Make a Mini FIRE PISTON on Lathe





Introduction: Make a Mini FIRE PISTON on Lathe

What is up eveybody, in this instructable I am going to make a mini fire piston used for lighting a fire with an air combustion.

Hope you enjoy it.

Step 1: 3d Design

I firstly design a piston in software called solidworks to see how it is going to look like when machined.

After the first prototype, I had to change a few small dimensions and it was ready to be machined.

Step 2: Material, Machining First Part

For this project you only gonna need a 20mm in diam. Aluminum rod and 2x 7 mm rubber oi-ring seals.

The piston is made from 3 seperate parts so I fistly cut them on length with my handsaw.

I start with making the middle part of the piston, so I trim down the diameter to 15 mm and drill 10mm hole through the whole piece.
On one end I tap a thread so we could seal it with a custom made cap end.

Step 3: Machining Remaining Parts

Second part is kind of a piston with a seal on one side. Again, I trim most of the rod to a 9mm diameter, made some grooves and 2 lite chamfers on both sides.

The last part is just a simple cap end with a thread on one end, so I firstly trim it down to a needed diameter and cut an external threat in the benchwise.

After that I hold it secure again in my lathe and machine it to the final dimensions. In the middle section I also cut a few grooves to kinda look a bit better. After that I drill a small hole in the cap end for the rope that we are gonna attach at the end and make a little groove on one end of the piston for the charcloth to hold in tight.

Step 4: Assembly and Testing

Now, our fire piston can be assembled together in just a few seconds and there we have it.

To test it out I use a small piece of a charcloth which is a very good fire starter and place it at the tip of the piston.

With a hard push we can achieve a very high pressure that helps ignite the charcloth.

You might not get it started every time but after a few tryes you will figure it out how to trigger it almost every time.

Thank you for reading that quick instructable, if you have any questions or improvement ideas please comment below.

Step 5: Watch a Video



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    14 Discussions

    very cool, is there a benefit to possibly drilling a hole in the end of your piston to hold a little more firecloth, and increasing the length of the piston to make up the compression loss?


    1 year ago

    Really cool

    Really cool to see! One thing, I use lathes and Mills at work and I couldn't help but notice that you tapped this by hand. Why didn't you use the lathe to accurately center and tap the thread?

    Not dissing your manual tapping skills though, looked perfectly centred from where I'm sitting. :)

    3 replies

    Thanks for your comment! I had some bad experience wit tapping threads on lathe.. Idk. why but I just cant get it done. Probably the tap&die set I bought is in very bad condition since the beginning(made in china). Maybe you know what is my problem here?


    Maybe you nedd the lathe tailstock alignmente, i use a chinese tap and die set on my lathe, and i had no problems, maybe the alignment in your lathe have a little problem, use a dial indicator to verify the alignment. very good work by the way.

    Not a clue. The bits are provided, maybe better taps would work better in the lathe. I'm assuming you put it in a Jacobs Chuck (Looks like a normal drill holder but bigger) and do it up tightly.

    Speeds for tapping on lathe you turn it manually. That's how I was told anyway. Hope this helps :)

    If you threaded both ends of the cylinder and the base of the piston, you could have it screw into itself for storage.
    Also, turn down the body of the piston or machine a slot into it and add storage for tinder(or matches :-P).

    1 reply

    I assume that, for storage, you would just unscrew the end cap, place the piston back in and then screw the cap back on, which would create the opposite effect. Rather than the piston wanting to push out (due to air pressure), it will want to stay in because you are then creating a vacuum when you pull on the piston. I hope this makes sense :)

    What lathe do you use?

    Very nice, but have you actually started a fire with it?

    Great project, I'll make one too Thanks



    1 year ago

    That is sooo cool. Thank you for sharing. (I really need a lathe ;-) )