About fire striker shapes

A really good blacksmith from Northwood Iowa is Dave Hartwig.
About 10 years ago he made a presentation about his research into
different shapes of fire strikers, strike-a-lights or whatever you call
them. He handed out sketches showing 24 shapes that he had located
around the midwestern USA and southern Canada.
I had been after him to finish and publish that work but he had been
a pretty busy guy, so I finally convinced him to allow me to put his
sketches onto a webpage and here it is:
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Again, these are simply pencil drawings, and I present it so you can
have a wider variety of shapes to choose from when you make your own.
Pete Stanaitis
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I'll have to try and make one of those. Must it be of tool steel (or other high carbon steel), or can you make it work with mild steel as well?
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Curt Welch
No to the last part of your question. Strikers won't work unless they have a fair amount of carbon in the steel. Some people make them out of old dump rake teeth or coil springs, including garage door springs. I'd say that the lower the alloy (other than carbon), the better the striker will work. My guess is that you need at least about 6/10th of a percent carbon to be effective. For a "plain carbon steel" that would be 1060. For coil of leaf springs that might be 5160. You get the idea: the "60" means 0.6% carbon. Personally, I use brand new W1 (1095, which has almost 1 percent carbon ---.95%--) steel that I buy in 3 foot sticks that are 3/16" X 1/4" rectangles from MSC. That way I know for sure what material I have and how to harden it. By the way, it's not enough to use high carbon steel: you must harden the tool after you shape it. This makes the striker VERY brittle. Some people draw (temper) the striker to a light straw to get rid of some of the brittleness so they are less likely to break if they fall onto a concrete floor. It is also a good idea to normalize the striker after forging it, by heating it up to a medium redd heat and then allowing it to sit at the edge of the fire, cooling SLOWLY for several minutes before hardening it. I'd say this is especialy true if you are using mystery steel. I harden by taking the part to a couple of hundred degrees beyond non-magnetic and quench in water, but I quench only the working edge, so as to leave the "arms" softer so the striker is less likely to break if dropped. I don't temper mine at all. Make sure you swish that part around in the quench water or it won't harden well.
There are probably as many answers to your question as there are blacksmiths.
I hope this one helps, Pete Stanaitis ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
Curt Welch wrote:
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Thanks, I've got some W-1 laying around to make one out of. And just found some flint on eBay to play with. Now, where is that paint can and the old pair of jeans....
BTW, I made a second miner's lamp now. The second one turned out a little better than the first. I was able to keep the flat candle holder part more square this time as I was drawing it out. Found out they also go by the name Tommy Sticker, or Sticking Tommy.
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Curt Welch

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