Thursday, May 5, 2016

PalaeoIndian Points Fitted with Foreshafts

Lashing the points in place with gut
I've been back in the workshop finishing up a set of PalaeoIndian spears for shipment to Alaska.  I've been returning sporadically to this order for several months and I'm finally wrapping things up this week.  Since the last time I updated this project, I've cleaned up the knapped points with pressure flaking and gave them the characteristic rounded bases of the reference pieces.  I've fitted them to hardwood foreshafts with a combination of pitch, hide glue, sinew, and gut lashing.  
The knapped reproductions with reference drawings
Softening the spruce gum and
red ochre pitch on the stove
 I wanted to create a bit of variety in the set so that they didn't all look identical.  I used pitch on some and hide glue on others.  I used caribou sinew on some and gut on others.  The points and foreshafts are all different lengths and sizes, although I did try to keep the proximal ends of the foreshafts the same so that all of the foreshafts would be interchangeable with all of the main shafts.

The points hafted in their foreshafts

Forming the rawhide sockets
 For the joint between the foreshafts and the main shafts, I used a simple tapered scarf join.  Scarf joints are a characteristic of the few surviving PalaeoIndian foreshafts found in North America.  I tend to think of scarfed joints as permanently fixed joins, but they can also work as detachable joints.  In this case I cut long tapers on the ends of the foreshafts and made a matching taper on the spruce main shafts.  I wrapped the end of the foreshafts in saran wrap, fit them in place against the matching scarf joint on the main shaft, and then wrapped around the overlapping joint with rawhide.
A dried rawhide socket (left) and the matching scarf joint on a foreshaft (right)
The foreshafts in place while the sockets dry
As the rawhide dries it hardens and bonds to the wooden main shaft while the saran wrap prevents the foreshafts from being glued in place.  The rawhide holds it's shape and creates a tough socket with an inside mold of the matching foreshaft.  I coat the outside of the rawhide with hide glue to add to it's stength.  The end product is a little like a fibre glass socket on the end of the main shaft. I'll update again with some final shots of the assembled spears when everything is dry and ready to ship.

Photo Credits: Tim Rast

1 comment:

  1. Very nice work. Interesting scarf joint idea with the rawhide.


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