Breaking Swedish fire steel

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U

unused[nl]

Guest
You probably all know these:
FireSteelAfterUseSM.jpg

more info can be read about them here: http://www.lightmyfire.com.au/firesteel.asp

I have 2 rare gifts with them:
- Can't manage to light anything else then cotton wood, or charcloth(not even wood that is super dry and made into a firestick with the smallest of shavings ( I used a specific tool which is made to make very small shavings, also birch bark isn't working for me!)
- They brake, my first one broke the first day! The second one after two weeks. I used them allot because I can't manage to make an easy fire with them!

Has any one else had these problems? I really feel like I got some stupid remake or something but I bought it in a shop, with package, on the package are logo's trademarks instructions etc etc..

[;ease help
 

Zammo

Settler
Jul 29, 2006
926
2
45
London
I havn't managed to break mine, but I havn't manage to light anything with it yet either. I have tried multiple different types of birch bark (silver, paper, brown).
 

Ogri the trog

Mod
Mod
Apr 29, 2005
7,180
66
57
Mid Wales UK
Hey, Unused,
Don't feel too bad, its not unsual to have difficulty in the beginning. British Red has made a great post on all the different ways of starting fires so a read through that might help out. You have the Scout model which is a bit shorter and thinner than the popular ones most people use - but yours should still work - certainly if it sparks, then it ought to work.
Two of the commonest mistakes are;-
Pushing the striker too far, this means that the tinder you are trying to light get scattered by the striker, doesn't stay where the sparks are, and won't light.
Second is similar to the first, in that at the end of the sparking stroke, the striker covers the area and (being cold steel) conducts any heat away before it can ignite your tinder.
Most natural tinders take a lot of careful preparation before they'll ignite, birch bark for example needs to be scraped into a fine dust, though some will take when just shredded. Try some dry wood sticks and sharpen them with a pencil-sharpener
If the rods are breaking when you strike them, it sounds like you are using sufficient force to get your sparks - so try supporting the rod along its length and keeping the tip up off the surface.
You can also do one or two slow strokes to shave off some metal flakes which will ignite from sparks on the third stroke to help in making sustained sparks.

ATB

Ogri the trog
I must get that youtube video sorted out!
 

spamel

Banned
Feb 15, 2005
6,833
21
46
Silkstone, Blighty!
I havelit wet birch bark, so I am not sure what you guys are doing wrong.

Next time you go out, collect the fine papery sheddings from a silver birch tree. They should peel off in wafer thin strips. Collect a hen egg size bundle and try to light this with your steel. Use a sharp edged piece of steel, I ditched the striker it comes with and use the back of a mora, but any piece of steel with a good sharp right angle on the edge will do the trick.

Place the steel above the bundle with one hand, hold the striker with the other. The striker should be a few centimetres above the bundle. Pust the striker and steel together and draw the steel back away from the bundle. Keep the striker where it is. This should work a treat and the bundle should go up first, maybe second, time.

If you have trouble with this method, the other one is to press the tip of the steel onto the bundle, and then strike down the last centimetre of the steel with the striker/tip off the knife (Back edge!) and this will create hotter more longer burning sparks as they seem to gouge off more material from the steel.

Good luck!
 

andyn

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Aug 15, 2005
2,392
29
Hampshire
www.naturescraft.co.uk
hate to rub it in :eek: but.....

here are some pictures of my girlfriend using one for the first time:

529527087_34e79a50c3_m.jpg

529527089_1394d4b175_m.jpg


But seriously...

the idea is

a) to have fine shavings
b) when striking the sparks, make sure you are not then following the striker down onto the pile of shavings effectively putting them out, or knocking the shaving flying.

To achieve b) dont just start at the top and strike down with the striker. Hold the steel in your left hand and the striker in your right. Place the striker on the steel. Place your left thumb onto the back of the striker. Now push the striker down with your left thumb while also pulling back the steel with the fingers. This will have the effect of striker staying still, because you are holding it static with your right hand, and the steel coming away from the tinder. The sparks produced are placed into the tinder bundle much more accurately.
 
U

unused[nl]

Guest
I usually hold the rod in my left hand and let the bottom end support on a piece of wood, which is under the thinder.

I just don't understand why it won't work for me I've seen lot's of videos with people lighting thinder first strike! For example Ray Mears when he is on his Canoe Trip, he takes almost wet birkbark, scrapes a bit of it, one strike, FIRE! Also have a look at this one:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=zQWe4nyPbHk

I've been trying this for about a total of 4 days 3-4 hours a day! it only worked once on the 3th day, and my shaving where very very tinny! and the wood was very dry.
 

British Red

M.A.B (Mad About Bushcraft)
Dec 30, 2005
25,781
703
Mercia
Unused.

You say your wood curls were tiny when you tried to light them. Have a look in the "entirely new knife" thread under edged tools and look at Jon Picket's curls. They need to be nearly that thin - much thinner than a match say. Thinner than a pin for preference. Birch bark needs to be so thin you can see light through it or a very fine powder (ground pepper fine). Your sparks should be such that if struck at waist height they are still burning when they hit the ground for a second or two.

Are all these the case?

Red
 

Nicklas Odh

Forager
Mar 3, 2006
120
0
51
Ed, Sweden
Start by loosing the included scraper. That model is crap. There is one that looks like just a piece of metal, that one is better.
The cotton and PJ is a great way of doing it.
Here is a link on how Lars Fält does it. There is also a picture of the good scraper. In reality the firesteel is the only thing you REALLY REALLY need to survive. A knife is good and so is a whistle and all that but if you can not start a fire you are quite toast.

Try to find somewhere where there is a forest and in the spring the farmer usually clears out the forest for the big trees to get more space. Then you might find birch trees lying around. I doubt that the farmer will be ****** at you if you ask to cut off sheaths or birch bark. If you are lucky you could strip the trees before he fells them.
Keep a piece of bark in your pocket or PJ balls in a film canister or the type of jars you have for urine tests (unused) with screw on lid.

Good luck.
 

Ogri the trog

Mod
Mod
Apr 29, 2005
7,180
66
57
Mid Wales UK
unused[nl];295131 said:
I've seen lot's of videos with people lighting thinder first strike! For example Ray Mears when he is on his Canoe Trip, he takes almost wet birkbark, scrapes a bit of it, one strike, FIRE! Also have a look at this one:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=zQWe4nyPbHk

I've been trying this for about a total of 4 days 3-4 hours a day! it only worked once on the 3th day, and my shaving where very very tinny! and the wood was very dry.

Some things to note from the video you linked,
1. Its a full size steel, not a scout model.
2. Striking technoque is like I said, stopping before the end of the rod.
3. Curls on the featherstick are very fine
4. The flame has actually started after the first strike.

Keep it up buddy, you'll get it soon enough.

ATB

Ogri the trog
 

sxmolloy

Full Member
Mar 22, 2006
1,421
14
44
lancashire, north west england
Hi Unused, other members have listed some very good pointers above, but I have a more than an adequate supply of Paper Birch Bark where I live so if you if you PM me you address I could send some to you. I can get it to light first time with my firesteel so once you have mastered that you may be OK moving onto other materials. PM me if you are interested.

Stu

PS I know you are in the Netherlands so it may take a short while to reach you, but hey its worth a go. :)
 

Zammo

Settler
Jul 29, 2006
926
2
45
London
Managed to light my first fire with a firesteel and then followed it up instantly again!

I tried swapping the birch bark for a cotton wool pad (my fiance uses for removing makeup), I then pulled this apart so it was pretty much a ball of cotton wool. Stuck the firesteel in the middle struck it a couple of times and it lit up.


I think rather than my technique its the way I have prepared the birch bark, maybe this is your problem to unused[nl]?


dsc00106xz9.jpg
 

dommyracer

New Member
May 26, 2006
1,312
7
44
London
When using Birchbark I light shavings from the inner bark, not strips of the outer bark.

Take your birch bark, and lay it out with the outer bark down on a hard surface - inner bark facing towards you.

With the tip of your knife, scrape back and forth on the inner bark to create a mass of fine curls.

If you throw sparks into this, it should light, as long as its not too damp.

Once its light you can then add some fine peelings of birch bark, small twigs etc until you have a decent sized flame - then hold a bundle of fine twigs over it, then medium twigs, small sticks, etc etc...
 

Galemys

Settler
Dec 13, 2004
717
13
51
Zaandam, the Netherlands
Hee ongebruikte!
There's a youtube video that shows lighting a fire with a firesteel by wrapping the scraper in a piece of toilet paper. You then have to strike the scraper through the paper against the rod. After a few strikes some sparks will stay inside the paper wrap and light the paper. This has also worked for me with plain paper and with birchbark peelings. here's the link:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=gqJi8coXzq4&mode=related&search=

Tom
 
U

unused[nl]

Guest
@Red, yes my shavings were that fine, but also some bigger ones to keep the fire going in case of a fire.. Don't think my sparks were that good but I can't test it now, need to buy a new one first

@Nicklas, yeah I had the dam thing, I use the backsize for scrapping. I don't have a knife with a fixed blade yet.. :(

@Orgi, does it matter that mine is a scout one? There shouldn't be a difference in the amount of sparks in one strike?

@sxmolloy PM on it's way

@Zammo, well done! That's the way I can do it also. the cotton wool catches fire really fast! I don't use those make-up things though.. :D
 

mjk123

Need to contact Admin...
Jul 24, 2006
187
0
52
Switzerland
Just my 2p worth.

Ditch the soft "Striker", get the heardest metal you can find, broken saw blade is good.

Then, don't strike at all. Just try to lever off the last 5 mm of the firesteel, like you would try to lever the crown cap off a bottle of beer. Use your thumb as a fulcrum. You should try to aim for one big spark rather than a shower of tiny ones. This will leave a visible scratch on the firesteel. After many uses the firesteel will even taper to a degree. This means it won't last 100,000 strikes, but only about, say, 10,000. But that's many fires, and firesteels are quite cheap, and there's no prizes for immaculate firesteels that I know of. Using this technique I am able to light my Trangia burner from a distance of 2 metres. Saves having to bend down to light it. My 3 year old son can light tissues easily, and birch bark almosts lights itself when it sees the size of the molten metal heading its' way.
 
U

unused[nl]

Guest
@Tom yeah I already tried that, didn't work! The paper just ripped open etc but no flames :(

@mjk123 Should try it when I have a new one!

@woodwalker nice tutorial! thanks :)

@dommy more things to try Thanks!

Thanks for all of your great replies! Much to try when I have a new one! :D
 

Zammo

Settler
Jul 29, 2006
926
2
45
London
Ok Unused me and you should have a little friendly competition. See who can light there Birch Bark first. :)

I honestly think both our problems seems to be how we're prepping the birch bark, as we can both light cotton wool easily. So I'm going to focus on this when I try tomorrow.
 

Gwhtbushcraft

Settler
Nov 16, 2006
653
0
28
Warwickshire
I have had no problems lighting with them and i can light buffed up burch bark in a stroke if im lucky but i can relate to them breaking as this has happened twice with the scout models. (one broke about 2 weeks ago)
 

Ogri the trog

Mod
Mod
Apr 29, 2005
7,180
66
57
Mid Wales UK
unused[nl];295247 said:
@Orgi, does it matter that mine is a scout one? There shouldn't be a difference in the amount of sparks in one strike?
:D

It should not matter at all, though the larger model allows a more positive grip - they are made from the same stuff so they should throw equal sparks.
If you have a Swiss Army Knife, the back edge of the saw throws great sparks - though be careful of it closing on your fingers.

Good luck

Ogri the trog
 

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