D.C. Waldorf & the History of
I was born in Norwalk,
Ohio on April 29, 1951. My father told me that I came into
this world at dawn after the passage of a violent thunderstorm.
He and his best friend Leo were sitting on the front steps of the
old Memorial Hospital, watching a glorious sunrise through the
receding clouds when they got the word. I sometimes wonder how
this event would have been interpreted had it happened in a hut
beside the Huron River 10 or more centuries earlier!
Even as a young kid, I felt that I was somehow
different, I believe that those around me referred to it as "odd." My
love for history and things-old manifested itself very early and
indeed, my Great Grandfather Floyd Hill was a collector of all sorts
of relics, old swords and guns mostly, with a few arrowheads thrown
in. Perhaps I inherited his "bad gene". I still have a worn out drill
made of shiny black Coshocton chert that my grandmother gave me when I
was about 8 years old. She told me it was all that was left of his
I never did very well in grade school, too much
daydreaming about cavalry and Indians, racing chariots in the Circus
Maximus, sailing with the Vikings, or the occasional caveman versus
mammoth scenario. By the time I managed to make it to Jr. High, I was
totally "wacked out". The summer of 1965 saw me experimenting with a
nail trying to pressure chip beer bottle bottoms into some kind of
point I could haft on a dowel rod and shoot with a bow I made from
strips of split bamboo. To say the least, my parents were none too
happy about the way things were going, and just short of severe
lashings and solitary confinement, did everything they could to
discourage me. Don't forget, this was the mid-1960s and if a father
had a good business going, his son was expected to follow in his
footsteps. After all these years, those who have come to know me
couldn't possibly imagine me as a maker of rubber stamps working in a
dingy little factory in New London, Ohio. My stubbornness saved me
from that fate, along with some help from the "wrong crowd" of fine
people I hung out with, rockhounds, Indian relic collectors and old
In high school I reached the "height of academic
achievement" when I took my science fair project "Early Man and his
Tools and Weapons" all the way to the state level with perfect scores. I bribed the judges with arrowheads I made during my presentation. Obviously my flint working skills were improving! The only "higher"
education I received came from two years as a part time student at the
Firelands Campus of Bowling Green State University. There I took a few
courses in English composition, Geology, and Anthropology, hoping
someday to transfer to a bigger school that offered a degree in Paleo-Anthropology. By then my interest in archaeology had pretty much won out over all
the others due in part to my flintknapping, in which now I had
progressed to where I could make a passable replica of just about any
point type found in my home state. However, this dream never came
true. My family had disintegrated in a nasty divorce, and while
working for my dad I was moonlighting in the flintknapping business,
the profits of which I could not ignore. And it soon became evident
that I could make it on my own, practicing the trade I had taught
In April of 1974, I married Val, my best friend and
confidant. If she, with her patience and talent as a fine artist, had
not been with me, those early years would have been very lonely and a
lot tougher. I was 23 and she was 19, when we packed up the old Hornet
and headed for the Ozarks of southwestern Missouri. Here was a place
where old time craftsmen were respected for who they were, and mine
was the oldest craft of all. There was plenty of free raw material to
boot. Those hills were loaded with chert, a rock the locals hated. In
some places there was more of it than soil, and they told me I could
have it if I took it all and left the dirt for them! Of course, only a
small fraction of it was workable and that came in angular blocks of
odd shape, the same as the old Flint Ridge material. So I didn't have
much trouble with it, and it was eagerly added to my stockpile, along
with the Ohio stuff and the cantaloupe size Indiana Hornstone nodules
I used to have delivered to my booth at Friendship, Indiana. Up until
the advent of the first knap-ins, this was the big muzzle loading
shoot we used to attend, along with a few of the smaller rendezvous.
As a "base camp" we rented a booth at Wilderness
Settlement on Hwy 76, it was then at the edge of the city of Branson. We worked in the "The Flint Shop" for about a year and a half, and
finding out how cheap the tourists were, we supplemented our income
with mail order and more trips to shows. Our first catalog featured a
tin type of the wife and I on the front cover. Finding out that there
was already a Flint Shop in Texas, who made gunflints from sawed
slabs, in order to avoid confusion we had to change our name. The
Hopewell Mound Builders were my favorite prehistoric people, who did a
lot of fine artwork and traded extensively, the same thing we were
doing. So we became Mound Builder Arts and Trading Co. Shortly after
our name change, we came out with our second catalog, and published
the first edition of "The Art of Flint Knapping" under the Mound
Builder Books label. Over the years, this book was to go through
4 more revisions and today it is a affectionately referred to as "The
Flint Knappers Bible" by those who first learned to chip using it as
their only reference.
"The Art of flint Knapping" was followed by "Flint
Types of the Continental United States" in 1976, and we moved to our
own place 10 miles east of Branson in 1978. The moving and rebuilding
of a 150 year old log house and the construction of other outbuildings
occupied a lot of our spare time. So it wasn't until 1985 that I wrote
the first edition of "The Art of Making Primitive Bows and Arrows,"
and Val finally finished the drawings for "Story in Stone." This
volume went to press in 1987, replacing the first flint types book. Now
out of print and a collectors item as well as the early editions of
our other books, this one set a new standard for lithic illustration
and made Val famous in that field.
Furthering our endeavors in the publishing business, we took over
Ray Harwood's newsletter, "Flint Knapping Digest," and in 1989 we
renamed it "CHIPS." From humble beginnings it became a full fledged
magazine that effectively served the flint knapping community for 23
years until its last issue came out in October, 2011. Due to
competition with the internet, the economy, and declining
subscriptions it was no longer profitable to keep it in print.
However, all the magazines are still available on three CDs in
The Complete CHIPS Archives, and the "The Best of CHIPS" series
has been revised and reissued, keeping in
print the most useful and entertaining articles. Look for
them in the products page of this site.
With the advent of inexpensive home video cameras and
recorders, we also entered that field in 1989, making a couple of
knap-in tapes, which we had to copy one at a time. This got old when
we had to make multiple copies of our first instructional tape,
"Caught Knapping." Not to be confused with Craig Ratzat's later
production, this one was made in 1992 on old VHS equipment. When we
went to a local "dubber" to have multiple copies made, we ran
into technical problems with time codes and quality control. So
we had to get a new Super VHS camera and accompanying editing decks, a
considerable investment at the time. With this new equipment, we
produced "The Art of Flint Knapping Video Companion" in 1993.
This was designed to accompany the book, and has
become something of a "cult film." Recently, it has been
digitally re-edited and re-mastered on our new computer equipment and
is now available on DVD. We have a
complete suite of production facilities that allows us to make multiple copies all in house so we have total control over
Also, with similar advances made in Desk-top
publishing, all of our writing, editing, typesetting, graphics, layout
and even some of the printing is done by ourselves. So the costs are
kept down and the savings can be passed on to our customers, who have
found our publications to be well done and reasonably priced.
Since losing Val to a brain tumor
in April 28, 2005, and retiring from "CHIPS" magazine in 2011 I
am busier than ever running the business trying to maintain the
quality of service you all have come to expect. However, I still
manage to find time to do some chipping, and I am doing more of it! To
view the pieces I have currently available click on
Flint Jacks Gallery. By the way, the original
Flint Jack, AKA Edward Simpson, was a well known English flint Knapper
in the 1850s, who learned how to reproduce early stone tools for a
then thriving relic market. However, unlike my predecessor, since
1983, my work has been signed with my initials, two digit year date
and a serial number for that year. The daggers and axes I make are
numbered consecutively from 1983 and bear D or A prefixes.
DC Waldorf about 8 years old.
The boy never grew up! Here he is as
alias "Flint Jack" SASS badge no. 36147.
Drill point given to DC Waldorf by his grandmother. It was
originally in the Floyd Hill Collection.
The first "perfect" point found by
D.C. Waldorf in
Still on the original shaft, one of the first points made by DC
Waldorf from the bottom of a Pond's Cold Cream jar, circa 1965.
The old Flint Shop at Wilderness Settlement, circa
Tin type of newlyweds, DC and Val. Circa 1974.
Our second catalog, circa 1975.
First edition of The Art of Flint Knapping, 1975.