Everybody's Universal Heritage
Weve gone on and on in the knives section about knapped blades.
Here's how we make them. Put simply, knapping is the art of making
tools from stone. Regardless of who we are and where we came from,
we all have this common thread in our collective ancestry: all of
our ancestors made and used stone tools at one time or another in
history. There are a few cultures today who still make and use stone
tools, and the largest group is probably right here in the United
States. Knapping is a very fast growing hobby, with between 5,000
and 10,000 knappers in the USA alone.
Only a few types of stone are "knappable." Flint, chert,
agate and obsidian are the most common, but man-made glass and porcelain
are also knappable. The common thread throughout these rock species
is the ability to fracture "conchoidally." Conchoidal fracture
is a big term for the characteristic breakage a BB makes when your
kid shoots the front window. We all recognize this, a tiny entry hole,
and a large exit. Our ancestors discovered this action in certain
rock types, and were able to expand this one characteristic into mankind's
Forgotten a scant few years after the entry of metals into each stone
age culture, hobbyists and archeologists are working hard to rediscover
the lost secrets of the earliest of technologies.
This is a quick and dirty exposition of the basics of how we make
our stone blades. The following pages are very graphic intensive,
so those of you who have slow, soda straw connections to the World
Wide Web, please bear with us.
Thanks, we hope you enjoy it.
Tom Sterling and Joe Higgins
Art, Modern Fun
fracture is the secret to knapping - the characteristic breakage of
glass from a BB hit. Seen here, the conical spall broken from a piece
of glass, with the edges of the cone 110 degrees from the path of the
Here the BB has hit along the edge of a piece of glass. Still the same
characterisic spall taken from the glass, just in half.
Here a series of BB hits carefully spaced along the edge of the glass,
overlapping neighboring spalls. This is the basic method of selectively
removing material to end up with the desired shape. Each action from
here on is identical, simply removing a piece of the conical spall where
desired. Of course, this is the theory. The actual practice takes a
little more finesse.
contents copyrighted © 2002 | Tom Sterling
Tom Sterling PO Box 1621 Coupeville WA 98239
Updated:Monday March 24, 2008