Monday, September 2, 2013

Roughing out a Thule Type 4 Harpoon Head

Nephrite endblade, walrus ivory harpoon head,
whalebone foreshaft
I'm literally tying up those loose ends that I mentioned last week.  There are a half dozen different composite reproductions left in this order that require a few minutes of attention for tying, drilling, lashing or gluing and then several hours of drying time.  In between it all, I decided to make a new ivory harpoon head for the Thule harpoon.  The previous one is fine, although there is crack in the ivory that bugs me a bit.  Its still solid and when I treat the reproduction with mineral oil, the crack pretty much disappears, but I have time to swap it out and if the crack does grow and break someday, I'd rather its my problem and not a customer's.

The new harpoon head is
on the foreshaft, while the
 old one is still on the
harpoon line.
I went with another Thule Type 4 harpoon head with an endblade hafted in the same plane as the line hole.  I like this design, because its very similar to the brass and steel harpoon heads that many Inuit hunters still use today.  For this walrus ivory and nephrite version, I used the harpoon heads from Ruin Island in Smith Sound, as reported by Karen McCullough in "The Ruin Islanders: Early Thule Culture Pioneers in the Eastern High Arctic" as my reference.  At the moment its blocked out and the endblade slot and foreshaft socket are finished.  The line hole needs to be enlarged and some of the contours refined, but the general shape is there.  Having the old harpoon head on hand sped the whole process up.  Its much easier to visualize the reproduction in three dimensions if I have an example next to me in the workshop.  Measurements and photos can work, but its a much slower process.  This is an argument in favour of trying to maintain as large a personal collection of reproductions on hand as possible.

Photo Credits: Tim Rast


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks - its not much bigger than the other one, but the scale seems to fit the endblade a little better.


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