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Adventure 4: The Tomahawk Part I

February 9, 2012

Raise your hand if you’ve read The Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. Most people, in my generation at least, read this book in middle school. For those of you who haven’t read it, I’ll sum it up for you real nice: Kid trapped in wilderness. Survives with hatchet. Nice, neat, simple.

My real fascination with this book was probably rooted in the fact that this was the first novel I ever read in which a young kid got to carry a weapon. For a 6th grader, it’s a badass read. Going along with my 12-year-old-boy-themed blog, I decided I HAD to have one. Of course, any chump can go the hardware store and buy a hatchet. So the question is: Do I consider myself a chump?

The answer: probably, yes, but I’m not going down without a fight! Native Americans used to make Tomahawks all the time, so why can’t I? Forget my lack of survival or carpentry skills for a minute. I’m a fairly intelligent woman with a plethora of rocks and wood available in the back yard. I just need to apply myself. How hard it could be?

Apparently, hard. First of all, the plethora of rocks in my back yard aren’t exactly ideal for Tomahawk makin’. I live on Lake Michigan. Most of the rocks on our beach are actually lumps of concrete. There are a few chunks of granite-looking-something, but it’s much too hard for me to sharpen without tools. On the other hand, granite makes for a good sharpening rock. It’s hard as all hell, after all. Sharpening rock: check.

The rock for the “blade” was a much more difficult find, and honestly, the one I finally settled on isn’t the best choice. It’s a little too slate-y and would probably break if I tried to cut anything significant with it; however, it is better than nothing — for a trial run, at least.

Now, as it turns out, sharpening a rock with another rock is a very long process, and the sound  is hair-raising. I’ve been at it for a few days now, probably two hours total, and progress is minimal as you can see from the photograph. (And yes, I’m using Shape magazine to catch the rock dust. Talk about clashing images.) I at least have the rock in a very acceptable Tomahawk shape. Sharpening it will be the last step before securing it to a handle.

I had hoped to use some of the bamboo I’ve see growing around our apartment complex. I’ve sliced off some of it before, and man, it is really tough stuff. Unfortunately, it’s all been cut down. My other big option is pine. Everywhere I look there’s pine trees, but it is just too soft a wood. The hunt will continue tomorrow, as will the rock sharpening. After that comes the really tricky part: raw hide for wrapping the stone to the handle. I haven’t quite figured out how I’m going to manage that yet…one step at a time.

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