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Understanding the basic tools of the trade

Solid copper billets:The one inch solid copper billet is indestructible! As you are learning how to set striking platforms the billet must be able to hold up to platforms that are rock hunt!inadvertently build or ground to strong. They are a good choice for folks just getting started. The BIG solid copper billets (1-1/2" to 1-1/4") are designed with the "rock hunter" in mind. They are essential for thinning those huge spalls you make at the quarry. I have even used my sledge hammer on my 1-1/2" solid billet as a punch to drive off flakes with perfect accuracy!

Copper bopper billets: These will NOT hold up to heavy abuse. However, Solid Head Copper Boppers are tougher, but a little bit more expensive than lead filled boppers. The Lead filled Copper Boppers are designed for precise knapping and may not be the best choice for the first timer. If the head of your bopper deforms, then there is a good chance that your platform is too stout or your billet is too small for what you are trying to do. Use the head and side of this billet. Be sure to use the entire surface of the tool's cap. Use the tip as well as the sides. I like to "trim" or clean up jagged edges with the tip and drive long flakes by using the side of the tool. This is an excellent tool and has revolutionized modern knapping because of the control that the "weight forward" design offers. This tool has helped many a knapper progress thinning to the next level and beyond! See all billets here.

       Ishi Sticks vs the smaller "Notchers" It's all about personal preference. Here is some thoughts to guide you along in your choice. All of our pressure flakers feature an adjustable tip. They are double set screwed for added peace of mind and durability. They have copper nail (part #N109; aka 20d nail) that can be easily fed outward as needed. The flaker tools (Ishi or the "notcher") will be the tool you use for your notching, edge work and most important for platform building. It will give you the accuracy you need to create good quality striking platforms --the heart of good knapping techniques. The difference between the notcher and the 20" long Ishi stick is the power and control that can be generated with the Ishi stick. The flex in the 3/4 dia. Ishi gives an added "spring" affect, helping to transfer the energy through the flake detachment process producing longer flakes. All our 20" Ishi sticks have the Allen Key tool built right into the handle for storage. A great new feature!

However, Ishi sticks are not for everyone. Many expert knappers use only the small 6" flakers with good results. The advantage of the Ishi stick is the leverage you can generate with it. Your legs are the driving force behind this tool and your wrists just guide the force. Tip; Keep your pressure flakers sharp by pounding the tip to a point. Then dress it with a file. This will keep the copper hard and reduce slippage on the edge of your piece (don't use a bench grinder, it will get the copper too hot and it will lose it's hardness!) One must use extreme caution when using these tools. The amount of force generated must be well controlled! A hand pad must be used! Improper use of this tool and or absence of proper hand protection is the responsibility of the user. Failing to heed this warning could result in serious injury! As with any sharp tool, proper transportation, safety gear and technique must be used.. I strongly advise the book "The Art Of Flintknapping" for proper care of your tools and if your unfamiliar with knapping safety and tool care. The DVD "Flintknapping Fundamentals" is another highly recommended item.

">  The leather Hand Pads vs the Rubber "channeled" pads Pads are most important function is protection! I have always preferred the leather pig hide pads. They are very durable and pliable. It gives me a "feel" of the point in my hand. The pad is folded three ways. Impossible for a flake to poke through in normal use. They last a long time. I have had the same one for one year! The rubber channeled pads are most likely the best to learn with. The channel gives the detaching flake a "free" unobstructed path as it detaches, this helps the flake to feather nicer than if there was no "channel" on the pad preventing those "micro hinges" on pressured over points. Lots of knappers swear by them!

Abraders We can class the abraders into 3 groups coarse 30 grit, medium 60 grit and the fine 120 grits. Each grit serves an exclusive purpose. The thinner you get, the less aggressive you grit should be. The coarse 30 grit is BEST suited for heave percussion work. The heavy grit can be used to rip, shear and shape the edge creating large crude heavy duty platforms in seconds. Keep using the heavy grits on thin preforms and your playing with fire! Medium grits are good for "crushing" in "isolations" and fine abrading for pressure flaking or percussion work. Fine grits are best suited for very detailed pressure work and notching.

     *Need help understanding platforms? For an advanced look at platforms and their function click here


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