Intro: Simple Homemade Lighter
Make a simple lighter out of a few off the shelf parts. I’ve made a few lighters of late (see list below) and this would have to be the one of the simplest and easiest to make. All of the parts can be purchased easily and you could make this with very basic tools. The most complicated tool you’ll need is a small blowtorch for soldering!
The main parts that go into making this is a schrader valve (air valve like the one in a bike tube), some copper pipe, nutsert, and the sparkwheel from a clipper lighter. For those who don’t know, a clipper lighter can be purchased cheaply from most places that sell tobacco. They are re-fillable lighters that also have a replaceable sparkwheel, which is ideal to use in this project.
Lighters I have made
Step 1: Parts and Tools
1. Nutsert M8 - eBay
2. Bolt M8 - eBay
3. Schrader valve - eBay
4. Clipper Lighter – eBay
5. 1/2" Copper tube. about 70mm long (this will be the body of the lighter so up to you on how long you want to make it. - eBay or any hardware store in the plumbing section
6. 7mm ID copper tube. about 60mm long - eBay or any hobby shop that sells remote control cars and planes etc.
7 Sash Cord (for the wick) - I have linked a 5mm thick sash cord to eBay as this should be the perfect size
8. Thin wire (also for the wick)
9. Cotton Balls
That's it for parts
2. Small Blow Torch
4. Silver Solder (get solder that has some silver in it, as it doesn’t become brittle like normal solder. You can get this from any hardware store
5. Wet Dry Sandpaper – 400, 600 and 1200 grit is what I use
6. File or grinder
7. Angle Grinder
8. Dremel (not necessary but it’s good for any fiddly work)
Step 2: Modding the Valve
The first thing you will need to do is to round off the hex nut on the Schrader valve. This is to make it fit inside the ½” brass tube. The valve will form the top of your lighter
1. With either a grinder or file, remove all of the edges on the hex nut.
2. As you remove the edges, keep testing until you can fit the valve inside the tube. It should be a tight fit. Don’t push it into place yet.
3. Next, you need to remove the inside of the valve. Grab some small pliers and just un-screw the valve section in the middle and pull it out.
4. Lastly, Push the valve into the brass tube and make sure that it is level with the edge of the brass tube.
Step 3: Soldering the Valve Into Place
Time to solder the valve to the brass tube. If you have never done brass or copper soldering, I did a ‘ible which shows you how to do it.
1. Cut a length of the 1/2" tube. About 100mm or however long you want the lighter to be.
2. Push the valve into the end of the 1/2" tube.
2. Add some flux around the edges of the valve and brass tube.
2. Heat-up the area with a small blow torch
3. Add some solder all around the edges. Try not to get any on the thread of the valve.
Step 4: Rounding the Edges
There’s a simple way to round off the top of the lighter using a drill as a makeshift lathe. I also did an ‘ible on how to do this which can be found here. In this version, I just used a drill bit and some tape to make the shaft for the lathe!
1. Place the drill into a vice to hold it steady.
2. Add some tape to the drill bit and push on the lighter body
3. Turn on the drill and start to file the edge of the top of the lighter.
4. Keep on checking your work and removing the edge.
5. Once you are happy with the way it looks, use some 400 grit sandpaper to smooth out the edges
6. Go right through the grits (right up to 1200) to finish it off.
Step 5: Soldering the Nutsert
1. The nutsert will fit perfectly into the end of the 1/2" tube. Push it into place
2. Next solder the nutsert into place. You can see from my images I didn't do a great job of it. It wasn't an issue however as I just filed it down.
3. Put the lighter onto the makeshift lathe again (or you could just hand file it) and file down the edge of the nutsert and any solder.
4. Use the wet/dry sandpaper to finish it off.
Step 6: Add the Sparkwheel
I took the easy path with the sparkwheel and just used one from a clipper lighter. However, if you want you can make them as I have done in the other 'ibles in the intro.
1. Cut the 7mm tube so it's around the same length of the lighter.
2. Place the sparkwheel into the end of the tube and place it against the lighter body to work out where you need to solder it to the body. Remember, you can always file down the top of the 7mm tube if it is too long later so it's better to make it a little too high then too short.
3. Place the body and 7mm tube into a vice to hold it in place. Add some flux and solder to the join and heat to melt it.
4. File away any excess solder and sand back the metal with wet/dry sandpaper to finish off. I also give it a bit of a polish with a metal polish to remove any last scratches.
5. Use a pair of pliers and slightly squash the top of the sparkwheel tube as shown in the images. The sparkwheel has 2 small gussets at the top and squashing the tube will ensure that it stays in place.
6. On the sparkwheel and flint, there is a small lip of plastic that I decided to remove as well. It would be sitting near the flame of the lighter and I didn't want it to melt.
Step 7: Make a Wick
I couldn't find any cotton rope that was thin enough to fit into the top of the valve so I made my own wick out of some thicker rope
1. First, start to un-twist the rope and release the braids
2. Place the end of the rope into a vice or something similar so you have something to hold the rope
3. Next grab 4 lots of the braids and twist them together
4. Wrap some thin wire around the rope. This will ensure that the wick keeps it's shape and doesn't un-twist
5. Cut the wick away from the rope and trim the wire
Step 8: Adding the Wick and Filling the Lighter
1. Thread the wick through the top of the valve and push it through the bottom of the lighter
2. Start to stuff small wads of cotton balls into the end of the lighter. Use something thin and long to push the cotton balls up into the lighter body. Make sure you compact it good inside the lighter. It's also important to try and keep the wick in the middle of the lighter so when adding the cotton wads, make sure you evenly spread them around the inside of the lighter
3. Once the lighter is full, trim the wick on both ends and make sure that the bolt for the bottom of the lighter screws into place.
4. Add a small O ring to the bottom of the bolt as well. This will stop any fuel leakage
5. Inside the valve lid there is a small seal - make sure you remove this to allow more room inside of it for the wick.
6. When filling with zippo fuel, make sure you have the lid loose on the top so the fuel will flow down the lighter. Fill it up until the fuel starts to either come out the top or stops being absorbed by the cotton wool.
7. Screw in the bolt to the bottom, wipe off any excess fuel and try it out.