** USING REAL SINEW **
by Wild Rose Trading Company

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Real sinew can be used as thread or a fine wrap for hafting in place of rawhide.
Getting individual strands from a strip of sinew is simple. Place the thumb and forefinger of both hands, close together on the strip, and work back and forth the length of the bundle, twisting and turning. This action will break the bundle into individual fibers. If it is hard to get started you can lay a piece of thick leather over the top and beat on it to loosen things up. The leather protects the sinew from the direct hammer blows, which can cause damage in my experience although I know that there are others who apparently don't get damaged threads - so experiment to find what works best for you.
Once loosened up you dampen the bundle and then strip off threads. Start working from the edge and pull off a strip, which can then be split into even finer threads.
At the wide end of the sinew bundle the thread will be thicker. This is the "needle" end of the thread. Moisten the strand (the traditional way is to wet it in your mouth, but you can dunk it in a bowl of water; you want it pliable but not limp). Then roll the strand along your thigh in one direction only (wear pants!), not back and forth. If you pre-make a bunch of threads lay them out on a flat surface afterwards and let dry. I have found after years of using the real thing that it is best to pre-make a bunch of threads and then re-moisten as needed. The pre-made threads work much better without fraying in my experience,
When ready to use, re-moisten a strand and thread the thick end through a needle. A glover's needle works well when sewing buckskin. The traditional way, and the way I learned from some Oglala Lakota ladies many, many years ago (they got a real kick out of teaching a wasichu boy their craft!), was to NOT moisten about an inch or two of the thicker end. They moistened several threads until pliable and then curled them up and stuck them in their mouth with the dry ends left sticking out between their lips. The stiff unmoistened end works as the "needle". You punch holes with a fine awl first and then sew.
The traditional Native stitch is the whipstitch. The stitches should be about a quarter of an inch or less apart. Instead of a knot at the end of your seam, lay about a 3/4-inch tail of thread along the seam and whip your stitches over it. This will lock the end in place, because as the sinew dries it will shrink tight around it. Pull your stitches up as tight as possible, but not so tight that the thread breaks. When you reach the end of your thread, leave the last four stitches loose enough that you can run the end of the thread back through them and then pull the loops up snug around the tail. Trim off any excess. Finally, take a smooth faced hammer and tap/rub it along the seam to smooth and flatten it.


Chuck Burrows
Copyright © 2002 Wild Rose Trading Co.
This article may be reprinted for non-commercial use.

SOME SOURCES:
Crazy Crow Trading Post: www.crazycrow.com 1-800-786-6210
Matoska Trading Company: www.matoska.com 1-800-926-6286
Moscow Hide and Fur: www.hideandfur.com


The above tutorial was originally written to share with my fellow leather craftsman on the CKD Forums Sheathmaking forum.
It is copyrighted and all rights are reserved by Wild Rose Trading Company.
Printing a copy or copies for private, non-commercial use is allowed.
Any commercial use is strictly prohibited.
Any non-commercial leather working site wishing to display or link to this tutorial
must get written permission from Wild Rose Trading Company

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