This year, I’m starting a series of making a variety of weapons,
and roughly following their evolution through history.
Starting from basic metallurgy of various bladed weapons to bows and arrows,
and eventually working my way up to gunpowder and even a gun.
Oh, well, we’ll see what happens there.
A key element of this will be finally mastering one material that’s been holding me back: metals.
But before I get started on metal making,
I want to explore the weapons materials are used before metalworking was discovered: stones.
Using a specific one to be sharper than even steel.
An obsidian blade.
How to make an obsidian blade from scratch.
How to make everything. (The series)
While I was in Utah last summer,
I mean it stopped in the Black Rock Desert in west central Utah,
an area known for its volcanic activity.
with his last eruption around 720 years ago.
This area has a variety of geological formations caused by volcanic activity.
But the one I’m after is volcanic glass.
A local geologist pointed out one location to find some.
Located seemingly in the middle of nowhere,
and traveling on terrain not ideally suited for my compact car,
I found the area filled with black obsidian rock.
Obsidian forms when lava high in silica cooled rapidly,
preventing the formation of crystals,
a type of glass is composed of at least 70% silica.
There’s often tinted dark black due to impurity.
It can also form other colors depending on what impurities are present.
It’s gonna collect bucket of it,
and use it for making sharp objects.
After loading up with some stones,
I brought them back home,
and met with Dr. Toss Steven at the University of Minnesota.
I previously worked with Toss Steven in a past video,
where he taught me how to knap flint to make a basic hand axe.
This time, I want to learn how to apply this skill to forming a blade out of obsidian,
These samples are pretty big, but they have lots of inclusions in them.
But I can show you how to make some cutting edges that you could actually set them into a haft.
Such you can make as long as cutting edges you want
without having to make the actual stones in one piece.
Obsidian is a very very sharp rock.
It is…The technology is pretty much the same as what you did last time you were here.
So, this is actually sharper than flint,
because obsidian being a volcanic glass can get to be one molecule thick at the edge.
Oh, yeah, so that’s why it’s so powerfully sharpened.
And people will use it for eye surgery.
But in terms of what the Aztecs did with their obsidian,
they’re famous for taking the technology to its utmost refinedness.
They really were experts at working obsidian.
And they did it with a technique that made what are called prismatic blades.
Those swords, they had segments of these blades.
And they put them in the edges on both sides of these long swords.
I’m more afraid of the concept of an obsidian hafted sword than I am a steel sword.
So from that being tools like this is kind of a refined skill they have to learn over years then.
And this takes, you know, many many years of craft specialization they’ll pull it off.
So, it’s probably not something I can just sit down and do right away?
对 很不幸 因为你要做的并不是一把厚刃工具
No, unfortunately, and if even the other ways of making blades
are much trickier than, let’s say, the hand axe you made.
One unsuccessful blow on a blade core
often means that you’ve ruined the whole piece.
So, what I thought to do, there’s several ways of going about it.
You could actually just apply that same technology that you already learned with making a hand axe.
You can actually take flakes,
and use those as inserts, much like the Aztecs did.
But they used long long blades to do that,
we’ll just use small flakes.
–好的 这对我来说好像不难 –对 是的
-Okay, that’s probably the most achievable for me to do. -Yeah, yeah.
So, this is actually a plaster cast of a piece from well 240,000 years ago in Siberia.
And on the edges they made grooves, into which they set blazing.
But this is the general idea of making something shorter
like a knife rather than the big… the big sword.
So, how do I get started?
Okay, so give you just a refresher to make a flake.
You need to hit one surface that intersects with another at an angle less than 90 degrees.
And you need the direction of the blow to be away from the piece.
You don’t come into this thing directly.
So with a hard hammer, I might come down like that:
strike, and it takes off the flake like that.
And then your gesture would be like that.
And you make sure you have a follow-through, don’t pull back at the last minute.
And it doesn’t have to be very hard with obsidian prepared to the flint.
-There you go.-All right.
-Look at that.-Yeah.
There you go.
Okay, much bigger.
-But, can see how hitting further back made a bigger flake.-Yeah.
In and of themselves, these are very useful cutting tools.
That’s a nice relatively continuous edge.
Right now, we’re just looking for things that are slightly thinner.
And thing is the palm is just getting your accuracy down a bit where you want to hit,
cause all these are very useful cutting edges.
-You know this edge might work.-Yeah.
This is already fairly loops vertical.
So, it would be relatively the same thickness as this one.
And you could put them back to back like that.
So, you’re getting sort of that much cutting edge.
And also, I think you have enough raw material here
that you can just keep practicing and with more hand-eye coordination.
Think you’ll… You’ll get it.
Certainly getting the right kind of breakage.
好吧 祝你好运 我相信你的手工一定很酷
Well, good luck. I think it’ll be pretty cool.
Thanks for giving a little refresher, and…
Yeah, yeah, just be careful with it.
-It’s very sharp.-Yeah.
Thanks to Dr. Toss Steven,
And I know both a plan for making the blade that’s achievable with my skill level,
and a rough understanding of how to knap obsidian.
To hold the blades,
I still have several leftover chunks from the tree I fell for my eyeglasses from scratch.
Since I’m making a Stone Age weapon,
I thought I’d try to limit myself to only Stone Age tools to make a wooden portion of the blade.
The flint hand axe I made before,
a few granite hammer stones,
and, of course, my obsidian itself.
The jagged edges of obsidian worked decently to saw the narrow portion of the board.
Not too bad.
Although, it was a pretty slow process.
Let’s get some dark tip.
There we go.
And with some obsidian scissors, snip it off.
Cutting the thicker side was going to be a challenge, though.
So, I switched up to the front and back side previously made,
as it’s a bit more resistant to shattering than the obsidian.
After a very long and slow process of sawing through it,
I eventually got bored of that,
and decided try splitting the board to the desired width.
Using some knapped chunks of flint,
I tried to use them as a wedge, just put the board down the green.
After moderate success with that, I went back to the thick end,
and finally got it cut enough so that I could break it.
Then, back to the narrowing and splitting of the wood.
While sharp, the flint and obsidian was prone to breakage,
and was very difficult to make work.
I suspected I might have been able to get enough force.
So, attempted to construct a simple Stone Age tool called an adze.
But while that kind of helped, it just still wasn’t enough.
With some progress, but mostly frustration, I moved onto knapping the blades.
They’d figured the woodworking would be the easier part
while the napping would be the challenge.
But with a method Dr. Toss Steven recommended for me
The knapping was actually pretty easy.
I just need to break off pieces,
so we’re thin, narrow and long enough for the blade.
After wasting over 2 days trying to carve the wood using only Stone Age tools,
So they’re against it, you are not watching fear of technology.
I decided to throw in the towel,
and switch to some modern equipment.
The difference was amazing.
Well, the flint and obsidian were razor sharp,
sharp enough to cut my finger through the gloves.
They just couldn’t compare to professionally made hardened steel tools.
With the wood portion on a blade finally done,
I now just need to attach everything.
For glue, I’ll just need to boil some leftover hide from the pigskin I used to make a football before.
After boiling overnight,
it produces a very sticky animal hide glue.
With enough pieces laid out to fill at least one side of the blade,
I just need to carve out all the slots in the wood,
and then glue in each blade piece.
For letting it sit for a couple days,
the glue should hopefully be hard and ready to be used.
So in the end, I’ve made it kind of a crude blade.
Bit of a far cry from more advanced blades you would see in like Mesoamerica,
but without spending 5 years to learn that skill,
it’s probably a pretty decent cutting edge.
Oh, obsidian’s been a rather interesting material to work with,
and pop culture has kind of a mystical view
whether it’s dragonglass in Game of Thrones,
or opening portals and Minecraft.
It’s just glass.
And I’ve spent a lot of time and past projects trying to both make glass
as well as cut it and shape it into things like lenses.
And knapping is just a different way of working with the glass itself.
And one of the things I was surprised to learn from Dr. Toss Steven
is that you can actually use the same technique on just regular glass.
Trying to make the wood portion of this blade using just the Stone Age tools
really reveal the challenges of nonmetallic tools,
and just how big a difference they are.
So, let me see a little skeptical of how well this will actually work at cutting.
It’s definitely razor sharp,
but I don’t know how well it’s actually gonna cut.
So, I’m gonna try it out on a few different things,
and get an idea how well it works.
First step, see how well it cuts the paper.
Alright, it’s not the sharpest I guess in that regard.
Suppose the Aztecs with their full swords,
we’re able to be sharp enough to cut the head off of a horse.
so I think that would be the true test.
I’m just use pork chop instead.
That’s some penetration.
Definitely cuts real deep.
Hate it when you can’t open bananas.
Try the ANU obsidian blade.
Works for circumcision as well.
Alright, so it actually worked pretty good.
First thing to point out is that the tip fell off,
so my glue…
not the greatest, the rest of them are actually pretty good.
Didn’t do too great at the paper tests,
that might be more because of its jagged nature.
but it really obliterated that pork chop.
it would cut pretty deep,
and the nice jagged nature makes a really effective saw in flesh.
So, I’m actually pretty impressed.
I did it a lot better than I thought it would.
It’s probably not gonna cut the head off of a horse,
but it would definitely do some serious damage,
maybe nick an artery or something.
I would not want to face this.
A lot of times when you see obsidian,
they make these really long beautiful daggers.
But, I worked with obsidian and realizing how fragile it is.
I feel like they aren’t very practical,
like they kind of one-time use.
For something like this, like you could break one of these.
And you easily replace it,
and you’re good to go and keep going.
So, in terms of practicality, I think it’s pretty good.
So as I continue this series of making weapons,
或许最后我会制作一些金属武器 比如铜武器 铁武器
and eventually get into making some metal ones, such as bronze and iron,
and then I’ll be able to see how the Stone Age compares to those metallic ones.
But before that, my next video is actually gonna be on a different metal
that often served a different purpose.
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