Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Bi-Polar Percussion

Flintknapping, chipping fine points and blades, is a art form that takes the right tools, time to master, and the proper stone. The possibility of coming across flint-type stone while walking the woods is not likely to happen...well, here in Nebraska. Expedient stone tools can be made with common quartzite pebbles or some fine grained stones. For these pictures, I picked up a "skipping stone" from a local stream...kind of a flat ovoid rock. Squeezing the pebble between my fingers, I set it firmly on a rock "anvil". I could also hold it in place with an improvised tongs made by bending a green stick in half, to protect my fingers. Taking another rock, I soundly strike the top of the pebble, breaking it in two. This method of controlled breaking is referred to as bi-polar percussion. One archaeologist/primitive technician pointed out that this is the way children instinctively make stone tools when not shown otherwise. This technic works a good deal of the time creating two stone halves with somewhat sharp edges that can be used, in a pinch... to skin a rabbit, saw a fireboard notch, or scrape a hide.

Two halves of a common quartzite pebble with sharp-lipped edges

Cutting leather with one of the halves


Scott said...


I would suggest some type of eye protection when attempting any bi-polar reductions efforts.


Mark said...

LOL...too late for some of those experiences knapping. I thought wearing glasses would be good enough. You make me laugh Scooter.

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