American Bushman

"If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing." —Benjamin Franklin

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Firesteel Failure

Over the weekend I had the head come clean off a Light My Fire Army Firesteel and it got me thinking about the repercussions in the field.

I was striking the firesteel with the spine of my knife when the rod simply fell out of the plastic head and into my tinder bundle. If that'd happened at the same time as my spark set fire to the tinder bundle I would've had to make a quick decision about whether or not it was wise to reach in and risk a burn to retrieve the rod.

As much as I love the Army Model firesteel I think one of the rod blanks from JRE Industries or Going Gear might be a better option. I drill out a hole on the blanks and run either a split ring or cordage through the rod. This gives me a solid purchase on the rod and I don't have to worry about it coming off as the rod would have to split at the hole before failing.

The JRE rods in particular are especially low profile and I can drill the rod and run a piece of ball chain through it and it'll drop in a pocket or even in a wallet. The Going Gear rods are the other ferrocerium/mischmetal formula and come in many sizes but I think much smaller than the Army size (3/8" diameter?) is getting a bit too small to drill a useful hole. There are, of course, other methods to attach smaller rods but we'll go into that another time.

Now don't think the head coming off the firesteel is a real deal breaker. A few drops of super glue or epoxy into the head and a few hours clamped up has prevented repetition of this problem. I've had two or three heads separate from the rods but each time a spot of glue fixed the problem permanently.

I'm not giving up on my LMF Army firesteels just yet...I may even pick up a couple more to keep in reserve for when I wear this one out. LOL!

Thanks for reading,



At 8:57 AM, Blogger The Suburban Bushwacker said...

How deep was the rod set into the handle?
I've often wondered.

Also have you noticed a difference between different brands spark temperatures? I have no hard data but my friends LMF seemed a bit weedy compared to some plain rods I had. Interested to know your thoughts

At 9:02 AM, Blogger American Bushman said...

I'd say the rod was set in between 1/4" and 1/2" or so. Not too deep.

I have noticed a difference in the various firesteels. Some say it's a temperature difference and others say it's a hardness difference. I'm not sure exactly what it is but there are definitely at least two formulations out there.

The LMF rods seem to be harder and work better with the tip strike method but the softer rods like Going Gear carries throw some massive bits of molten metal at the cost of faster wear.

Thanks for your comment,


At 4:36 PM, Anonymous said...

I know for a fact that not all rods are the same. Some rods are designed to give big robust sparks while others are more like those used for starting fires on grills. The better survival rods give bigger sparks because they are used to light wood campfires, not necessarily gas.

You don't really need a handle, if fact my feeling is that it takes up space and adds weight. Simply buy a longer rod and hold onto one end. This has the effect of giving you more fires per rod because you can scrape from either end.

About the rod in the fire, be very careful because the metal will heat up very quickly to the point where you would get a nasty burn if it touched your skin. Best use a stick to push it out of the fire.

At 4:43 PM, Blogger American Bushman said...

An interesting segue for me. I will be writing up one of your firesteels just as soon as the sun comes out long enough for me to take a half-way decent picture... :)

On reaching into the fire to grab the firesteel, I wouldn't put it past myself. I've been known to grab hot coals and toss them back into the fire. NOT on purpose mind you but grab them nonetheless...

It's not a good fire unless I've burned myself at least once.

Thanks for your comment,


At 10:40 AM, Anonymous Esteban said...

Hey A.B. I sent you an email a few days ago about custom fire steels I make. Did you get it?

As far as the handle falling out, that is just a poor gluing job. I have never had a steel fall out of a handle of one of the ones I make. If you glue it right it should not come loose.

At 1:31 PM, Blogger Exodus said...

I made a blog with some of the pictures, check it out when you get a chance and tell me what you think.

Take care,


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