To make an arrowhead using flint knapping techniques, you'll break open a piece of rock, chipping flakes off the stone until it is shaped into the intended arrowhead shape. When practicing flint-knapping, wear eye protection, since you will be unable to control where the sharp flakes of stone will fly.
Only some stone types can be made into arrowheads. These include flint, obsidian, jasper, and other brittle stones with a fine-grained texture that is generally free of cracks. Another traditional material is bone, which was used by natives on the Northern Plains where no suitable stone types could be found. You can shape an arrowhead from glass or porcelain; today, some even use the bottoms from beer bottles to practice their techniques without wasting materials.
Besides the material for the arrowhead, you'll need a few simple tools for shaping it. The most common tools used for making your own arrowheads are percussion and pressure flaking tools made of stone, bone, copper, antler, or a wide variety of other materials, both primitive and modern. You can also use a metal file or a sharpening wheel for this task.
In the first steps of turning a piece of stone into an arrowhead the idea is to break the material apart in a controlled way by hitting it at the right angle. This is generally used to create the edges and flat shape of the arrowhead from the rough material, which usually has rounded edges and is relatively thick. At first you may go through several different pieces of stone before one breaks in the right manner, providing a good basis for your first arrowhead.
Now you'll be using smaller striking tools to further shape the arrowhead. The pieces removed using these tools should be much smaller flakes than those removed when first shaping the stone. This is very similar to the process of knife sharpening, which first involves a course grit to remove larger amounts of material, and then a fine grit to further shape the edge. Rather than using traditional striking tools, this step can involve the use of metal files or an electric sharpening wheel, depending on the hardness of the material you've chosen to work with and how much material still needs to be removed.
Once the overall shape of the arrowhead has been accomplished, it's time for pressure flaking. In this process, a specialized tool is pressed against the edge of the arrowhead, causing a long, thin flake to come off the surface. This allows for the arrowhead edges to be sharpened down into thin, very sharp edges. You may be surprised at just how sharp these edges can become using simple handheld tools.
The final step in arrowhead creation is known as notching, or the process of creating gaps in the base of the arrowhead which would allow it to be bound to an arrow shaft. These are usually created using pressure flaking or simply abrading the surface of the stone with a file or any other abrasive material, creating a deep indentation in the surface.
If you've ever found or even seen an arrowhead, you may marvel at the sharpness of its edges. Created for hundreds of years using the simplest tools, arrowheads can be found in an astonishing variety of shapes and styles. This traditional hunting implement was once used by native cultures across North America. Today, you can make your own using a few simple tools.
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Article Added on Wednesday, March 3, 2010
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