Luke Cord: Ancient Rock, Modern Art

Luke Knapping KEEPER2I met Luke Cord backstage at a Jamey Johnson concert when he asked me to take his picture with Mr. Johnson.

We had both managed to find a way backstage and stumbled into a night we would never forget as a friendship was born. A short conversation later, we discovered much in common: both had a passion for music, an interest in pre-Columbian history and a creative streak. However, Luke takes his creative passion for ancient tools to an artisan level.

Growing up on a century old family farm just outside of Shelbyville, IN, Luke spent a lot of time riding tractors and walking fields with his grandfather. It was on one of these outings that he discovered his first native artifact. As a small child, he had studied some pieces that his mother inherited from her faLuke Knapping Stuffff 183ther, but it was his first find while hunting with his father that started a love for seeking out these elusive pieces of history.

“Finding artifacts, for me, creates a major connection directly to a lost culture, history, and an individual”, Luke says. “I respect this connection and wonder what the person was like who made the artifact. (Ultimately)….this sparked a thought in my mind: could I recreate these primitive pieces of work?” And with that, Luke set out to master the ancient art of knapping stone.

Working flint is not something that is taught at the local community college and there is little available in the way of hands-on workshops. “I made some tools and began trying to chip some flint. I made a pressure-flaker out of an old hammer handle and a tine from a deer antler, a smaller version for notching, and used a palm-sized hard stone for percussion-flaking.” Many hours of internet searches, YouTube videos, and trips to known sites paid off well but so did practice.

Luke Knapping Stuffff 168“I began knapping every day for at least an hour or two, and still do to this day. All of this practice and studying actual artifacts (is what) helped me learn how to knap. I was paying attention to the flaking and shaping of real artifacts and painstakingly attempting to recreate these patterns,” Cord said.

Luke has branched out into all varieties of primitive art and arrowheads aren’t the only thing he now makes. As his skills grew, Cord began to make knives, bows and arrows, war clubs and many other types of native tools; virtually any type of ancient weaponry or tool is likely to be found in various states of construction in his workshop.

He also uses his skills to help others. It was mid-evening when someone contacted me looking for some arrowheads for a Boy Scouts Arrow of Light ceremony. Notice was short and time was of the essence so I naturally thought of Luke. A couple phone calls and text messages later, he was en route to his workshop to start chipping. Luke not only came through in grand fashion but did so overnight. Aside from the two arrowheads, he also made two complete, historically-correct arrows, complete with turkey fletching and sinew wrappings. When all was said and done, the total cost for the scout troop was a handshake and a smile.

Luke Knapping Stuffff 173To see more of Luke’s artistry, visit or email

Don Cranfill
A native Hoosier, and son of a tournament fisherman, Don literally grew up on the water. Early in life he developed a passion for two things, paddling and fly fishing. Don can often be found stalking the limestone creeks of southern Indiana for Smallmouth Bass, while the off seasons are spent crafting custom hardwood canoe and kayak paddles, making figured-wood fly tying bases and developing the ultimate fly. Contact: or at



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