Let’s say you got lost in the wild, and you somehow forgot or lost your Cold Steel Leatherneck Tanto 39LSFT (or whichever is the best survival knife for you). What do you do? While your situation is most likely not quite as bad as Tom Hanks had it in Castaway, let’s face it–the only way you’re gonna get out of this situation in good shape is to let out your inner caveman.
Let me explain. Our very primitive ancestors lived in a time when every day was a survival situation. Any tools or weapons they needed had to be made from scratch. So, should you be unlucky enough to have only the shirt on your back while you’re lost in the wilderness, you’ll have to follow suit. Let the training of your inner cave man begin. Today’s lesson: how to make weapons in the wild with only the resources that nature has provided you.
How to Make a Knife
Having a knife, any kind of knife, is probably one of the best things that can happen should you suddenly find yourself in a survival situation. You can use it to help you find food, build a shelter, and defend yourself against wild animals, so it’s highly fortunate that nature is waiting like a momma at a craft table with lots of materials you can use to create one.
Bone, shell, bamboo, wood, or even an old aluminum beer can (you know you’ve seen these a million times when you’re out hiking) can work well to perform the puncturing function of a blade. They’re easy to crack or break or shape into a fairly sharp point which will do in a pinch. Unfortunately, you’re not going to be able to use a chicken bone or an expertly-shaped aluminum can point to skin, chop, baton, or any of the other necessary functions of a survival knife. This is where stone comes into play.
I’ll start by saying that making a knife out of stone isn’t easy, but it can be done. You’ll need three things: a core rock, a hammer stone, and a pressure flaker. Remember that you’re going to be smashing these together in true caveman fashion, so having stones that you can reasonably grip in each hand is going to make your life a lot easier (although it’s definitely an option to stand poised over one rock smashing down on it with a two-hand grip until you’ve chipped away at it a bit. But I’m getting ahead of myself.)
The Core Rock
The core rock is what you’ll be making into a blade. Find any large stone, preferably made from obsidian, slate, chert, or flint, that has a relatively flat side. In case you weren’t a rock collector in any of your previous lives, another way to decide if a rock meets the requirements for good knife making material is to bang or click it together with another rock and listen for a ringing sound (like glass). The more a rock sounds like glass, the better it is as a material for your core rock. If you can, choose a rock that is already a bit sharp to reduce the amount of time you’ll need to shape it.
The Hammer Stone
The hammer stone is a medium-sized, spherical rock, preferably made of granite, that will be used to smash, chisel, chip and shape the core rock. You’ll be using it to chip off pieces of the core stone and to narrow the edges to a blade shape.
The Pressure Flaker
The pressure flaker, or flaking tool, is a rock with a sharp point that can help you refine the blade’s edges. You’ll using your flaking tool to after you’ve thinned the edges of the stone with the hammer stone to make the “blade” sharper.
When you start making your knife, you’ll want to be sure to wet the core stone to shorten the time that it takes to shape it into a blade. Begin by striking glancing blows near the edge of the core rock with the hammer stone. Chip away at the core rock until you get the general shape of a blade. Then, use the flaking tool to refine the edges that you need to sharpen. You can also use a stone with a rough surface such as a sandstone to sharpen the edge. Use some rope, cloth, or leather to lash the base and create a handle.
If you are having troubling shaping the rock into a knife, you can opt to create stone blades instead. Check out the videos below to learn how:
How to Make a Spear
We’ve talked about how to make a spear using your best survival knife in a previous article. The same principle applies here. Even without your Cold Steel Leatherneck Tanto 39LSFT or whichever survival knife you normally bring with you, you can still make a spear using your newly made stone knife. To make a spear, you’ll need to find a five-foot long stick that’s tough enough to endure being thrown short or long distances over and over again. Pick the end of the stick that has a more rounded tip and use your stone knife to start shaving to create a spear. Once you’re done, be sure to heat the spear over some hot coals to make your spear sharper.
As an alternative, you can also make a spear by tying your knife onto a stick. Find a stick that’s about an inch wide. Measure about 2 inches from one end of the stick. Mark that point then split the stick into two until you reach the 2-inch mark, creating a sort of Y shape. This will create a space where you can stick your stone knife before you lash it on with some twine, cord, or rope. To lock the blade in place, put some moss or lichen in the remaining space.
If you haven’t had time to fashion your knife out of stone yet, you can also use that broken piece of shell or glass or splintered bamboo or bone and secure it to the end of your stick. If you find a way to split your stick without a knife, you can insert the splintered bone or bamboo into the space and tie it off like you would when turning a knife into a spear.
How to Make a Weighted Club
While sharp pointy tools are all well and good, you can never go wrong with having a blunt object to use for hammering or bludgeoning something such as a weighted club. To make one, you’ll need the following: a piece of wood that’s around 14-16 inches, a medium-sized rock, and some rope.
Once you have all the materials, you’ll need to wrap some lashing 6-8 inches from the end of the stick. Split that same end until you reach the lashing in order to create a V-shaped notch. The rock that you picked out should be shorter than the length of the split. Insert the stone then lash it securely (above, below, and across the stone). The lashing on the stick above the stone clamps both sides of the split together providing the first point of security, so it’s especially important to create a good, tight lashing above the stone. You’ll want to make sure that you bind the split ends securely so that the stone won’t fall off whenever you use it to hammer or pound on something.
Now, hopefully, you never find yourself in a situation where making your own tools is going to be a necessity for survival, but if you do find yourself in such a quagmire, this little bit of information and inner caveman training may be what saves your life.
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Also, check out 7 REALLY Badass Weapons You Can Make At Home!
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