Firesteel, Forged Vikingstyle




This Instructable will show you how to make a firesteel. This kind of firesteel was used by the vikings to light a fire. In a later 'ible I will show exactly how to do that. This 'ible will just show how to forge the steel, not how to use it.

Step 1: Tools

Tools needed
Hammer- any hammer at around 500g-1000g will do
tongs - you need something to hold the hot steel while hammering it. A smiths tongs is best, but you can do with a welding clamp or any other tongs with a good grip.
Round tongs - To make the eye on the steel you need a round tongs.
Anvil - any small anvil will do, if you don't have a anvil a heavy hammerhead, some railroad track or a flat stone can be used.
Forge - you need some kind of heatsource to heat you steel. I use a reconstruction of a viking forge. But you can build a simple forge from clay. Or use a gas burner.
Bucket of water - To harden the steel you need some water to quick cool the steel.

Angle grinder - needed to prepare the steel before forging

Safety gear
ear protectors and goggles - I use this when using the angle grinder.

To work the bellows it is best to have a slave or an apprentice :-)

Step 2: The Raw Steel

To make a good firesteel you need some highcarbon steel. It is the content of carbon in the steel that makes the sparks.
The best steel for firesteel have a content of above 1% carbon. My best source of high carbonsteel is old files and car springs.
The carsprings are perfect for forging knifes and other cutting tools. The carbon content in the carspring is around 0.8% -1% and that is a little low for firesteel. The files are all above 1% some 1.5% and that is great for firesteel.

Step 3: Forging

Now heat the steel to forging temperature. The steel needs to be gloving red. When it cools down and the gloving color fade heat it again.

First hammer out a long pointy end.
Heat the end and with the round tongs bend the end to an eye.
Now heat the steel again and bend the rest of the end around the anvil horn.

Then the firesteel is ready for hardening.

Step 4: Hardening and Testing

When the steel have the right shape it is time to harden it.
Bring the steel to glowing red, and dip it in the waterbucket.
The steel will now cool very fast making it very hard.

Dry the steel and find a sharp piece of flint and test if the steel can make sparks.

Some times you need to remove the black surface on the steel before you are able to make the sparks. The black scaling is easy removed with the scraping of a flint stone.

Step 5: Lighting the Fire

When you have practiced making sparks with your firesteel. It is time to make a real fire.

Stay tuned for my next 'ible where I show how to prepare tinderfungus and make a fire The Viking Way.




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    29 Discussions


    3 years ago on Introduction

    Cool, would novalculite work for the rock part of it? I'm pretty sure it's a type of flint.


    7 years ago on Step 4

    I have read that dipping in oil makes it stronger, but you look like you know what you're doing :)

    5 replies

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    From what I have heard the reason to quench in oil is that it cools the steel much slower than water. This means it hardens slightly less but is much less stressful for the steel and reduces the risk of micro-fractures which lead to nicks cracks and catastrophic failure. In this project I think you want maximum hardness(am no expert) so the steel doesn't just get scraped away but creates sparks so water is the best medium.

    Whereas in knives probably the most commonly forged item that requires decent treatment, oil is widely accepted as the way to go. Tempering is normally a good idea to help remove the stresses caused by hardening but in this project I doubt it is necessary.


    Reply 5 years ago on Step 4

    With modern steel it depends on which kind you are using. There are water hardening, oil hardening, air hardening, and some specialty ones also. With modern steels you want to use whichever quenchant it is designed for.


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    And steel from files is designed for water? I dont know and havent foudn a method to simply test it...


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    if you are using recoverd/scrap steel and you aren't sure how to quench it, you should try a sample piece before doing your full work. The problem is that some steels will crack if quenched improperly, so its best to know BEFORE you spend hours and hours on a piece.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    the oil doesn't boil and flash off at so low a temp like water, this also insulates the metal some as all the flashing steam around the red hot metal forms a barrier, the oil has to be shot up to a much higher temp and so disperses the heat out of the metal a lot faster than water, in doing so the metal cools faster and that results in a harder and less malleable metal, will hold a good cutting edge.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    I got a train track anvil at a yard sale for $20.00 and they had made it with the horn,its about 2 ft. long but an old style of track.They beat the hell out of any cast iron anvil,I like mine anyway.Nice job on the steel by the way.

    I will make one once I can use my forge again, I think it is beautiful in a rugged/manly way and Ill wear one as a necklace. I will also use some base elements of it to make my girlfriend a necklace (if you don't mind) if anyone needs one, I will be making an instruct able for making a 5 dollar forge in the next few weeks. My overall goal is to make a beginners setup (forge, anvil, tongs, hammers, pliers, tongs ect.) for 20$ total. I have been forging blades for a few months, so allot of my instructables will be on them, but I will do a few things that are ornamental. If anyone is really itching to forge, message me and I will share my knowledge.

    2 replies

    that sounds very good. I will love to see that instructable,

    I think you should burn the steel with linseed oil to prevent it from rusting.


    It's nice to see interest. If you would like to make yourself a Viking sword, the forges I'm making fit the bill. Just a friendly word of advice if you do that, broken truck leaf springs are 20$ at a junk yard and they make wonderful swords and large knifes.


    ok i dont have an actual anvil...i use I-beam steel with a hardened plate welded to the face and sides. how might i accomplish the curves in this piece? build some special extra-large round tongs or what?

    2 replies
    morfmirThe Metal One

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    You can forge the rounding on a piece of water pipe mounted in a vice or in a big log of wood.


    The Metal Onemorfmir

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you kind sir, that helped me tremendously
    im about to purchase an old 200 lb upright horn anvil, so the waterpipe bending jig is about to be a thing of the past.

    Chicken Spit

    7 years ago on Introduction

    I love the old railroad track anvils. A teacher gave one to me last year and Its been good enough. It sure was fun getting that home on the bus!