How to Flintknapp Using Solid Metal Billets
Solid Aluminum and other solid metal billets are commonly used by modern flint knappers, and although they are not historically correct, they do work for percussion flaking techniques. Better yet, they may be easy to use for some flintknappers as the edge preparation necessary is slightly different. You can find our full line of billets like the solid aluminum metal billet discussed on this page, the popular copper bopper style, hammer stones, and traditional antler billets in our Modern and Traditional Flint Knapping Tools product category.
Modern billets are easy to stick in your pocket and use when sourcing materials, last longer than natural antler billets, and won't be chewed up by any but the meanest dogs. An antler billet, being much softer than stone, microscopically wraps around the edge of the preform when used. Slight strike angle variations are therefore not so important, and they offer a cushioned shock to the stone. For this reason delicate and well heated materials may best be chipped with a lead filled Copper Bopper style billet, or a Traditional Antler billet. Solid metal billets are not nearly as gentle. They transfer shock more readily, and strike a smaller area. Like antler billets and copper boppers, solid metal billets also "bite" into the edge of the stone but in a harsher manner. So you need some practice in converting from antler to solid metal billets like our aluminum model. The benefit of metal billets (both solid and the copper bopper style), is that they require less swing, can work a platform edge easily with less platform preparation, and are perfect for cleaning and trimming large amounts of stone -- they will save your arm.
The diagram above shows proper strike angle for a beveling or nibbling strike used to set up a striking platform, or change of preform outline.
The diagram below shows the angles necessary for striking a thinning flake that runs across the surface of the preform, as well as the difference in strike angles necessary in using metal billets as opposed to antler billets.
To use solid metal billets, remember the following:
The strike angle with a solid metal billet is more straight down than with a copper bopper or antler. Strike the edge of the preform closer to right angles to the core centerplane. For solid aluminum, use just the tip to strike. Push the billet in a straight path, taking care not to make an arching strike. Aluminum metal billets seem to work best when the core is elevated above the pad so billet travel continues past the preform edge. Hold the preform just inside the knee with wrist resting on the pad. If your flakes are not traveling far enough across the preform face, adjust the angle you hold the preform VERY slightly up on the striking edge. If your flakes are creating step fractures, angle the edge of the preform VERY slightly down, so that the force of the blow is not directed so much into the preform center. It may take a while to get used to solid aluminum metal billet strike angles. Keep your posture and strike consistent and you will get consistent flake removal.
We hope you were enjoyed the information in this how-to article. For other lessons in primitive skill building and traditional weaponry, please check out our GoKnapping Kits product category. There you will find other all inclusive lessons in skill sets like flint knapping, knife making, and arrow making.
Copyright 2020 Elliot Collins