Author Topic: Flint and "Knife" Steel  (Read 3255 times)

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Offline Electric Cowboy

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Flint and "Knife" Steel
« on: December 01, 2014, 06:19:25 PM »
This is more of a "What If" skill.
How to use the spine of your Knife, to start a Flint and Steel Fire
When I have seen this shown, it is taught this way.
[Note:the tip should point up]Sorry............

It allways felt Dangerous,the web of my Hand felt to close.

So I do it this way.

Pros= feels safer.
Cons=Short Runway on the spine.

Will also work with a tin.[/IMG][/URL]




I put a chunk of Bark in the Tin to keep the knife tip from poking a hole in the bottom.

Here is some of My fire Kits I had with me Today for some testing.
Charred Material  is Cotton,Cottonwood Bark,Cedar Bark,Sagebrush Bark.
They all worked with this method.

Hope Someone tries this and "Proofs" this method.

Note:This can be hard on Your Flint and Knife.

Deus Vult

Offline PetrifiedWood

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Re: Flint and "Knife" Steel
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2014, 06:37:55 PM »
I think your method is a lot safer. :thumbsup:

The trouble with knife steel for striking sparks is that it is usually tempered, and particularly differential heat treated blades will have a softer spine. The best strikers are left very hard after initial heat treatment.

I've only rarely had success with striking sparks with knife spines. I've never gotten a spark from a tomahawk head.

That said, I think it would definitely be worth a try if there was no other steel available, and your method is less likely to produce injury I think.

Offline Electric Cowboy

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Re: Flint and "Knife" Steel
« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2014, 06:53:53 PM »
P.W. Good point,I forgot to add that this was a failure with some of my Knives.
My ESEE-5 And Becker Bk-2 will not produce a spark, Rockwell is to low.
Some of my Moras will and some won't, go figure.......
I knew this Thread would have a small audience, but wanted to share it anyway.
Like Steve Watts says, "Skills without context are just Arts and Crafts".........
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Offline kanukkarhu

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Re: Flint and "Knife" Steel
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2014, 07:31:00 PM »
Not sure about a small audience.... this is a great thread topic, in my opinion.

I've tried this. It certainly can chew up a knife! I don't think I'd use an expensive blade to practice on, but it's definitely worth trying this. Now, if I were stuck, I'd of course try really hard with any knife. My issue is, where I live, is actually finding flint. I've tried this with quartz, which I've heard will spark some, but again, a great way to chew the back of your knife blade to rat turds....

Good post.
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Offline MnSportsman

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Re: Flint and "Knife" Steel
« Reply #4 on: December 02, 2014, 05:42:32 AM »
   Although I have done it, I've rarely used the back of my knife, or any other tool, other than a"steel, for F&S fires.  As was said before, I don't want to "chew up" the spine if I don't have to do so. [Sidenote - I have actually seen another feller use the blades side of a machete "at the tip", to strike sparks though. I think he figures he's gonna have to sharpen it up later anyway,so why not? :shrug: I can point ya to the video of that,if you would like to see it.]

Anyway, here are some thoughts I have about this, from my own experiences...

   The method of driving the knife into a log with the char below,is how I would do it if I was "one handed" due to injury, for sure. I have done it & it works well.
 (With the exceptions of wet, snow & wind conditions where you are located and doing it. That would have to be taken into account & dealt with one way or another, of course. But, it can still be done)

   I have also used the tinder box method you showed, the same way & protect the knife tip & box as well, in a similar manner using a chunk of wood.

   When I have used the method where you bring the "knife spine to the rock", rather than the "rock to the knife", I do it different. I take a stick that is a bit longer than the blade length & about as thick as the knife handle, and I baton the knife blade into the stick length wise only part way through the stick. Basically making a blade protector, much like when a folding knife is in the closed position. Then with the knife handle down, I use the knifes spine to strike the rock to make the sparks. By holding on to the base of the stick on one side with my thumb near the handle/blade junction,& my index finger up on the stick/blade opposite side, a bit higher up than the thumbs position, and then the rest of my fingers pressing/gripping down the handle opposite my thumb, I use the same motion to strike the rock as I would with a "steel". That is how I do it, anyway.

   I can show a pic or a video if someone wants, & doesn't understand my attempt at description above. But, that is how I have done it before & would do it again, if using a knife spine to hit the rock, and still protect my hand from the blade.

  BTW, I am all for learning any other ways if someone knows more about this & wants to share with everyone here, also.

   It is a good subject, & one that folks should at least try a few times just like anything else. If only to know they can do it. Knowledge & skills, right?
I love being out in the woods!   I like this quote from Mors Kochanski - "The more you know, the less you carry". I believe in the same creed, & think  "Knowledge & honed skills" are the best things to carry with ya when you're out in the wilds. They're the ultimate "ultralight" gear! ;)

Offline pommie

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Re: Flint and "Knife" Steel
« Reply #5 on: December 02, 2014, 08:24:56 AM »
Has any one tried this with an axe head, i have done this in the past with an old axe head to make sparks but not a fire so far.The axe i was using at the time was an old PLUMB carpenters hatchet.


Offline Moe M.

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Re: Flint and "Knife" Steel
« Reply #6 on: December 02, 2014, 10:46:40 AM »

 I don't usually have trouble starting fires with flint & steel, a ferro rod, or Bic lighter,  I find that the bow drill is a hit or miss method that generally requires just the right wood and a whole lot of luck,  I've tried the hand drill a few times and all I ended up with is blisters.
 I've watched Dave Canterbury draw sparks with a flint quite a few times in his videos off the spine of his knives and he makes it look easy,  in fact that's one of his requirements for a good knife,  well, I have some good knives and I tried it with most of them,  I use good black English flint in all of my F&S kits and I've come to the conclusion that he must have some special skill that's above my pay grade,  all I can manage to get is chipped flints and buggered up knife spines.
 I think PW makes a good point about the temper of the steel,  I have some custom flint strikers that draw showers of sparks,  I also have a few that are not that great and suspect that who ever made them didn't harden them to where they needed to be or the steel they used is inferior for the purpose.
 As for getting high carbon knife blades to spark with flint, I'm thinking that a knife that has a spine hard enough to throw good sparks is a good candidate for breaking at some point because it's too brittle,  I've seen several Buck knives break while being used in extreme cold,  and the Buck Mod. 110's are famous for breaking blade tips because they've been tempered too hard.

  The bottom line for me is,  I like a sharp squared spine on my knives for scraping tinder and striking sparks from a firesteel,  but if you're going to rely on flint to start your fire,  carry a couple of good flint strikers,  you will end up with a glowing char,  and your knives will look a whole lot better kept.   
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Offline Punty

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Re: Flint and "Knife" Steel
« Reply #7 on: December 02, 2014, 06:20:52 PM »
  I've tried with my Mora HighQ Robust and failed, and my Opinel 8 folded up as a striker, and failed...but I have seen videos of people using both as strikers.

  I think the temper of the steel is part of, but not the whole equation.  The real trick is to get the right sized bit of steel to come off, at the right temperature, and I suspect the flint/chert being used is half of that equation.

   I think with a striker, it is easy because it is specialized, but with a knife it is possible but a whole lot less reliable. In the end though, it has to be the right sized bit of steel at the right temperature. Probably a softer steel has too big a chunk and not enough friction, but maybe on a microscopic level, certain stones generate more friction than others, or maybe it has something to do with the edge geometry of the stone. For example, with a striker you want a nice sharp edge, but maybe with a knife you want something a bit more coarse and uneven, something like that, so that it generates more friction on a smaller area.

  As an example, I can actually get a spark banging rusty railroad spikes on most rocks lying around the track....and that is some seriously crap steel for using to make sparks. I can't do it reliably or anything, but I definite;y see sparks when I smash stones with one quite often. You would never make a striker from a railroad spike without some kind of tempering, correct?

   Just brainstorming here, but I have a hunch a great flint for using with the striker, may not be the right tool for a mora.
If the iron be blunt, and he do not whet the edge, then must he put to more strength: but wisdom is profitable to direct.
Ecclesiastes 10:10

Offline Quenchcrack

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Re: Flint and "Knife" Steel
« Reply #8 on: January 23, 2015, 12:00:01 PM »
I have never gotten a good spark from a knife spine for the reason mentioned earlier: they are usually too soft.  Heck, I had to re-quench some strikers made from old files using water to get them hard enough.  Quenched in oil all I got was flint dust.  I am going to go counter to the prevailing wisdom and suggest that while having tools that fulfill multiple functions is handy, they probably do not do everything as well as a tool made to do one thing.  I do grind my knife spines to use them on a ferro rod but I carry multiple tools to make fire  (usually lighter, ferro rod, matches, and maybe a flint striker)  rather than relying on one tool.  I had to replace my garage door opener spring last week and told the repairman to leave the spring.  Gonna make a bunch of strikers if it can be hardened enough.
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Offline vallehombre

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Re: Flint and "Knife" Steel
« Reply #9 on: January 24, 2015, 08:12:43 AM »
Thanks. Agree that proper grip is essential.