How to Make Stone Arrowheads

Hey Everybody!

This is the first Instructable that I have made so if anything could be explained clearer or done better feel free to leave comments. I would also love to see pictures of arrowheads that you have made. Suggestions for a better design are also welcome. In this 'Ible I'll be showing you how to make arrowheads out of stone. They can be quite sturdy depending on what type of stone you use, but you still must be careful. As for safety DO NOT POINT THESE AT PEOPLE, ANIMALS OR ANYTHING YOU WOULD NOT LIKE TO DAMAGE also you must be careful because THEY CAN SHATTER IF THE STONE IS WEAK! O.K. now you're almost ready to begin!

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Step 1: Materials

  1. Stone
    • this can be flint, slate(the weakest), obsidian or cherts
  2. Hammer/hard rock
  3. Safety goggles
  4. Rough rock, file or sandpaper
  5. Phillips head screwdriver, large nail or other metal spike
  6. Small screw or bolt (optional)

Step 2: Preparation

The first part of this process is to select what type of stone you will be using for the arrowhead itself. I chose slate which is quite weak, but this makes it easier to shape. Also it's the only stone that I could find. Flint is a common choice and in general works very well for both methods that I will explain. Obsidian is hard to find (at least for me), but makes excellent, sharp edges. It can also be difficult to work with. Chert also chips into nice sharp edges.

As for identifying these rocks refer to the materials for the pictures. They appear in the order of how they are listed in the materials. Select a fair number of good sized chunks because you are very likely to break the first few arrowheads you make. Make sure you have all the materials as well.

Step 3: Roughing Out the Shape

Take the piece of stone that you plan to use and set it on a worktable or other surface you don't mind possibly marring. Next take either a hammer or a hard stone and tap the stone to try and break it into smaller pieces. If you have a thicker piece of stone you may have to hit it harder. Hit the stone until it has shattered into small pieces. Make sure that you have safety goggles on to protect your eyes from flying shards of stone. Once you have at least five roughly triangular pieces of stone you may begin the next step. You may have to lightly chip away rough edges to make the shapes more triangular. Refer to the pictures to see the rough size and shape of the pieces. The pieces should be no longer than two inches and no wider than one inch. Most arrowheads are roughly an inch long and 1/2 to 3/4s of an inch wide, but choose a size that you feel is good.

Step 4: Trimming and Shaping

There are two methods to make the stone pieces into arrowhead shapes. Knapping and Grinding. Knapping is often more difficult, but produces better edges and a more authentic look. Grinding can be long and boring, but is easier for beginners. It also produces cleaner edges. I will explain both and you can pick the method you prefer. A combination of both would also work well.


This is a way of making stone tools that involves striking the edges of the stone with a metal spike such as a screwdriver or nail. Rocks can also be used to knap. If anyone who reads this has skill in knapping please add more information to my explanation. Thanks to hjjusa for the great tip of using stiff copper wire or antler to knap as well. To start place the edge of the piece of stone against the workplace and get the phillips head screwdriver or nail. I will be using a large nail for this 'Ible. Some people just use a rock and hit the edges until they chip, but this is more difficult. Press the point of the nail down against the edge and try and chip away a small piece. You may have to push and twist a little bit to chip off a piece. Keep doing this around the edge to achieve a scalloped look and shape the arrowhead. Refer to the pictures to see what the edge should look like. Also attempt to make an indent on each side near the bottom if you ever want to attach the arrowhead to a shaft. The first four pictures show how I knapped an arrowhead. The edge is not very sharp, but the tip is so this arrowhead could actually be used. Remember if you use obsidian, chert or flint it will look different than the arrowhead I made because these stones chip differently.


Take another piece of stone and a file, sandpaper (I used 60 grit) or a flat, rough rock (I also used a stone step in my backyard once). Take the piece of stone and rub it against the item you chose. Rub the top and bottom until they are even then begin to grind the sides into an angle (about 45 degrees). This will produce a lot of stone dust so act accordingly and be careful not blow blow or inhale the dust. This will take awhile so get ready. Once you have the rough shape you can rub the bottom edge to make it flat or a point like I did. From the pictures you can see the shape of the arrowhead, the profile, the point and all the dust it makes.

Step 5: Finishing

This step is not totally necessary, but it makes the arrowhead look better and makes it easier to attach to an arrowhead. I only did this step with the ground arrowhead because this step is included in knapping. Take the screw or bolt (I'll be using a small bolt) an make sure the diameter is roughly 1/4 of a centimeter. Then place it perpendicular to the bottom edge of the arrowhead as it shows in the picture. Now rub the bolt up and down the edge with light pressure. As the threads on the bolt rub against the stone it should take off small chips and make an indent as you can see in the pictures. Once the indent is a decent depth (about a half circle size) repeat on the other side. Most normal arrowheads need only one indent on each side bu because mine has a pointed bottom I will add two more indents. Feel free to do this for more stability when attaching the arrowhead to a shaft. Also you can angle the screw slightly while rubbing to make the indent more rounded and the edge of it duller so it doesn't cut the string if you attach it to an arrow. See the pictures for a better explanation of this.

At this stage you can also use a finer grit sandpaper to smooth out the scratches of the 60 grit. Go progressively down in roughness as you would if you were sanding wood. For example go from 60 to 80 to 120 etc. not 60 to 200. Go in alternating directions when sanding. This means if with the previous grit you went up an down now go side to side. Do this until you achieve the desired appearance.

Step 6: Final Notes

Now you should be left with a decent arrowhead. If you plan on using these remember that it is OK if the edges are dull, it's really the point that matters. I would not suggest using them for target practice because they can shatter if they hit another rock. Also especially if they are slate they can be fragile so avoid dropping them. Above are some pictures of arrowheads that I have made before using mainly the grinding technique with some knapping along the bottom. Please remember to leave comments on what you like and didn't like. If you enjoyed the Instructable and would like me to do one on fletching (making arrows) tell me in comments section and if enough people want it I'll make it. Thank you all for reading this Instructable!

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    13 Discussions


    10 months ago

    When napping find a piece of supple leather to hold the stone being napped. Saves hands from damage. One for your knee, too!

    1 reply

    3 years ago

    Making one out of novaculite tomorrow. Use to find a bunch of white arrow heads around here so tgey must be good. Thanks for teaching us in a way a lot of people with different resources can make these

    1 reply

    3 years ago

    I made a couple out of shale and it also worked pretty well but is very soft.

    1 reply

    4 years ago

    Here is a slate arrow head I made, with a hammer, file, and bench grinder. Far from traditional, but I am making a atlatl and this will be my spear head.

    1 reply

    Very impressive, nicely done! I have used some of my slate heads for an atlatl spearhead before, but they may break if they hit something hard such as a rock. If you are taking down something living though, it should work well. I don't know that from experience though so do whatever you want.

    This is so cool! Old technique being brought to the surface, the finished arrowheads have all sorts of cool applications!