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Thread: Ferro rods...

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    Exclamation Ferro rods...

    This tip was originally posted on BcUK by Bear Stone and it's so effective I thought I would reproduce it here.

    The traditional method, I belive, is to prepare your tinder, then using the spine of your knife, hold the knife (edge up, spine down) with a straight arm, 2" or so above the tinder. Keeping yout knife arm straight and still, sharply drag the ferro rod accross the spine of the knife towards yourself, throwing a well targetted and concentrated shower of sparks directly over the tinder. Remember, move the rod accross the knife, dont drag the knife accross the rod. This method seems to work well for most people in most circumstances.

    But there is more than one way to skin a rabbit.

    Sometimes, if the conditions are windy or damp, or your tinder isn't the best, or sometimes just because... the above method doesnt work too well.

    Bear Stone posted this method which, ...well give it a go.

    -------------------------------------------
    Have you ever showered your dry tinder with sparks over and over but for some reason it won't catch?
    Okay,
    1. Hold the firestick in your fingers in such a way that you can place your thumb on the striking surface.

    2. Place some tinder between your thumb and the firestick.

    3. Place your knife across the tinder and the firestick and lift your thumb; so now your knife is holding the tinder against the firestick.

    4. With a little more pressure than usual, strike, taking the tinder with the knife - it's so much more efficient.

    This also works with thicker heavier tinder than usual. For example; dry leaves. Simply put a small dry leaf under the knife and it will catch.

    How do we know if the leaf is dry enough?

    1. If you can crumple the leaf in your hand it is wet.

    2. If the leaf breaks up in your hand it is dry.
    -------------------------------------------

    This is suprisingly effective. The method differs from the earlier one, in that you move the knife over the rod, keeping the rod still. The tinder under the knife will burst into flame, so you'll have to be quick to move the burning tinder to your tinder ball or kindling. You dont have to shread the tinder, just use a solid piece, a leaf, a piece of birch bark, or piece of paper - it'll catch light. I tried this at home with a piece of 80 gram printer paper and it burst into flame.

    Here's a pic to illustrate the method...



    Give it a go, you'll be amazed.

    Also, if your tinder is really crappy, and the conditions are not too windy, you can try very gently "shaving" the ferro rod with the spine of your knife. The object is to get a little pile of ferro shavings, so DONT make the rod spark. Just very gently scrape the rod to get the shavings. When you have a little pile, transfer to your tinder and throw a spark onto it. It'll ignite with a fierce and fizzling flame, much the same as Mg shavings. CAUTION, there is a very real risk of prematurely igniting the shavings though. If you accidentally create a spark while you're collecting them, the whole lot'll go up. So be careful.

    I continue to be really impressed with the versitility of these little ferro rods. Amazing.

    [flash]http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docId=9199114816719434291&hl=en-GB[/flash]
    δxδp≥h/4π

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    Re: Ferro rods...

    Hi Martyn

    In your picture the paper is between the knife and the rod. Would that not stop the rod from sparking at all?

    Regards

    John

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    Re: Ferro rods...

    No John, what seems to happen, is that the pressure you place on the paper with the knife spine, "cuts" a small nick in it as you strike. It then seems that the ferro particles shoot between the paper & knife through this small slit. All the sparks seem to collect in one small place and set the paper alight. It's *very* effective. Use this method for "hard to light" tinders, as very easily lit tinders can be lit in the normal way, and if you're not carefull you could end up with a ball of flames in your hand.
    δxδp≥h/4π

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    Re: Ferro rods...

    In the pic below, you can see a piece of paper that failed to light on the first strike. You can see the cut made in the paper, by the pressure of the spine of the knife against the ferro rod, allowing the knife "through" to scrape the rod. You can also see the hot spot where the majority of the ferro sparks landed, which is where the paper would have caught alight had the strike been a good one.



    Give it a go, but use heavy paper or something as it wont burn "that" easily, giving you chance to get the hang of it. If you try it with cotton wool, you'll have a ball of fire in your hands on the first attempt. Basically, this is an alternate method, for thicker or harder to light tinders, or tinders that have had less preparation than normal. For stuff that goes up easily, the usual method is better. As Bear Stone suggests, it's good, quick method, for use with dry leaves, pieces of paper or unshredded birch bark or something.
    δxδp≥h/4π

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    Re: Ferro rods...

    Oh, and in case anyone still thinks you need carbon steel to get sparks from a ferro rod, this thread on BcUK revealed the following....

    1. Any knife with a sharp ground spine. (excellent)
    2. Brass screws. (mediocre)
    3. Real flint. (excellent)
    4. Broken Glass (good)
    5. House Bricks (excellent)
    6. Broken glazed pottery. (good)
    7. Sandpaper. (variable, depending on grit)
    8. Anodized, knurled maglite body. (very poor)
    9. Cobalt reamer. (excellent +++)
    10. Tungsten carbide burnisher. (excellent +++)
    11. Titanium alloy ring. (excellent)
    12. Slate. (good)
    13. Granite. (good)
    14. Iron pyrite. (good)


    I'm sure there are more things that would work, but it effectively dispels the myth about carbon steel, and hopefully makes people "think out of the box" with regards to strikers - material type is irrelevant, the only criteria is hard & sharp.
    δxδp≥h/4π

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    Re: Ferro rods...

    If you put the tinder between the rod and a hacksaw blade, the serrations bite through the tinder and light it faster. The teeth probably shred the tinder more so it catches the spark easier.
    Cheers, Adi

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    Re: Ferro rods...

    Hi fellas,
    It's good to see my tip with the ferro rod getting around. The tip from Adi007 about using a hacksaw blade is great too - having tried it, I found the saw more forgiving than the blade - nice one Adi007
    A short time ago I did some research on people who have paid the ultimate price in wilderness/survival situations. I was shocked to say the least. In one park in the US nearly 1000 people died in less than a five year period. Some of these may not have died if they had the means to make fire.
    I wanted to do something. I got to thinking about a tool that could be used in conjunction with a ferro rod - sparks in one end flame out the other.
    When I've thought it out and made it, it will need testing. Can I ask some of you guys to help with this?
    I have no interest in marketing what I make - some one else can have the hassle of that if they want. I just want to do something to help.
    So, if I make several of whatever I come up with, can I send some out to you guys for testing?

    Bear Stone

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    Re: Ferro rods...

    I'd be happy to try it out!
    Cheers, Adi

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    Re: Ferro rods...

    I have found out what my problem was. I have just recently recieved a Allan Blade Bushcrafter (which is just the dogs ). It is a terrific knife and I expect it to be my only knife but I expect you all said that at some point. Anyway it seems its one failing is that it is not very good at casting sparks. I was struggling away with the new method when I decided to try using my Mora Clipper (yes I know more than one knife already). Bingo! Success. The Mora throws great sparks. I did file the back slightly on the Mora when I first got it to make sure it would perform well with the rod.

    So my question is, how do I get the Bushcrafter to throw better sparks? I have so far tried removing the coating from the back and the side that is in contact with the rod. I have also filed the back slightly but it did not make a huge difference. It does have a square back but the Mora has a slight lip that really digs into the rod.

    Regards

    John

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    Re: Ferro rods...

    You've answered your own question John.

    The factors are hardness and shapness or bite. You AB knife should easily be hard enough to cast a lovely shower of sparks, but if it has a coating, or even a very slight rounding of the spine, it's effectively blunt. Even though it may look square to the eye, it's like the difference between a sharp knife and a dull one. As you've correctly identified, an object that will *bite* will work better, just make your AB knife bite. It's up to you whether you do it or not, but if you want the AB knife to cast good sparks, you need to give it an aggressively square spine - that'll mean filing it square.
    δxδp≥h/4π

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    Re: Ferro rods...

    great idea bear :You_Rock_

    some kind of passaround maybe?

    Tant
    If I want something blunt I use a spoon

    I know it is true , I saw it on the internet.

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    Re: Ferro rods...

    That is a great technique
    I almost set fire to myself last night using tissue paper (the stuff used to wrap china etc) between the rod and the knife (does that stuff burn fast).
    It's also the only reliable way to get my smaller than normal ferro rod to work (why did I buy that ) - I wish I'd found out about this years ago!
    best
    Matt
    Don't waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind. The race is long and in the end, it's only with yourself.
    Mary Schmich, 1997

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    Re: Ferro rods...

    Okay. Stipped the coating of the blade of my Bushcrafter. Not much improvement in the ferro striking. Filed a section of the back of the blade and got some improvement. Actually there is a section of the back about 1 inch from the tip that is great for striking. This is fine for the normal technique but not the new one as I would have to grip the blade and unless no one knows it is ruddy sharp. So rather than go mad filing the back of my blade I tried using a small section of old hack saw blade. Suffice to say this works a treat. In fact it seems that the hacksaw blade shaves some of the ferro into the tinder before igniting it. The tinder goes up with a kind of fizz and sparking.

    So I now have a great way of lighting tinder in even the worst conditions and all I have to take is a small section of hacksaw blade. So how come I feel like a failure because I can't strike it on the back of my knife? Comments please. And remember I only got the bushcrafter a few weeks ago so I am still a little reluctant to go mad filing lots of the back or putting grooves on it. Plus I only have an old rusty file and a couple of waterstones (1000 & 4000)

    aTdHvAaNnKcSe

    John

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    Re: Ferro rods...

    The only answer then John, is to go use your knife, make it work for it's keep. In a few months, you'll be past the stage where you dont want to mark it, and then get stuck in with the files. Borrow some off someone if your own are not up to the job. Alternatively, carry the hacksaw blade, it seems as though it's a good alternative, for the "bearstone method" at least. Though it does strike me (no pun intended) as something else to carry - though not much.
    δxδp≥h/4π

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    Re: Ferro rods...

    Really John, it's OK not to use your knife to strike your firesteel!

    If I'm carrying my knife with a laminated blade :approve: then the rod is harder than the outer laminates and it won't spark - yet all is not lost!

    I have a very handy (not to mention tiny and light!) tungsten carbide burnisher that is a useful field-sharpening tool and strikes enormous wodges of sparks; I don't have a knife that compares

    So I tuck the firesteel and the burnisher in the shoulder pocket of my parka, safe in the knowledge that it ain't going to be a lack of sparks that'll stop me lighting a fire

    (BTW thanks to the Boss for initiating the thread on interesting things to scrape agin your firesteel - I would otherwise have gone through life with measly sparks )

 

 

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