How to Make an Atlatl

The atlatl revolutionized early hunting practices by greatly increasing the speed of spears. You can construct a functional atlatl using these steps.

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You Will Need

  • An 18-by-¾-by-¾-inch wood base
  • Sandpaper and sanding blocks
  • A measuring device
  • A drill
  • A ⅜-by-1½-inch wooden dowel
  • A utility knife
  • Wood glue
  • Two pieces of 24-inch-long sinew
  • A ½-by-9-inch leather strap

Steps

  1. Step 1

    Sand the wood

    Sand the wood base until it is smooth.

  2. Step 2

    Drill a hole

    Drill a ⅜-inch diameter hole at a 135-degree angle to, and about 1¾ inches from, the end of the wood base. Drill deeply without going all the way through the wood.

  3. Step 3

    Insert the dowel in the hole

    Round off one end of the dowel peg with the utility knife, squeeze glue into the hole in the base, and place the flat end of the dowel peg in it. Move it around in the hole to spread the glue, and then push it all the way in.

  4. Step 4

    Attach the sinew to the peg

    Tie a slip knot in each piece of sinew, forming 3-inch loops, place one of the loops over the base of the peg, and pull it tight. Wrap the sinew around the base of the peg to hold it securely in place and then glue the sinew down.

  5. Step 5

    Glue the strap

    Apply glue to both sides of the stick, about 7 inches from the handle end. Place the two ends of the leather strap in the glue.

  6. The leather handle is positioned on the side of the atlatl opposite the peg, with the strap ends attached to the adjoining two sides.

  7. Step 6

    Wrap the ends of the strap with sinew

    Wrap the ends of the leather strap with the second piece of sinew, starting about ¼ inch from the ends. Wrap the strap tightly as you move toward the handle end and secure the sinew in place with glue.

  8. Atlatl is the Aztec word for spear thrower.

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