Rawhide cordage?

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Oct 6, 2003
I decided to experiment and made up one squirrel's worth of rawhide. This I cut into a spiral and twisted into a single ply cord, doubled it and got it to reverse twist. It comes to about 2.5 feet, not enough to do much with, I was rather surpised though that it made that much.

What I want to know is, how best to damp proof the stuff? I want to use it for a fire bow cord, but it won't be too good if it gets damp in its current state. Will rubbing animal fat into it improve matters or what? I am loath to just start rubbing stuff into it in case I do the wrong thing.

Also, anyone know how you would get a length of such string long enough for use on a bow for archery?



Aug 27, 2003
South Wales Valleys
An old book of mine said to use animal fat but I found it can go rancid (especialy in the summer) and spoils the hide. I personaly would use some sort of leather oil on it... but that may make it a bit too slippy to grip the drill of the firebow especialy when pushing down hard. You may find you will have to work it out by trial and error.

As for a bow string I would reccomend using nettle cordage, as used in the middle ages and probably quite a long time before. See here for more info http://stoneflake.net/beargrass/nettle.htm

Hope this help :-D


Roving Rich

Full Member
Oct 13, 2003
Nr Reading
Hi, Just found this on a tree info website, http://www.british-trees.com/guide/silverbirch.htm It says bich oil can be used to waterproof leather, thought it maybe of some use. See Pine resin glue strand - Kev P's bit on how to make it Regards Rich


Need to contact Admin...
Rawhide is used extensively in Western riding tack from the Vaquero traditions and many of the Indian tools. If it is a static application such as snowshoe lacing just seal with a wood varnish. For dynamic tools such as your bow string various mixtures have been used over the years. The Californio Vaqueros used clarified tallow and beeswax. A good leather dressing ( not wax) with a beeswax base is usually a good product. Your better saddlers and cobblers should have a suitable dressing.