How To Make a Striker
for a Flint and Steel Fire Kit
Fire is one of the blacksmiths most
fundamental tools. Every day we use it in one form or another to make our
coffee so we can get out to the workshop! Yes once in our shop we need it
to also heat our steel.
Today we use our matches and Bic lighters
to start our coal or gas forges and hardly think anything of it. Before
the invention of matches our best option for lighting a fire was with a
flint and steel.
At the end of this article I
have included a link to a short video of the process of making a
This primitive method of fire making is actually
surprisingly easy to master and works well even in windy conditions. The
creation of the "striker" and its use is the focus of this
For a complete set of fire making tools you need the
striker, the flint, and char-cloth.
The striker is a piece of
hardened tool steel in a convenient shape to have the flint cut sparks off
it. Strikers come in all shapes and you can be quite creative when you
design one to make. They all have a long straight side that the flint can
easily cut the sparks off.
Common styles are C shaped or J shaped.
But I have seen historical examples in the shapes of snakes or dragons or
laminated, or with punched holes etc.
The striker I describe
is of the simple J shape.
Files that can be used to make strikers. The Large
flat one is a lot of work to stretch out a thin shape such as the C shaped
one in the picture. I used the middle Rat-tail file in the video
This is the flat bar with the sharp point. Width of
the flat bar is about 3/8th of an
Method of Construction of the Striker Use
an old file for your tool steel. I used a worn out rat-tail file. I have
also had good success with spring steel and W1 or O1 tool steel.
Forge 6 inches into a flat bar shape 1/8 inch thick and 3/8 wide.
Create a long tapering sharp point on the end.
Curl the tip to a small 1/4 inch round circle. Done over the edge of
Reheat and quench the curl in water then hammer over the horn to
create a hook shape. This is done on the hard axis of the flat bar ( you
are bending the rectangular shape against the wide axis to leave the 1/8
thick edge as the striking surface).
Tighten this curved hook so that it will fit comfortably in your
Reheat and use the cut off hardy to cut the piece off from the
parent bar so that from top to the cut is 4 to 5 inches long.
Refine the cut portion so that the corners are tucked in (like a
Take an over all low orange heat and let air cool to room
temperature. This is called normalising and helps reduce some of the
stress of forging the steel.
Heat the steel to just beyond the magnetic temperature (usually a
dull orange but may be different for your piece of steel).
Pull the striker out of the fire holding it in tongs by the curl.
Test it with a magnet until the straight striking edge just starts to
pull with the magnet.
Quench the whole striker in the slack tube. Swish around until cold.
Grind one side to bare metal ( this is the wide side and over the
Take a large bar 1 inch square and heat to a bright yellow.
Take the large bar out of the forge and rest on the anvil and hold
the straight edge of the striker on the hot steel. The unground side
should be resting on the hot bar.
Watch for the temper colors to appear. You want a light to dark
straw color on the working edge. Once you reach that color quench to
lock it in.
Repeat the tempering on the handle portion of the striker. Here you
can go darker to red or blue. Quench again.
Now your striker is ready for
This is the char cloth can. You can see the pieces of
towel and cotton yarn that have become
How to Use Your Striker Your stiker is
ready, now you will have to find the right type of stone that will be hard
enough to throw sparks from your striker. Flint is the best. Chert works
as will quarts. I have had good luck with iron pyrite as well.
may have to try a few different types of stone. You need a clean fresh
break and a sharp edge of the stone that will shave the steel.
use the striker by striking the flint with a sharp glancing blow. Try it a
few times and you should get a spark. You can also strike the steel with
To Start a
Fire You will need a tin can with a tight fitting lid
and some cotton cloth (old towel cut into strips works well). You will
need to put this cloth in the can with the lid on it and heat it up until
the cloth chars. You don't need a really hot flame so your forge may not
be the best solution. A campfire works well. It will smoke a bit so do it
Once your cloth is charred and the can is cool to the
touch you can try starting a fire.
Take the lid off the can.
Have your tinder ready (birch bark, strips of newspaper, cedar bark
Take your striker in your left hand and strike with the flint in
your right hand.
The striking motion should direct sparks into the open can of char
After several strikes a spark should catch on the cloth as a small
Have your tinder ready as you slowly blow this ember into a small
flame. Once you have flame light your tinder which then lights your main
Cap your char cloth can immediatedly to smother the ember or all of
your char-cloth will burn up.
This is nice little project and if you do historical re-creations or
demonstrations what better way to light your forge.
These are some different styles of strikers I have
made over the years. The middle one is the J shaped one I made in the
video. Use your imagination for
The video is a largish file 55
Mb It will download in a few minutes with highspeed but if you have dialup
be prepared for hours. The video itself is about 9 minutes