Sunday, June 29, 2008

Hoko Knife

Probably one of the simplest, most resourceful tools, is the hoko knife. In the Spring 2001 Society of Primitive Technology Bulletin, Dick Baugh published an article about an artifact recovered from a buried Indian site along the Hoko River in Washington state. Basically, it was a stone flake set into a small split stick and tied with bark cordage. (See: This simple compression haft allowed you to use a sharp stone flake with greater handling and leverage. I have used it to cut strips of lacing from wet deer rawhide, using a fresh sharp flake, to sawing fireboard notches and felling small saplings with heavier serrated flakes.

Flintknapping, I have produced some aesthetically functional blades, but still some of the most resourceful and useful tools are the simplest.

Saturday, June 28, 2008


Oh, how I love the sharp snap of billet striking stone and razor edged flakes sliding off the core! Flintknapping, making stone tools, has been a passion for years. It has brought me some great highs, as well as dropped me into the depths of depression. Over time I've gained a degree of well as That is good because I snapped my first piece right in half today. It happens. Playing with some novaculite, an Arkansas chert, I have been working on a celt for a new axe. Seating it in a wooden handle I tried it great! Will probably cut and soak a length of deer rawhide and further secure it on. Pressure flaking a nice 6-inch blade (lower left) for a knife, or spearhead. Haven't decided yet.

Deer Leg Tool Kit

Have a demo coming up so I was assembling a section called the deer leg tool kit. It is an example of the possible tools from the lower leg of a deer, ...something the hunter today would discard. Basically, the leg bone is harvested, broken, and abraded into awls and needles for sewing hides into clothing and shelter. The tendons are separated for the sinew. Phallanges are used as beads, or worked into fishhooks. Hoof bones are abraded into arrowheads. Any scraps of hide and hoof are boiled in a clay pot to make hide glue. Finally, a deer toe rattle shows the use of leg bone, hide, hoof, and hide glue...nothing left to waste.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Yucca's in Bloom

The yucca's are in bloom this past week. Their cream-colored flower petals, eaten raw, are a right of summer.
In a couple of months I'll harvest and dry the stalks for friction fire sets. These stalks are unsurpassed for generating a hot coal, with the handdrill or bow/drill, in under 30 seconds.
The fibers in the leaves make a strong cordage. Archaeologist, Carl Elfgrin, taught me to take the leaves hard pointed ends, along with a fibrous section peeled from the leaf, and use it as a 'needle and thread'. At the Beaver Creek Primitive Skills & Knap-In we constructed coiled
baskets with beargrass and yucca.

I found an interesting bit of info in the book: Uses of Plants by the Indians of the Missouri River
Region, by Melvin R. Gilmore. In it he said that on the tree-less plains of the Dakotas, Indians
would make hand drills from the narrow, hard-tipped, leaves of the the yucca. The dried leaves would be bound tightly together with sinew to form a slender handdrill which would be spun in a section of the stalk to make fire. Hmmm...another project to add to the list.

Left to Right:
- Bow/drill firemaking set
- A handdrill fireboard and shaft.
- Coiled basket made from beargrass & yucca leaf strips.
- Yucca cordage attached to a bone fishing hook from a deer leg
- Dried yucca stalk.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


I love primitive skills! Everyone needs something that gets them excited...wakes them up early and keeps them up late at night.
I am not exactly sure what it is that draws me, but stepping off the beaten path, I am in another world that is becoming more familiar. The rocks under my feet become tools, the woody stems hold fire in them, and the plants nourish, and bind, and heal me. This is a new step for me learning to blog,... but I am excited to learn, and share, make mistakes, and hopefully meet some new friends.