Flintknapping is the art of making stone tools through percussion and pressure and flaking methods (plus a few more). As part of our Ancestral Living Skills course, we teach students flintknapping techniques. Flintknapping has its own language and it can be confusing. This post covers some basic terminology to get you started on the right track. We’ve also included pictures of the tools of the trade for the purist and modern stone worker.
Biface: A tool that has been flaked on both sides.
Billet: A cylindrical-shaped tool for removing flakes from stone made from hardwood, antler, or copper.
Blank: A piece of lithic material for the making of a tool (e.g., arrowhead, knife, spearpoint).
Core: A chunk of stone (lithic) material.
Cortex: Outside edges of stone like the rind of an orange.
Debitage: The waste lithic materials.
Flakes or spalls: Small or large pieces removed from a core.
Flaking: Removing small or large flakes of stone from a core by percussion or pressure.
Lithic: Anything to do with stone.
Percussion flaking: Flakes are struck off the edge of the core with a hammerstone or billet.
Pressure flaking: Pushing small flakes off with an antler tine, mild steel, or copper tool.
Interested in learning more about flintknapping?
Our next class is Saturday, April 2 in Issaquah. Students will learn flintknapping techniques and also make their own tool kits to continue refining their new skills at home. Class size is limited to ensure individualized attention. At this time, we have a couple of openings but the registration window closes soon!