Innovation update. This morning I popped into Hillcourt Street Cycles and they kindly gave me two old inner-tubes from a racing bike. I suspected they would fit and I was correct. This section of inner tube serves to hold the two sections of bean pole together thus making the second copper end piece redundant. As the bike shop has to pay to dispose of the inner tubes they are free. This means that material production costs have been slashed by 70p, a phenomenal 28% (I think?). Unfortunately, these savings cannot be passed on to the consumer due to the overtime costs incurred by the Research and Development department 🙂
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.
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.
3. Put both pieces together and modify to make a tight fit.
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.
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!
This is my pressure flaker. As it appears, it is a piece of copper pipe hammered flat and then sawed using a hacksaw to form a point. It has been considerably blunted and needs re-pointing but is the pressure flaker I used to produce the arrowhead below.
This has been my best Bronze Age arrowhead yet. Primarily because of the depth of the notches to produce the barbs and tang. I followed a method from a Youtube video by an American knapper. The key thing seems to be: have a very pointed pressure flaker. My flaker blunts very quickly, but if kept sharp I can keep the notches going. I am working on fully understanding the process so I can systematically reproduce them. It is made from the base of a beer bottle by the way.