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How to Make Indian Arrowheads

by Isaac Carlson
Learn how to make Indian arrowheads.

Learn how to make Indian arrowheads.

Arrowheads were used by American Indians (also known as Native Americans) for game hunting, spear fishing, target practice and more. Construction of an arrowhead is an intricate process that requires attention to detail and safety.

Decide on the core stone that you want to use for your arrowhead. The best stones for this are stones with very little or no grain that are also brittle, such as obsidian, quartzite, flint, jasper or chert. These kinds of stones in particular will break in a predictable manner. This will make it easier to make an arrowhead. Try to find a uniform, wholly intact stone that is approximately the size of the finished arrowhead that you would like.

Choose a stone for the hard hammer that will be used to chip flakes off of the core stone. Ideal stones for this are granite, quartz, gneiss, basalt and other heavy stones that transfer rather than absorb force.

Choose the materials for a soft hammer that will be used for detailing. These materials have traditionally been bones, very hard wood, or the antler of an elk, moose, caribou or a deer.

Sketch out a rough design of what you would like your arrowhead to look like. For it to be functional, it should ideally have a wide base with a flare at the end that attaches it to the shaft with a string. It should also have a sharp point.

Hold the core stone in one hand and start roughing out the arrowhead's shape with the hard hammer stone, preferably on a flat surface. Be careful not to hit your fingers in the midst of this process. Proceed with weaker, but more controlled strikes if necessary to avoid mistakes.

Dull any edges that you are planning on detailing with the soft hammer with sandstone or limestone. This will prevent big pieces from breaking off unintentionally and avoid the collapse of an edge.

Start detailing with the soft hammer by chipping smalls pieces away from the arrowhead's edges to help create a razor sharp point. As detailing progresses, it is advised you put on leather gloves to avoid cutting yourself when finishing the arrowhead.

Items you will need

  • Brittle stone
  • Hard stone
  • Bone or antler
  • Sandstone or limestone

About the Author

A native New Yorker, Issac Carlson has been writing on culture and society since 2003. He attended high school and college in Connecticut, earning a Bachelor of Arts from Wesleyan University, where his work was featured in several university periodicals.

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