Fire Steel

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About: Avid Kayaker, Canoeist, Wildcamper, SUP-er and Photographer,

Many people take a lighter or matches camping with them, in the past i've always found these to be unreliable. Whether its forgetting to refill your lighter or damp matches, i find that a fire steel and striker is much better. From lighting the gas stove to lighting a camp fires its my preferred method, it doesn't matter how windy or wet a modern fire steel will still produce sparks at 3000ºC and it won't run out of fuel.  

I spotted a stack of fire steel blanks in an outdoor shop and thought id have a go at making a handle for one. I had the choice of deer antler or birch burl. I decided on the antler as it was a nicer shape.

Materials
Ferrocerium rod (fire steel blank)
Deer antler
Glue
Wax
Leather 

Tools

Drill
Sander (Dremel)
Sandpaper
Engraver (Dremel)
Lighter

Step 1: Sanding Off

I wanted a nice smooth effect for the handle of my fire steel, though you could just as easily leave it in its natural rough state.
I used the sanding piece on the dremel to remove the rough outer layer and sand in a thumb shaped dip so that the polished antler doesn't slide out of my hand when i strike it. This was all done with a rough sanding to P60.

Step 2: Drilling Your Hole

A fairly simple step. Choose a drill bit thats slightly bigger than your ferrocerium rod and drill a hole that goes deep enough for it to sit in without falling out.

I used an epoxy resin to glue my rod into the hole, but only because thats what i had around, most glues would suffice.

I placed the rod in the hole, wiped of any excess glue, clamped it in a grip and left it to dry for a few hours.

Step 3: Sanding

To give a better finish i used a variety of sandpapers (P100 to P250) to smooth of the antler. I also drilled a small hole in the top of the handle to tread a piece of leather through. 

Step 4: Engraving

As a final little bit of decoration i thought i would add an engraved rune on the end of the handle. I chose the eldar futhark rune Kenaz (torch or fire) as it seemed appropriate.

Using a fine edged engraving bit on the dremel i carefully engraved the rune into the antler. 

To fill in the shape of the rune i melted the end of a wax crayon, using a lighter, and dripped the wax into the rune. After scraping off the excess wax and fitting the leather strap and your good to go.

To use your fire steel simply run a hard metal edge (like that of a knife) down the length of the steel whilst applying some pressure. 

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17 Discussions

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Reiff

4 years ago on Introduction

I should have thought of that before, it is a good idea. Although, you probably shouldn't be doing the drilling, and gluing part on your laptop. For anyone who wants to know where to get a flint rod go on Ebay, you can get a flint rod like the one shown, for about $5, so it is kind of expensive.

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OrngrimmReiff

Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

Aliexpress.com sells them for around 1.5$ a piece if you take 4. free shipping...

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diy_blokeOrngrimm

Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

good tip. I bought one including a scraper for 1 euro at a local shop works perfect.
I love aliexpress

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spylock

4 years ago on Introduction

I did one of these a few years back,the flint came unglued from the magnesium stone so I drilled a hole in a leftover piece of deer antler,put a little E-6000 on it.Mine has been doing its job,and looks nice too.Good job on yours also..

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Ace918

4 years ago on Introduction

A 1 1/2 inch piece of fine toothed hack saw blade will make the best fire scraper you can get. also if you use your knife, as a scraper, use the blade side, but the part right next to the hilt, that part of knife rarely gets used at all

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Ace918

4 years ago on Introduction

A 1 1/2 inch piece of fine toothed hack saw blade will make the best fire scraper you can get.

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ardnon

4 years ago on Introduction

How much does a steel blank cost you? Is there anything I might have laying around that would work as a replacement?

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the binksardnon

Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

The fire steel blank was £9 i think, though you could probably pick them up cheaper online.
Being a very specific man made alloy ferrocerium produces a much hotter and more efficient spark than the alternative which would be old fashioned flint. Ferrocerium is used to make the strikers for welding torches though im not sure that would be a useful shaped piece for something like this.
I cant think of anything else that would be a viable alternative, sorry.

Antler, like any horn and bone creates a pretty nasty dust if inhaled so always wear a mask when sanding, grinding or cutting these materials. Nice looking project and will make a great addition to any camping or survival pack.

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tim_n

4 years ago on Introduction

I've got a few of these in antler - they're really nice. Another benefit of smoothing is that it's doesn't catch on clothing etc when you take it out of your pocket. The thumb point is fine because it feels better on the hand when striking, but of course the problem is you don't want to strike on only one place on a firesteel, you'll get very uneven wear!

1 reply
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the binkstim_n

Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

that is a good point, i hadn't thought of that. Just tried it upside down and the thumb grip fits quite nicely against my middle finger

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psycophonic

4 years ago

Effing awesome little ible and tool. Only why take off the rough edges only to put in a thumb slot to prevent slippages??? Please don't take this as criticism...

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the binkspsycophonic

Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

Yeah i see what you mean, I just think it feels much nicer in the hand when its smoothed off. And it matches the colour of the antler on a knife ive made (ible under construction)