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Ball Head Club

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  • Ball Head Club

    First I looked at a whole bunch of examples of ball head clubs to see what I liked, and what would be appropriate for my tribe.
    Here are some links for ideas:
    War Club
    The Price of Freedom: War Club
    Native American War Clubs
    BALL HEADED CLUB - Atlanta Cutlery
    War Clubs and Ball Clubs
    A Truly GREAT 1860's Eastern Great Lakes BALL WAR CLUB!
    Native American Indian artifact from the Warnock collection - Northeast Club - Ball Head War Club
    Historical Costumes School P (go all the way to the bottom) (go all the way to the bottom)

    I found a piece of wood on a pile that a neighbor was discarding. I'd look for straight grain, as knots and other imperfections will make the club weak, and harder to carve. Using the root-ball of a sapling is one way to go, and I have made ones before using this wood. It saves on some carving, but you might find it difficult to find one with a good trunk for a shaft coming off of the root-ball. If you use lumber that you find in a lumber yard, you will probably need to cut two pieces off of your board and glue them where you want to put your ball, as otherwise it probably won't be wide enough. If you have a planer, you can plane the sides to be glued. Otherwise (as most of us don't have a planer handy), just block sand the sections to be glued with medium grit sandpaper. Make sure you glue the pieces so the grain is going the same way. Then just bar clamp them tightly in place. Leave them to dry overnight. You should not need to put in any sort of pins or screws as the bond should be plenty strong. After carving nobody can even tell, unless they look very closely.

    Then the actual carving:

    *Make sure your tools are very sharp. A dull tool is actually MORE dangerous as it is more likely not to slide easily through the wood, which is means you don't have the control you should.

    First I drew the outline of my club on the piece of wood with a pencil. Then I started with a small camp axe, hacking at the wood until it was in the general shape I wanted. To paraphrase what I was told as a kid, you carve away everything that's not the club. Then I used my trusty old jackknife I've had since I was a kid to carve it down more. This proved a little more difficult than I thought, so I switched to chisels. The chisels worked much better. I think a good crooked knife would really help, but I haven't gotten mine in yet (I ordered one from a coworker).

    If you are looking for a good crooked knife, also look for hoof knives. They are pretty much the same thing, but will cost a lot less.

    After I had it carved out pretty well, I took a wood rasp to it. This tool REALLY helped me get the contours and shape I was going for. Then I sanded with 80 grit sandpaper, then medium grit, then fine grit paper. Next I drilled a hole in the "deer's hoof" part of the handle so I could put a rawhide lace through it. Finally, I ragged on dark walnut stain, and then gave it two coats of polyurethane. If you want to be more traditional, you could use linseed or Tung oil.

    Here is my final (unadorned) ball head club:
    J.L. Benet

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