When most people think of stone
bladed knives they think of something like the one above with a
classic blade and a handle to make it easy to hold. Throughout
prehistory, most cutting was probably done with a simple stone
flake. When a flake is struck from a piece of flint or obsidian it
comes off as a nearly razor sharp blade with an edge that can
hardly be improved upon with more chipping.
appreciate stone bladed knives and where they fit in man's history
one really needs to appreciate flint knapping. Flintknapping is
the process of making stone tools by flaking or chipping the stone
to the proper shape and sharpness. Flint, chert or obsidian
(volcanic glass) are the stones most often used for flintknapping,
and can be used to make arrowheads, knife blades, tomahawk heads,
spear points, or any chipped stone tool. Flintknapping is
relatively easy to learn (with proper instruction and patience)
and there are some good instructional books and videos available.
A flintknapper will use an antler baton or billet to do really
fine work but even a round stone can be used to do basic
flintknapping. For knappable stone material many modern
flintknappers use copper tools, even though the American Indians
probably never had access to enough raw copper to fashion tools.
Today, there are a people making incredibly fine stone knives.
These range from the believably authentic aged antler and buffalo
jawbone knives to exquisite parallel flaked art knives that only
royalty would have had in ancient times.
You cannot pry and lever
away with a stone bladed knife the way you would with a steel
blade. Even a moderate twist can break a stone blade, especially
if it is thin. You must hold the knife handle in such a way as the
sharp edge is presented to the cutting project, not just thrust at
it. A stone knife should be used as if it were a scalpel. You
cannot drop a stone knife on rocks, on logs, on the ground, or on
most floors and expect it to survive. That is why when the Native
Americans had the opportunity to convert to steel they did so
quickly. Stone knives are best used for purposes of ceremony or
demonstration. If you want to cut, use a large single flake. You
can dress a deer easily with a single large flake, then if you
want you can throw it away.
Making Stone Knives
Disclaimer: The author of this
article and GoKnapping shall not be liable for any injury,
loss or damage, direct or consequential, arising out of the use or
inability to use the information on this page.
stone bladed knives is not hard, once you have a knapped blade for
your project. To learn how to make flint knapped blades yourself,
check out our all inclusive Flint
Knapping Kits. We also carry finished
knife blades and other points ready for your own custom
1) Antler or wood handles are shaped with a file
or a belt sander after being roughly sawed to shape. The old way
would involve using stone flakes to score or weaken the handle
stock, then sandstone abrasive to smooth it. Today you can use a
table saw, belt sander, files and sandpaper to accomplish this in
a fraction of the time. Raw handle material such as antler, osage
wood, and jaw bones are available in our Raw
Craft Materials product category.
2) The handle is cut
to accept the blade. A tight fit is best. Antler, wood or bone can
be slotted with a vertical saw cut, but jawbones and some other
bones can be socketed in most cases in their naturally hollow
hide glue or another adhesive is prepared, then applied, to
secure the handle. Pine
pitch glue also works good for blade attachment. Socketed
styles usually only require gluing, but slotted styles will need
some additional wraps of gut, rawhide or sinew to properly secure
the blade. If needed, these materials should be applied into the
wet/warm glue. Allow enough time for animal hide glue to dry
thoroughly before continuing with the project. Animal hide glue
and/or pine pitch resin glue used along with sinew, gut or rawhide
will form a material a lot like fiberglass in its strength - as
long as it is stored correctly.
4) Pigments are applied in
the form of paints or natural pigments in a thin hide glue base.
Pigments are easy to use for antiquing or color accents. Use your
imagination and color the knife perfectly whether you want an aged
look or the look of a knife just made in ancient times.
A simple way to make a primitive knife
for collecting, use or decorating is to purchase a knife
kit that already has most of the components pre-made. Please
check out our Knife,
Arrow, and Firemaking Kits category page for other
introductory lessons in to primitive crafts.
Copyright 2015 Elliot Collins