deer leg in the field guide. anyone know how to process the sinew into workable strands??

Hey. So I’ve worked with sinew a little bit. Although I didn’t harvest it from the Mountain Sheep. The Tendon was already dried and removed from the leg and given to me. It resembled very thin beef jerkey. What I did was tear off thin strands and chewed on the dry, hard tendon (pretty tasty acually). After chewing one piece I would reverse-wrap it while chewing on another. The strands were not very long so I would splice quite offten. After chewing the strands they would offten be too thick to splice, but can be separated into thinner strands. The finished product was a thin cord about 6’ long and very strong. Very good for traps and if doubled-wrapped it would be twice as strong and would make a great bowstring. Have fun.


I have not worked much with sinew but Thomas J. Elpel in Participating in Nature says of dried sinew:
“Leg tendons require a bit more work [than backstraps], quite a bit more, in fact. Start by pounding the tendons with either a wood mallet or a very smooth stone on a wood surface such as a log or stump. Do not use a rough stone, because it will cut the fibers. Pound the tendons very thoroughly, from one end to the other, to loosen the fibers. The fibers can be split down again and again, to finer and finer threads. I usually work them down until they feel “cottony”, without hard spots in them. Once separated into individual fibers, the sinews are ready to use. The long, coarse backstrap sinews are excellent for sewing. I prefer to use the finer leg sinews for most other purposes, including attaching points and fletchings. I have also used leg sinews for sinew-backing my bows.”

rad! thats exactly what i want to do, back my bow with sinew. if you have any other info on bowmaking let me know. i’ve got a hickory stave that i want to make into a flatbow.
thanks a lot penny

I was just looking at Urban Scouts blog entry about sinew. It might be a bit wierd to respond here but I just don’t like being on a whole bunch of different forums.
Anyway, he did a good job there. I just wanted to add that when I am drying the flat pieces of sinew like backstrap sinew, one great way is to plaster it on a window or a piece of glass. It dries really nice and flat and it peels off nicely when it’s dry. If you plaster it on wood or cardboard or something it glues itself to those porous surfaces. Glass works great though. I have an old VW van window that I plaster my sinew on for drying.

Thanks for the tip HeyVictor!

Also, I feel tickled to know you read my blog.

By the way folks, this link will take you to said blog entry:

Sinew can be a very fun outdoor activity. Note: it’s fun outdoors…where the smell doesn’t linger for days.

For deer legs you want the bottom part below the knee (there is also some really good sinew along the spine if you have the rest of the deer). Get a bucket of hot water and let the leg soak. Once it has soaked for a while use a pair of pliers to pull off the black nubs on the hoof. These are technically the deer’s toenails, and once dried can be successfully used for percussion instruments or shamanic ritual. The sound is particular successful with gourds or against each other.

Now you need to cut off the hide, this shouldn’t be too much trouble if your knife is sharp enough. Be careful not to cut the sinew. The strips of hide here are too small for tanning, but can be dried and used as rawhide in glue or some other project you have going. Now cut off the sinew, its the big hunk of white tendon stretching almost the whole length of the bone. There is sinew on the front and back of the leg, but there is more on the back.

The bones on the leg can be be easily cleaned by putting them into a chicken wire enclosure for a couple days to a week or two. Bugs and other creepy crawlies will eat the bones clean, but the wire will keep neighborhood dogs from running off with them. You can then use it “green” or bleach it in the sun or using hydrogen peroxide. There are a couple bones in the foot so perfect for sewing needles that you’ll swear God put them there for you to find.

Lay the sinew out to dry for a couple hours or over night. Once dry you get to smack it with a smooth rock against a flat rock or a piece of wood. (Anyone else notice how most primitive tech instructions include the phrase “hit with rock”?) This will break apart the fibers giving you a bunch of pieces with which you can make cordage, back your bow, chew on, or make fake worms for your Halloween party! Enjoy, and remember: take it outside or you’ll be sleeping on the couch too.

  • Benjamin Shender

Benjamin, that may very well qualify as the best edu-tainment I have experienced to date. Maybe next time my toaster breaks, I’ll hit it with a rock. ;D

Most of the posts i’ve been reading mostly talk about deer legs for sinew, what other animals are got for it? btw i’m pretty much a nub with all this stuff :slight_smile:

Elk, moose, buffalo, caribou.
Since I don’t make bows and use sinew for backing, I really like the backstrap sinew much better than the leg sinew for ease of processing. It’s the stuff for making sewing thread which is more what I use sinew for. The leg tendons make some great glue.