The Split and Wedge Atlatl

by Mike Richardson



You can't always find a proper forked stick for a fork and cord atlatl. I got this idea from a fellow Alaskan, Steve Werks of Thorne Bay, Prince of Whales Island, Alaska. Just split a straight stick and put a wedge into the split. Be careful not to open the split too wide. The gap acts like the groove on a regular board type atlatl.

This is a dry piece of alder, 26 inches long. I trimmed down the sides to get the weight down. It was about 7 ounces. Now, it is 4.5 ounces. The atlatl is much better for throwing heavy 8 oz. darts. Notice that I kept the thickness and just trimmed off the width. I want very little flex in my atlatls. I used a leather boot lace across the fork.

This atlatl was made in 5 minutes and painted in 10 minutes. It's now my favorite chucker.

An archeology student sent me a picture of a drawing done by M. R. Harrington. The drawing is an atlatl that was found in the Lovelock Cave of Nevada during the early 1900s. The atlatl was 17 inches long. It was finely crafted from grease wood. On the distal end, where you usually find a hook, was what looks like an identical twin to my fork and cord atlatl. The original artifact was lost, but a copy was made and given to the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology at the University of California in Berkeley.




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Mike Richardson resides in Anchorage, Alaska.

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