How to Make Bone Arrowheads

by Jeremiah Blanchard
Primitive projectile points were sometimes made from bone..

Primitive projectile points were sometimes made from bone..

Primitive projectile points were made from a variety of available materials, typically from obsidian or chert in many parts of the country. In the Great Plains of North America, Native Americans predominantly used bone because of its wide availability from roaming bison and a less available source of volcanic rock. Bone arrowheads and spear points are extremely hard and durable. The bone can be sharpened to a very fine edge for skinning animals. Creating a bone arrowhead can be performed using the time-tested primitive method as the Native Americans once did, or you can ease the process using modern tools if you prefer to get the job done with less difficulty and elbow grease.

Find a piece of hard bone material, preferably an animal's leg bone or femur. Cut the bone down to a section about four inches long. You can use the primitive method of cutting the bone by hammering it with a sharp-edged rock, or use an available power saw or hand saw if you want take a modern approach.

Stencil the shape of an arrowhead onto the bone. Choose the flattest surface of the bone. You can simply draw the outline with a pencil directly onto the bone. A small two to three inch long triangle, at about one and a half inches wide at the base, is ideal for making a projectile point.

Cut directly on the lines of the stenciled triangular shape, either hammering on the outline with a sharp rock, or use a saw or Dremel tool if you prefer the modern method.

Find a slightly coarse flat rock, and scrape the edge of the rough arrowhead back and forth until the edges become sharp. Flip the arrowhead over and repeat until a fine edge is achieved on both sides. You can use a Dremel tool or sandpaper if you prefer the modern method of edging the bone.

Place a thick piece of leather hide in your less dominate hand, then place the rough arrowhead onto the leather piece, centered in your palm.

Use a hard narrow-end rock for the primitive method of knapping the bone, or use a modern pressure flaking tool. Strike along the edges of the triangular shape with a hard, fast motion to flake off the ends to make a sawtooth edge. Try to space out the strike by a couple of millimeters all along both sides of the triangle.

Items you will need

  • Bone (femur is best)
  • Piece of leather hide
  • Large flat coarse rock
  • Narrow pointed hard rock

Warning

  • Use caution when knapping the bone. Bone fragments can fly up into your eyes, so wear adequate protection to avoid serious injury.

Photo Credits

  • arrowheads image by Stanislav Komogorov from Fotolia.com