How to make a fire starter steel.

How  to make a fire starter steel.

Apologies to my  non millions followers. I didn’t post anything in the last several months. Partly procrastinating  and partly the luck of time.  Since return from a trip to New Zealand I bee chasing my own tail (as the phrase goes), to finish things.

Alas, finally I got the time to publish a new post.

After realising that bush crafter don’t by expensive knife (maybe rightly so) and that my knives style are not so desire by them. I decided to do some objects that may  stand a chance to be bought.

Not long ago I add a student doing my knife making course and he light the gas stove, for making coffee with his fire starter steel. He suggested that I will try and do some to sale in bush craft events.

So I did.

The first thing I found was that in order to do it efficiently, one need a jig.  Also what you really want is not to forge it but to construct it out of cut to size stripes of steel.

However, truth to myself I decided to save some money and forge the fire starter out of abounded springs from car suspension that I have in my work shop.  The steel is of the 5160 family and have a 0.6 – 0.7  present of carbon in it. presumably the more carbon the better the sparks. Any way the sparks that steel produce is good enough  to light a char fabric or better still a 000 grad steel wool.

Fire starter steel

I start by making the jig.

Fire starter steel

First I cut all the jig’s part and then obviously connect them together by welding them.

how to make fire starter steelHow to make a fire starter steel





How to make a fire starter steelHow to make a fire starter steel






Now I starting by straighten the suspension coil.

How to make a fire starter steelHow to make a fire starter steel





ones it is straight enough I start to shape it to size ( In my fire starters case it is 7mm by 4mm) , making sure it is straight all the way trough by squeezing it on both dimensions in a vise wile it’s still red hot.


How to make fire starter steelHow to make a fire starter steel





when the steel get cold I cut it to 180mm segments.

How to make a fire starter steel

Now the fun part begin. I heat the steel in my forge attached it on to the jig and bend it. first one side  then the other end.  I guess that if you have a little (or big) helper you can bend it complete all in one heat.

How to make a fire starter steelHow to make a fire starter steel





How to make a fire starter steel

temper the steel  it will make any deferent for   spark production. It didn’t and tempered or not, the After making number of pieces,   I very roughly  heat treat them . How to make a fire starter steel

I did try to check if by steel produce the same amount of sparks. But I temper it just for good measure.

As I the design of  the fire steel is very simple I decided to wrapped them with leather to give It a good holding grip for the fingers.

So here is the finished result.

How to makea fire tarter steel

In the next post (hopefully next week) I will show you how I did the leatherwork.

Happy forging



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Turn your drill press to lathe.

I really need to call it ‘How to shape a Bollocks Dagger wooden handle.

A while back a man name Tim, took my one and a half days knife making course.

It turn out that he is a enthusiast  archer. He told me about a particular knife that the midlevel English archer use to wear. It is the Bollocks Dagger. Bollocks dagger He told me that he really want to build a dagger like that and I told him ‘well, come to do another course’.

It also turn out that he own a nice restaurant in Falmouth UK, the Provedore.

Now.. my wife Tamsin add a birthday and I thought I can kill three birds in one go. First, I can take Tamsin for a meal on her birthday. Second I can built Tim the knife that he keep saying he want to have, and thirdly I can exchange the dagger for the meal (although it’s fair to say that Tim don’t know about that deal yet).

So I set to build the knife. After forging and finishing  the blade I was ready to build  the handle.

I use a block of oak that I add for many years. The design asked for some section of the handle  to be completely round.  Bollocks Dagger  From my experience I knew it is difficult to do it by hand. So I needed a lath machine.

And here it come..

I decided to use my drill press as a lath, and for that I needed to build a implement that will use as a chuck to hold the block of wood in the drill. It wasn’t only the chuck head, I also needed to build something to hold the bottom side of the block.

Basically the handle comprising  three sections, a big chunk of wood on one side,  to be the guard  in the form of testicles (hence the dagger name), middle handle shaft, and the pommel end. That present opportunity for the shape of the chuck like devise, that I will build. It will be a box shape that can hold the chunky bit of the wooden block. Turn your drill press to lathe

I drill four holes on all four side of the box and thread them to take a bolt screw. The screw is to tighten and lock the wood block to the ‘chuck’ box. I weld a short steel shaft to the box to enable me to attached it to the drill chuck.

I pre drill the wooden block from side to side. That will be for attaching it to the blade.

To insure that handle hole is dead centre with the drill chuck, I  drill and thread a hole in the centre of  the box from the inside, and screw a hardened pin in to it. Turn your drill press to lathe

I took a 10mm piece of steel, drill two holes in both side to enable me to attached it to the drill press table, and I also attached hardened pin in the middle of it. later on after attaching the wood block into the chuck box Turn your drill press to lathe

and into the drill, the pin at the bottom will serve as pivot axel to ensure that the block will stay put in the milling process.

Prior to the action on the drill, I roughly cut the wooden block to the size of the handle (see main photo). That is to help in the initial shaping of the handle. Is that the firs action when the wood is still big chunk is too hard on the drill as it is not really a lathe machine.

After you shape the round section of the handle remove it from chuck and finish shaping the guard end, manually.  Turn your drill press to latheTurn your drill press to lathe

And here you have it.

Turn your drill press to lathe

I am sorry it is a messy post but, hey, it’s as you know.



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Belt sander tip and trick

Today post  going to be short but, I feel oblige to my devoted followers (I wander where are they and if it say something about my blog?).

When I started to work on my newly build belt sander I order from a laser cutting company, some blank blades. Some was made of O1 still and some were plane low carbon steel. I intended to use the plane steel for practicing on the sander before I go to use the real knives O1 steel.

That arrangement work well, but then I realised that due to problematic craftsmanship (later discover as just wrong table rest adjustment) I have got slight deferent knife bevel geometry on both sides, i.e. left and right side wasn’t symmetrically shaped.

After adjusting the table rest the result was better but not as good as I wanted. I then realised that I holding the blade in deferent position, between left side and right side.

To remedy that, I needed to explore my action on the sander and lots of practice. To do that I use the plane steel blanks. Unfortunately they run quickly. That was a problem. To order new ones will take time and money. So I decided to… and here is the tip and trick, to cut a lots of wooden blanks, paint them and use them as practice dummies.

As I do more than one knife model, I cut few deferent knife profiles to resembles my knives, and then paint them. Obviously it is not important to give the blanks a proper bevel nor the thickness of the blades is important. Belt sander tip and trick

And here some of the used ones. Belt sander tip and trick

As a tip bonus I will say that while I was practicing, I come up with a solution to a problem that I encounter when I try to shape the bevel of some of my models.

You can see that the knife cutting edge starting away from the beginning of the knife bevel. Also some time you want  the beginning of the bevel to align with the starting point of the cutting edge, as in the second photo.

Handmade knifeHandnmade knife

So my trick is in both cases, to leave some of the knife profile unfinished. Belt sander tip and trick

Form the bevel and then finish grinding the blade profile. See samples 1 and 6 in the photo above, above, above.

That all for now. I hope you enjoyed it


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Marking the centre line of a knife edge

Hi to all my followers :).

The post is actually need to be called:

Marking the centre line of a knife edge prior to establishing the bevel.

It’s been some time now that I wanted to post a little trick about how I improved my method of marking the blank blade edge prior to grinding the bevel.

The original trick was to improve a known technique (the one that using a drill bit inscribing against the edge of the knife to mark the centre line) . the old technique was working well but, it is nuisance on your fingers and a lot of time the centre line turn to be crooked.

So my ‘brilliant’ idea was simply to clamp it to the base surface, to avoid the needs of using my fingers to hold the drill bit (you may say Dhaa.. and rightly so). For me however it was enlightenment and it worked. Knife edge center line marking

The thing is, that it is not the best technique out there and there are lot of ingenious gadgets that one can see on the internet.

But then I had a divine revelation. For some reason (which I won’t bore you with), I accumulated a lot of discarded unfinished blades. Most of my knives are either 4 or 5mm in thickness. Its mean that I use 4 or 5mm drill bit for marking the centre line.

And here is the thing.

Way not taking the tang bit of a blade, and use it for marking? It is flat, it is exactly the thickness that I need and it is harden able steel.  Marking knife edeg

So all I had to do is take one 4mm peace of steel and one 5mm peace. Grind one end to give it a 45 degrees edge and give it a proper heat treatment. As I want it hard as possible I didn’t bother with tempering.

Marking knife edgeMarking  knife edge

Now we talking. It is flat so it didn’t wiggled while scribing and do as good job as any high tech gadget out there. knife edge center line marking

It is not important to establish precise symmetrical hedge.   If it’s not symmetrical, inscribed one line on one side, then flip the blade over and inscribed another line on the reversal side of  the blade.  You will get a double line that marking the centre. Marking the edge of a knife

That is good, as you anyway want to leave some thickness to the cutting edge of the blade, for the heat treatment process . If the double line are too wide, then you can always grind a little bit more to close the gap.

That it.


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How to make Mosaic pins for your knives

How I make my mosaic pins

As always I do try to: One save money, by do it myself and Two learn how to do it.

So this post is all about I  built my mosaic pins, to decorating my knife.

The way I construct my hidden  tang knives is always (nearly) to mechanically secure the blade tang to the knife handle with a pin. I know modern epoxy are strong enough but I just like  the extra security.

I did try to built the mosaic pin directly on to the handle with the ‘security’ pin as integral part of it. it worked okay but I found it bit cumbersome technique, and I restricted to the  ‘security’ pin  always be  in the middle.

This days I use a different method. I build the mosaic pin in advance and use whatever materials I have. Then I use it to decorate the knife. In this method  I still have my  ‘security’ pin in the handle but it is hidden. The way I do it is like that: Mosaic pinNow for the subject of this post:  How do I build my mosaic pins.

First of all let me say that to use deferent metal pins is not the best practice, as deferent metals that been in contact with one another can cause the metals to corrode. You can read about it in:

For this post pin  I used: aluminium tube and brass roods in various diameters.   I believe that the glue is creating a insulation between the deferent metal  element, and my knife will spare the corrosion effect. I didn’t show it on the illustration, but I always roughen up (with a thin saw blade), the deep end of the rods to allow the glue a better grip.

How to make mosaic pins

I use a heat resistant epoxy,  as when sanding the pin to flush with the rest of the handle, a lot of heat can be created . That in turn can compromised the integrity of the glue. Also, If you use a clear epoxy, you can add some colour pigment to it, then you will have a coloured surface for t he pin.

Mosaic pins for knivesMosaic pins for knivesI let it to dry and then glue it to the handle. Needless to say that I already glue the ‘security’ pin  inside the handle.  Knive's Mosaic pinsMosaic pinsWhen the glue is dry, I saw the excess length of the pin,  then give the entire handle a rough sanding.  Mosaic pins for kinves I then finish the handle (as they all do) by sanding it with progressive finer grit size sanding papers. Mosai pins for kinvesFinally I finish it with buffing.  I using masking tape to mask the wood from the metal pin and vice versa (the white tape on the handle is for something else) , as if you do the buffing  all in one go, the wood can be tarnished from the metal buffing residue.

That all, have fan, and  don’t be afraid to leave comment (positive) on my blog.







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