Where do I start?

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Where do I start?

Post by James_Screech on Mon Apr 27, 2015 10:06 am

Hi,

My name is James and I would like to have a go at flint knapping. I've had a look around on the web and can find a lot of resources (especially on youtube) but most are very much orientated to American style (Clovis) knapping and re-production. I would like to make arrow heads, spear heads, knives etc more in the British style.

Can you recommend where I should start?
Are there any good books available?
Would you recommend that I just give it a go or should I attend a workshop first?
I have seen Knapping kits for beginners on Will Lord's web site and prehistorics.co.uk would you recommend that I start with one of these or not?

Lots of questions I know and probably more to come, like how do I get flint? Buy or find? If buy where?

Thank you
James

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Re: Where do I start?

Post by grendel on Tue Apr 28, 2015 6:59 am

Hi James,

Knapping was practiced in almost every corner of world for a couple of million years, the diversity of knapping that occurred is phenomenal. In Britain, in different eras, completely different styles of knapping were used. The bifacial style of knapping you mention seeing US knappers on youtube use was common in Britain in the late Neolithic and early Bronze Age for making arrowheads, daggers, spearheads and so on. and even used in the Mesolithic to make axeheads with. Also while 99% Youtube vids do focus on bifacial knapping the other stuff is there if you look. In the vid section of this site there's blade cores, levallois, livre de buerre, Danish dagger vids and so on. Also I've seen burin technique, microliths, hand axes and more on youtube.

My personal preferred method of learning is youtube vids over books and courses, they're free plentiful and you can watch again and again. Courses are expensive and personally i don't think you get any out of them educationally you can't get from youtube. But you can (ask before you book the course) come away with a pile of high quality flint and maybe some decently spalled flint to, which will make learning a lot easier. MH of this forum loves his books. I think we both agree by far the best is Flintknapping by John Whittaker. 

Another thing that is quite difficult to do in he UK is research what to make. There really is a dearth of reference material that just gives a catalogue of stuff made in each era. John Evan's 19th century book is free on this site and still one of the best around. This was one reason I set up this site, to discuss what British things to knap and learn the different style used. 

For flint finding flint the resources forum on this site is a good guide. Bedford is also flint country itself and near Suffolk, the home of flint. Also glass is great for beginners. Finally,buying a kit. Knapping is very difficult, it can take weeks, even months, before you make your first very crude piece and years before you make your first decent piece. Most people get discouraged. Buying lots of tools won't make you a better knapper, this comes from practice. Where to buy from, obviously I'm biased owning a shop but, I'd buy cheap and basic to start with, most knapping tools wear out quickly, so you'll be buying more soon enough. 

Anyway, good luck.

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Re: Where do I start?

Post by James_Screech on Tue Apr 28, 2015 9:40 am

Thank you for the information.

I'll check out the books.

There is no flint in the part of Bedfordshire I live in (north of the county) I think I will need a visit to the south were the chalk downs are to try and find some.

James

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Re: Where do I start?

Post by the barnacle on Tue Apr 28, 2015 7:06 pm

there are a few threads on here about making copper boppers, if you want a ready made kit Grendel sells them, as for flint it seems hard to come by - maybe try some bottle bottoms to make a few arrows, but remember Goggles and gloves - you can give yourself some nasty cuts as flint can be sharper than surgical tools. if you want some antler then pet shops sell them as dog chews.

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Re: Where do I start?

Post by James_Screech on Fri May 08, 2015 12:54 pm

Bought the book.
Found some flint (Hunstanton beach).
Ordered the tools from www.prehistorics.co.uk.

Can't wait to get started  Very Happy

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Re: Where do I start?

Post by grendel on Fri May 08, 2015 4:08 pm

Well good luck and be sure to post pics. Also don't get disheartened it's a long slow learning process. Also the beach you went to, what's the flint like? Nodules? just along from it is Cromer Beach which is a pretty famous flint location.

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Stupidity got us into this mess, why can't it get us out

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Re: Where do I start?

Post by James_Screech on Fri May 08, 2015 7:48 pm

Grendel wrote:Well good luck and be sure to post pics. Also don't get disheartened it's a long slow learning process. Also the beach you went to, what's the flint like? Nodules? just along from it is Cromer Beach which is a pretty famous flint location.
 The flint was mainly small (less than fist size) broken pieces, though I did find one larger piece again broken but it looked to me to be better quality. I'll probably practice on the smaller low quality stuff before using the better piece.

James

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Re: Where do I start?

Post by the barnacle on Fri May 08, 2015 10:47 pm

sounds like a plan - i will look forward to seeing what you knap, steve

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Re: Where do I start?

Post by James_Screech on Sat May 23, 2015 12:13 pm

Well I had my first attempt at knapping today, and it was a total failure.
Sad

I didn't expect it to be as easy as it looks in the youtube videos, but I ended up making two sharp flakes into smaller blunt flakes.

I just cannot push a pressure flake more that 3-4mm so ended up pushing the edges into the thicker body of the flakes. And my copper bopping was not much better.

If there had been any australopithecine around I would have given them a good laugh.


James

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Re: Where do I start?

Post by the barnacle on Sat May 23, 2015 5:37 pm

you could do with a pile of good flint to work with, quality flint makes all the difference, are the buildings in your area clad with flint?

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Re: Where do I start?

Post by grendel on Sun May 24, 2015 1:03 am

Everyone starts this way, like in the top picture you try and release the flake with the flaker and flint quite straight, but what actually happens under the downward pressure your hand holding the flint bends down and you end up releasing at a 45 degree angle as in the second pic, which means you only get a tiny flake. You need to keep the flint and flaker straight as possible at the time the flake releases.

Also a lot of pics and vids show the platform being flaked too close to the middle, this is quite difficult. Much easier go for a steeper platform and take the flake from near the bottom as the arrow shows. 


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Stupidity got us into this mess, why can't it get us out

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Re: Where do I start?

Post by James_Screech on Mon May 25, 2015 5:19 pm

the barnacle wrote:you could do with a pile of good flint to work with, quality flint makes all the difference, are the buildings in your area clad with flint?
No there aren't any buildings that I can think of.

James

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Re: Where do I start?

Post by the barnacle on Wed May 27, 2015 9:04 am

James_Screech wrote:
the barnacle wrote:you could do with a pile of good flint to work with, quality flint makes all the difference, are the buildings in your area clad with flint?
No there aren't any buildings that I can think of.

James


was just thinking some builders stock flint in some countys to clad the buildings, might be worth a trip to a quary. however it seems to be becoming harder to find, i know on a recent trip i was unable to get any good flint just weathered.

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