I have some obsidian and I know that it can be made into knives and other sharp objects such as arrowheads. Historically this was done for a long time in the United States before there were steel blades.

Steel has a lot of advantages, but I think that it would be a fun project to make one and it could even come in handy in a survival situation.

What would the process be for making an obsidian knife?

  • 2
    Maybe adjust the historical wording? Historically it was used before there was a United States and it was not limited to any one continent. Commented Dec 23, 2017 at 11:04
  • What do you want it for? According to Wikipedia, Obsidian "Obsidian was also used in ritual circumcisions because of its deftness and sharpness." This is dating back to 5th millennium BCE. Agree with JJ that Q needs to be reworded to take account of great antiquity and ubiquity of obsidian knives.
    – ab2
    Commented Dec 24, 2017 at 5:46
  • Could be handy in case of white walkers.
    – Drew
    Commented Jan 1, 2018 at 0:08
  • And that's still used today : finescience.com/en-US/Products/Scalpels-Blades/Micro-Knives/…
    – J.R
    Commented May 11, 2020 at 22:59

1 Answer 1


You have to chip it. Primitive hand axes were very slowly and carefully shaped using another stone to chip away at the tool bit by bit until the desired shape was achieved. They were then sharpened against another stone in a similar fashion to using a modern wet-stone today. The process for shaping obsidian is known as flint-knapping. One method of flint-knapping is to use lead filled copper boppers. You need lots of patience to complete the task, go too fast and you could ruin your tool by taking off too big a chip or flake.

This guy shows one method to knap an obsidian blade: Flint Knapping a Far Cry Primal Inspired Dagger Blade.

This is another method from a different part of the world; this guy is making a danish dagger: Flintknapping the Type IV Danish Dagger

  • The few times I have seen it done. It was done on the leg by Natives like in the video. A far cry primal inspired. I am told it is hard on the leg to do that way.
    – J Bergen
    Commented Dec 20, 2017 at 12:29

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