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I Forge Iron

Boy scout flint striker help...


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I know this has been covered but I looked through the first 9 pages of search results with no love so I figured the best thing to do was just ask for some help. A local boy scout master called me and ask me to make him 10 strikers for his troop (about 200 scouts) I told him I would be happy to but have no idea what makes a good striker... These will be purely functional, down and dirty... I have some D2 that I could use if that would suit or can scrounge up something... or even buy a bit of 1095 (its all a donation so if I can use an ol leaf spring or some other bit I have that would be best)

So can someone give me a pic to copy and tell me how I should forge them so they have a chance of making fire?


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coil springs do work, but the more carbon the better: you want them HARD. Old files are best if recycling, but new would be 1095 or similar I should think. I've thought about D2 in the past (having even more carbon), but not sure if the high Cr levels will dampen its effect (I've found 52100 not as good as 1095 even though it has more carbon for example). Try some steels and see what works best for you.

shape is a personal thing, I don't like the ones where you hold like a knuckle duster (people tend to whack the flint instead of graze it and the steel often swivels in the fist). I prefer something that requires a pinch grip (precision grip between thumb and fore+middle fingers); I find it much easier to control power and position, but some people can't hold it securely enough and prefer the other sort :rolleyes: As long as the striking edge it straight and you have something to hold onto, all is good. The ones I make for scouts are pretty much U shaped with one side chunkier (the handle side) than the other so people can use either technique.

Some tips (though not the only way to do things I'm sure)

forge the shape.
normalise once (to reduce some stress, but fine grain doesn't help the sparks)
heat way to hot (say bright orange rather than mid red) and quench in water to harden
drawn hardness from any thin bits not used for striking (blowtorch on the handle parts to stop them snapping)
grind off the decarb layer from the striking edge

that's the best way I've found. I've made really quick strikers by grinding the teeth off the edge of an 8" flat file and then snapping it into 2" lengths. It works very well (though not as well as one reworked from same file)and is very quick and cheap!

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What, you don't have Google? :rolleyes: Not at home, don't have access to my photo files, will try to add some later.


shows plain and fancy, pinched and knuckle type, with videos of use.

DB pretty much covered the how-to. I have found the steel coil shaped grain auger screws from old poultry houses in my area are ideal. They are usually free for the asking, because you can only cut them with an abrasive disk or hammer & chisel, they are so hard they will notch bolt cutters.

I find old jeans make the best char cloth.

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what Dave B said !!! We make them here for the scouts and find that the highest carbon plain steel ( low or no alloy) works best. Files are tops, or we use coil garage door spring, the overhead coil type about 1/4" stock. Flatten the striking dege to about 1/8 " thick. Quench in water for full hard with no tempering has been best.
Joe B

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titanium?! :blink: I guess anything is worth trying just to see what it does! :D

I was talking to a smith a while ago and he was adamant that he could get great sparks from pure iron (99.8% Fe, not wrought or mild). He said he just got it screaming white hot and plunged it into water. Apparently the crusty surface produces great sparks, but soon wore off :rolleyes:

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I inherited one of Mike Ameling's customers for these and I've been making them from old (60s)leaf springs. Apparently they are very effective, it's hard for me to tell as my technique with the flint is not that good, so If I can make sparks, they pass the QC test! The striker needs to be dead hard and you need to grind the decarb layer off the striking surface.
This is the best set of instructions I've yet seen:


As Mike says at the bottom of the page, occasionally you'll make a dud. If a sample from a piece of steel doesn't work, try a few more from different areas before you chuck it.
If you're making any number of these, you'll soon exhaust your supply of old files. Springs are more plentiful and they don't get as brittle when hardened.

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