Cutting Edge Technology of the Stone Age

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3 May 2011
I've been reading a lot recently about archaeology. I've always thought that archaeology, along with anthropology, provides a lot of inspiration and ideas for bushcraft. Of course, for use in a flint and steel, the ability to get a sharp edge is pretty important. Further to that, simply knowing where to look for the right type of stone and how to get a sharp edge can be great additions to your survival skills.

The How
There are some great articles on making stone tools in many books. The Society of Primitive Technology's books, and Practicing Primitive, are both great all round books with some good information on how to make stone tools. There are countless others which cover the skill in some detail, but John Whittaker's book on flintkapping is the most authoritative. It is truly jam packed with information and for a beginner it has some really inspiring pictures. I particularly like the genuine first attempts the author shows us as  I'm always a little suspicious when I see a "My first...." thread on any forum with excellent work. I've got other books where techniques are mentioned but they're simply not as detailed.

If you're more of a visual learner there are some good videos out there. Ray Mears does a bit of knapping in his Wild Food series, but as far as modern knappers go John Lord is considered the most knowledgeable by many Brits. He has his own website and ha written a book called "The Nature and Subsequent Uses of Flint" - one of the few bushcrafty books I haven't got yet! There are other good videos available and the series "Flintknapping The Impossible" comes recommended from BCUK.

If you'd linke a bit of interaction hen there are forums, either A British Knapping one or good old Paleoplanet 

Materials
Flint simply isn't as common in Poland as in the south of Britain. There are some outcrops of banded flint in central Poland, ironically not far from where I used to live. However, relying on public transport to get into the middle of nowhere for rock collecting probably isn't a good idea. My knapping has been limited to found flints in car parks and gravel! Hardly ideal but you can get some sort of sharp edge. The area we live in now is mostly on sandy soil with very little rock of any sort around. I'm hoping to pick up some more materials now the snow has melted and with the chance of travelling a little over the summer.In essence the lack of suitable materials is quite a big hurdle for me to overcome.

Efforts 

I've previously posted some of my very first attempts at flint knapping, nearly 5 years ago but I've not had much stone to practice with since then so I've not really made any progress since then.

I found it pretty hard to make any sort of deliberate shape but by striking at the edge of a broken piece of flint with varying degrees of force I was able to get a few very thin shards and some more useful bigger bits. The smallest blades were so fine that they tended to crumble rather than cut but the bigger items were acceptable for cutting vegetation.

The original flint core was then bashed a bit more until it became a palm sized chopper. It isn't very sharp but has a nice feel to it. I also managed to make a discoidal blade (left end of middle row) but the actual edge is mostly the chalky outer layer of the rock so it is not wonderfully sharp and will probably blunt really quick but it does have a sort of serrated effect.
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