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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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Chicken and vegetables stew in wood burning stove.

Hi all

I am away for few weeks (going to New Zealand). So for the sake of my devoted followers (hope there are some, at all) I am publish this post. It was oh so busy last few days so I don’t have time to make it as a normal readable post. I just publish my initial recipe and when I be back I will type it in a normal way. In the mean time try and decipher my hand writing and the language.

Until next month, have fun.

Merry Christmas,


The recipe:

Chicken and vegetables stew in wood burning stove


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Monk fish in tomatoes and bell pepper Sauce

Simple but very effective (I.e. delicious) recipe. Try not to settle into buying the frozen fish, it will kill the dish. always buy fresh one,  otherwise I don’t have anything to add (just for the sake of Google robots), other then… as my apron say ‘just do it’.

Just do it


77g Pancetta.

4 Big tomatoes, quartered.

3 Medium onions, sliced.

2 Bell peppers, red and green, cut to stripes.

1½ teaspoon sweet paprika.

250ml chicken stock.

3 Tablespoon capers.

2 Descent size monk fish, de boned, clean and each cut in to two along the spine.

Salt and pepper.


Pre heat the oven to 180 degrees C.

Rub the monk fish all over  with half of the paprika and set aside.

Begin by gently fry the pancetta in heavy skillet. Just before golden add the peppers and continue to fry until the peppers start to burn.  Add the onions and sauté them until the onions become transparent and slightly soft.

Add the tomatoes and keep frying on medium heat. When the tomatoes starting to falling apart add the stock,  the remain of the paprika and the capers. Gently mix, bring to boil. Turn down the heat.

Add the fish into the skillet, making sure the fish is bury in the sauce. Bring back to gentle boil.

Cover the pan, remove from the fire and bake in the oven for twenty two minutes.

Bon appetite.



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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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