River Cane Substitute?

Discussion of all primitive weapons that do not already have their own forums: blowguns, rabbit sticks, bolas, etc.

River Cane Substitute?

Bolensgoldrush
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Bolensgoldrush
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Joined: June 27th, 2013, 7:25 pm

January 28th, 2014, 11:10 pm #1

Hi,

So I live in Ontario, Canada, and while on the internet, I found out that River Cane doesn't grow around here.  Is there any plant I could use to substitute for it, that can be found in straight shafts?
If it helps, I want to build a spear and spear thrower.
Thanks,
Jacob
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land hawk
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land hawk
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January 29th, 2014, 12:00 am #2

Red osier dogwood should do fine, also I used squash berry for arrow shafts and found usually has a lot of pith, and very light, good for mounting foreshafts.
I usually just look for any species that is straight and long, usually you'll find them in a shady place where they are struggling for sunlight. I find though if you don't have the tip of the shaft weighted down at least a little bit the shaft won't travel as far. I want to try a moose antler tip, for target practice darts on some of my shafts, hollow it out and fasten to the end of the shaft with pitch or hide glue, or both. Also it would prevent the shaft tip from splitting.
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Abo
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January 29th, 2014, 12:58 am #3

If you want river cane you can find it with this guy. http://paleoplanet69529.yuku.com/topic/58306/river-cane-arrow-shafts-for-trade I've gotten cane from him and he's pretty good working with what you want! He doesn't have 1" diameter stuff though for a "spear" but 1/2" plus stuff for atlatl darts if that's what you are looking to make. You should check out your local hydroponic/garden store, down here in the US they sell bamboo and cane. IDk anything about Canada but it can't hurt to look.
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paleoarts
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paleoarts
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January 29th, 2014, 8:37 pm #4

just about any straight-ish shoot or runner will do. For atlatl (spear thrower) darts, you'll want something around 1/2'' at the base and around 1/4'' at the top after stripping the bark, and between 4.5' and 7' in length. It doesn't have to be straight to begin with. You can straighten it later using heat. But, it does have to be fairly clear and free from defects. No large knots or protruding branches. You'll want something robust yet still flexible. Willow, service berry, and a ton of other species make excellent darts. For more info check out the atlatl page on this forum.

Chris
check out my online gallery, including shopping cart, at www.flintknappers.com/gallery/paleoarts and follow me on Facebook.
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fiddler49
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fiddler49
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January 31st, 2014, 4:13 am #5

You can make two piece darts out of shorter shoots. 3.5 ft with a 4 inch scarf joined with another 3.5 ft with 4 inch scarf. Makes a dart that is about 6 ft 9 inches. I make natural shoot darts using this method
out of willow, high bush cranberry, wild rose or 1/2 inch poplar dowel. I join the thick ends in the middle of the dart with a tube of birch bark, raw hide or 3 sheets of copy paper. I spiral wrap cord on the tubes, starting in the middle, going to one end, back to the middle, back to the other end and back to the middle, tie square knot. The tube should be twice as long as the scarf, so on a 4 inch scarf your tube should be 8 inches long. These are take down darts. The joint will now be stronger than the rest of the shaft. Lots of advantages, easy to make no down side!!! The scarf can be cut with a hand saw, pocket knife or sharp rock. I use a thin blade pull saw and a simple jig to cut all my scarfs. Scarfs are a single bevel and were used on atlatl antler hooks found in European caves as far back as 18,000 years. The ice patch darts found in the Yukon territories use scarf joints on some of the oldest willow darts found in north america, 9,000 plus years. They would use spruce pitch and sinew to bind the scarfs together. 8 to 1 ratio for scarfs is about ideal so a 4 inch scarf on a 1/2 dia. dart shaft is an 8 to 1 ratio. Att. a butt joint would only be as strong as the tube and just doesn't work! I have a number of how to articles on PrimitiveWays, http://www.primitiveways.com/tube_and_scarf_method.html and on the atlatl form, http://paleoplanet69529.yuku.com/topic/ ... -scarf-jig. Remember there was no cane in most of north America and northern europe during the golden age of atlatl usage!!! cheers fiddler49
Last edited by fiddler49 on January 31st, 2014, 4:30 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Lepercan
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February 4th, 2014, 4:54 pm #6

You might try your local garden supply. Look for tomato stakes.
Lep
Living life in the past lane.
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Bolensgoldrush
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February 5th, 2014, 7:00 pm #7

I actually have tried garden stakes, but they don't hold together well and split at the shooting ends.  Maybe I'll give 'em another go.
 
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Lepercan
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February 9th, 2014, 5:42 pm #8

Most garden stakes have been cut a long time ago.
Try oiling the shaft (any kind of oil/grease) let it soak in then wipe bone dry. Remember, too, bow and atlatl shafts were really considered expendable. only the point is important.
You might have to make wood tip and nock inserts if the shafts are too bad.
Living life in the past lane.
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Forager
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February 9th, 2014, 9:25 pm #9

Lepercan wrote:
 Remember, too, bow and atlatl shafts were really considered expendable. only the point is important.
Lep indicates a very significant factor in the economy of composite manufacture.  It pays to weigh the active roles which each component plays in the overall craft in terms of stresses borne and duties performed.
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Abo
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February 11th, 2014, 12:17 am #10

I disagree with the statement only the point is important. Cane is an ideal material for arrows/ darts because the nature of the plant gives one ready made capabilities of a fore shaft which upon impact with an object weather it be your target or not allows you to readily replace your point. Cane shafts were used at least as far north as the Great Lake. Such a material if not superior would not make it so far north in my opinion. I would suggest wrapping your ends to keep them from splitting both at the nock and at the fore shaft insert. I use sinew and hide glue. I would also use fore shafts of hard wood with cane just like the natives did. Cane does split easily and the use of a fore shaft would help decrease splitting on impact. Make sure your fore shaft fit's perfectly. Any empty space between the main shafts first segment and the fore shaft will make the fore shaft act as a wedge and may split your shafts or at least make it very difficult to replace points. Some split there main shafts on purpose and then wrap around the fore shaft to have a tight hold on the fore shaft. I prefer just to insert fore shafts. I make the snug but not too tight as to never be able to remove them. If you have a fishing arrow you can heat some glue or pitch up to hold in place while fishing and when the point breaks reheat the adhesive and replace point. Another advantage is the changing of points based on what you are hunting small game field points to broad heads and so on.
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TBAtlatl
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TBAtlatl
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March 15th, 2014, 10:44 am #11

I have been making really good darts from spruce and pine lately. They are light weight compared to ash and have the right kind of flex.

 When I was at the Great Lakes Traditional Gathering last summer Ferdy Goode was making canoe parts from spruce and cedar by splitting green wood from freshly cut trees. The same techniques he used to split the cedar can be used to split spruce into dart shafts. They are naturally tapered. The wood is very soft and easy to work while green and stiffens up nicely using heat treating with a fire. Look for spruce with no knots at the bottom 10 or so feet of the tree and with grain that doesn't twist around the tree. You can use stone tools effectively on spruce and come out with some pretty nice shafts. I might be doing a class on this if time permits at the GLTG this summer.
Bob Berg

www.thunderbirdatlatl.com
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biddysere
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January 8th, 2018, 12:08 am #12

Bolensgoldrush wrote:Hi,

So I live in Ontario, Canada, and while on the internet, I found out that River Cane doesn't grow around here.  Is there any plant I could use to substitute for it, that can be found in straight shafts?
If it helps, I want to build a spear and spear thrower.
Thanks,
Jacob
Red rosier dogwood works great!

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G891A using Tapatalk

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beardedhorse
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February 4th, 2018, 11:22 pm #13

Bamboo is Arundinaria - same species as cane.   Giant cane better than switch cane.   Here in Colorado, red osier dogwood doesn't grow that long so I splice two shafts together with scarf joints.   Glue and sinew wrap..   Same technique works with chokecherry and willow.   Eastern Star imports bamboo in various diameters from China.   In packages of 10 or 12.   Distributors in Seattle and maybe Chicago.    About $6.00 per package but you are lucky to find 3 good straight ones without cracks.   Avoid those cut green and dry with splits and cracks.  Twigs that are carelessly trimmed ruin the stick for darts.   Rejected dart shafts might be savageable as arrow shafts.      Lumberized ashdarts work poorly out in the dry West unless sealed well.   Pine and fir readily available as lumber and cheaper but not as dense.  Some guy who appeared  on Dual Survivor markets  at our local gun show, atlatls darts made of ash and they are badly warped.   Unless the grain is straight and without a lot of run out they can be weaker than bamboo.    Bamboo darts with hardwood fore shafts will penetrate corrugated tin roofing and car doors and hoods.  .  
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beardedhorse
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February 4th, 2018, 11:40 pm #14

Another joint is a fish tail splice.   A v-shaped notch cut into the end of one shaft and a tapered wedge on the other.   Glue, pitch and sinew wrap.   This is not a take down shaft.   Sitka spruce has a higher spine then pine, port orford cedar, red osier dogwood, chokecherry and willow.  Wild rose has a soft inner pitch and not as tough but straightens and polished nicely.   Rose arrows shoot nice but shatter on impact with bone or rock or trees. I have to make spruce darts longer due to spine..   If much thinner they snap if lands wrong.   Not sure how primitive and local you want to source your darts.   Ramin, poplar, oak and ash dowelling can be spliced butt ends together by using a non primitive section of brass tubing. Bamboo  drilled out to the right diameter and the wall left in the middle of a section works for a natural tube connector.    I could take the disassembled shafts on a back quiver and ride my bike to a park or country side to practice.   Dowelled shafts have stacked grain and you have to orient the grain the same to get good flex.   A six foot dart should scribe a 2 foot arc at the end.   Much less than that it is doesn't flex and will "kick up".  
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