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Make a Primitive Brush from Yucca and River Cane

February 20, 2012

I make these quick and easy brushes when I need something with which to apply rawhide or pine pitch glue.  They just take a minute to make, and when you’re through with them you can chunk them into the fire.  All you need in the way of materials is a small piece of cane for the handle, a dry yucca leaf for the fibers, and some dry pine sap to hold the fibers in the handle.

To make a brush, take a piece of cane that is about three-eights of an inch in diameter and cut it about eight inches long.  Make sure that a cane joint is about three-eights of an inch from one end of the handle.  Pictured below: top, cutting the cane; bottom, finished handle.

Now take your dried yucca leaf and peal of the outer membrane to expose the fibers.  Use the butt of your knife handle to pound the fibers and separate them.  Cut two or three sections of fibers about an inch long.  Pictured below: top, scraping yucca leaf; middle, pounding leaf fibers; bottom, one finished fiber bundle.

Check to see if you have enough fibers before you try to glue them in, then warm your pine sap and drop a little into the end of the cane.  Pictured below: top, checking the fit; bottom, putting pitch in the cane.

Quickly, before the sap hardens, push the yucca fibers down into the cane.  Pictured below: top, cutting bristles to length; bottom, finished brush.

That’s all there is to it.  You now have a brush that you can use when sinew backing a bow or you can use it to paint glue onto arrow bindings.  Heck, if you have any artistic talent you can even paint with it.

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