American Bushman

"If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing." —Benjamin Franklin

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Lithic Arts

I've been knapping flint.

My parents have a lake house with an abundant supply of dark flint which sparks extremely well with a small Chinese file. The problem? They're big chunks each weighing a couple of pounds--not exactly something you want to be toting into the woods on a regular basis.

The last time we went down, I spent some time in the lake digging for a nice smooth stone that had some mass to it and fit my hand well. This would be my hammerstone once it dried out. I found a couple and kept one.

Today I started knocking off flakes from a spall I received in the mail. The first piece was rather small but sharp enough to skin a squirrel. The second piece was more what I'd hoped. I've got a piece of flint that is sharp on one side, rounded on the other, and thin and light enough to carry with me all the time. The smooth side protects my hands from the sharp edge, the sharp edge throws wicked sparks, and the piece is large enough to re-knap the edge if needed but not so big that I won't take it with me.

Some things I've learned about knapping since watching the MacPherson videos:
  1. Wear safety glasses--you never know where some of those small razor-sharp pieces are going to go
  2. Control your breathing--inhaling some fine dust will do to your lungs what the shards will do to your eyes
  3. support the work--the chips will break more consistently if you're supporting the force of the hammerstone

I don't really know enough about the lithic arts at this point to make many more suggestions.

Knowing how to break smaller usable pieces from larger chunks of flint boosts my confidence in the woods because it gives me another option when it comes time to light a fire. Having that sharp edge doesn't hurt. Making tools is part of the aim of Bushcraft so I'm keeping with the traditions set before me.

I'm off to pound some more rocks...

Thanks for reading,



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