Flint knapping A Scraper
Well, I found a piece of
glass in the woods the other day that I was wanting to use for something.
It is about 6″ across, probably from a one gallon sized jar. It was
one half of the bottom perfectly intact. I cleaned it up to remove the
dirt and grime from it. Looks like a scraper to me, so that’s what we’ll
With it so hot today, I
wasn’t really looking to work on the scraper, but my little girl came in
and told me, “Daddy, a squirrel just got hit by a car and is
dead.” Well, time to make a scraper so I can flesh the hide I
suppose. One positive thing is that my “glass pit” where I do
all of my knapping is in the shade of a beautiful Maple Tree, so the
temperature there will probably only be about 85 degrees!
Well, I will use the
thicker flat edge as my “handle”. If later I want to attach it
to wood to use on larger projects this will make it easier. Also the
rounded edge on the working end won’t tear up the hides by digging into
them. Let’s go over to the glass pit and begin to “knap” the
glass and see if we can come up with a useable scraper.
I begin by using a flaking
tool that I made quite a while ago. Deer antler is “primo” for
flaking, but since everyone may not have horn available to them I am using
something that you can easily make in about 5 minutes. Simply take a piece
of round, straight, medium wood (I used maple here I think) and drill a
small hole in one end about 1/2″ deep. This is simply a starter hole
and shouldn’t be very large in diameter. The drive a nail (I used a 10
penny I believe) into the hole approximately 2″ or so. Make sure it
is firmly in place. Taking a hacksaw, or a pair of vise grips shear the
head of the nail off leaving a 1″ tip. This is your flaking tool.
Here is a piture of the tool for you to understand better.
Pressure flaking is exactly
what it sounds like, putting pressure on your “blank” and
driving pieces of material off of it in a supposedly prearranged fashion.
This leaves a sharp edge on your tool which can be then used as a knife,
scraper, arrowhead, etc. Because you are driving shards of glass or
glasslike materials off of the blank, it is a good idea to have some
protection. Always wear safety glasses and always have a stiff piece of
leather on your lap to hold the glass or knapping stone. This way you
won’t get too many cuts. Also, if you are afraid of your own blood,
knapping is probably not the “sport” for you. You WILL get cut
no matter how careful you are. Now I don’t mean you will look like a mummy
when you are done, but plan on a few small nicks here and there! In the
picture below you can see my goggles and the leather on my knee.
OK…here we go. Take the
pressure flaker in your dominant hand and the glass with the leather
around it in your other hand. We are going to put the tool on the edge we
want to flake and begin to chip away pieces, leaving a sharp edge. When
you do this you don’t want to press “down” on the glass, but
rather inward toward the center. This will cause long, thin pieces of your
material to be removed. Also, don’t get in a rush. Did I mention that you
are probably going to get a cut or two? Here I am working the glass on the
first pass around the edge…
You can see the pieces of
glass that are coming off. Notice that they are actually long, thin
slivers. These go through your leg nicely, so be SURE that you are using
the leather pad!
Ok, one pass is done and
you can see the “teeth” that are left on the glass where I have
Now we simply flip the
glass on the other side and begin a second pass. Driving the material off
this edge will sharpen those teeth that we just made on the other side.
You can actually within a few minutes time get a razor blade edge on your
Take your time and make
sure that you work the glass to the shape and sharpness that you want it,
going from one side to another. DON’T rush…Did I tell you yet that you
might become a bandaid salesman? Here are pictures of me working first one
side and then the other until the edge is nice and sharp.
The finished product is
well rounded so that it doesn’t tear a hide, and the “teeth”
have been mostly removed so it is just SHARP! I cut my leg making this
one…not knapping, but brushing away some of the glass! Did I yet tell
you that this stuff is sharp? LOL!
Well let’s test our new
hide scraper out. Here is a picture of the squirrel that got hit out front
an hour or so ago. He died almost instantly and I skinned him out to test
the scraper. You can see in the first two pictures a little of the
“meat” that was left on the hide from the skinning. It is the
red or dark brown patches in the pictures.
I put the scraper to work
on the hide for probably 10 minutes. Because of the edge bevels downward
it allows me to pull the scraper instead of pushing it, giving me more
control and making it less likely to tear the hide. Even so, I got a
little to hard on one leg and made a very small nick.
The scraper worked well
overall. It took only about 10 minutes to clean the hide up and get it
ready for sanding. I will set it in the sun and let it dry flat now so
that I can sand the remaining membrane off before I “tan” it.
Look at the great job that our scraper did!
Well there you have the
basics of Pressure Flaking. I have made arrowheads, scrapers, and knife
blades from obsidian, chert, beer bottle bottoms, and seashells. Flaking
is rewarding as you see your own tools formed before your very eyes that
you can use to make your life much simpler in the wilderness. Again…I
would say that as you begin to practice make sure that you have a piece of
leather, safety glasses, and a box of band aids. If you make any admirable
projects, send me a picture and I will put up a page with many of your