Comparing various Strikers for Flint and Steel

Primitive fire making techniques to include hand drills, bow drills, fire pistons, and how to create and use them.
DuxDawg
Registered User
DuxDawg
Registered User
Joined: 01 Dec 2013, 21:12

17 Sep 2015, 23:16 #61

steve1 wrote:
how about spent propane tank for steel?
Haven't tried that but I suspect it may work. I have seen rust on propane tanks and it does seem as though things that rust tend to make decent strikers. From what I can tell the rust itself does not yield sparks but the metal under it does.

This summer my experimentation with putty knives and shovels yielded some nice results. Some of the putty knives worked pretty well. Most of the shovels I tried yielded excellent sparks. Quite jazzed about shovels now.

While I can get sparks from some stainless steels with flint the rock, have not yet been successful at creating an ember with those sparks. Few, weak and very short lived. Still, with proper striking technique I think it can be done. Since SS typically has just as much carbon as "high carbon" steel, I am thinking that high carbon vs SS is somewhat of a misnomer. A useful distinction, to be sure, merely using misleading terms.

Not the first such, think of lighter "flints" (mischmetal) and flint the hundreds of types of naturally occurring rocks to us F&S aficionados. Then again, to a geologist flint is only quartzite rocks found in chalk or marl, which excludes most of the rocks we loosely call "flint".


Here is an excerpt of a post I made elsewhere in response to a fellow who stated that F&S was not a viable option in long term survival, SHTF, etc scenarios. Certainly for the unskilled he would be correct. Turns out he was unaware that F&S was the dominant form of ignition for many cultures for 3,000 years. I also added the assertion that F&S is THE most sustainable, easy and reliable method in extended scenarios.

Of course Friction Fire is just as sustainable, however in my experience it is much less reliable and takes significantly more effort. Then again, I have not spent nearly as much time with FF as F&S... mainly because I find it more difficult and finicky! Solar Fire aka Concentrated Sunlight is just as sustainable, however it is of course dependent on having enough sunlight.

" There are dozens of steel implements that will throw sparks with flint (the rock) such as saw blades, shovels, knives, axes, files, fish hooks, Olfa blades (razor knives with breakable blades), utility knife blades, carpet knives, chisels, putty knives, etc. Not every item of each type will work or work well. Most hacksaw blades are better strikers than most purposely made strikers, knives, files, etc though some hacksaw blades will not work at all. Some iron pyrites, most notably marcasite, will throw good enough sparks with flint (the rock) to create an ember. While most stainless steels will throw some sparks with flint (the rock), the sparks are so few and weak as to be worthless for creating embers. Steels from 1055-1095, O1, O2, A2, W1, W2, L6, etc will throw sparks with flint (the rock) very well if they are hardened to 57-63 HRC (Rockwell Hardness C scale). "


Hope y'all find the list of items that can be used as a striker without modification useful. Of course any of them could be modified and re-tempered if desired.

What other strikers have y'all found? What have you found that doesn't work?
Reply
Like

steve1
Registered User
steve1
Registered User
Joined: 22 Oct 2012, 17:34

18 Sep 2015, 14:41 #62

i find all flints or chert give different sparks some rocks are better and hold a sharp edge then others i find thinner pieces work better
and striking at the right angle   
Last edited by steve1 on 18 Sep 2015, 15:03, edited 1 time in total.
Reply
Like

DuxDawg
Registered User
DuxDawg
Registered User
Joined: 01 Dec 2013, 21:12

24 Sep 2015, 20:07 #63

I agree. Quartz gives great sparks but is tough to flake. Some cherts/flints are very glassy and brittle so they flake easily but the edge doesn't last very long. Great for blades, not so great for fire. A few are great for both.
Reply
Like

DuxDawg
Registered User
DuxDawg
Registered User
Joined: 01 Dec 2013, 21:12

14 Oct 2015, 04:40 #64

Video of a fellow using a hacksaw blade with flint.


youtu.be/audx0g0eNdg

To his idea of using the teeth for sawing, notching, etc I would add scraping. Scrapings from any wood ignite more easily than feathers or curls. The spine of the hacksaw blade can be sharpened to work as a blade. Too weak and brittle to do much wood carving yet useful for food prep, trimming cordage, etc. For EDC use I cover all sharp portions with duct tape.



Video of a fellow using a screwdriver as the steel with F&S.


youtube.com/watch?v=TqrKMK5Kjws

His technique is very interesting. More of a scrape than a strike. So I went and tried four screwdrivers with flint, chert and quartz. It works. Charcloth, charred punkwood and charred cattail fluff each caught sparks from the screwdrivers. Quartz worked the best, likely because it had a rough surface. (Think sandpaper with a grit in the single digits!) I expect granite and sandstone will also work well with this method. The flathead screwdrivers worked much better than the phillips. The tips worked much better than the shafts. While his method of pressing tightly against the quartz then scraping down worked, the "Reverse Drop Spark", aka RDS, method worked best for me.

The RDS method is when we hold the rock above the tinder, then begin the striking motion with the steel held several inches above the rock. Swing down rapidly, striking the rock with a glancing blow. Good follow through is important so I orient the rock at 45° to the char. That way as I strike past the rock my hand passes above the tinder (without upsetting it) no matter how far the follow through.

The DS, or Drop Spark, method is the same except the rock is struck against the steel.

When using charcloth, I usually place it on top of the flint. When using other chars (punkwood, cattail fluff, fungi, mullein leaves, etc) or char mixes (any char mixed with specific uncharred materials) I have been holding the steel above the tinder at 90° for many years. Another way to say it is holding the steel several inches straight above the tinder with the steel vertical. Then striking straight down with the flint. Of course this often results in the char being scattered when the hand in motion slips.

This Spring I started playing with holding the striker at a 45° angle, rather than at 90°, and am quite pleased with it. Much less likely to scatter the char. The sparks land in the char at least as often with the 45° as with the 90°.
Last edited by DuxDawg on 16 Oct 2015, 00:24, edited 1 time in total.
Reply
Like

DuxDawg
Registered User
DuxDawg
Registered User
Joined: 01 Dec 2013, 21:12

29 Nov 2015, 20:09 #65

Many examples of viking strikers on this page: http://www.vikinganswerlady.com/fire.shtml

Going over this site yet again while looking for viking sunstone information to share with one who asked about it, of course hit the F&S page for another go over. Whilst doing so had another of those "Didn't expend much thought on it last time, yet this time can flesh it out a whole lot more." type moments. Due to recently reviewing Hough's text (   https://archive.org/stream/firemakingap ... 0/mode/1up   ) and experimenting with various ways of throwing sparks with a screwdriver and flint, can now see that the strikers and method shown under the heading "Striking Stones used in the Viking Age" clearly could have worked. 
Reply
Like

steve1
Registered User
steve1
Registered User
Joined: 22 Oct 2012, 17:34

29 Nov 2015, 21:59 #66

i cant see how they made a spark with this stone has no sharp  edge to shave off a piece of steel ?
Reply
Like

DuxDawg
Registered User
DuxDawg
Registered User
Joined: 01 Dec 2013, 21:12

29 Nov 2015, 23:38 #67

Neither could I the first few times I looked at it. Figured it was just historians, anthropologists and/or archeologists guessing.

But... review the vids in reply #7 in the Fire by Percussion thread ( http://paleoplanet69529.yuku.com/reply/ ... ly-519591/ ) and the second vid (Using a screwdriver as a striker for F&S) in reply #63 in this thread. Also the first paragraph under the screwdriver vid in reply #63.

Get it now?

Set the striker against the rock, then by bearing down as we push (flick really) the striker, sparks are thrown.

Is it as good as the "normal" way of moving our forearm and flicking our wrist as we strike? Nope. Are NUTs (Natural Uncharred Tinders) as good as chars or char mixes? Nope. However, does it work? Yup. If it was the only way we knew, as it may have been for them, we would get used to its limitations. Which chiefly are less sparks and shorter lived sparks. Really haven't found any advantages so far. The sparks are not much easier to direct, though I am used to other methods and have not worn a groove in any rocks, which may be factors.

Years ago when I tried hitting the steel with the rock with both above a tin or pile, I was not impressed. Was fighting years of having charcloth on top of the rock and hitting the rock with the steel. Once I forced myself to only toss sparks down onto a pile for a couple months, I became proficient at it. Now I can easily toss sparks either way. So learning a new method can take a bit of practice to pay off.

So far flicking has worked for me with two strikers, two hacksaw blades, four screwdrivers and a file. Charcloth, three char mixes and natural chars such as cattail fluff, punkwood, tulip poplar wood (not punky) and mullein leaves. Rough rocks work better than sharp, though sometimes a sharp edge can work. Can clearly see how they would have worn such grooves in the rocks.

As I mentioned earlier, flicking is not likely to replace the usual methods. Still, always fun to add a method to the quiver. Remember, flicking is new only to us, not to the vikings. ;-)
Reply
Like

Tor Helge
Registered User
Tor Helge
Registered User
Joined: 08 May 2015, 09:03

08 Dec 2015, 12:29 #68

Steve1
The Picture is utter rubbish.
It is like placing a steel striker and a Box of Ohio blue tips together.
The belt stone and striker have not been used together. The belt stone belongs in the roman period, not the viking age.
It was used together With a "ildtein" like the ones in the Picture below (replicas):



The Illerup Ådal offerings (Denmark) from the Roman times contains lot of these awl like strikers or as DuxDawg described them "flickers"

Another example of false information on the web.
Reply
Like

steve1
Registered User
steve1
Registered User
Joined: 22 Oct 2012, 17:34

08 Dec 2015, 14:40 #69

quartz stone i used had to be pecked to make a rough grove for it to work for me
the stone in photo seems to dark to be quartz ?
seam to get more sparks with a stabbing motion  
Last edited by steve1 on 08 Dec 2015, 22:12, edited 3 times in total.
Reply
Like

DuxDawg
Registered User
DuxDawg
Registered User
Joined: 01 Dec 2013, 21:12

09 Dec 2015, 00:33 #70

Those ildtein/awl strikers make a lot more sense given the grooves in the stones. Thanks for sharing that!! Tor Helge, have you used them? Now I'm curious about experimenting with them. Looks like it would be easier to direct the sparks into a tin with the ildtein and belt stones. The stone would last much longer as well since we don't need to maintain sharp edges. Multi purpose as they could still be used as awls, etc.

Expect something like this could be used as a modern ildtein. Especially like the creativity of making a fork from a pair of them set into a handle. Make holes in wood, leather, etc plus eat or cook and make fire - now that's multi purpose!!
http://www.bladesmithjeffwhite.net/crooked-awl/

I agree Steve1 that speed throws more sparks. So stabbing, flicking or striking all generally yield more sparks than scraping. Especially with steel tools.
Reply
Like

DuxDawg
Registered User
DuxDawg
Registered User
Joined: 01 Dec 2013, 21:12

18 Jun 2016, 21:28 #71

Was paleo man using accelerants? Manganese dioxide in particular.
http://www.universiteitleiden.nl/en/new ... -make-fire



Admittedly not paleo, but...

Anyone else using titanium (aka Ti) as the striker with flint for Percussion Fire? Nabbed a couple of golfing drivers for $2 each at a thrift store, pried the Ti striking faces off and been using them as improvised strikers. Works well.

http://www.bladeforums.com/forums/showt ... Flint+fire

Reply
Like

fire watcher
Registered User
fire watcher
Registered User
Joined: 05 Feb 2016, 20:44

18 Dec 2017, 23:31 #72

The steel on the left is made by Vern's flint and steel, and on the right is a hacksaw blade (don't know the brand) glued into a old bow drill spindle. Both spark really well if your flint is sharp, but I noticed that the hacksaw blade prefers a more jagged edge on the flint.

IMG_1411.JPG

I am curios to hear if any of you prefer your steel striker to be a certain shape? Since these are the only two strikers I have to play with I cant say I prefer a specific shape yet.
Reply
Like

DuxDawg
Registered User
DuxDawg
Registered User
Joined: 01 Dec 2013, 21:12

22 Dec 2017, 02:34 #73

Cheers Fire Watcher! Welcome in. 

1/4" wide, 3" long and comfortable is my sweet spot. 30" bow saws, full size shovels, etc are a bit cumbersome for backpacking and EDC. ;)   (All of which, and many more, work as improvised strikers by the way.) 

1/4" wide because thinner than 1/8" chips the flint too much. As I am sure you have noticed with hacksaw blades. (Which are my favorite improvised strikers.) Wider faces are fine. Most scrapes are only contacting 1/4" or less in width, so there doesn't seem to be much point in going beyond that. 

1"-3" is what I see making contact most of the time. Thus much longer or shorter isn't useful.  

For me, comfortable is a big deal. When I get a bee in my bonnet about a method, material, etc not uncommon to spend hours happily striking away. 

I left off "throws great sparks" because, well, we all want that with every striker, right?? lol 

Shape only matters to me in so far as it helps achieve the above criteria. But then I come from a homesteading and backpacking background. Thus I tend to be very utilitarian. 

Happy Trails! 
Last edited by DuxDawg on 29 Dec 2017, 21:32, edited 1 time in total.
Reply
Like

Quillsnkiko
Registered User
Quillsnkiko
Registered User
Joined: 22 Jun 2006, 08:25

22 Dec 2017, 06:59 #74

Ive got 2 hand forged ones.....one is very similar to your C shaped striker..except its got curls on the 2 ends. ( decorative)  Somewhere around here I have one like the striker in the block of wood you have pictured there to.Ive  got one striker..hand forged that has a ulu like blade on one end of it...but Ive not actually struck a fire with that one yet.If the blade should be really sharp ...really a good way to cut yourself. I bought it because it was so interesting looking. I like the c shaped one because you can put it on a thong and hang it around your neck or stick it in a pocket...and tie one end to a belt loop so as not to misplace it. The wood  handled one is easy to lay down and loose in the woods.  And welcome to the planet..... fire watcher.....Quills
" You can't stop the waves .... but, you can learn to surf."
Reply
Like