Sunday, 14 January 2018

Atl Atl Quiver v 2.0


After a Will Lord 1-2-1 day in my sabbatical during which I made  an atlatl dart and launcher (as well as knapping) I decided to get myself sorted and set about making some more of my own atlatl sets. As an opener to an evening of making  Dutch arrows at Cubs I showed them the afore mentioned atlatl paraphernalia. 

As you can see, our HQ has a decent field to play with such 'toys'. To show them off and indeed protect them I decided to make a 'quiver' out of a small cardboard tube I had in my garage. It was a tight fit but nevertheless served a purpose and looked rather good, even though I say so myself.


A few months later the place where I work had a massive refit and one of the work men was using a wider tube to store conduit and the like in. I asked if I could have it when finished with and was practically the guys second shadow to make sure I secured it. As you can see in the above picture the newer tube was a sizeable upgrade on the the first tube but equally it wasn't too much bigger so's to be unwieldy. 

The new tube however was rather long and needed cutting. I decided to make the new quiver a little longer than the original one by about six inches. The chosen length was also waterproofed at the base with fence preservative too.

Despite the fact that the ends had a plastic lid like the first one, I wanted to have a more natural looking stopper. I had a load of Cedar wood offcuts after making a bow drill set out of the said wood (see the Cedar wood bowdrill blog here) that went with me on  my recent (and first) visit to  Lee Valley Almost Wild campsite  as kindling and the above piece survived as I decided to keep it for the base.

The wooden disc was inserted into the lid with PVA glue  and clamped overnight, then stuck into the tube and secured with a couple of small nails in the side.

I'd recently collected a large amount of Himalayan Silver Birch bark which is more readily available and indeed more flexible than our native Silver Birch. This was to be utilised as a natural looking covering on the tube to give it the look of a branch that had been hollowed out. Any spare would make great fire lighter just like the bark from it's indigenous relatives.

I started gluing the bark on at the base (using PVA adhesive) with the edge overlapping the end so that I could cover it later.

Once the initial bark was glued on and dry the bottom was then finished off with a leather disc which again was nailed to the base. This not only hid the plastic rim of the lid, but also the rough edges of the wooden disc.

This is what it finally looked like with the nails in place, as well as looking good it will help to repel moisture if used in damp conditions. Once the base was finished there was no avoiding the labourious stage of gluing bark onto the rest of the five foot tube piece by piece. There are several layers to bark and either needed thinning out or gluing together before adding to the tube. it also took time to get the colours and layers blended to look au natural.

Despite the more biddable nature of this type of Birch bark it often wouldn't play ball which would necessitate me stopping and using elastic bands and sometimes clamps to tame wayward pieces. any that looked a bit unnatural once glued where easily softened and blended by sticking a smaller strip over the edges. It is at this point that you may realise that the sticking really does take a while!

As I've just mentioned blending the colours it leads nicely onto finishing the top. The bark is often darker when turned upside down and I decided to finish the top end of the quiver off by lining as much of the inside as possible with 'white' bark and then but the darker stuff around the rim. As it went on it actually looked a little bit like leather.

I was overlapping each piece and had left the first piece half stuck so that the final piece could be positioned under it's edge. I'd always intended to run a long thin piece around the bottom of the bark to hide the edge but having seen how good it looks I wish I'd lined them all up a little better and then been able to use a thinner bark strip.

And this is it with the strip in place. This had come out better than I'd imagined, especially as I'd just finished my first quiver off with white bark. You can compare the tops in a later image.

I also stuck some white bark in a little way down the inside of the tube. This is quite fiddly to do but I wasn't planning to go a long way down as the darts will be in situ to hide the cardboard that is visible further down. As with the outside I tidied up the darker bark edge with a bark strip.

This picture perfectly shows what I consider to be a better height, diameter and top finish on the newer quiver. 

And onto the carrying strap for the quiver. I was going to fashion a similar  setup to the original using old settee leather, brass eyelets and paracord. I experimented  with dying the rougher inner of the leather with fence preservative to see what it looked like, I liked it but felt is was a little dark for this project.

I measured the strips used on quiver number one and cut out two similar sized strips for the newer one. I have tried using my fit-for-purpose leather marking wheel on  this soft leather before but in my experience it tends to give a little too much, hence the primitive fork to mark out the awl spacings.

To aid the process I stuck the leather onto the tube with some more PVA glue and then put a length of artificial sinew (which I used to actually stitch them with) through one of the holes and used a clamp to secure it.

I used, not too surprisingly, saddle stitch to secure the leather. For the uninitiated this involves a needle on each end and a sort of figure of eight pattern of stitching is used. 

When saddle stitch is started or finished the stitching starts and ends three or so holes from the start or finish. As you can see in the above right hand picture the stitching is actually finishing near the middle which is to help secure the thread.

Before gluing the second one I mounted it dry to check that I'd go the correct orientation with the first one.

Once both straps where dried and stitched I finished them off with  brass eyelets and then used a desert camo paracord length (paracord knitting article here) which I've tied using an anchor bend which is a more secure round-turn-and-two-half-hitches. I may change this to a bowline though as it doesn't have the working end sticking out. I also trimmed up the leather to make it level were applicable too.

Once both straps were finished I thought I'd roughly weigh it and it came out at just under 3 pounds.

One final bit of embellishment I had in mind was to attach a crotal bell to it, . Their first use was as adornments on horse tack as early as the 13th century but equally they also used to be attached to animals like pigs when left wandering in woods which is what probably gave me the connection to it being used on this quiver, as well as liberating it from a drawer. The one pictured looks like it could have been made anywhere between the 16th to the 19th century according to this website so may well have been used on livestock.


I initially tied the bell on using a piece of paracord inner cordage and then finished off with copious amounts of  Lime bast cordage near the faux leather birch bark near the top. I may add a length of beads near the bell in the near future as a bit of embellishment on the initial embellishment but otherwise it's job done and I'm rather pleased with it.

Suggested further reading:

Homemade Atlatls and Dutch Arrows

Will Lord 1-2-1 Day

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