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Puget Sound Knappers Knap-in Best Practices Guide

How to Organize and Conduct a Knap-in

These Guidelines and Recommendations were initially authored by Council of Elders member Harvey Hughett and expanded by contributions of our Knap-in Hosts and Elders and endorsed by the entire  Council of Elders.

A PSK Knap-in is a gathering of flintknappers for the purpose of sharing and promoting the ancient art of flintknapping.  The way in which we conduct our knap-ins reflects the culture of the PSK - informal, open to all and free.   

Typically our knap-in feature the following:

1.  Free admission/open to the public.  Events charging admission and/or not open to the public will not appear in SPALLS or the PSK Website.  This applies to both PSK and non-PSK events.

2.  Free knappable rock (host, co-host, members provided) for the duration of the event

3.  Free instruction - members do not charge for providing lessons at a PSK Knap-in

4.  Free loaner tools (hosts and members provide)

5.  Free safety  glasses and gloves (hosts and members provide)

6.  One  free Potluck Dinner - Host provides at least one entrée.  For multiple potluck dinners volunteers will provide entrée

This document is intended to help people who are considering hosting a knap-in. It is intended to be a guide and provide guidance based on the experience of members of the Puget Sound Knappers, many of whom have been successfully hosting PSK knap-ins for a decade or more. It is not intended to be a set of rules or regulations but more of a ‘things to think about and consider’ and recommendations based on the best practices of other hosts. It is also a work in progress so any constructive feedback will be appreciated.    Most of the information contained in this guide has come from the PSK Council of Elders and has the support of the entire Council.

 Much of this guide is just common sense. But these days common sense is all too uncommon.

 This guide will be in four parts; 1) General Considerations, 2) Knap-ins on Public Land, 3) Knap-ins of Private Land and 4) Knap-ins of Private Land. Much of these recommendations are common and repetitive but still worth repeating.


Whether on private or public land, hosts and all PSK members should insist that everyone in the knapping area HAVE AND WEAR SAFETY GLASSES!  It is a strictly adhered to policy of the PSK that NO ONE is allowed in the knapping area without proper eye protection - no exceptions.


Commercial Activities at PSK Events - The following guidance is unanimously supported by the Council of Elders

Historically commercial activity has neither been condoned nor prohibited at PSK events.  While there hasn’t been all that much commercial activity there has been some and it does have the potential to create some significant problems.

One problem that can arise for PSK knap-ins held on private property is the problem of financial liability in the event of an accident.  Most, if not all, homeowners liability insurance policies will protect knap-in hosts in the event an attendee is injured due to an accident.  Generally, a knap-in is, in the eyes of insurance companies, no different that a birthday party, croquet game or similar event.   However most homeowners liability insurance does not apply if the purpose of the event is commercial - i.e., the host expects to make a profit.  Even if the host does not directly benefit from commercial activity, say from a vendor, many homeowners policies will not provide coverage in the event of an accident.

Commercial activity can also create problems for PSK events held on Federal or State lands.  We all know that the BLM takes a very dim view (it is against the BLM regulations) of people conducting business on 'their' land.  Violation of these regulations can result in anything from fines to the denial of access to BLM land.  Many of the same regulations apply to US Forest Service lands as well as land governed by the states.

In all cases the primary risk is borne by the knap-in host.  It is up to the host to decide whether or not to permit commercial activity and, if any, how is is to be conducted.   And we should be especially mindful of the risk of commercial activity on federal and/or state land we use for our events.  It doesn’t take much time or effort to get away from the federal and/or state land to conduct one’s business – be it selling slabs, tools, etc.

The Council of Elders does not make rules.  However, it is their recommendation and guidance that any PSK member or guest attending a PSK event show the host the courtesy of asking permission before engaging in any commercial activity.  And they should abide by the hosts' decision.


I.  General Considerations – all Knap-ins (special contribution from Richard and Joan Urata, hosts – Davis Creek Knap-ins, Bitterroot Valley Knap-in)



1. Check the PSK event calendar to be sure the date you pick doesn’t conflict with other events.
2. Check if other local events will interfere or coincide with your date. Example: Hunting season, fishing runs, etc.
3. If you are reserving a site, be sure you can get the reservation.
4. Check the average weather for that date. Is it too rainy, too cold, too hot?


1. Is the site large enough?
2. What are the restrictions?
3. Is there enough parking?
4. Is there tenting areas? Is there enough tenting areas?
5. If the date is in the hot summer days, is there shade in the area?
6. Are RV’s accessible? Camper Vans, RV trailers, Length limits?
7. Are there knappable rocks in the area?
8. How is the insect (ticks, mosquitos, etc), snake, wildlife situation at that time of the year?
9. Pet etiquette
10.Inclement weather shelter – does the area have facilities or are portable shelters (awnings, tarps, canopies, etc).



1. Directions to Knap-in: Do an actual run to record mileages, turns, distances to landmarks, etc.
2. Put up direction signs to the knap-in.
3. PSK Banners/Totem
4. T shirts – good for the attendees, bad for the host. You will usually end up with an inventory. You’re always guessing at the quantity of the different sizes.
5. Request 2-3 people act as ‘knap-in’ photographers to insure coverage that can be shared via the website/internet.



1. Sign-up Sheet for attendees. Include name, snail-mail address, telephone, e-mail address.
2. Ooga Booga Sign-up Sheet. (If you plan to have a ceremony.)
3. Produce an information sheet for the attendees.
     a. Include restrictions:
           i. Quiet hours, Generator hours, garbage, cut trees for firewood, making fires, pets on leash, permits, forestry restrictions, etc.
     b. Include things to do:
          ii. Display ‘show and tell’ but they are responsible for watching it, sell or trade things,
          iii. Target shooting – archery, atlatls, tomahawks, etc
4. Pot luck dinner
     a. Consider more than one pot luck dinner and or lunches. It is easier and takes much less time to make one big side dish that a 3-4 course meal to two people. Rotate/ask for volunteers for the entrees. Plus you get to spend more time with friends!
5. Ooga Booga Ceremony, etc.
6. Include a map:
     a. Sketch a map showing grocery store, fast food places, restaurants, hotels, gas station, dump station, rock collecting areas, available water, etc.
7. Emergency information (phone numbers, maps, etc.)
     a. Hospitals
     b. Fire/Rescue,
     c. Police
8. Have a Saturday Evening Pot Luck with the host providing the main course.
9. Reserve a table for Auction contributions. Put a sign up on the table.
10. Have the auction right after the pot luck dinner.
11. Play knapping games like ’10 speed’ and ‘2 inch goat’. Keep half the pot to help pay for the knap-in expenses.
12. Auction the ‘10-speed’ points.
13. Community Point(s) – each knap-in should provide at least two (2) community points. First choice goes to the host and the 2nd to the raffle.



It is not the intent of the Puget Sound Knappers to make a profit from knap-ins or other events.  All Knap-in hosts are advised that by hosting a PSK event they assume some monetary risk. All PSK sanctioned events are free - with the exception of camping fees associated with those events taking place in State or Federal Parks.  This includes free admission, free knappable rock, and use of sanitation facilities (Porta-Potties).  To cover the direct out-of-pocket cost of our events,  we depend on the following:

1.  Voluntary contributions of money - have a container for direct voluntary contributions (coffee cans work great).

2.  Voluntary contributions of items for auction - have a display table available for auction items

3.  Auction of contributed items.  Also auction of 10 Speed Points.

4.  Competitions of 2" Goat and 10 Speed - have or obtain a 'Goat Rock'

5.  Community Point Raffle - at least one and preferrably two community points should be knapped.  Typically one will be given to the host for their work and one will be raffled.  Raffle tickets can be purchased at any Walmart for a nominal price.  Suggested raffle ticket price is $2.00  Be sure and get the tickets that have a space for name and address in the event the purchaser can't be present for the drawing.



1. Tarps – especially on public land but useful everywhere
2. Brooms and dustpans
3. Shop Vacuums – especially for carpeted areas
4. Buckets or trash containers for debitage
5. First Aid Kit including an Eye-Wash capability
6. Sign-up sheets
7. PSK Handouts
8. Plenty of trashbags/containers for general garbage

9. Raffle Tickets (available at Walmart or from Jim Keffer)

10. Knappable rock - ask fellow knappers for contributions if necessary

11.  Extra safety glasses and nitrile-coated gloves.

12. Loaner tools


After any and all knap-ins/events, check the area for rubbish, débitage, etc. Leave the area cleaner than when you got there.


II.  Knap-ins on Public Land

Organizers/host of knap-ins on Public Land may face a number of bureaucratic challenges. Just getting permission is likely to be the greatest obstacle. There are basically two types of public lands suitable for holding knap-ins, State/County/City parks, and public lands managed by various State and Federal departments. These include state departments of fish/wildlife/natural resources and federal departments such as the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Forest Service.

State Parks

These may be the easiest public lands on which to hold a knap-in. They usually have sanitation facilities, parking and camping sufficient for a fairly large knap-in. There is almost always a cost; both to the host to reserve facilities and to the knappers in terms of park/camping fees.

Things to think about and inquire about up front:

1. Dealing with débitage – a potentially big issue on Public land. Removal of all débitage is universally required. The use of tarps or equivalent is advised.
2. Insurance – some Public venues may require supplementary insurance.
3. Quiet hours – usually posted and strictly enforced
4. Policing the area (trash, etc) - usually posted an usually strictly enforced
5. Parking – in designated areas only unless prior arrangements are made
6. Pet etiquette - usually posted and strictly enforced
7. Art Displays – accessible by the public at large, host may want to have displays in close vicinity to member knappers to insure security.
8. Commercial activity restrictions (selling of points, tools, etc)

State and Federal Lands (Dept of Fish & Wildlife, Dept of Natural Resources, BLM, Forest Service Lands).

Usually these lands are available for recreation, including camping, hiking, biking, etc. However, organized events can be a whole different issue.

The first thing a prospective host should do is consult with the appropriate agency to learn about the following:

1. Permit requirements
2. Insurance/bond requirements
3. Guide license requirements
4. Sanitation requirements (number of Porta-Potties)
5. Commercial activity restrictions (selling of points, tools, etc)

General requirements include:

1. Dealing with débitage – a potentially big issue on Public land, particularly if anywhere near a Native American artifact area. Removal of all débitage is almost universally required. The use of tarps or equivalent is advised.
2. Parking – establish an appropriately marked parking area for guest and extra vehicles
3. Trash/Garbage disposal, individuals should be responsible but the host is responsible.
4. Rock Collecting
     a. Regulations, including limits – have them available for attendees
     b. What to do about ‘quarry holes’? Some places, like Glass Buttes prefer that we not fill in holes. The rational is that when established ‘quarry holes’ are backfilled it just encourages folks to dig new holes. Other public lands have just the opposite rules.
5. Know the pertinent Fire Regulations
6. Know the pertinent regulations for collecting firewood.
7. At each event a display case of points, made at the knap-in, should be presented to the managing authority as a token of appreciation. This goes a long way to establish and maintain good relations.

III.  Private Property  - PSK Member Property

Hosting a knap-in on your own or someone else’s private property, while certainly the easiest in terms of access, can present some challenges. Many are the same as with any knap-in but a few bear serious consideration

1. Insurance – this is the number one consideration when hosting a knap-in. Most homeowners insurance provides some degree of coverage but it is advisable to check with your insurance company. In most cases, as long as the main purpose in not commercial, homeowners insurance will provide coverage.  The PSK will NOT knowingly facilitate any knap-in on private property that is without liability insurance.   You can obtain 'Event' insurance from Gales Creek Insurance Services which is the only company that offers event insurance on private property.
2. Advance notice (plus an invitation) for your neighbors can go a long way to prevent objections.
3. Parking – adequate parking that does not interfere with traffic or access must be provided. Parking area should be clearly marked.
4. Extra capacity for trash and arrangements for trash disposal
5. Sufficient sanitation – Porta Potties
6. Dealing with débitage
7. Local Ordinances
8. Pet etiquette
9. Handling displays (from other members/knappers)
10. Host(s) assume the responsibility for security with help from PSK members
11. Local maps with important facilities identified – grocery stores, pharmacies, emergency rooms, etc.
12. Open Fires – check local ordinances
13. Fund raising to defray cost to host. Type and number of activities to raise fund should be planned. These include direct donations, contests (10-Speed, etc) and auctions of donated items and a community point.
14. Commercial activity restrictions (selling of points, tools, etc)

IV.  Private businesses, schools and other venues

The following is based on our experience at a number of events attended at Cabelas and both private and public schools.

1.     Safety equipment.   This applies to not only those who wish to participate but all who are in close vicinity to the actual knapping. 
   a. Safety glasses – MANDATORY
   b.    Nitrile-coated gloves
   c.     Leather lap pads or aprons
   d.    First Aid kit (eye wash bottles recommended)
2.    Chairs – some venues may have them but we recommend each knapper bring at least two chairs unless the availability is verified beforehand
3.    Loaner tools – boppers and pressure flakers w/ hand pads
4.    Rock – spalls and large flakes are adequate
5.    Tarps – advisable for all venues
6.    Brooms, dustpans (or shop vacs) and buckets for debitage
7.    Signs/Handouts
a.    Safety Glasses Mandatory signs (available from PSK webmaster)
b.    PSK Handouts (available from PSK webmaster)
c.    Attendance Sheets (available from PSK webmaster)
8.    Displays – arrowhead and other Paleo Art displays are a big hit!
9.    Digital Camera/Camcorder – to record the event
10.  Riker Case – point given to the host in a Riker Display case helps build ongoing relationships

Some additional ideas for consideration:

1. Designated fire extinguisher area (commercial extinguisher, water buckets/hoses/sand/shovels – for Ooga Booga ceremonial bonfire.
2. Identification of medically qualified people – first aid, CPR, etc (any doctors, nurses, paramedics, corpsman, etc)
3. Co-host – designated in event host is absent. For dealing with local/state/federal authorities (rather that everyone getting involved). Also for insuring proper post knap-in clean-up.
4. Publicity
     a. Local newspapers, community groups, senior citizens, scouts, etc.
     b. Websites
        i. Craigslist (community events)
        ii. PaleoPlanet Forum 10 (General Discussion
5. Information Board (white board, peg board) for important information/schedule of events
6. Handouts in lieu of information board

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