Cheap tools for flintknapping fools

I attended the Prairie Grove Clothesline Fair on Labor Day.  I found James Howell and another one of the fellows (named John) that I met at JOMO.  They had a tarp stretched out under the shade of a hickory tree next to a booth that sold knapped blades hafted on antler and bone handles made by what looked like a father and son team.  The father (whose name I never learned) sat under the hickory with James and John making a knife blade while I talked with James and John.

John just recently got into knapping himself.  He sat working on a piece of novaculite, and I could tell from his hesitancy on where to hit the rock (so much like my own) that he still felt pretty green in the art.  But he had some nice tools that he had bought from Missouri Trading Company, so we talked about tools for a while too.

The unnamed older fellow sat working on his stone with some homemade boppers.  John and I asked James about them, and he gave us the low down.  His description on how to make a copper bopper matched pretty well what I had already learned from Tim’s Flintknapping Page.  He said that some folks melt their lead and pour it into the copper end cap and some just use bird shot (loose or made into a plug with epoxy).  Either way, you fill the cap about 2/3 to 3/4 of the way full with lead and then epoxy the dowel handle on.

John also gave me a great idea for leather to cover your leg.  He had a leather satchel that he carried his tools in and also used it as his leg pad.

I should have known that the local fellows would have already found some great ways to chip stone without having to buy a bunch of fancy and expensive tools.[*]  I really appreciate James and John sharing their wisdom with me.  They have fueled some ideas that I hope to put into practice soon.  Stay tuned for my first attempt at making a pressure flaker with some copper ground wire and a piece of willow branch.

I also found this video on YouTube of a fellow (scalp creek from the PaleoPlanet forums) making copper bopper billets.

^  By the way, I have nothing against fancy and expensive tools.  I highly appreciate folks like Missouri Trading Company making that stuff available locally and over the internet.  I just simply don’t have the dough for it right now.  Plus, making tools can offer some extra fun to the adventure.

4 responses to this post.

  1. Edbo makes the cheapest best boppers.

    PVC pipe and a copper cap taped on.

    Check it out.


  2. Thanks for the info, Edbo. I’m not sure where you get the aluminum discs, but I suppose you could just as easily melt some lead into the cap as well.

    Edbo PVC Popper


  3. The aluminum was just an experiment – I don’t use it anymore. If you see the other videos you should notice that I normally don’t put ANYTHING in the caps! The whole point of the edbo bopper is a LIGHT weight billet which can replace a deer or moose antler. Be sure to see the PEX pipe “UltaLight Bopper” version which is just plastic and a copper cap from Home Depot.

    Lead weighted copper caps are like hammerstones on a stick, But an edbo bopper is more like antler.

    The caps get a good beating but I get my money’s worth.



  4. not having to worry about the aluminum disc makes it sound more appealing.

    i have never tried an antler billet, so i don’t have anything to compare with in terms of weight. but i definitely like the appeal of not having to shape a cap, not having to melt lead, and not having to deal with epoxy in order to mount the cap.


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