Although being prepared generally means having the best means of defense available, there may be situations where you need a more primitive means of defense. The spear was historically used from the earliest times and even into the modern era in some places, and it still has its place when you’re stuck in the wilderness and need a weapon.
Of course, you can use a knife or rocks to shape a stick into a spear point. Still, a little bit of hardening by a campfire can drastically improve the durability and performance of your spear, making it a highly recommended step.
How To Make A Spear With A Stick
A spear is one of the simplest weapons possible, but for proper fire hardening, you will want to use good, solid wood that is durable and hard. Oak or ash wood are excellent candidates, and you should cut down a fresh and fairly straight branch for your spear.
In this case, the moisture in the wood is actually to your benefit, so if you cannot find a suitable branch still growing on the tree, be sure to soak any dead wood in water thoroughly before taking the time to shape and harden it.
Once you have the proper material, you may find it easier to strip the bark from the tip, although it is not required. Once you can see what you’re doing, perform the first pass of fire hardening. This is done by alternating between placing the wood above the flames and burying it for a few moments in the heat of the coals.
You should constantly rotate it to spread the heat appropriately and ensure that you only heat the wood rather than burn it. Burning wood turns it into charcoal which is brittle and worthless for a spearpoint, and you want the wood to harden as it dries and the fresh sap inside crystalizes.
The tip will turn black, but it should still have the full strength of wood once it is done with the first pass. Stab the hardened end into a rock or other hard surface to ensure you’re doing it right. If the end crumbles and breaks apart, you burn it into charcoal, but if it remains intact, you probably have a nice hardened end to work with.
Take your new hardened end and shape the wood into a spearpoint using whatever design you wish. Fishing spears have barbs to hold the fish, while self-defense spears tend to be one hardened point. Regardless of design, you will probably need to harden the point at least twice more: once when you have the rough shape of the tip formed from the hardened end and again once you have the final sharpened point.
So long as you don’t turn the wood into charcoal, it can be hardened several times as you go through the process, and the number of times needed will vary depending on the wood you use, the humidity in the air and a variety of other factors. It is important to experiment and craft several spears in an emergency since the force of impact can easily break even a well-made weapon.
Optionally, you can also harden the rest of the spear if you wish once the tip has been completed. Some argue it helps improve durability, while others feel that having some flexibility in the wood is more desirable, so the choice is up to you. I wouldn’t worry about the weight of the moist handle of the wood unless your spear is particularly long since fire-hardened tips are not suitable for throwing.
Why Use a Spear For Survival?
Let’s assume you have a knife, hatchet, or axe to protect yourself, so why would you want a spear? Spears can be better for a variety of reasons, including:
Aside from the time spent preparing the spear, you won’t lose much if it breaks in half when you stab a deer or trip and drop it down a chasm. It also keeps you from wearing down your metal tools over time.
A knife is dangerous, but most knives don’t exactly look threatening and are rather small. A spear is large and wicked looking, particularly with a black fire-hardened tip, and it can be scary to other people and even animals.
Ease of creation.
A few hours with a sharp rock and a green piece of wood will make a spear, so it doesn’t require a lot of technical skill or wood craftiness to find the proper materials. Short of being stranded in a desert, you should be able to find at least one tree with suitable branches for your work.
A spear can be used for hunting, fishing, as a walking/fighting staff, and in a worst-case scenario, you can break it down and use it for firewood.
Effective for Hunting and Self-Defense:
Spears have been used to bring down everything from a rabbit or squirrels to elephants, so there aren’t many threats immune to a good jab from that sharp tip. Depending on the design of the head, you can add barbs that enlarge wounds, penetrate thick hides/clothing, or even coat it in poison.
Easy to use.
A spear is one of the simplest weapons since it boils down to “stick the pointy end in whatever you want to kill.” It also makes good use of your fight-or-flight response since the increased strength can be used to stab all the harder.
Learning to make a spear isn’t different from building punji stakes or any other defense involving pointed sticks. The skill transfers over to other defenses. Mastering the art of hardening a spear over a fire can also improve your traps, making them more potent.
A spear is easy to make and use, and the materials grow out of the ground. Make sure you know how to craft one of these makeshift weapons, just in case.