Glass knives.

Glass knife

Apparently, in addition to making stone blades for things like spears and knives, pre-historic humans also used naturally occurring glass and glass-like rocks such as obsidian. The advantage was that the cutting edge was far thinner on glass that had been knapped (chipped off in small pieces by a hammer or other striking tool) than on a stone equivalent. Depending on the materials involved, a stone one probably be more durable overall, but it’s all trade-offs, you know?

In Neal Stephenson’s amazing Snow Crash (one of my top 5 favorite books) one of the various antagonists is a master at crafting and using glass blades.

The modern versions of these knives — made by paleo groups — don’t look all that durable to me. I’d rather have steel. Of course, if glass were really better than steel for knife-making, the worlds knives would be made of glass and I’d be writing a post about the curiosity of the steel knife. But it’s not.

Anyway, these are cool, and I kind of what to try to make one.

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