Primitive bone knife (blade and handle)

Discussion in 'Primitive Tools' started by Bitterroot Native, Mar 22, 2017.

  1. Bitterroot Native

    Bitterroot Native Guide

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    Hello BCUSA! Today I decided to make a bone knife. Bone knives were/are used for cutting soft plants as well as processing fish and game. It was made with 100% primitive materials and tools gathered/made by me.

    A couple days ago I came across a bone pile while out prospecting for gold with an old family friend. I didn't have time to take everything I wanted but I picked up a shoulder blade from a deer and a few rib bones and figured today would be a good day to put them to use.

    There was a lot of bone to choose from but I selected a ridge coming off the scapula, scored it with a stone flake, then put it on the ground and stepped on it in such a way to break the bone where I scored it. I unintentionally broke off another shard of bone which worked in my favor. I will turn the shard into a fishing gorge, or type of hook. The area would have been ground away anyways!
    IMAG0539.jpg
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    After breaking the piece I set off grinding the bone on a stone to get a rough blank of the knife I wanted to make. The handle and blade are one solid piece, this made construction much easier.
    IMAG0545.jpg

    I shaped it for some time. Trying to even out the natural twist and cup shape of the bone. Also added a serrated edge to cut grasses, green vines, ect. Tried it out on some grass already, works great!

    After much grinding and shaving with various stones I decided to drill a hole in the handle so I could properly handle the knife. I used a straightish stick with a small quartz flake embedded in the end and drilled the bone like one would start a fire with a hand drill. The quartz held up as I only needed one drill bit and was quickly able to get a small hole in the bone.
    IMAG0553.jpg

    I handled the knife using douglas fir sap, bull pine sap, a dark colored whispy moss that resembled old mans beard, and bark cordage. I roughed up the bone with a stone flake so the sap would better stick. Smeared some of the sap on the handle after warming it up in my hands.

    After that I took the moss and wrapped it into my sap putty to give the handle some bulk as well as a soft ergonomic grip. Another layer of sap was smeared on then I wrapped it tightly in bark cordage. Yet another layer of sap was smeared on the outside to seal it all in. Dried large leaf maple leaves were crumbled and crushed up along with mullein pith (the light colored specks in the handle) to form a dust that I rubbed vigorously on the handle to make it not sticky.

    Handle materials

    IMAG0554.jpg
    Wrapping the handle
    IMAG0561.jpg

    After it was wrapped and sealed with the leaf dust I cleaned it up a bit and further honed the edges until it was sharp. Heres the finished product, I think it looks sufficiently savage!
    IMAG0563.jpg

    IMAG0576.jpg

    IMAG0574.jpg


    The finished product turned out better than I expected. It's going to be a real asset to my small but quickly growing primitive kit. I'll be able to gather materials much more quickly and also process cordage a lot faster. Total length is almost exactly 6.5 inches, blade is 4 inches long.

    I have a sheath planned, I'll make a post or update this one when it's complete. This is my first primitive knife (tried to make a bone knife previously but the bone was far too rotten to be workable), first knife ever come to think of it. I can see why some guys really get into it, it's fun!

    Any comments questions or critiques are welcome! Thanks for reading :dblthumb:
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2017
  2. NWPrimate

    NWPrimate Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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  3. Bitterroot Native

    Bitterroot Native Guide

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    Thanks! One of my cooler projects so far for sure :D
     
  4. Finner

    Finner Scout

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    This is my favorite thing
     
  5. Winterhorse

    Winterhorse Supporter Supporter

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    Absolutely love this! I gotta try one of these.
     
  6. Bitterroot Native

    Bitterroot Native Guide

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    Thanks! You should try one out. I was surprised at how sharp of an edge I was able to get. Bone is really nice/fun to work with! If you want to use power tools you could probably make one of these in a few minutes, using metal hand tools a little longer.
     
  7. Bitterroot Native

    Bitterroot Native Guide

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    Update: Going to make a crude sheath out of bark cordage before I make a proper bark sheath (trees for making a bark sheath are inaccessible at the moment due to mountain snow and me not having 4wd). When thrown loosely in my bark container the blade slips between the weave and leaves the end of the knife sticking out, don't want to fall on that!
     
  8. NattyBo

    NattyBo Bon Vivant Supporter

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    Gotta love bushcrafters: "forget the gold Bob, there's a bone pile over here"

    Awesome job!!
     
  9. Bitterroot Native

    Bitterroot Native Guide

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    Thanks!

    Lol I thought about that as I was picking up those bones too. I'm supposed to be out finding gold and making money but I found myself more interested in the natural resources of the forest more so than the scant gold underneath it.

    Soon as I found that bone pile it was downhill motivation to mine any longer haha. Chances of me finding a substantial amount of gold were very slim, but the chances of me being able to make something useful/cool out of those bones were very high :D
     
  10. Hoof

    Hoof Guide

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    Looks great. Had to be a lot of fun
     
  11. Bitterroot Native

    Bitterroot Native Guide

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    @Hoof Thanks! It was a lot of fun to make aside from getting sap in my hair lol. Probably about as much fun as you can have grinding a bone on a rock for hours on end :D. Bone is much easier to shape and work with than I had previously thought provided you have decent bone and not rotten material.

    I still have a bunch of material left and plan on making fishing hooks/gorges, atlatl/spear points, and a few needles :dblthumb:.
     
  12. Kvothe

    Kvothe Birch Bark Aficionado Supporter

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    Great stuff, brother!! :dblthumb:
    Looks like a perfect fillet blade..and the serrated part will come in handy for descaling! Looking forward to the sheath :)
     
  13. Bitterroot Native

    Bitterroot Native Guide

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    It's a good blade for fillets. Really flexible yet strong. I didn't even think of using the serrations for descaling, good idea! My lake is almost accessible now that the snow is melting so I'll get to put it to the test sometime very soon :4:
     
  14. Paul Foreman

    Paul Foreman Supporter Supporter

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    that'll work, right there ...
     
  15. BushSmith

    BushSmith Scout

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    For the first time attempting this, you did a great job! Thanks for sharing.
     
  16. Bitterroot Native

    Bitterroot Native Guide

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  17. CivilizationDropout

    CivilizationDropout Jack of all trades, Mastering some. Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    That looks great, might I suggest using some more bone for the sheath? Two concave pieces, hollow sides facing in then sapped and wrapped like the knife handle? Maybe you could split a softer piece of wood with your new stone chopper and scrape away a cavity for the blade (fire plow style) then wrap it up the same?

    Any way you wrap it ( :) ) it'll end up looking good I'm sure. Make sure the sheath has a wide "belt" loop on it, hang it on your toggle bandolier when its done!

    Good job bud, keep makin.
     
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  18. Bitterroot Native

    Bitterroot Native Guide

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    @CivilizationDropout, a bone sheath is brilliant! Really cool idea man. I don't have the bones to do it with right now but there were plenty of bones left in that pile that I could make one with. A lot of potential with that idea!
     
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  19. Draketake

    Draketake Guide

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    Nice improvisation.
     
  20. MrFixIt

    MrFixIt Old Jarhead Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    Missed this when you first posted it, but that turned out great!
     
  21. Bitterroot Native

    Bitterroot Native Guide

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    @MrFixIt Thanks! I've been getting a good bit of use out of it too :4:.
     
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  22. MrFixIt

    MrFixIt Old Jarhead Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    I'm sure you have!
    :dblthumb:
     
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  23. Muleman77

    Muleman77 Hobbyist Hobbyist

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    Really like it
    Id like to see it skin a deer, or clean a trout.
    I bet it would do the job easily!
     
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  24. Bitterroot Native

    Bitterroot Native Guide

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    I'm going fishing in a couple days, I'll do a post showing me scaling/cleaning some fish with it :dblthumb:. I'm interested to see how it performs too!
     
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  25. Finner

    Finner Scout

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    Now that will be something to see
     
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  26. hdlv

    hdlv Supporter Supporter

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    That is way to cool. Nice work, I wouldn't even know where to start!
     
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  27. Bitterroot Native

    Bitterroot Native Guide

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    Thanks! I rarely know where to start either haha. I just jump in and start trying things, doesn't take long before you start to realize what will work and what won't in a primitive context. Failure is always a possibility but so much is learned from even from mistakes :dblthumb:
     
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  28. Guard

    Guard Scout

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    Excellent job!
     
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