Flake Tools

Flake tools are chipped stone flakes that were casually used for cutting, scraping, drilling
or engraving with little or no secondary shaping or sharpening.   Most flake tools have no
distinct shape other than a straight or pointed cutting edge.  Due to this lack of distinct
shape, few were purposefully picked up or plotted by the Tribal monitors during the
monitoring process.  Most of the flake tools recorded at the lab were from bags of random
obsidian flakes that were collected.  There were 72 flake tools recovered during project

All obsidian chipped stone tools that appeared to have diagnostic shapes were submitted
for hydration analysis.  Hydration readings were converted to approximate years B.P.
(Before Present) using Thomas Origer's (1993) rate for Napa obsidian and the Borax Lake/
Napa obsidian conversion factor developed by Kim Tremaine and Dave Fredrickson (1988).
Site maintained as a public service by Archaeological Research, PO Box 1353, Lucerne, CA 95458.
Contact: dr.john@wolfcreekarcheology.com
Elem Flake Tools
History and Prehistory of Lake County
and Beyond
Flake Scrapers (55)

Flake scrapers are various shaped
flakes that exhibit use wear and/or
secondary flaking on one side.  All but
two of these were of Borax Lake
obsidian, one was basalt and one was
Napa obsidian.  

The Napa obsidian scraper (0-105)
had two hydration bands; one with
a mean of 1.2 microns, indicating
recent edge breakage ~200 B.P.
However, most of the artifact had a
mean of 11.7 microns,
manufacture ~21,000 B.P.
 This is
likely the oldest stone tool
recovered during the project.
Flake Knives (4)

Flake knives are usually more than
casual flakes picked up and used.  
These flakes often show intentional
thinning or sharpening along one or
more edges to create a more precise
cutting or scraping edge.  All flake
knives were of Borax Lake obsidian.
Special Flake Tools (6)

Casual flakes can be used as drills,
engravers, and spoke-shaves (for
shaving the bark off basketry sticks or
arrow shafts).  The materials collected
had 4 examples of gravers, one
spoke-shave, and one drill.  All were of
Borax Lake obsidian.
Flake Blades (6)

Flake blades are un-retouched flakes
with a length more than twice their
width.  For most chipped stone tools,
the longer and thinner the initial
flake of stone, the better and sharper
the finished tool.  The shape of that
initial flake is dictated by the shape of
the core of rock from which it is
obtained and the method by which it is
removed from that core.  During the
manufacturing process, a core can be
casually hit on any flat surface
(platform) to remove usable flakes of
stone.  However, to obtain the longest
and thinnest flakes, the core must be
prepared and shaped to allow their
removal.  This process requires
extensive knowledge and experience
in stone tool manufacture.  The
resulting flakes are long, straight, and
very thin.  In sorting through the
randomly collected chipped stone, 5
Borax Lake obsidian and one basalt
flake blade were found.