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Thread: Where Can I Find Flint/Chert?

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    Question Where Can I Find Flint/Chert?

    For some reason... unknown to me... there isn't a solid resource to be found about where I can actually find chert, flint, or obsidian. I have found only one piece of advice: near water.

    I am wondering if anyone has a few tips about whether or not stones for flint knapping can be found in any region of the United States and, if so, where the material occurs. I know it's a type of dense sedimentary rock, composed mostly of quarts, which has fine crystal structure and behaves as if it has none, like glass. I know it is probably found near water, but should I be looking near the mouth of a river, the edge of a lake, the bed of a river, or just anywhere that contains a lot of stone?

    I would like to practice some flint knapping, but find the idea of buying a rock to be a little... ridiculous, especially for somebody just looking for some first-time practice.

    If it depends on the region, then specify to southwest of Lake Michigan, specifically northern Illinois.
    Last edited by Deadly Tao; 03-04-2010 at 11:03 PM.


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    naturalist primitive your_comforting_company's Avatar
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    I'm in a whole different geology, but if you can find old creek beds or bottom lands and take a 1/4: rod and go poking in the ground. If you hit something hard like a rock, get the shovel. Often we find them on the sides of dirt roads or edges of fields where they've been moved so they won't damage plows.
    sometimes you find stuff in the river, but our rivers are deeper than I'm willing to swim. Cow pastures will often have a "lump" in the ground. often you can take your 1/4" rod and poke or see the top of a big rock exposed. I found about a 50lb lump of jasper the other day in a pasture. I've got a lot of nuggets off dirt roads.

    workable rocks are really everywhere, you just have to get flint out of your head. there are only a handful of sources of true flint.
    Are there any mountain streams nearby? old stone quarries? sometimes train tracks will be cut through deposits.. it really is everywhere, you just gotta look around

    make sure you aren't looking on private property without permission, of course!
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    totally a wild guess here, but looking at the landscape in your area, i'd look around south of Grace City around the bridges. and maybe down around juanita.

    but that's just a guess.

    I have found good quality nuggets and artifatcs in this landscape. more the farther north you go above the fall line.
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    Voice in the Wilderness preachtheWORD's Avatar
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    While you are still practicing knapping out arrow points I would strongly suggest that you start out with glass. Break the bottom out of a heavy glass bottle and practice on that. You can also use porcelain from a discarded toilet tank lid. Until you have mastered the basics, don't use up the good stuff!

    If you can find a good piece, glass is pretty easy to work, and it looks very nice when you are finished. When you can make a good point from glass, then go spend some money on some obsidian.
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    Go to glacial Park off of 31 in Mchenry and hike around the kames. Glacial parkis a wonderful place to explore for glacial geology plants, and wildlife. The trails are well marked with interpretive signs pointing out geological formations relating to glacial movement like the Kames.

    This is also the location of The Trail of History It is a reenactment of an pioneer fur trapper rendezvous. Even if you aren't interested in that there are at least 4 knappers there doing demonstrations. You will also find dugout canoe building, plains indian village with wiggiups, and wild edible enthusiasts. A lot of great folks willing to talk about their passion. This was one of my home events and have many friends who participate.

    Check out the Natural Resource Management - Research Field Station. They have all sorts of info regarding the park and trail maps. Tell them about your interests and ask questions they may even have the names of the knappers at the trail of history and contact info, I don't know if any are local. Have fun.

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    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Deadly Tao View Post
    For some reason... unknown to me... there isn't a solid resource to be found about where I can actually find chert, flint, or obsidian. I have found only one piece of advice: near water.

    I am wondering if anyone has a few tips about whether or not stones for flint knapping can be found in any region of the United States and, if so, where the material occurs. I know it's a type of dense sedimentary rock, composed mostly of quarts, which has fine crystal structure and behaves as if it has none, like glass. I know it is probably found near water, but should I be looking near the mouth of a river, the edge of a lake, the bed of a river, or just anywhere that contains a lot of stone?

    I would like to practice some flint knapping, but find the idea of buying a rock to be a little... ridiculous, especially for somebody just looking for some first-time practice.
    If it depends on the region, then specify to southwest of Lake Michigan, specifically northern Illinois.
    You know I hear this all the time, I can't find "flint", this doesn't work etc.

    Why wouldn't you want to pay a couple of bucks, for the correct "rock" you you can see how it works.

    Once you have a solid starting point, then it will be, Oh yeah, there are some of those in the washed river rock the the landscaping center.
    Check these out.

    http://www.trackofthewolf.com/Catego...11&styleID=423
    Lake Michigan has rocks washed up, dumped in from everywhere, but you need to know what to look for.

    Kettle Moraine area in Wisconsin, has moraine, ridges on scrapped up rocks left behind by the glacier, rock from all over as well.

    I found a piece of "flint" digging a fire pit here in SE Wisconsin, where it came from I don't know, but still works.
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    i have fount flint in boston mass. chert is common to coral and lime stone deposits here in florida. the sierra mountain range is littered with obsidian. if you travel to those locations you will find what you need. thats what i do .
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    Senior Member Wise Old Owl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by preachtheWORD View Post
    While you are still practicing knapping out arrow points I would strongly suggest that you start out with glass. Break the bottom out of a heavy glass bottle and practice on that. You can also use porcelain from a discarded toilet tank lid. Until you have mastered the basics, don't use up the good stuff!

    If you can find a good piece, glass is pretty easy to work, and it looks very nice when you are finished. When you can make a good point from glass, then go spend some money on some obsidian.
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    Thanks, preachtheWORD, for you advice to start with glass. I should have figured it would be an easy way to get started. After all, it's fairly easy to break and I can guess that stone would be more demanding to work and therefore more prone to error by a newbie like me.

    I guess I was kind of hoping that chert could be found like any other rock around these parts: down the street with a bunch of other rocks.

    I live in an area which is covered in glacial deposits. That's confirmed by the fact that there's a "gravel pit" in town, which is used to dig massive amounts of gravel from the ground for Vulcan Materials. Because of this, we see 'rocks' all the time. It's hard to plant a garden or plow a field around here, even. We see so many 'rocks' that we consider a 'rock' to be a 'rock' and when I was challenged with finding 'chert' I was confident it would be strewn throughout the environment in all directions...

    Well, that may have been some false hope, so what are my options? Drive more than an hour away? No thanks. I think I will start with glass if finding spalls to ruin is going to take that much effort.
    Last edited by Deadly Tao; 03-07-2010 at 12:57 AM.

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    Default rockin!

    I didn't get to go tree tapping today, and went rock busting instead.
    Found this stuff, check it out. random places along the road. looks just like all the other rocks that are junk around here on the outside. you gotta bust into them to find out whats on the inside. Yes it will take a lot of energy and a lot of effort and patience to find quality "flints", but this proves that even in my fall-line wasteland of limestone, even still good stuff can be found. you just gotta look. If there's rocks around that look like cobbles, break some open and see whats inside!

    this boulder is easily 5 feet high. i can't imagine what it weighs.
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    a spall off one corner of it.
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    some jasper found in a ditch that actually is spring fed so it stays in the water until drought season. I got really REALLY wet spalling it out.
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    I have no idea how many rocks I hit today with a sledgehammer, but I walked down dirt roads for about 4 hours today banging on every rock I could. It was a good day to spend some time alone! Oh yeah, all this stuff is in the ditches where the dirt road was cut through. Look everywhere. it's like easter eggs.. you don't know whats inside the rock till you break off the cortex.
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    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Deadly Tao View Post
    Thanks, preachtheWORD, for you advice to start with glass. I should have figured it would be an easy way to get started. After all, it's fairly easy to break and I can guess that stone would be more demanding to work and therefore more prone to error by a newbie like me.

    I guess I was kind of hoping that chert could be found like any other rock around these parts: down the street with a bunch of other rocks.

    I live in an area which is covered in glacial deposits. That's confirmed by the fact that there's a "gravel pit" in town, which is used to dig massive amounts of gravel from the ground for Vulcan Materials. Because of this, we see 'rocks' all the time. It's hard to plant a garden or plow a field around here, even. We see so many 'rocks' that we consider a 'rock' to be a 'rock' and when I was challenged with finding 'chert' I was confident it would be strewn throughout the environment in all directions...

    Well, that may have been some false hope, so what are my options? Drive more than an hour away? No thanks. I think I will start with glass if finding spalls to ruin is going to take that much effort.
    Well there you go, you probably could pick it up if you knew what you were looking for.
    This here "survival stuff" isn't as easy as it looks, take some effort and knowledge.

    When you have to buy a rock, your not paying for the rock, you are paying for the knowledge of that rock.

    If you have to hunt down the right rock, be it an hour away, or what ever your doing, it as part of the process.
    Remember even primitive peoples traded for, and traveled great distances to procure the best materials for their livelihoods.

    Doesn't sound to me like you are willing to put much effort into this "survival thing".

    You should be going at it like your life depended on it, as it does.

    P.S. Good luck with the glass, have your first aid supplies ready before you start.
    Last edited by hunter63; 03-07-2010 at 01:49 PM. Reason: splin'
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    As Hunter points out, the natives of the Lower Chattahoochee Valley would walk as far as Ohio and Arkansas to trade rocks. I can cite my sources if I need to

    And as you can see by the pictures above, they had decent stuff right here.. they just needed a backhoe to get at it lol.

    You are gonna have to break some rocks to find what you are looking for. I've been searching source rocks for well over a year now and I have only really found 3 places with decent material.
    I have to agree with hunter (tried to give him some rep) that if you aren't willing to put forth the effort to identify your resources now, and locate them then maybe your mindset isn't really on survival yet. If you think finding rock is hard, wait till you HAVE TO find it, and use it or die. Oh yeah.. by then it'll be too late.

    on a side note.. Glass will spoil you. It is a lot different from the poor cherts we have around here. It's good practice to learn the basics, but real rock doesn't flake like glass, unless you really look long and hard to find really good stuff like Poco has growing in his yard.

    good luck with everything and I do hope that you will mind what hunter and I have said.. Surviving is going to take effort!
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    You are so right, YCC. There was a trading camp not far from my home in Illinios. At the small town of Mulkeytown, Illinois. East coast shells have been found in the old Indian encampments where they had been brought for trade.
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    Likewise Coweta and Cusseta were major religious and social (read trading) cities. Many artifacts have been buried in the mounds there from all over the country. Even those places aren't "right up the road" from here.
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    ycc, that's a lot of rock busting, ya think, look like there is some stuff you can use.

    In Wisconsin the is a site in Hixton, near Black River Falls that has a mound, butte, rock or what ever you call it, that was mined for Hixton chert for thousands of years, and has turned up all over the country.
    Only one like it, even back then they looked for the "Good Stuff."

    I was looking thru my small collection of points and found two that came from there.
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    The guy that has taught me a bit about knapping spent quite a bit of time rock hunting in Hixton and various parts of Missouri hunting rocks. As others have said DT they may not be easily found. You may have to dig a lot or travel. Nothing wrong with buying or bartering for what you need. I traded a pest control service for a 5 gallon bucket of rocks.
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    So, Ycc, have you tried striking a spark on any of the shards?

    I was at the collage Friday, working on artifacts, dug up at a local site, washing, sorting, logging for the local Archaeological Society project.

    I/We volunteer, with the Archaeological Department there, and the local museum with a dig at a old trading post, working on the artifacts.

    One object found was a native gun flint, or so says the Doc.
    But the Prof did pull out a fire steel and got spark, has one there just for this purpose.

    So we started talking about flint and steel, and he pulled out some really good shards, threw sparks all over the place.
    Of course he wouldn't want to give them up, LOL, but I had to ask.
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    I think of effort a lot like money. The less you know about something, the more you may be tricked into paying for it. The more you know about something, the more likely that you will find it for free.

    Most things end up being free somewhere and cheap in other places, meaning there are ways of spending little effort to achieve a goal with a little knowledge behind you. However, I often find myself expending ridiculous amounts of energy and time into something that could have been found much more easily.

    So my point is that I do plan to put effort into these activities. In fact, I have checked out some forest preserve areas around here and will be spending a Friday practicing, which includes rock hunting. So thanks for the heads up; I posted this to find out if there really is an easy rule of thumb to find the stuff, and apparently not.
    Last edited by Deadly Tao; 03-07-2010 at 09:48 PM.

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    nope. they all look like rocks on the outside lol
    good luck DT!
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    Hunter, I tried some of the rocks above on the steel striker I made today. while I did get a few sparks, it was nothing like what I had imagined it would be. This "flint" is good stuff. Something about my steel isn't right. The flint pictured above and the hornstone I got from Poco threw sparks off about the same. Of course, that boulder is a good day and a half walk from here, and it'd probably be 3 or 4 from my BOL. Still good to know it's there and everyone thinks it's "just a rock"
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