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Thread: Root ball head war club?? How to make one ?

  1. #1
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    Root ball head war club?? How to make one ?


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    Iím going to attempt to make a ball head war club, I have seen a few over the years and it looks like a fun project. Anyone here knows anything about how they are made.
    What is the best part of a tree to use? Softwood, Hardwood?

    Iím thinking of using a root ball for the head and working the shaft out of the trunk. I just have to find I good root ball.




    Thanks.

  2. #2
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    Root Maul

    Here are some useful instructions for making a "root maul":

    "...a mallet with a separate head and handle makes for an endgrain striking face, but what of the one-piece maul where the striking face is side grain? One-piece mauls for driving wedges are often called root mauls, because you make the striking head from the underground part of the tree. All those roots radiating from the base of the stem act to peg the striking head together and buttress the faces with their end grain.A root maul is not something you can buy. Find a tough hardwood tree about five to seven inches thick at the ground. Dig away the dirt, chopping the roots as you go. Once itís uprooted, clean it well and chop it into shape. Shape the wood while it is green and soft, but let it dry before you put it to hard use. For a two-handed maul, the head might be about ten inches long and thehandle twice as long as that."

    -- from "The Woodwright's Guide" by Roy Underhill
    www.uncpress.unc.edu/woodwright/images/Underhill_Guide_excerpt.pdf

  3. #3
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    I was in the antiques business for years specializing in first Nations pieces and handled a few early ball head clubs. All of the ones I have seen have been from the 6 Nations Tribes and all have been made from hard Maple. I believe that all of them were made from root balls. What is obviously important is that the grain curves from the handle into the ball.

    Regards

    Robin

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    There was a good thread about this subject a while back. I remember someone posting that the "Root balls" were taken from hardwood trees grown on a hillside - having the root off center as on some of the originals. Definately seems to be a cut / collect raw material now- finish club after a year of seasoning type thing.

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    I'm hunting for a good root ball now. How do I treat the wood once I finish it?

    I have heard that fire helps to harden the wood. I remember making spears whit sharpened sticks during my jungle war fare training. We put the tips over an open fire to harden the wood.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Tall View Post
    a two-handed maul
    Hmmmm, I'm getting some ideas.......

  7. #7
    Dogwood root ball is what you would use for Fro hammers. So I would use the same.

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    I know that it is not native american, but I looked up making a fighting walking stick made in Ireland. They made them from a black thorn, prickly plum. More of a cane or short fighting stick than a war club. It's called a sha lay lie, (cant' spell it but that's what it sounds like). You might get some ideas there.

  9. #9
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    Here's a link to a bunch of very nice clubs.
    http://www.google.ca/search?q=ball+h...w=1003&bih=574

    Best regards

    Robin

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    Here are few clubs that I have seen on the web, that are very interesting.
    This weapon was responsible for two murders on the Gold Coast (Ghana) in 1920. A native ran amok and murdered his neighbor, then took shelter in the bush. A sergeant in the Gold Coast Defense Force was sent to arrest him, but was himself brut.







    Woodland's Burl Club. Traditional, old, carved hard wood club with intricate designs carved in the handle. 24" x 9"



    Folk and wonderful Iroquois carved wooden club with three False Face typefaces, c. 1900





    Here are a few reproductions that are made by Todd Bitler they are some of the most impressive modern reproduction I have found.(But very expensive)

  11. #11
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    Hey Ed
    Bitler is the BEST, I love his stuff.

    Regards

    Robin

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pipeman View Post
    Hey Ed
    Bitler is the BEST, I love his stuff.

    Regards

    Robin
    It looks like you and Bitler discovered time travel and are ageing your work whit it somehow.

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    I’m heading out to my family’s ranch today, im going hunting for a piece of wood that can be made in to a ball club. It is a desert environment and there are a lot of shrubs and trees to look at. I will post some pictures of my field trip. I found a few Indian artifacts at my family’s ranch over the years, a few arrow heads and grinding holes scattered in the rocks I will post some pictures of does as well. It rained all night, might of unearth some nice arrow heads or clay pottery pieces.

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    Good hunting Bro.

    R

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    Found this small tree that has a good size root ball. I’m not sure what type of tree this is, the wood seems hard. It was very hard to get out of the ground. My cut up thumb wasn’t helping.
    It has a pretty good size ball. It’s my first time doing something like this. I’m going to remove the rest of the bark tomorrow. Anything I can do to help dry out the wood?






  16. #16
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    Hi Ed
    The bark looks a lot like what we call Ironwood up here in the boonies, very slow growth and very hard.

    Keep safe

    R

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    If it is Ironwood,it will make one bada$$ club.

  18. #18
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    Ed, awesome topic, and thanks for the pics.
    Anything I can do to help dry out the wood?
    Time, and air. You should probably alos put some sealant on the cut ends to cut the chance of splitting. Varnish or knotting liquid will do. Some folks'll use a heat gun to dry pieces out after they stream shape shafts or crooks, but I think you'll do more harm than good with a piece like that

    YMMV, but you'll probably be okay if you clean it up thoroughly, shape it, and give it a nice heavy coat of linseed and let it set in for a day or three. Couldn't hurt to wipe down and recoat daily for the same period, then let it dry out after a light wipe down. Should cure on it's own over time at that length and thickness, as long as you keep it oiled regularly to keep the outer layers from cracking. It might take a year, maybe even two for the root ball, to completely season. Might want to wait for a heavier finish or sealer for a few months after that, but I'll defer that to smarter folks than I who might want to chime in. Also, a bit retentive, but if you store it leaning in a corner, try to orient it so which ever way feels like the primary face is down and out. If it curves at all (unlikely, given the stick in question), it'll be in the right direction

    If you want to go nuts, or cut a batch, esp. if you harvested any longer pieces (six foot walking stick with a carved softball sized root ball, perhaps?), you can go nuts as follows. Once you've finished barking them, if you decide to, hang horizontally from a rafter in small bundles of 3-4 some place as dry and environmentally stable as you can without being obsessive, garage or under a barn loft, etc, long as it's relatively protected you'll probably be ok. hang from the ends maybe a foot in with a simple loop, you might not need a third loop in the middle, but it won't hurt, particularly with longer (5' +) green staves. Try to give it six months at least, even a year, depending on how arid it is, and when you harvested /how green they are. I wouldn't blow any money on anything to check the moisture levels of the wood as it seasons unless you're gonna do this pretty regularly. Check periodically, every couple of weeks, once a month, to see if there are any cracks or runs forming as it/they dry.

    Sorry for the novella, if you have any questions, or want names of a couple of good books on the subject, shoot me an email.
    Last edited by Yahmanin; 05-16-2011 at 09:02 AM. Reason: didn't mention sealing the exposed end/s, or curing time for root ball

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    Don't know if truthful but I read that the North East Indians would steal the English Settlers Crochet balls for War Clubs. It would make a nic'un.....Randy

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    Hard wood!! carving it is harder than i imagined. I’m almost finished on the handle, thinking of putting a lanyard hole on the bottom part.
    I am puzzled on what to do whit the head now. there is a potential for 2 different balls. What do you all think ?
    Last edited by Edwood7; 05-17-2011 at 12:23 AM.

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