Introduction: Custom Handmade Firestarters

About: My name is Troy. I'm a Mechatronics and Aerospace Engineer. I make things out of wood and electronics and spend time outdoors (especially SCUBA diving).

I made these ferrocerium rod firestarters as a simple and elegant gift for friends and family. They are easy to batch out and are a great way to use up some old scrap wood. Throw them in your bug out bag, camping supplies, or anywhere you may need a waterproof way to start a fire easily.

Step 1: Tools and Materials



Step 2: Glue Blank

Cut strips of wood to whatever thickness you desire. I made versions ranging from 1/8 in. to 1/4 in. This version shows 1/8 in. strips that are 1 in. wide and 3 in. long. Apply enough glue that it squeezes out when clamps are applied. Let dry overnight.

Step 3: Drill Hole in Wood Blank

Drill a 21/64 in. hole 1 in. deep. I used the drill press with a home made jig to hold the blank in place.

Step 4: Glue Ferrocerium Rod to Blank

Mask off 1 in. from the end of the rod. Using coarse sand paper, scuff up the finish on the rod. This will ensure more surface area for the glue to hold onto. Apply cyanoacrylate glue to the rod and insert it into the wood blank until the edge of the masking tape reaches the edge of the wood. Apply activator to the glue to hold it in place. Allow 24 hours to dry.

Step 5: Turn Wood Blank

Insert your ferrocerium rod into the lathe. Turn the blank almost round. Mark the center of handle about a 1/4 - 1/2 in. from the end. Hold the rod in a clamp on the drill press to ensure it is square. Be sure to use scrap wood behind the handle to prevent blowout.

Step 6: Create Brass Insert

I couldn't find any brass tubing the size I needed for this project. If you can't find any either, you can create your own tubing by drilling out the inside of a brass rod. I used an inch of 1/4 in. brass rod with a 5/32 in. hole drilled through the middle on the lathe. Any wood lathe should be able to manage this with no problem. Be sure to use cutting fluid and something on top of the bed to collect all metal filings and cutting fluid.

Step 7: Glue Insert in Place

Scuff up the surface of the brass tube and glue in place with more cyanoacrylate glue. Once dry, cut off the excess tubing using a hacksaw or rotary cutter.

Step 8: Turn Handle

Chuck up the handle once more. Use a file to bring the surface of the brass rod down to the surface of the wood.

You can now turn the handle like normal wood. Be sure to take light passes over the brass to avoid catching your tool and breaking the glue bond between the wood and ferrocerium rod.

Step 9: Apply Finish

Apply whatever finish you like. I used regular shellac and they look great!

Step 10: Create Striker

I cut up an old hacksaw blade to use as the striker. A 10 in. blade cut into four pieces works out well. Be sure to cut the blade slowly to avoid losing its temper. Use sandpaper to remove all (or as much as you like) of the paint and drill a 5/16 in. hole toward the end.

Cut 16 in. strips of suede or paracord to attach striker to the ferrocerium rod.

Step 11: Assemble

Tie the suede to the ferrocerium rod. Slide the end through the hole on the striker. Bring the loop around the end of the striker and pull tight. This will ensure the ferrocerium and striker are always together when needed. You can separate them anytime you need them to start a fire.