How to make a flint knapping pressure flaker

Pressure Flakers completed

Pressure Flakers were used in a number of forms in order to shape flint, and other similar materials, into ever more intricate and detailed tools. Things like the pointed tines of antler are perfectly acceptable but the discovery of copper certainly opened up a new world of tool production that ultimately led to the bronze age period. For this how to we’ll take you through the process of making your own copper pressure flaker but if you’d like to learn more about flint knapping why not check out our courses.

Flint knapping is immensely rewarding, though often challenging. There remains something to be said for recreating the process that is largely accepted as one of the most important technological advances in human history.

In this how to guide we will make a copper tipped pressure flaker. The copper point can be re-sharpened and shaped.  These flakers can be re-used until the copper becomes too short, at which time the handle can be replaced several times or until the copper rod becomes too short to be rehandled.

For this project you will need 6mm copper rod, tape measure, hacksaw, hammer, marker pen, metal file or sandpaper, suitable handle material and some leather to finish smooth if desired. A clamp may also be useful if you have one. The copper rod is available online.

Tools needed
The tools you’ll need to complete the project.

I have used hardwoods and Hazel as they were available to me during lockdown. In fact is the an old spindle/drill from a friction fire set – waste not, want not.

I have chosen to use 70mm long copper rod for stability within the handle and when it wears down over time more of the length can be reused with a handle modification or handle replacement.

To begin with clamp down the copper rod and cut it to the required length using the hacksaw. Remove any burrs using the sandpaper. Cut your chosen handle material to length. This will vary between users, but I would suggest 12cm or greater. Handle diameter will also depend on the user. I have chosen a variety of diameters and lengths for general group use.

Cutting the rod to length
Cutting the rod to length.

Once your handle material is cut to your desired length you will need to drill a 6mm hole approx 50mm in depth (if you are using 70mm long copper) into the centre of one end of the handle. This will leave around 20mm exposed to shape the copper flaker head.

Drilling the hole for the copper rod
Drilling the hole for the copper rod.

Using the hammer and a solid surface hammer the copper into the hole you have just drilled. It should be a tight friction fit. I chose to not use adhesive so the copper head could be removed for future length adjustments.

You are now ready to begin shaping the flaker head. This is done using a metal file or piece of sandpaper laid flat on a surface. Since the copper is soft this is easily achieved in a reasonable time. Rotate the flaker when shaping the copper to achieve an equal shape or alternatively clamp down the flaker and work the file or sandpaper around the copper head. Any shape of head can be made to suit your personal preference.

The head can then be further polished using a piece of leather before use if desired.

Shaping the head of the copper rod
Shaping the head of the copper rod.
Shaping the head of the copper rod
Shaping the head of the copper rod.

To finish the wooden handle can be shaped to be more comfortable in the hand or even carved with your own intricate design.

Pressure Flakers completed
Pressure Flakers completed.

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