Making Glass Spear Heads

Flint knapping is not only a fun hobby, but it’s a functional hobby. I have a hard time finding the right type of stone for flint knapping in my area, but glass bottles are available everywhere. Flint knapping gives you the “edge…” no pun intended. Sharp objects made it possible for humanity to survive our early history. The least you should know is about how to fracture stone or glass to make a cutting edge.

Safety first! Flint knapping can send sharp shards everywhere including into your eyes. Wear glasses, gloves (or mall leather to hold the point) and pants. A leather piece for your leg will help with the pain of missing strikes. You can even use an apron.  It may be uncomfortable to use gloves, but after many cuts on my hands, I learn to work with them.

Glass is not traditionally used for flint knapping, but it’s an available resource that we can use. Not all glass is the same and some may just not work out. Don’t let failure stop you, rather, let it drive you. Every time you attempt making a spear head, you will get better.

Some tools you need are strikes of various types or sizes. Traditional tools are made from copper and deer antler. The strikers are called billets. You could get away with one billet, but having a couple different sizes makes working on spear heads easier. Flakers are used to flake off tiny bits and fine tune the edges. An abrasive stick is used to sand the fine edge off, so a larger flake can be taken off. A thick leather pad for your leg is critical because the pain of missing with your billet is unbearable. I usually like to put some cloth or piece of rubber on my leg then the leather pad on top.

I like to use glass wine bottles. The flatter the bottom the better! The quickest way to bust out the bottom of the wine glass would be by putting a large nail inside the bottle. Place something soft on the floor like a quilt. Cover the top of the bottle with your thumb and give it a brisk snap with your had. The bottom of the bottle should just fall off.

The process of knapping is not easy and will take practice. Start nibbling at the edges with your billet till you get a rough shape but larger than the end product. Work all around the perimeter—not just one side. When you gain experience, you will be able to get close to a finished product.

The flaker is the next tool of choice. Press this tool on the edge of the work piece and flick it down. This will take off minuscule pieces so you can slowly shape the spear head. This is the point where things can go wrong. Keep going slowly and keep flipping the piece over as you flake the piece.

Enjoy your journey and get creative. Worse case scenario, this skill can save your life.  If not, it’ll just be a neat new hobby of making necklaces.