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Thread: Where Can I Find Flint/Chert?

  1. #21
    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    Like Rick said, try it on some char cloth, the natural rock will not throw sparks like the commercial fire steels.

    I think it's sad that we now think we need need a manufactured fire steel, and tinder like the cotton balls and vaseline to consider this a viable option.


    YCC, this is a disclamer, I know this might sound like you don't know what your doing, that is not my intention, you have demonstrated your skills and probaly better tham I am.

    I just want to go thru the steps and materials for any body that having a problem.


    What you are doing with the flint is literally shaving off pieces of steel that causes them to spark, (getting hot enough from shaving), like spark from your grinder.


    Do you have a metal bandaid can? (loose enough you don't need a hole in it), shoe polish can(needs a nail hole) Androids can?
    Do you have a old cotton T-shirt ?
    Do you have a fire?

    Tear it up the T-shirt, put some of it in the can, throw the can into a fire, watch it till it quits smoking, take it out and let cool. Char cloth.

    Now take an old file, or even a part of an old file, take your grinder and sorta smooth the edges, the file groves work but makes it harder. ( I know this works, and anybody can find an old file)

    Now take a piece of your flint, chert, rock. that has a sharp edge on it, strike which ever in more comfortable for you, steel against the sharp edge of the flint, or vice versa, like you are shaving the steel, in to your now cooled off char cloth.

    As soon as even one spark catches the cloth with just a glow, blow on it and transfer it to your tender....... cotton balls, shaved dry bark, cat-tail fuzz, what ever.

    (I use the "glow stage" to light my smokes, yeah, I know bad habit, then just snuff it out by closing my air tight can)

    Keep blowing on it till you have a flame.

    I for one have been trying the bow drill method, and is on the top of my list of shill to master, with found materials, so I'm still learning as well.

    And I agree, good luck DT, your in for a long haul.
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  2. #22
    naturalist primitive your_comforting_company's Avatar
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    so I don't really need to even heat treat the file? Maybe that's where we messed up, but before we heated the file it wouldn't throw any sparks. If I don't get this figured out by the blacksmithing meeting in April, I'll get one of the master smiths there to help me make one. Thanks for the tips hunter. I'll give the char cloth a try.
    (seems funny though, that you need to have a fire already, to make the stuff to make fire, i.e. heating the file and making charcloth)
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  3. #23
    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    I get your irony on the fire. My guess is the first folks probably used the aftermath of a lightening strike or a wild fire caused by lightening. Lot's of charred stuff around to start with.

    A tinder tube works pretty well, too.

    http://www.wilderness-survival.net/f...ht=tinder+tube

  4. #24
    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    Ycc, Does sound like chicken or egg deal, doesn't it.

    You really don't need to use char cloth, just makes it easier, as you don't have the volume of sparks as the commercial fire steels.

    I don't know for sure, but I think the commercial fire steels are a composite material, like the "flints" in a Zippo.

    I carry my small fire kit in a metal snuff can, and when I use gun cleaning patches, pillow ticking(patching material for the .50 cal ML), and even those 5 X5 gauze pads, all work well when charded.

    The can has a hole in it, so when I need a new batch, I take out the flint and steel, candle end, and toss the can w/cloth in the fire or stove.

    When done smoking, I remove it and let cool.

    After it's cool, I seal up the hole again with the candle wax,(wax will melt out the next time I throw it in the fire), put the materials back in and it's ready to go.

    I have a couple of pieces of flint laying around, so I'll try some other "steels' and see what else sparks.

    I look back a Rick's post on the "tinder tube", and it was brought up that it was common in muzzle-loading.
    I have to tell you that I had heard of/ didn't see....about it once.
    Does look like a "Match lock thing"

    I was giving away rope at Rendezvous, and a guy came over for a piece, unraveled it and made a nest. and was trying it, he had a name for it......don't recall what he called it.
    The rope I had was jute, and had a coating on it, left over "Core" or the center of elevator wire rope, and it didn't work real well.

    I think your on the right track with the black smith, as the patch knife/fire steel I have was made by a black smith.
    It works for both as a knife and fire steel.....My kind of gear.

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  5. #25
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    Today I decided to walk down the street to a little swampy area which is covered in cattails. I figured I would dedicate some time to making cordage and I did. My first ever piece made entirely from natural material and the motion of my wrists ended up about 14 inches long and held about 25-30 lbs except at the splice, where it broke more easily. The second piece I made, haven't broken it so I don't know its max, had more care taken in splicing and is about 12 inches long.

    On the topic of the thread, I found an old Sobe bottle one of my friends left in my car (I don't drink energy drinks, they're nasty on top of being useless), and ran across a rich outcrop of the most available resource in my city: abandoned street-side beer bottles. Well I only found one, but that makes 2 bottles. Went ahead and tossed 'em to the bottom of the recycling can and smashed them with a sledge to extract the bottoms and got to work.

    Maybe it was because I didn't have any instructions or tips in front of me at the time, or maybe it's because I was excited to just get any result (good or bad), but when I started I took very little care in planning my strikes and I ended up breaking one piece in half... twice. With only small fragments left I decided to tackle the other piece, with some planning and logic in the placement of my strikes. It took a surprising amount of force.

    I experimented with the difference that dulling the edge of the glass makes when striking, and for the first amount of knapping to get the remainder of the vertical edges off, it made a LOT of difference. I began to chip away with a little bit of real decision making, placing my blows where I see them to be appropriate. And then I learned something: This is HARD; and in more ways than one. The amount of force required to chip just glass was surprising and the required angle of the striking turned out not to be general, but rather precise. I found that the best results occurred when I struck at an angle with only a few degrees of forgiveness. I have to assume that chert or quality flint/obsidian would take much more force, increasing the difficulty greatly.

    I was using the back end of a closed Gerber knife. In case you're interested, there's a picture of it here:
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    The knife sat well in my hand, provided good weight and control, and has a smoothed "filleted" edge on the back, so I figured it would work fine. It got scratched up a tad bit, but it's all surgical stainless so if it starts to rust, I'm getting my money back.

    Unfortunately, the lack of instruction at hand left me with a trial and error approach and it seemed like the more appropriate areas to strike were always the hardest to break off. Because of this, I ended up eventually breaking the second piece in half and I continued to work on the ever shrinking pieces until they became worthless, so I don't have any pictures. I began to think it might be the size of the piece that hurt me the most. Being so small and having no slopes on the edges (I am sure there's a term for this I don't know), I found it difficult to get it started properly. But then I stopped kidding myself and figured it would be most productive to just admit to myself that I have a lot to learn.

    The rope made today a good day and the knapping practice couldn't have been better. Even though I ruined two blanks, I got to witness myself chipping away like (just like, not as) the pros on youtube do. Whatever I am attempting, failure never bothers me the first time, because I get to see the process in action by my own hands.

    I will do more research on pressure flaking, and take it much slower next time. Then I will have some pictures for you guys. Thanks for your information.
    Last edited by Deadly Tao; 03-08-2010 at 08:53 PM. Reason: smaller image found

  6. #26
    Super Moderator crashdive123's Avatar
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    DT - watch this video. It may help you out a bit. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xh7pc2Q6XFI
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    Hahaha! I came back to the forum to check the thread after finishing that video, so you linked me right back to that video. Thanks, though, it was very helpful.

  8. #28
    naturalist primitive your_comforting_company's Avatar
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    you might visit practicalprimitive.com and go to the Newsletter Archive. They have videos on some exercises that will help you with strike accuracy. I'm learning knapping too, and you really are on the right track. The things you've discovered on your own display that you are observing the process.. now you just need to get it systematic and accurate.
    Good Luck, and even if you break them, you're still learning!

    surgical stainless is a rather aggressive metal for knapping, try something softer than your knife and you'll find that the flakes will come off without breaking the whole thing (most of the time). Copper is preferred, but brass will do if you have any. Best for percussion flaking in my mind is antler though.
    And remember you need to knap outdoors with a breeze. you don't want to go breathing glass dust. you'll get silicosis!
    If you need any other tips, feel free to ask. there are a few good knappers on here. I'm a bad knapper lol, but I'm learning!
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  9. #29
    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    And pictures, DT. We need pictures.

  10. #30
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    YCC, thanks for the tip with the stainless. I can't think of anywhere to get free copper from lying around for a billet, but I might go get a copper pipe cap from ace hardware and put it on a stick...

    I was doing this outside, but mostly to prevent getting glass inside my house. Thanks for that tip, too. I didn't realize how much dust would come off the glass until I started and I wasn't thinking about silicosis at the time. I was more worried about it bouncing up into my eyes, but I managed to keep it from bouncing anywhere by being reasonable with my strikes and brushing away the glass and dust after every flake was removed.

    I'm sure you got started before me, but maybe in the near future I could be giving you some tips! Seriously, though, I do plan to get ahold of many more than 2 glass bottles, and for the sake of very early practice, maybe do some basic flaking on the walls of the bottles before going after the bottom (depends on if it works at all, might be too thin or the curve might mess up the process).

  11. #31
    Super Moderator crashdive123's Avatar
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    You can pick up a copper end cap at a place that sells plumbing supplies and press it onto a wooden dowel. For added weight, drill the center of the dowel and add lead before attaching end cap.

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    Working on another piece right now. Got a picture with my webcam, I am currently reducing the remainder of the walls of the bottle from the bottom. It's going alright so far. On the right is where I have begun to take the wall off, and I included the edge so you can see the pattern from the flaking. There really is no pattern, actually. I am not taking great care or putting real attention into detail yet, the walls come off easily without breaking the piece just about any way you hit them.

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    The bumps on the top, in the second image, are part of the original bottle. I wish I could have such consistent patterns while knapping with my level of experience, but that would probably make me some sort of knapping genius.

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    In an effort to keep the title consistent with the subject of the thread, I am making a new one titled "First Flintknapping Experiences"... I'll leave this one up, though. Check out the other thread if you're interested in how my flint knapping practice goes and please offer some advice. Pictures will help describe the process better than words.

  14. #34
    Backyard Bushcrafter Dross's Avatar
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    So crash do you think the same thing would work using a PVC end cap? I was thinking that my aproximate antler.

  15. #35
    naturalist primitive your_comforting_company's Avatar
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    pvc breaks on rocks.. not much weight either.
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  16. #36
    "sorry backside" rebel's Avatar
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    There's a ton of good info in this blast from the past post.

  17. #37
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    All i find is clay and sandstone.

  18. #38
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    Finding proper materials for stone tools has always been a problem, for as long as they have been made.

    Trading for proper cutting tools and materials, for them has always been a item of trade.

    These days that means......If yon don't have any laying around where you live, you need to find a source to obtain them, then trade/buy.

    I traded some hides for this chert knife and sheath.


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  19. #39
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    If I had a kiln, I could make.... ceramic knives?

  20. #40
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    How did you get the hides?

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