Apocalypse Expedient Weaponry: the Javelin




Javelins, they fall about half way between spears and arrows, they're easy to make, fun to use and have been used for war and hunting all around the world for a long long time. sounds like a handy tool for the firearm challenged come the apocalypse, and just some plain old fun if you have a big empty field up the street to play extreme lawn darts in
Apologies in advance for the picture quality, I've been reduced to my cellphone for taking pictures, and well, it works, but not the best.

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Step 1: You Will Need....

I try and use scavenged material for all my apocalypse projects. not necessary, but i feel it adds to the feel of the project. For this one I've scrounged up:

A socketed spatula and ladle
A couple of old broom sticks
and a bag of craft feathers.

I also like to try and use hand tools, again, because it adds to the feel. I used

Tin snips
a couple files
a hammer
a vice
a box cutter
and some string and a large needle.

Step 2: Roughing Out the Points

Start by marking out a rough outline of your points on the cooking utensil of choice, In this case I'll be using the spatula for my photos. the ladle gets the exact same treatment, you just need to bash it mostly flat before you cut it out.

Got your outline drawn on? good, now grab some tin snips and cut it out. Next hammer it mostly flat, do any necesarry clean up trimming and grab a file and take off any burs or sharp bits on the edges.

Step 3: Shaping the Points

Since these are starting out a cooking utensils the points are pretty flimsy. So were going to reinforce them by making them corrugated.

Start by marking a line down the center of your point. next clamp it in the vice along that line and hammer it over till it's folded over to somewhere between 45 and 90 degrees.

Next, mark 2 more lines from the point back to halfway between the center crease and the edge, clamp it back in the vice and fold it back along these lines. that should make your point far more substantial and look a little nicer. I had to use a little bit of bar stock as a punch so that i could get a nice crease without messing up the first one, you may or may not need to do the same.

Step 4: Finish Your Points

Next we finish the points. In this case they are apocalypse javelins, so I'm looking for function more than form, actually, I'm looking for rusty and ugly, but still effective. To that end, I didn't spent any time cleaning the rust or really doing any polishing.
What I did do was touch up the edge bevels to make sure they were straight and flat, then i used a file to put an "edge" on the edges. it's more for looks than actual sharpness since this is meant to fall from the sky and pierce you like a giant arrow, not slash and stab like a spear.

Congratulations, now you have some javelin points, time to haft them.

Step 5:

For the hafts on my javelins I used some old broom sticks I found lurking around in local alleys, dump piles and ditches. really, anything light weight and with a bit of flex should work.

I tried to do it all with a rasp and file at first, then I realised a box cutter might be better for roughing it in. I recommend starting with the box cutter.

Just carve one end of your haft down to a point that more or less matches the socket on your point, then switch to the files and frequent test fits till you get a good fit.

Once I was satisfied with my fit up I just slid the point on, held it by the socked and smacked it down into the floor a couple to seat it. you may want to use some glue in there, but I don't think it's really necessary.

Once your points are on congratulations, you not have a base line javelin, more or less accurate for back yard distances, but if you want more than that you'll need some extras...

Step 6: Extras #1 Fletching

you may or may not want to fletch your javelins, Personally I recommend it, it'll make them fly straighter and be less prone to land flat over long distances.

For my fletching I used some craft feathers I found laying around, if you are going to use found feathers you'llthe feathr part want to use wing tip feathers, and you'll want to make sure you have all left or right side feathers.
you'll also want some string, or thread, a needle that fits your string or thread, a pair of scissors and some glue.

start by cutting 3 feathers to length, mine are about 5 or 6", it's not too important so long as they are all the same length.

Next cut them lengthwise down the center of the shaft and trim back a bit of the barbs from the tip to expose 3/4" or so of shaft at the end.

Now take a length of string, i just used an arms length, tie it around the shaft and wrap it around a couple times.

Once it's got enough wraps to stay in place (2 or 3 should be good) space your feathers equally around the broomstick and continue the wrapping up the shafts of the feathers. when you reach the barbs tie off your string and smear some glue around on it to keep it all in place.
While you have the glue handy put a little bit along the bottom edge of the feathers to help keep them firmly attached.

Next take another arms length of string, thread the needle and tie it off at the base of the feather.

being careful to keep the feathers in line start to pass the needle through the barbs of the feather and wrap your way to the end in a spiral. try and keep your spacing consistent so as to not force gaps into the barbs of the feather like I did.

When you reach the end wrap it around a few more times, tie it off and slop on a bit more glue to keep it that way.

Step 7: Extras #2 an Atlatl

These javelins throw and fly fine with just my arm, but I wanted to up my range and power a bit, so I kludged together an atlatl as well.

I used a broken hockey stik, a fairly easy thing to find here in Canada, for my atlatl. I chopped off the shaft at about 18" and used what was left of the blade to fashion a hook. nothing fancy, I just eye balled it all and cut it with a hacksaw.

after that i used the hacksaw and a triangular file to put some notches in the ends of my javelins.

I effectively tripled my range using this crude atlatl, however, unsurprisingly it broke after a day, I'll have to make myself a nicer one.

Step 8: Go Throw Your Finished Javelins

Now you have some finished javelins, they may be nicer than mine, they may not be, all that matters is that they work and they are fun. Go get yourself some hula hoops and have a rousing game of extra dangerous extreme lawn darts, it's what we did. Incidentally, it's really really hard to drop one of these in a 3' hoop from 300' away

I'm currently down to 2 of my 3 javelins, one of my points broke at the shoulder where the point meets the socket, if you use spatulas try and find ones that have a fairly beefy transition, my other 2 do and they are still going strong. the ladle point seems to be the best of them all. 

As always, if you make some of your own, post pics in the comments, I want to see 'em.

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    19 Discussions

    I didn't do any quench on these. I doubt the steel would had enough carbon to harden appreciably. Instead I relied on the the creases to stiffen the points. If you're refering to bcvaciuti's comment about annealing then air quench is a bit of a misnomer. An air quench is just letting the metal cool from it's critical temperature to air temperature to take stress out of the steel and remove any work hardening that has happened.

    If on the other hand I was looking to harden or temper something I would probably use used motor oil for the quench. Mostly because I've got to do an oil change on my truck, so I'll have some used oil kicking around.


    6 years ago on Step 8

    you should aneal the bent one (heat till orange then air quench/cool) and hammer it a bit to keep it goin :)

    1 reply

    Reply 6 years ago on Step 8

    I would, but the shaft itself is cracked at the bend, I figgured I;d just keep an eye out for some more spatulas and whatnot


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Nice Idea !!

    Anyway you cut it by hand with tinsnips, no hardening or heat threating: I'm afraid those would not last much if thrown full force, still they would do extreamly well for stabbing, hunting and fishing.

    Next time you might like to use spade drill bits, or starting from flat tool steel stock like knifemakers do. ;-)

    3 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    they are a bit soft, but with the ridges in them they are tougher than I expected, I can whip them into my axe throwing target in the back yard 3 or 4 timed before I need to straighten the tips out, and that only takes about 10 seconds with a hammer.

    spade drill bits are a good idea, I was thinking of using bamboo shafts for the next batch and I shouldn't have any trouble setting spade bits into he hollow sections... I've even got several doubles in my spade bit collection... Yeah, I'll do that for sure.
    The other thing I was thinking of trying out is the tips from some socketed wood chisels, I'm just not sure how deep those sockets are. guess I'll have to keep my eye open for some cheap ones I can trash.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    what about making it out of a spade thats snapped or rusting to bits coz they have sockets and with a pit of modding would make a handy spear...make sure the steels nice and thick though then itll last a bit longer obv :D wanna make one now but its snowing :P


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Rambo recommends car springs. I wanted to include the video clip from the movie but unfortunately the web is drawing a blank on this one. Just watch the whole movie, it is in there. The original Rambo 1. Extra points for watching the whole series though, if there is still time!


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    By they do you mean a pilum? If yes then they're supposed to bend so other combatants cannot use it.

    General Zodpfred2

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    I thought the pilum was specifically designed to pierce an enemy's shield (much like a nail) and then bend along the thin metal "bolt" from the disproportionate weight of the haft (creating an effect similar to a stuck fish-hook)....thus requiring the enemy to throw their main defense away or spend time straightening out the spearhead to remove it from their shield. Either way, said enemy was greatly endangered or inconvenienced.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    For me I think my ultimate zombie weapon would have to be an up armored rubber tire bucket loader a la Soylent Green. That way I could take on any size crowd. Fill 'er up!