How To Make Arrowheads

Do you want to know hot to make arrowheads? There are various types of arrowheads one might make, such as metal, bone, or perhaps the type that captures the imagination when you see it, like a chipped flint or obsidian head. This will be the type we will discuss here. The process by which this type of arrowhead is made is called flint knapping. Flint knapping is as much an art form as it is anything else, and takes a lot of patience and practice to get good at. There are generally many more failures, especially in the beginning than there are successes. The process, however, is a lot of fun, and when successful you have made a thing of beauty and function to be proud of.

Materials needed:

  • Flint or obsidian rock
  • Large Percussion tool (large main beam antler section)
  • Small percussion tool (smaller section of antler)
  • Flaking tool (antler tine)
  • Gloves
  • Eye Protection
  • Long sleeved shirt
  • Heavy pants
  • Leather pad

The process goes like this:

  1. Select material to work with. You want a relatively good sized piece of flint, obsidian, chert, or quartz that is free of any cracks.  
  2. Dress appropriately. Since you will be breaking rock by striking it and then flaking or "popping" off pieces, you will need to protect your eyes and limbs from sharp flying pieces. Wear eye protection and cover exposed skin.
  3. Prepare large material.  If your rock has rounded edges, you will break it to obtain a nice clean sharp edge to start with. Take your large piece of antler and use percussion to break it into smaller pieces with clean edges. Strike with a sharp rap with the round edge of the antler on the flat of the rock at about a 45 degree angle to break it. You should end up with several pieces with good sharp clean edges.
  4. Flake off a large piece to use.  Using the small percussion tool you will now try to flake off a piece of material large enough to work with. Hold the rock at an angle of somewhere around 45 degrees and rap the sharp edge of the rock with the round edge of the antler.  This should flake off a fairly large flake to work with. Continue until you get a piece you feel will make a large enough arrow head.
  5. Hold flint flake in leather pad. The edges of a piece of flint can be razor sharp so hold it with the leather pad while working it.
  6. Use antler tine to form the arrow head.  This process is called pressure flaking. You take the antler tine and press the tip against the edge of the flake of rock and push until it "pops" or flakes a small piece off it. Then, you continue doing this as you form the arrow head. This sounds easy but one misstep can, and will destroy the entire piece. You are generally looking to create a piece which looks similar to a Christmas tree with thin sharp edges. The base or trunk of the tree should be notched or flared which makes the area where it is attached to the shaft with sinew. Try to take off small pieces at a time, the larger the piece you try to remove the more chance of breaking it.

That is the entire process. It does not sound that hard, but it is a true art form. There are people who spend an entire lifetime perfecting it. There are no shortcuts, it will take a lot of practice and patience. It will all be worthwhile, however, when you have in your hand an arrowhead you made yourself.


Images of Arrowheads

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