While I fabricate and sell Fluting Jigs, I like to make the instructions on how to make and use this type of jig available to those who like to make their own and have the necessary tools to do so. If you don't have a welder, metal shear, cutoff wheel, grinder, or drill press, or would simply rather not spend the time and effort required to make one, just PM me and I'll send you one (along with a bill - less than competitively priced jigs)
I'm not an expert on their use, so I've relied on several experts with regard to the proper techniques. I heartily welcome constructive comments on both ways to improve the Fluting Jig and the techniques of using them.
Instructions for Making and Using the Fluting Jig
This document is intended to be used as an instruction guide for both making and using the Fluting Jig.
Special thanks to the following friends and fellow knappers:
Jim Miller- who started me making the jigs
Emory Coons - whose jig I used as a basis for the one I make and for demonstrating his fluting techniques at various knap-ins
James Miller – for his tips and suggestion on improvements to the jig and fluting techniques
The Fluting Jig consists of the following:
1. A steel base made from flat stock 6” x 12” x 3/16”.
2. Two uprights, 1-1/4” wide, 12” lengths of steel angle stock that have ¼” holes drilled on one side as close to the angel as possible. The holes are positioned ¾” apart (center to center) and extend to the top of the uprights. The uprights are welded to the base on three sides (the face or front of the uprights are not welded so as not to interfere with the placement of the point).
3. The uprights are parallel and 1” apart to allow for large flutes and the tops of the uprights are connected by a welded small steel cross member to prevent them from spreading.
4. The fulcrum is a ¼’ diameter pin secured by a clip pin for easy removal and adjustment.
5. The lever rod is ½” diameter, copper plated grounding rod. The tip is ground to a point and then flattened on one side to provide the best platform for engaging the fluting nipple on the point. The back side of the rod where it engages the fulcrum pin is also ground flat to prevent the lever from twisting or turning under the fluting pressure.
6. Shims, used to position the point relative to the lever rod/fulcrum and support the tip, are 3/16” steel, 1/8” aluminum and 1mm copper. Steel shims are just for height adjustment but the copper and aluminum may be used for both height adjustment and tip support.
Instructions for Use
To use the fluting jig, place an appropriately formed point* against the face of the uprights with the point resting on the base. Position the fulcrum pin above the base/nipple of the point far enough above so that there is room to place the lever rod between the fulcrum pin and the nipple on the base of the point. The pin should be inserted into the holes approximately ¾” above the nipple. Use the included shims to raise the point so that when the rod just touches both the nipple and the fulcrum pin the angle of the rod is approximately 10° above horizontal.
Here is an example of the proper positioning of the point in the jig. Note that coins, especially those with copper such as pennies or quarters will work for shims. Wood wedges are also effect when used to adjust the height of the point relative to the fulcrum/lever and provide good support for the tip.
Note the clearly defined and isolated 'nipple' platform on the base (in this case the top of the point).
Applying the Pressure
With the tip properly positioned, begin by slowly applying downward pressure on the nipple by lifting up on the opposite end of the lever. A slight pulling motion on the lever during the final stages of the upward pressure on the nipple will help remove the flute. This pulling action is similar to the flake pulling technique used in pressure flaking.
While I could speculate on why different techniques work and then try to explain every nuance of proper jig technique, suffice to say I’d never be able to describe it well enough to compensate for practice and/or trial and error. The knappers I know that are best at fluting have spent hours developing their techniques and have made and broken literally hundreds, if not thousands, of points. Even the best knappers I know are only successful three out of five attempts – success being a good looking point fluted more or less evenly on both sides.
Then again, I’ve personally witnessed an expert knapper make three and sometimes four excellent Clovis points in a single hour, while only breaking one or two of five attempts. Using a jig, and there is evidence that various Native American tribes did, makes fluting easier and more consistent for most knappers than other method like direct percussion.
*Properly formed points
A properly formed point has two distinct features. First, a prominent ridge in the center of the point running from tip to base. Down this ridge is where the fluting energy is directed, with either a percussion or jig/lever technique. Second, a ‘nipple’ on the base of the point. This ‘nipple’ is basically a strong, clearly isolated platform on which the jig lever is place to drive the flute off the point.
Some recognized types of Fluted Points*
*The Paleoindian Database of the Americas