading Arrows from Planks
Several years ago I starting documenting some of the arrow-making I do. I wrote the original version of this piece in 2012 but as it always draws a lot of interest I have re-edited it and am posting it again. Arrows have been much on my mind after seeing how ratty some of mine have … Continue reading Bamboo Arrow Construction
Some Thoughts on Making Arrows, an Underappreciated Art - I have been making my own arrows from scratch for a couple decades (since 1987 to be precise) and thought I'd showcase some I have made over the past few years. I don't generally make them to sell and I rarely hunt these days but there … Continue reading Arrowology
SINEW Sinew is the term used to describe tendon or ligament in more formal English. It is the cord that connects muscle to bone or bone to bone in skeletal animals. Like rope, it is made up of bundles of bundles of bundles as shown in this anatomical illustration. For our purposes, sinew is a … Continue reading The Magic of Sinew
Today I'm prepping to present some primitive skills on Saturday, from raw materials to finished goods. I'm also getting some kid's activities together to draw in the latest generation. An assortment of stone-age technology laid out to take to the public.
I study the technology of prehistory. Because of this, I believe strongly in the benefits of experiential archaeology. It gives perspective on a very deep level. We can walk in the shoes of our ancestors, so to speak. I say experiential here not experimental and I'm glad to hear this word coming into the dialog … Continue reading Learning by Replication
Don't leave the kids out of the things you find important... Nota bene! The following ramble was written at three in the morning and may contain sentiment, ramblings, and a bit of opinion. I don't want this to sound preachy. What was intended as a few childhood pictures from primitive technology events ran away with … Continue reading Raised With Wilderness Skills
Reposted from 2008; what a different life it seems now. Here is one of my favorite old shave horses. It is made from a plank chainsawed from an enormous pin-oak limb that came down during a storm years ago. It weighs quite a bit but the weight means more stability when using it as a … Continue reading Shaving Horse
An advertising card from when people appreciated hand made archery equipment. No training wheel, gizmos, releases, or sights. There is no date on the image but I suspect that late 18th century or early 19th century would not be too far off. Apparently javelin throwing was in vogue at the time as well. Now we … Continue reading Trade Card from a Bow and Arrow Maker
Satire on archery from 1794. More at the British Museum.
More bamboo arrows from the leatherworking reverend.
I’ve been doing a little consulting to my nephew*, who has been making a Mongolian bow for a school history assignment. His theory is that the Mongolian bow gave the advantage to the Mongols during their invasion of China in the 14th century, so he’s making one and testing it out. I disagree in a greater part, but it’s more important that he can research, develop and coherently defend a theory. I offered to make him some contemporary bamboo arrows to go with the bow, partially because I knew he wouldn’t have time, and partially because it was an opportunity for me to learn some new skills working with bamboo. He’s also going to be a little more forgiving than a paying client if I make a couple of mistakes while I’m learning, or take some shortcuts.
Paleotool has an excellent two parter on making bamboo arrows, I…
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Finding “handedness” in archaeology… using the fletching of arrows as an example. As a professional archaeologist AND primitive technologist I am very skeptical when someone claims they can determine which hand of a maker is dominant on an ancient tool or weapon. One reason for the distrust is that the archaeologist may not have experienced creating the object in the same way the original maker did. I think the Leatherworking Reverend has a valid point in the following article (and not just because it affirms my own experiences).
At most find-sites that have arrows there will be a non-equal mix of S- and Z-wrap on the bindings. The dig report will assert that left-handed fletchers were responsible for those that aren’t the majority direction arrow binding, probably without mentioning whether it’s the Z- or S- that they are talking about. I can’t find where it was written down the first time, but it has been repeated until it became lore. Consider the Ötze website:
According to technical archaeologist Harm Paulsen, the two arrows could not have been fashioned by the same person. The fletching shows that one was wound by a left-hander and the other by a right-hander.
and the Mary Rose Trust:
Hopkins (1998) studied 408 shafts from chest 81A2582 (O9) and recorded that, in every case, the binding thread had been wound in a clockwise direction from the tip end of the shaftment (ie, the portion of the arrow…
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A sheef of pecok arwes, bright and kene, Under his belt he bar ful thriftily, (wel koude he dresse his takel yemanly: His arwes drouped noght with fetheres lowe) Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales, Prologue, The Yeoman, lines 104-7.
I have been working on a bow-making tutorial for quite a long time now. Trying to be as explicit as possible while not dumbing everything down is a tricky narrative to follow. Just gathering the appropriate images of the process is time-consuming and difficult but truly, a good image is worth a thousand words.