Crafting Hands: Chuck Stern Makes Bows And Arrowheads The Very Old Fashioned Way

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ABOVE, Stern uses pressure flaking to remove small pieces from an arrowhead. BELOW, Stern holds a osage bow blank and a piece of bamboo that he will use to back it. BELOW LEFT, Stern draws one of his bows.

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By Alex Haglund

A lot of what Chuck Stern does isn’t carving, finishing, chipping or whittling. It’s seeing potential.

Chuck lives in Nashville and makes handmade bows, flintknaps arrowheads and is very well-versed in traditional techniques of crafting and making things.

“This is called junk rock here,” Stern says, pointing to a ridge of stone on the side of a piece of flint that will become an arrowhead.

“You have to be able to see a point in there before you start,” Stern says, chipping away large flakes of rock by swinging his striker, a copper billet with an antler handle, into the piece he’s working on. “You have to kind of read the stone.”

Stern first learned to flintknap years ago

“I went out to North Carolina and got acquainted with Michael Walking Stick, a Cherokee,” said Stern. “He taught me the basics. He said, ‘it’s the oldest art known to man, and it’s a dying art.’”

Stern says Walking Stick taught him for free, on the condition that he teach anyone else who wants to learn flintknapping for free as well. Later, at a craft conference, Stern taught another man how to flintknap who taught him how to make bows in exchange.

Chuck Stern makes bows as C and J Custom Made Bows. He is located at 177 E. Belleville Street and can be reached by phone at (618) 599-8682.

For More, Please Read The September 9, 2015 Edition Of The Nashville News.