Making an ‘Ishi’ type pressure flaker.

Ishi was a Native American from who much of our understanding of the practicalities of pressure flaking has been gleaned. Within our twice weekly knapping sessions Nick Overton has raised the bar by introducing the use of soft iron nail pressure flakers, similar to those used by Ishi. This is a version of the same with a replaceable point. It is easy to make with total material costs of less than £2.50. Tools needed are a saw, chisel, hammer, large nail and a gimlet. Time wise it takes about half as hour. Materials needed are a bean pole (22mm wide, 75p), two copper end pieces (internal width 22mm, £1.40), one cut flooring nail (60mm long, can’t remember how much, they come in bags of about 20).

1. Use the saw to cut a section of the bean pole to a length that will be comfortable in your hand (perhaps 140mm). Then use the hammer and chisel to split it in half.

Pressure flaker 1

2. Use the cut flooring nail to gouge out a groove on both pieces to fit the nail, and then use the gimlet to bore a small hole on one side to accommodate the head of the nail. Then insert the nail.

Pressure flaker 2

3. Put both pieces together and modify to make a tight fit.

Pressure flaker 3

4. Use the hammer and large nail to punch a hole in one of the copper end pieces and insert it over the nail to hold the pieces of bean pole together.

Pressure flaker 4

5. Stick the second end piece on the other end. These two pieces need to be tight and so some trimming or padding may be needed. When finished the nail needs to be filed to a point and when used, kept sharp. The main benefit of this design is that as the nail gets filed down it can be replaced easily with a new one. When you make one of these, by default you have to then start making Ishi Points. Perhaps that will be the next post!