Flint Knapping

Discussion in 'Other Skills' started by colrbh, Aug 7, 2019.

  1. colrbh

    colrbh Scout

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    Since I'm not able to go out like I use to,I would like to try my hand at knapping. What starting tools should I start with? I prefer to use primitive over modern.Any thoughts are appreciated. Thanks!
     
  2. GingerBeardMan

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    A bit of antler is nice for fine work. I also like a nice big flexible chunk of leather to put over my lap while I work, makes it easier to gather up razor sharp shards and dispose of them safely. I also like having a few different things to do the snapping with, a little chunk of hard wood.
     
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  3. Medicine maker

    Medicine maker Guide

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    IMG_0630.JPG
    Top most row is a notcher and antler chisel.

    Second is fine pressure flakers. The farthest to the right is the finest flaker for finished blades. Second to the right is the more workhorse everything flaker. The last 2 on the left are spares.

    Third is a less pointed pressure flaker and a punch (A tool held with the fingers that is struck with another piece of wood or antler, A VERY common tool in the past that is all but forgotten today! Note- Also called a drift or sometimes thought of as a "chisel" but not like the one Ive shown)

    Last are finger punches (Used for arrowhead sized pieces, again virtually unused today by comparison to other techniques)

    There is no "bopper" because that is not needed, and likely not used the way you see it done today by the "big names" of flintknapping. Punches are the bopper as well as hammerstones. You can remove some absolutely massive flakes in a safer way using punches once you know the technique.

    Lastly as I always put- dont assume all the techniques you see used today are the way it was done in the past and most importantly how the Natives did it.

    EDIT- In addition many of the biggest names in flintknapping (which you can see on paleoplanet) openly state that it has taken them YEARS to perfect the techniques of "direct percussion" aka smacking the stone with an antler bopper (or stone). On the opposite end once you get the feel for it "indirect percussion" aka using a tiny punch (piece of antler) and hitting it with another antler or wood is MUCH easier and myself and many others on FB are proof of just how easy it is. Years or days? gee I wonder which id pick.

    Your tools can begin very simple.
    1. A few hammerstones- Id recommend at least one thats sorta "pointed".

    2. A small pointed piece of antler for a pressure flaker.

    3. If you feel the need i guess another "bopper" maybe 7,8,9" long or so sized piece of antler just dont assume it use is a fully verified primitive method which may be of no concern to you.

    4. Safety glasses- Dont stop using them until youve been knapping for at least 5 years constantly and even then you should keep them on. Getting a piece of obsidian in your eye and having to slowly move to your bathroom from outside the house and not blink or you could cut your eye is very annoying.
    bopper.jpg
    Here how simple- antler pressure flaker, bopper (or hammerstones of similar shape). Ya could use metal tools like copper which are primitive in a certain sense but I wholly recommend you start with antler as its MUCH easier to use copper if you've begun with antler but its way harder to switch to antler after solely using copper. This was my kit that made all my intitial points which you can see in the primitive thread.
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2019 at 10:17 AM
  4. Hoof

    Hoof Former Genius Bushcraft Friend

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    When I wanted to start knapping I didn't want to spend alot of cash. I bought a few ft of copper wire, which I twist hardened, and made my flaker and Ishi stick. And bought a few copper caps that I filled with old wheel weights (they are hardened lead) to make boppers. So for a few bucks I made my tools and used hammerstones for the larger spalling. That pretty much did it, though I've added a few other tools over the years.
     
  5. OrienM

    OrienM Guide

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    My kit is a leather pad, a few hammerstones in different sizes, an 8" chunk of antler for a bopper/hammer, some antler tines for pressure work, an antler punch, and a sandstone chunk for abrading. I have used copper and iron tools in the past, but no longer do so. I'm not a great knapper; more Homo erectus- than Homo sapiens-type work, lol.

    While I grew up using, and continue to use, a bopper, @Medicine maker 's point about them is probably correct, IMO...there are almost no boppers known from US archaeology (a few from Europe, IIRC). People in the ancient Americas likely used punches, or some other method, for reduction.
     
  6. colrbh

    colrbh Scout

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    So if im right. some antler times are abraded to different sized points..yes?
     
  7. OrienM

    OrienM Guide

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    Yes...they will wear and need to be reshaped fairly often, too. I like to have at least one with a sort of chisel-like tip, used for making basal notches.
     
  8. colrbh

    colrbh Scout

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    Thank you!
     
  9. GingerBeardMan

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    In trying to find an article or something that explains how the punches are used but I just keep getting ads for expensive metal hole punches. Could you explain?
     
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  10. Medicine maker

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    In addition almost everything claimed to be a "bopper" just as easily works as an indirect percussion punch which I find very strange. Large "bopper" sized indirect punches make perfect sense for some of the worlds largest pieces https://www.bidsquare.com/online-auctions/artemis-gallery/massive-maya-belize-chert-blade-1360653 There is almost no way something this large or larger as there are, couldve been held by one person and smacked in some random way with a stone in hopes the piece stayed together and even held by 2 people, direct would still be quite a feat.
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2019
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  11. Medicine maker

    Medicine maker Guide

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    Take the time to look-
    http://antlerdrift.blogspot.com/ EVERYTHING historic youd need to read for the indirect punch technique


    https://www.youtube.com/user/KnapYucatan/videos?disable_polymer=1 Everything youd need to see for it. After seeing its capability its hard to believe anyone used anything else.

    In addition- THE ARROW- A book from a man named Frank Cushing- Not only one of the only white people to learn knapping from the Natives at a time when they still remembered their old ways (which were swiftly destroyed in a single generation due to steel) but one of the only people at all to learn the true knapping and especially indirect and punch knapping before they were more or less gone. https://anthrosource.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1525/aa.1895.8.4.02a00010 I cant recommend strongly enough that its read.
     
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  12. GingerBeardMan

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    Most thorough and helpful reply I could have hoped for, thank you so much!
     
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  13. OrienM

    OrienM Guide

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    I haven't worked with punches for that long, so I'm still getting a feel for them. Currently what I do is put the pad and work on the ground, hold the work down with my bare foot, and use the punch and bopper like a chisel and hammer. It can be very tightly controlled, and I often use the technique as a 'problem solver' when direct percussion is a bit too rough.
     
  14. OrienM

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    [​IMG]

    Reading through @Medicine maker 's first link above I came across this...I saw a version of this giant pressure-flaker device in person a few years ago at Wintercount. A couple guys were using it to produce huge blades about 8" long off of a prepared core. They would set the core up, push down on the handle, pop a perfect blade off, and then laugh like maniacs at how easy it was :p

    That's an AMAZING link...still reading.
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2019
  15. Medicine maker

    Medicine maker Guide

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    Anything new with your tools?
     
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