Tag Archives: flintknapping

Development of a flintknapper


These points are shown in the order I made them. These are all the points I have successfully completed. I began flintknapping late this summer, and had spurts of progress working with the California knappers, and lately by myself.

All are “woodland type” arrowhead points, with exception of the one mahogany small spearhead point.

I used all “primitive” tools, or tools used by stone-age American Indians, not out of pretension but since such tools were made from free materials I already had – meaning I didn’t have to go buy anything like copper billets. The tools I used were mule deer and whitetail deer antlers (for pressure flaking with the tines and using the rosettes for percussion flaking billets), a basalt cobble for a hard hammerstone, sandstone cobbles for soft hammerstones and abrading, and pumice stone for abrading and sharpening my pressure flakers. I made an Ishi-stick pressure flaker from an antler tine, elderberry wood, and artificial sinew (ok not primitive but close enough). Plus I used lots of leather pads, and my safety goggles (also not primitive, but I’m not a fan of obsidian flakes in the eye; Ishi, and presumably other American Indians when struck in the eye with a flake, would quickly pull down their lower eyelid, look down, and vigorously slap the back of their head. American Indians also always knapped in a designated place, and did not talk while knapping, presumably also for safety reasons).

I made the two smaller dacite points into necklaces by wrapping the notched area in copper wire and forming a loop that I strung with a tanned deerskin leather cord.

I gave the 2nd and last four (all the best) as Christmas gifts to all my family members.

Second, third, and fourth knapped points

The one on the left was my second point. I got a few tips from expert knapper Ken Peek working on it with the California Knappers (http://www.primitiveways.com/California_Knappers.html). The two on the right I did alone. These are made from cobbles I collected from a stream near the Middle Fork Davis Creek obsidian mine in Modoc National Forest, CA.
I’ve mounted them on the skeleton of an Opuntia cactus I got off some ancient lava beds in New Mexico.

Third knapped point

This is the third arrowhead point I’ve flint-knapped, and the first I did without any help or pointers from expert knappers. Made from obsidian I collected from a stream near the Middle Fork Davis Creek obsidian mine in Modoc National Forest, CA. Note the red pigment at the very tip; this is part of the stone, not blood.