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How to Make a Stone Hand Axe

October 16, 2011

A hand axe is a piece of roughly shaped stone that can be held in the hand and used to cut down saplings or to cut limbs off of trees. The hand axe is a good basic tool that can be used to make other tools, and the hand axe is easy to make.

All you need is a good flint cobble and a hammer stone. Obsidian does not make a very good hand axe because it is too fragile. The first time that you chop into a tree with an obsidian hand axe, the blade will probably crumble. So find a good piece of flint or chert. I try to find a whole cobble so that the back of the hand axe, the part that will be in my hand, does not have any sharp edges. Pictured below: a flint cobble, also referred to as a flint nodule, and a hammer stone

Now hold the cobble in one hand and strike downward on the other end of the cobble with your hammer stone. This should take a nice flake off of the cobble. Pictured below: top, preparing to strike off the first flake; bottom, first flake removed


Next turn the cobble over and use the same technique to knock a flake off of the other side of the cobble’s point. Pictured below: second flake removed

You should now have the beginnings of a crude edge to your hand axe. Keep taking flakes off of first one side and then the other until you have formed your hand axe. Pictured below: Finished hand axe.

One of the nice by-products of making a hand axe is that you will have a nice assortment of flakes left over with which you can make hand saws, scrappers, drills, and arrow points. Pictured below: left-over flakes from shaping the hand axe

When you have completed your hand axe try cutting down a green sapling. You will be surprised at how quickly you can do this. Pictured below: series of pictures shows a green, two-inch, hardwood sapling being cut down with the hand axe






The total time to cut down the sapling was four and a half minutes. Not as fast as a steel axe, but a heck of a lot faster than you could cut it with a pocket knife, and that’s if you have a pocket knife.

From → Tools, Primitive

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