Introduction: Fire Iron
Sugru is a moldable silicone that's an all-in-one putty/glue/rubber/modeling clay for repair jobs. If you're not careful, whatever you fix with it will look like you've done so with bubblegum, right down to showing your fingerprints, but to be fair, they do say "hack things better", not "make your stuff look pretty". On the plus side: it's not just versatile, it's also heat-resistant, grippy and sticks to all sorts of surfaces.
Playing to sugru's strengths, and taking the "hack" bit to heart, I decided to use mine to help make a poker for my wood-burning stove. A poker is a type of fire iron, and to make things easy, I made mine from an old tire iron. I just had to change one letter.
Why? I've never owned a poker, having always just used a stick of green wood instead. However, they periodically need replacing or get burned accidentally, so a real poker would be a fine thing. I like burning stuff, so idle fire optimization is an activity I frequently indulge in.
Step 1: Materials and Tools
You'll need a metal rod of some sort, and some sugru. My metal rod was an old tire iron that I found under the deck when we moved into our house. Length and diameter depends on the size of your fire and the weight you want. Rebar would work fine, and add extra hacker cachet.
You'll also need a file, a hacksaw and some sandpaper.
Step 2: What Is Sugru, Anyway?
It says on the label "methyltris(methylethylketoxime)silane and gamma-aminopropyl triethoxysilane", but these are just crosslinking agents for silicones (they're irritants, which is probably why sugru has to report them). Most of the sugru is probably polydimethylsilicone, which is pretty benign. Crosslinking the silicone makes it rubbery instead of liquid. The different functional groups on the crosslinkers allows the silicone polymers to stick to a variety of different surfaces as well as to each other. Clever boffins.
Step 3: Prepare Iron Rod
Cut the metal rod to length. I just lopped the end off my tire iron off at the bend with a reciprocating saw (a hacksaw would be fine, but more work). It's 450 mm long, and 13 mm in diameter, so it's pleasingly weighty. Round both ends with a file. I kept the levering end of my tire iron, but filed it a little so it wouldn't scratch any surfaces. Clean up the rod if you like; I sandpapered the chipping paint and rust off until it was reasonably smooth.
Step 4: Add Heat-resistant Handle
Open your favorite colour of sugru. I guesstimated how much I'd need and mixed 3 green and 1 blue. Flatten out and wrap around the end to form a grippy handle in a style of your choosing. You can get the grip nice and smooth and fingerprint-free if you roll it out (use cling film to protect the surface). Leave to cure overnight.
Step 5: Use
Light a fire, and push flaming logs around at will with your new poker. Marvel at the cool grip. Enjoy the warmth of a well-stoked blaze. Bonus: if you use a tire iron like I did, you also now own a giant (albeit low-torque) screwdriver and a handy pry bar. Congratulations!
Note: thanks to Instructables for sending me the key ingredient - sugru is fun to use and the finish on the handle turned out way better than I was expecting.
Runner Up in the