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Knowing how to use and create simple paleolithic stone tools from scratch can spell the difference between life and death in an emergency situation. These tools are crucial when sourcing basic necessities such as food, clothing, shelter, and even water.

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How to Make and Use Stone Tools in Survival Situations

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Craft Stone Tools From Scratch

Stones on a pebble beach in Brighton | stone tools in human evolution

Step 1: Find the Best Rock to Use

The first thing you need to do is source a suitable rock. This task might seem easy considering there are hundreds, if not thousands of rocks, in most rural areas of the world—whether you’re in the desert or a forest. However, not all rocks are usable.

Ideally, survivalists can make stone tools out of rocks that  have the following characteristics:

You’ll need more than just one rock. After all, there’s no saying how long you’ll be in the emergency situation you’re in, so it’s best to come up with multiple tools with various purposes.

When picking out the rocks to use, stick to homogenous options. Your selection of stones and rocks needs to have a uniform, consistent composition so you’ll have stone tools compatible with each other.

The key to creating perfectly molded stone tools lies in selecting the right rocks. You wouldn’t want to waste your time trying to sharpen or shape a piece of stone that’s too hard to chip off, right? The same thing applies to rocks that turn to dust after just a few stabs.

For easy-to-shape rocks, choose ones with brittle sides. They should have an overall durable body that doesn’t crumble but can be slightly cracked if sufficient force is applied.

Yes, you can make as many stone tools as you need as long you’re in an area with an abundance of rocks. However, that doesn’t mean you can ignore quality.

To ensure durability, go for fresh rocks. These have an elastic consistency that’s resistant to a fair amount of stress.

Generally, your stones should be able to withstand at least a week’s worth of consistent use. It would be extremely time-consuming to create primitive tools every single day. Remember: you’re in a survival situation, so time is very crucial.

Again, consistency is important. Apart from choosing rocks that have the same makeup, we advise selecting ones of the same size and shape as well.

Which Rocks Should You Use

Essentially, the ideal rocks to make stone tools out of would include flint, chert, jasper, chalcedony, quartz, and obsidian. However, do not limit yourself to these options. You cannot afford to be picky in a survival situation.

Explore all the stone options available in your area. Once you find a good match, look for other rocks similar to it, then stock up on at least one or two dozen pieces.

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Step 2: Shape the Chosen Rock

Real American Indian arrowheads | types of stone tools

To create the tool you want to make, chip off pieces of the rock until you achieve your desired shape. Smash the rock onto a flat, hard surface to create the general structure of your tool, then use a smaller, harder rock to structure the finer parts of the instrument such as the blade.

Tools You Can Make Using a Rock

stone ax with wooden handle primitive man | stone tools used by early man

There are many different tools you can create from rocks, these include”

1. Choppers and Chopping Tools

Prehistoric dagger | names of stone tools

When it comes to general choppers and chopping tools are cutting tools, there’s no fixed design to follow. Your chopper can be anything from a large piece of stone with sharp edges to a small, thin blade-like stone attached to a wooden handgrip.

Functionality

Choppers and chopping tools are primarily used for cooking. You can use these sharp instruments to slice meat, dice vegetables, and peel fruits.

2. Hand Axes

Ax stone tool of stone age it wepon for the war | what were stone tools used for

Stone-made hand axes are smaller than the other chopping tools on this list. They consist of a small, sharp stone attached to a short, smooth stick serving as the handgrip.

When making your hand ax, make sure to use a small, compact, and dense stone. Larger ones are more brittle and prone to cracking. Remember, your hand ax needs to be a durable option capable of cracking rocks, hard husks, and wood, among others.

Functionality

Hand axes are very versatile and are suitable for heavy tasks such as trimming down stray vines, chopping branches, killing small pests such as reptiles, and chopping open hard fruits like coconuts.

3. Knives and Scrapers

Stone Age Man with Hand Axe | by which techniques were the stone tools made

Knives and scrapers are generally larger than chopping tools and a bit less refined than hand axes. They don’t have to be your most durable tool, but they do need sharp edges.

Functionality

A sharp knife can help scrape the slime and puss off of the animals you hunt. Never forego this step. Not only is excess animal slime disgusting, but consuming them might even lead to serious illnesses and diseases.

4. Burins

stone age tool, ax head and arrowhead | paleolithic stone tools

Burins are chisel-edged, elongated stones that primitive humans used to engrave writings on wood, bones, and stones. For a better handle when engraving, opt to attach a small piece of wood at the end of the stone—this will serve as the handgrip.

Functionality

The modern man who lives in a fast-paced, digitally dependent society would likely take notes on his/her smartphone, tablet, or laptop. However, in survival situations where not even pens and paper are available, burins will prove to be very useful.

You can use burins to engrave notes on various surfaces. Some things you might need to keep track of include time and food/water inventory, among others.

Check out this video by Wired where they demonstrate on camera how to create essential survival stone tools from scratch:


The average modern man won’t need to use or make stone age tools very often. However, if one ever does find themself in an emergency situation, being able to create essential cutting, digging, and pounding tools from random rocks will be very beneficial to his/her survival strategy.

To further improve your emergency and crisis preparedness, familiarize yourself with other primitive skills such as hunting wild animals, sourcing potable water, and building shelter from scratch, among others. Knowing how to create different types of stone tools is useless unless you can fully utilize them.

What other stone tools or weapons can you make out of random rocks and pebbles available in the wild? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!

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