Atlatl & Darts


Introduction: Atlatl & Darts

Atlatls and darts are items that are easy to make, pretty much anyone can knock one up in a relatively short time - But... there is a big difference between a stick with a hook and a well crafted Atlatl!! For more information on How To visit; Or drop me a message on  - However, for those of you that would like to make your own, here is the instructable for a DIY Atlatl...

Step 1: Materials...

Materials can be as varied as your imagination allows, I personally like to keep things as natural as possible wherever possible. Typically the equipment needed is as follows; 1) WOOD, while there is nothing wrong with using a length of 2x4 from your local DIY store, why not have a look around out in your local forest and choose something with a nice shape to it, let the wood dictate the shape and work with its natural curves and grain. It is a good idea to age the wood before using it, but this is not essential 2) BINDINGS - real or synthetic sinew, waxed cord, upholstery twine. 3) FIXINGS - Pine or epoxy resin. 4) HANDLE - either carve it from the wood or bind it with leather or jute cord, overlay it with bone or antler etc. 5) SPUR - carved from wood, bone, antler, stone etc. These are the main things to be thinking about. Of course, you will need some decent carving knives - anything will do as long as it is razor sharp.

Step 2: Making a Start...

So, you've selected a suitable length of wood, your next step is to make it into a board - Hold the wood as you would 'use the atlatl', making sure the curves are facing the correct direction. Work the wood down each side creating a nice smooth flat surface. Once this is done the wood should be left to age a little longer for the best results, without giving away any trade secrets about time periods, the first half of this stage of aging, the wood should be left to the natural elements, wind, rain etc, the second it should be stored in a warm dry place - you do not have to do this, but it does improve the final product.

Step 3: Shaping

Now... there is no set design for an atlatl, you literally can make any shape that you can think of, and there are numerous designs out there that different ethnic groups have used over the thousands of years of its use, however; baring a few things in mind will help with your design 1) HEAD, the head should not protrude further than the tip of the spur unless it is swept down and back, this is so that it does not slap the nock of the dart. 2) SPUR, the spur can be any shape, but must be smooth where it connects with the cup of the dart. 3) SHAFT, the shaft can either be rigid or carved so that it flexes - a flex shaft adds more power to the shot as it bends in unison with the dart, think diver and diving board. 4) LENGTH, a good rule of thumb is that the measurement from the tip of your middle finger to the outer bend of your elbow is a good size to choose, but there is nothing wrong with experimenting. 5) HANDLE, some have finger loops, some thumb holes, some wrist straps, as long as is comfy and you can grip it easily then it's good. 6) ACCESSORIES, Some atlatls have bannerstones, others are simple, some have dart rests - my personal preference is to use my thumb and index finger to grip the dart, but whatever works for you. Once you have decided on your style begin to chop and carve it out roughly - take your time, less speed, less mistakes... 

Step 4: Spur

Once you are happy with the shape, if you have not carved the spur as part of the atlatl head this is the next step. This can be inserted into a predrilled hole or fastened to the atlatl with bindings. I like to carve a grove to fit the spur in as I find it give a stronger finished product.

Step 5: All Finished

As I said before, the handle design is mostly aesthetic and can be as varied as the many different styles. Bare in mind that you need to be able to keep hold of it while swinging hard, the last thing you want to do is throw your beautifully crafted atlatl at the floor...!!! Be a bit creative and take your time, it's a great sport to get into - ENJOY!!!   For more information or to have a look what's on offer please feel free to go to

Coming soon - how to make the darts...



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    9 Discussions


    I like it!! Very nice!!! Really looking forward to the dart 'ible as well.

    Hi mattakers, strictly speaking the Atlatl is a 'system' made of two parts - as I'm sure you are aware Atlatl crudely translates as 'spear thrower'; the 'handle' part being the Atlatl. Of course technically the projectile used is not strictly a spear and classed rather as a dart - for a myriad of reasons. Although the ideas and translations of the system vary widely depending upon which school of thought you follow. In short, the dart is not the atlatl, but the projectile; hence the term 'Atlatl and dart. Thank you for your comment though.

    Yeah that does help

    The atlatl is the dart.

    Hi there matey,
    It's actually a full tang heavy duty military grade combat knife, along its spine it is 8cm thick, I spent a lot of time with my sharpening kit working it to a razor edge (half way through making a handle for it out of antler). Hope that helps!

    What kind of knife are you using in the first picture?