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Thread: First Flintknapping Experiences

  1. #21
    naturalist primitive your_comforting_company's Avatar
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    Default flaking tools

    Like I said.. longer flakes come with more pressure. A copper tip will help a lot versus that hard nail. your tool needs to have a little "grip" to it. also, place your hands between your knees and lean over a bit, then squeeze with your whole body. a smaller point on your tip equals more pounds per square inch = longer flakes.
    really looks like you're getting the hang of it. now you just need to get yourself some tools of the trade.
    Nice work. Just be careful not to start forming bad habits!

    for abrading, I have a piece of river cobble (not pictured) with rough texture to it. I hold the piece in my left hand, out in front of me and parallel to the ground. I rub the stone against the sharpened edge, up and down, perpendicular to the ground. This removes any weak and crumbly platforms and keeps your tool down in the meat of the piece. I have only recently been shown the benefit of abrading, and it makes quite a bit of difference. Like I said before, don't worry about making them pretty, yet. It's more important to get the techniques, posture, and angles correct. Forming good habits now will make it all seem like third nature when it comes time to make bigger and longer pieces, or where time is a factor.

    If you have a bit of cash to spend on tools, you'll need a bitset. It's a T-handle tool with a chuck on the end. Most often used for running taps into bolt holes to clean out threads or tapping new ones. Cut off the T-handle, grind down the raised ring on that end, so the whole shaft is the same diameter, drill a hole in your handle the same size, pop it in, tighten it down on your copper, sharpen your tip, and have at it. Craig insisted I try a copper tipped tool like his. He gave me his old one, which I reluctantly accepted, but it makes a LOT of difference.
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    some of my other tools. notice the piece of carpet I use on my lap. Came from a closet we worked on last week. saves a lot of bruises on my leg. Keep an eye open for anyone tossing out old carpet. Nothing better than free tools. And for the record, I still prefer my horns for tools, but Craig insists that I learn the easy way first.
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    Oh yeah, the hawk head is made from the stone I found and posted in your other thread on finding flint.

    and the rule about only striking an edge thats below the centerline is gibberish. How else are you supposed to thin out a side that is too thick? this is where angles come into play. Increasingly steeper angles will take more and more rock away from the "fat" side. Even though Craig told me the same thing about the centerline, I've watched him thin pieces the same way I do. It's all in the feel, and it sounds like you are feeling it through.
    Good Job. Keep it up.
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  2. #22
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    Thanks for your insight. I am noticing the difference between harder materials and softer ones now that I have my billets. The larger one has so many layers of electrical tape that there's a small amount of cushioning behind it, which the others don't have. This larger one is more consistent, too, which may be the effect of either the cushioning or the fact that I use it to "whomp" (I call it the 'whomper') away large amounts of material quickly to get to the general shape. I think it may be the cushioning, since the stainless pocket knife was never so consistent, even when working on a large scale.

    I am going to check out ishi sticks and see about grinding down a piece of copper. Copper is a more expensive metal, but a small length the width of a nail shouldn't need to be bought. I will try to find a place to get it for free.

    The arrow heads in your pictures look quite impressive, YCC. At the very least, they would function perfectly as arrow heads. As for antler tines... we have deer around here but it's strange how we never see bucks and we never find shed antlers on the ground. Maybe I will find some during a rock or plant fiber hunt (I am trying to avoid replacing everything with flintknapping).

    The reason I started flint knapping is just two things: knives and spear points. I used to think that flint could be recognized simply by looking at the stone, and be commonly found in certain types of areas. Therefore, I figured that it would be practical to use it for tools in a survival situation IF (and only if) you're confident in your ability to quickly make a tool without wasting too much time and energy. That's why I took it up. I have learned that finding flint isn't so easy, but I like the art in flintknapping and I guess if I happen to run across a piece in a survival situation, I will know what to do with it.
    Last edited by Deadly Tao; 03-11-2010 at 12:30 PM.

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    naturalist primitive your_comforting_company's Avatar
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    it really boils down to that split second of energy transfer. maybe the Minister of Science can be called down to explain it to us?
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    Talking Progress

    Well it's back to good ol' practice. After procuring some more bottle bottoms, and unfortunately loosing the largest (40oz bottle) bottom to the uninformed parents (I'm 19, in case you're wondering), I have begun to practice my pressure flaking and I have good news...

    PROGRESS!!! Well, it might not deserve the caps. Something like SUCCESS or EUREKA would suit the caps lock key much better, but progress is good. Have a look for yourself...

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    That's right, those are pressure flake and they aren't ridiculously short. I found that with a little sleep and some time on youtube, I managed to conjure up the ability to make consistently longer flakes while pressure flaking. Also, this may be helped by the fact that my nail is not pointed, rather than flat on the end (and I bet that helped a LOT). Now the reason SUCCESS or EUREKA wasn't posted is because these were meant to travel across the entire piece or at least half way (cue the 'wah wahhhh'). However, these flakes used to be happy mistakes or coincidences and now they are a product of skill.

    I have experienced longer flakes when I press further up on the bevel. This makes total sense and I know why this happens. To make a longer flake... perhaps I just push higher up. This also makes sense, but is scary. I don't want to break the piece, so approaching the half-way point on the bevel makes me nervous. But I have lots of pieces to practice with so what the hell! You can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs, right?

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    that's absolutely right! You're gonna break some, but I just grab a new flake when I do and go again. It's fun like that

    with more practice you'll find changing the angle more into the piece will help each flake travel down the ridge farther without having to bite so high up on the piece. you probably won't shoot flakes all the way across the piece until you've established the concave shape. It's kinda hard to explain, but you are definately making progress. I have only recently learned the mojo of flaking across the piece and it takes quite a bit of rock to get that sort of set-up.

    Well Done!
    Looks pretty consistent. I see the beginnings of hinges on the ends of the flakes, so mind your angles. Looks about 3/4" long flakes. You're getting the hang of it. Keep at it.
    Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. Helen Keller

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    Quote Originally Posted by YCC
    maybe the Minister of Science can be called down to explain it to us?
    You want me to explain napping? Okay. It is primarily driven by a chemical called Adenosine. The chemical builds up in your body causing you to become drowsy. It's broken down while you sleep so the body can keep track of how long you sleep by the amount of Adenosine remaining in your blood. Naps are an important component of the body's natural clock. Yaaaaaaaawn. I think I have a bit of Adenosine in me right now.

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    Quote Originally Posted by your_comforting_company View Post
    I see the beginnings of hinges on the ends of the flakes, so mind your angles.
    What you actually see is the annoying habit glass has to not hinge, but flake (however strange this sound) underneath itself, leaving two separated layers of glass. I can't explain how in heck this happens, but the flakes travel into the glass piece sometimes creating a hinge with a shelf overhanging. More practice with angles will hopefully solve this recurring problem.

  8. #28
    Senior Member Ted's Avatar
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    This is a great thread! Looking PFG there Toa!
    I'm a simple man, of simple means, turned my back on the machines, to follow my dreams.

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    Now why did ya'll have to go and post all these great pics. Now I'm going to get the bug and start knapping again. Just when two more staves showed up at the door. All these projects and such little time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Deadly Tao View Post
    ..but the flakes travel into the glass piece sometimes creating a hinge with a shelf overhanging...
    That's what I said. Hinged
    Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. Helen Keller

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  11. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by FVR View Post
    Now why did ya'll have to go and post all these great pics. Now I'm going to get the bug and start knapping again. Just when two more staves showed up at the door. All these projects and such little time.
    I was hoping someone with more experience would chime in and give us some tips.. What observations and recommendations would you make FVR?
    Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. Helen Keller

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  12. #32
    Voice in the Wilderness preachtheWORD's Avatar
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    I think it is great that you are learning flintknapping at 19. When I was 19 I had the chance, but I was too busy to take it. But now I am learning it.
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  13. #33

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    Good job, DT!!

    I tried the bottle thing and gave up pretty quick. I might just give it a second run after seeing what you accomplished.

    Thanks, to YCC and others for posting the other helpful info here. For those of us with out good rocks to try. Glass is our only option.

  14. #34
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    Thanks for the support for the thread. I made it for two reasons: The first is that I can look back to find out what I was doing differently before, in case I start to slip up or form bad habits in the future, and the second is so I can share my thoughts with other people trying to catch on.

    Ironically, I find the best source of tips and information for a newbie at any skill comes from another newbie who just figured it out. When I look up tips from pros, they start to get into terminology, details, and theory which a newbie doesn't need nor understand. So hopefully my information will be naturally dumbed down and digestible for other new knappers simply because I am not capable of clouding it with terms, details, or theories.

    On a side note: glass is a $*%&#! At the same time that it's physically easy to break glass, I am finding that pressure flaking is difficult because you break the flake of very easily (relative to stone) and have a smaller window to perfect the direction of your force. I have only managed to get 2 real flakes rather than chips off of the concave face of the bottle bottom (that's the outside part of the bottle bottom while it's still in tact). I assume this is because the convex opposite side acts like a ridge, providing more material in the way of the force, and a longer flake. The concave side is the opposite. The material recedes away from the path of the shock as it continues.

    There I go applying theories after I just said it's an advantage that I don't do that...

  15. #35

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    im an ultra beginner at this and was just looking for some tips?
    im in Oregon (sandy area) and i was looking for tips on tools and may
    be some places that i could find some chert or obsidian

  16. #36
    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    It is said that the area around Glass Buttes has enough obsidian to last every knapper in the country a millennium.

    Oregon also has quartz, jasper and opel as well as various forms of chert.

    Some say Oregon has more suitable natural stone for knapping that any other region in the U.S.

    As far as telling you where you can drive up, park your car, look at your feet and pick up suitable stone,,,sorry you will have to hunt some creek beds, road cuts and talus slopes.

    You should also check with the museums that specialize in native American culture in your area. They often have demonstrators flaking points during special events called knap-ins.

    A long time ago I went to a knap-in, bought a kit from a fellow and he sat down and showed me how to flake points. My main interest was being able to make my own flints for my flintlock rifles, but shaping blades and points was a handy skill too.
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