How to Make an Atlatl




About: I am a high-school aged home school student currently residing in the state of Texas.

This is an instructable on how to make an atlatl and a dart to go with it. The atlatl and dart were once used as a hunting weapon, and are now used for sport. In this instructable, I will show you how to make an easy atlatl that can be done in a day. I am going to call the throwing part the atlatl, and the spear-like part, the dart.

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Step 1: The Atlatl.

The first thing to do is to get a branch selected for the atlatl. The one that I selected was forty centimeters (sixteen inches), but the main thing to do is to get the size that fits you. The piece that I selected had a bit of a natural curve to it, which in my opinion is good for an atlatl.

Step 2: Cutting.

After that, cut off all the little branches.

Step 3: Thinning.

Then start thinning down the sides. Once you are done with that, start thinning down the top and bottom. Make sure that you know where you want your handle to be so that you don't accidentally carve it some of it off. If you are wanting a curve in the atlatl, then this is where you want to start carving it.

Step 4: The Stop Cut.

Next, start making the stop cut that the dart will rest in. 

Step 5: Last Refinements.

Next, make the last refinements, sand the whole thing down, and voila! You are done with the atlatl.

Step 6: The Dart.

Now, it is time for the dart. I cut a long, straight piece of wood, and then cut it down to the length that I wanted. It was about ninety-three centimeters (thirty-six inches)  

Step 7: Trimming.

Then I trimmed off all the little starts of branches.

Step 8: Shaving Off Bark.

Then I removed a bit of bark off of the end that will rest in the stop-cut of the atlatl, for the feathers.

Step 9: Tying Feathers.

I then got three feathers, cut off the smaller sides with a pair of scissors. After that I glued them just enough to hold them on, got some string, (I would have used twine if that had been available to me.) and proceeded to wrap the feathers onto the now-fully-fledged-dart. Also, when you are doing it, try to make to end of the feathers curve to the side a bit, and it will spin when thrown.

Step 10: Carving a Tip.

I now took the other end of the soon-to-be dart, and carved a tip, making sure to make it off-center so that the tip was not made out of  the fluffy inner wood.

Step 11: Hardening.

Then I hardened the tip with fire. 

Step 12: Have Fun!!!

Have fun throwing the dart with the atlatl! Here is a diagram that I found on the internet that shows how to throw it. And also a picture of the completed project.

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    16 Discussions


    3 years ago

    thanks. I'm doing this for a project for class


    3 years ago

    Thanx! I needed to figure out how to make an atlatl and this helped me a lot!

    1 reply
    Old cooper

    4 years ago on Introduction

    A project just made for a drawknife and a drawknife bench.

    I saw an atlatl today in a state park collection made from a piece of bamboo or cane. I'll be making one this weekend.

    1 reply
    flattailOld cooper

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Sounds awesome! Hope yours turns out better than mine! Don't forget to post pictures somewhere when you're done!


    5 years ago on Introduction

    cool stuff I've been interested in bush craft since starting to take anthropology this semester

    1 reply

    5 years ago

    What did you use to do the carving?

    1 reply

    6 years ago on Introduction

    Nice! I just posted my 'ible an "Making the Ancient Atlatl". Yours is so much easier to make than mine. I like the way yours could be made in a "Survival " situation to hunt game. Thanks for sharing yours !

    2 replies

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks! I'm glad you like it. I actually saw your instructable the other day and thought, "Man, I wish mine was that good." I've been meaning to do a remake for this for quite some time, because it doesn't work as well as I'd like it too. Maybe someday I'll get around to it...


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Well someone posted on Bushcraft about making atlatls, and his post looked like a copy of yours.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    nice! i just made my own design and it was an absolute fail!haha i'll make both of your's and see how they turn out! thanks