Friday, May 30, 2014

Tying on Beothuk Points

Chert and Iron
Beothuk arrowhead
I'm working on a few Beothuk arrows today.  I'm tying points and feathers on to the pine shafts so that I can ochre stain them.  Since I had a few modified iron nail points on hand from a previous project, I decided to try hafting one on to a complete arrow.   The introduction of iron nails to the Beothuk tool kit changed the way points were hafted, although you can still use sinew and glue to tie them to the shaft.  The main difference is that the long tangs would have been tied into a narrow channel carved down along the arrow shaft from the tip, rather than inserted into a cut slot, like the knapped stone points.  The end result would have differed from the stone tipped points in a couple of ways - first the points made on nails would have been slightly heavier, giving more forward weight to the arrow and secondly the prominent barbs on the corner notched chert arrowheads are gone from the slender, leaf-shaped arrowheads hammered out of iron nails.  Would the heavier points penetrate farther and eliminate the need for barbs to prevent the arrow from backing out of the wound?  Or was it just too much of a hassle to cut and file barbs into a hammered iron point?

A side view of an iron point (top) and a stone point (bottom).  The long tang of the iron point needs a lot more sinew lashing to completely encase it.  

Chert, corner notched Recent Indian projectile point reproduction

I think you can see a little more clearly that iron tang fits in a slot running along the outside edge of the wood arrow shaft.  The two points have comparable cutting edges and angles, but the iron point is a little heavier and lacks the prominent barbs of the stone point.  
Photo Credit: Tim Rast

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