Archive for March, 2015

Here are some pictures of a recent project – making an arrow straightener.  These are very handy tools used to, obviously, straighten arrows.  They are especially handy for getting out bends towards the end of the arrow shaft where it is hard to get enough leverage just using your hands.  These tools were found all over the world.  Here is some info on them: http://www.ou.edu/cas/archsur/OKArtifacts/wrench.htm.  Some people argue that they were used for something other than straightening arrows and darts but they work great for straightening and that’s what I’ll use it for.


Here is a small elk antler. I’ll use the long straight tine on the end.


Using a ratty old flint blade (doing this will wreck a nice one) I’ll score a line around the antler then break it off.


When the score is deep enough I’ll carefully place it on an anvil stone and hit it with another rock until it snaps off.



Now I’ll take off this side tine.


To clean off this little bit I’ll use this rock and hit it with a mallet.


Now I’ll make the drill with this little piece of Wyoming chert.



I’ll use this old arrow shaft for the drill and glue the drill bit in using pine pitch (boiled pine sap and charcoal).


Here is what I found to be the ideal drill shape. By making the drill widest where it contacts the antler then tapering narrower it wouldn’t bind up as I drilled deeper into the antler.


If you look closely you can see where I’ve started drilling a hole on the left. To make sure the holes you start line up, center the drill from one angle….


… then rotate 90 degrees. If the drill is still centered then you’re good to go.



The drill is just rotated with the hands and it quickly starts to churn through the antler. Patience and light pressure is the key.


An exciting moment… the first sign of daylight.


At a certain point I’ll remove the drill bit from the shaft and clean things up by hand.


Now I can sight down the arrow shaft and work out any little kinks. Arrows have to be perfectly straight if you want them to be accurate and reliable.


It is best to create this angle through the antler so that one hand can be used to squeeze the tools together, “wrenching” the arrow or atlatl dart.


That’s it! Thanks for reading.  I find it very satisfying  that a material as tough and strong as antler can be carved and shaped using just rocks picked up off the ground.


Check out these chickadee tracks! They have tiny and very narrow feet and they look almost identical to jay tracks except for the size.

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