Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Copper Pressure Flakers

Copper Pressure Flakers
I've been making and shipping a lot of flintknapping supplies lately.  Today I was cutting up moose antler into billets and preparing a few copper tipped pressure flakers.  I need to restock my own supply of tools for upcoming workshops, but I can't seem to get get ahead of the orders.  The pressure flakers that I make are pretty simple; 6 inches of wood doweling with a two inch section of heavy copper ground wire inserted into a hole that has been drilled in one end.  The reason knappers use copper-tipped flakers is that copper can be a little easier to find than antler and it is more durable than bone or antler, so it requires less retouch and resharpening.  Copper is preferred over other metals because it is relatively soft and will grab the edge of the stone that you are working on without crushing it, as a piece of brass or iron would.

It can be tricky to find a heavy gauge copper wire in a hardware store. You are looking for something at least a 1/4 of an inch thick.  The folded length of copper wire in the top of this photo is a copper ground wire from a power pole.  I bought a bucket of these folded ground wires a few years ago from a salvage yard and have been using them ever since.  A wire the length of a power pole can be cut into a lot of 2 inch lengths.
I straighten out a few feet of wire at a time and snip off the individual pieces with a bolt cutter.
After that, I just tap them into the doweling, grind a fresh point onto the end and touch up  the ends of the doweling with a sander.  They're pretty simple, but they get the job done.  They're great for students to learn with.  
Photo Credits: Tim Rast

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