Don't throw away those used lighters, instead turn them into a fire starter.
I hate to see anything go to waste, so whenever a disposable lighter runs out of fuel I either turn the flint into a firework (see here), or make one of these. The fire starter is made from the spark wheel, spring and flint from the lighter. The body of the fire starter is made from copper.
There's nothing too difficult making one of these, the hardest thing probably is adding the spark wheel to the copper bracket. It took me a couple of times to work out the best way to make this section.
The spring is held in place with a screw which has a ring soldered to the bottom of it. This makes the flint easy to change.
Without further ado - lets get started
Step 1: Parts and Tools
1. Lighter. Use a large one if you can as it has a bigger flint.
2. Copper tube. The size will depend on the dimensions of the spring in the lighter. I pulled apart the lighter and took this to the hobby shop to find the right sized tube
3. Copper strip. Hobby shop. Don't get it too thick or you will never be able to bend it. Same goes with too thin!
4. Copper wire. Hobby shop. This is used to make the ring
5. Screw. The screw should just be a little larger than the inside diameter (ID) of the tube.
1. Pliers. needle nose and any other small pliers
2. Small files
4. Mini blow torch
Step 2: Pull the Lighter Apart
1. Remove the metal cover to reveal the spark wheel
2. With a screwdriver, carefully remove the spark wheel. The spring and fl;int will want to jump out so be careful not to let them go flying.
3. Discard the empty lighter.
Step 3: Adding the Screw
It's best adding the screw first before you cut the copper tube. Reason being, you need to lock the tube in a vice to be able to force the screw into the end of the tube
1. Secure the copper tube in a vice. You will probably squash the tube but don't worry, you won't need this bit
2. With a small, round file, de-burr the inside.
3. Push the screw into the top and then with a phillips head, start to turn the screw into the copper. You you have a tap then you can just use this to make the thread. As I didn't, I just screwed the screw in with force to make the thread.
Step 4: Cut the Tube
Once you have added the screw, you then need to cut the tube to length.
1. Put the spring next to the tube. You want about 10 mm of spring sticking out the top.
2. Cut the tube. I used a dremel with a cutting wheel
3. File the end and make it smooth. Also, de-burr the inside
Step 5: Make the Bracket - Bending
This can be a little tricky. You want to make the bracket so the spark wheel fits correctly. You may have to make a couple to get the size right.
1. Make a 90 degree bend in the copper strip.
2. Next, grab the spark wheel and use this to work out where to make the next bend. You want to have it so when bent into a "U" shape, the 2 pins on the spark wheel rest on the copper strip.
3. Cut and trim the bracket and lastly, round off the edges. I used a sanding drum on my dremel but you could also use a file.
Step 6: Fitting the Spark Wheel
Once you have the bracket the right size, you next need to add a couple of holes in the sides for the spark wheel to sit into.
1. With a punch, mark where to put the holes. Use the spark wheel to determine the best position. You are going to have to use some guesswork on the 2 holes as you will need to mark each one separately. If the holes aren't lined-up correctly, the wheel will be crocked. If you mark the holes right with the punch, you shouldn't have any problems. If the holes don't line-up and I'm afraid you'll probably have to start the bracket again.
2. Carefully drill the first hole. The drill piece you use should be the same size as the pins on the spark wheel.
3. Drill the other hole and remove any burrs.
4. Here's what you need to do to get the wheel into the bracket:
- Put the wheel on top of the arms of the bracket.
- Push down on the wheel and try and push it into the bracket.
- once in the bracket, line-up the pins on the wheel to the holes in the bracket. If one of the sides of the bracket is bent out, use some pliers or a vice to straighten.
Step 7: Soldering the Tube in Place
To be able to fit the tube into the bracket, you will need to drill a hole into the bottom of the bracket
1. Mark with a punch the centre of the bottom of the bracket
2. Drill the hole (should be the same size as the tube) and remove any burrs with a file. I left the spark wheel in place when I did this so if you do the same, be careful when drilling.
3. Push the tube into the hole you made in the bracket.
add some flux to the join and solder in place. I used a mini blow torch to do the job. It's pretty simple to do but if you haven't done this before, maybe practice first. The important thing is to get the copper hot enough to melt the solder on touch.
Step 8: Adding the Ring.
In order to hang it from my keys, I added a small ring top the screw. The other benefit is you can un-do the screw easy with the ring attached
1. Make a ring out of the copper wire
2. solder the ring on top the top of the screw. Best to use a 3rd hand for this part if you have one.
Step 9: Polish
To give it a great finish, I used some metal polish.
1. Put a little of the polish on a cloth and start polishing
2. Be careful not to get polish on the wheel or it will be a pain to clean off
3. Done. Give it a test and attach it to your keys or whatever you want to
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