Firesteel

I like doing my stuff myself, everything i use gets a whole new meaning when ive created it by myself. And a fire steel i have a feeling could be
fun to both make and learn to use for my trips to the woods, a bit more stylish then getting that lighter or that box of matches ;P
So to the question, what steel would you recomend using for a great spark? I have a huge piece of what i think is 5160 spring steel, (comming from a swedish truck, dont realy know what the standard on volvo trucks is :P) thinking of using this but would be nice to know if its any good before i waste another "grinding plate" :>
Ohh well, have to get to bed now ... 02:28 here and im getting abit tired ... :P You all have a good day/night! wherever you are in the world! :>
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Old files work very well. The higher the carbon content the better with firesteels.
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Full hard (as is)? Annealed? Reshaped, ground thin? Website URL with all theses questions answered? ;)
It was about 1/2 dozen files out of my 5+ dozen files that spark tested at a higher carbon content. Don't know what it is, other than, it's definately higher than the one that was tested on my website, which was 1.22% plain carbon steel. Guessing that some of the higher carbon files are at least 1.4% carbon steel?
You never know which one is which, there were no distinquishing marks or shapes (no rhyme nor reason). Spark testing sure enough shows which are which tho. :) I figure it'd be well worth it to a guy to find the higher carbon content files for use as a firesteel.
Spark testing just isn't that hard to learn or to do and will be something you'll be glad you learned later anyway. :)
Alvin in AZ
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Should be some pictures on the web. They usually look a little like slightly narrow big C.
You can shape them hot and then reharden and tempter to a straw color.

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I just made one from a truck spring last week and it worked okay. You don't need the "51" in the 5160, just the "60" (.6 % carbon). I make a lot of them and I use brand new W1 (about 1% carbon). I buy 3 foot lenths of 3/16 X 1/4 from MSC for a buck or two apieces. They work great. Others have told me that they use garage door springs or dump rake teeth. The reason that some files work and some don't is that some files are low carbon steel that has been carburized on the outside, for, maybe 15 or 25 thousanths deep. Once you heat them up to shape them, that part of the material scales ouf and you have not enough carbon left.
I know that part of blacksmithing lore is to make things out of scraps, but considering that you are going to spend a lot of time on a part, doesn't it make sense to use known good material? Once the part is made, you can be confident that it will last a long time.
Pete Stanaitis ------------------
Tomas Wilhelmsson wrote:

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For sure. :)
There are certain name brand articles that can be counted on to be a certain steel tho and spark testing can tell you for sure that it's true, in the piece you have. I know, not the same thing as "scrap metal" huh? ;)

Even the several crap Asian files I've spark tested I've never ran across one of those case hardened-only- ones yet. :)
Rasps as in "hoof rasps" I did run into one that had an extra high carbon case on it, but the insides were the same old ~1080 like all the rest.
From what I can tell it was prob'ly the best dammed rasp the old guy (Ray Wein) ever owned. :) It was given to me after he was killed by a bull. :( He welded a pipe handle to it. The core was- as all the rasps I've park tested- which is about 20 of them, including old "double ended" ones, were all made of something about like 1080.
The extra-carbon-cased hoof-rasp was an old, extra large Nicholson.
The number of files that I've spark tested is well over 100 and I personally own about 70 of them. One file has a fancy-curvy S on the Simonds name it, is extra high carbon steel don't know the amount tho. :/ Simonds never bothered to answer my 2 letters. Nicholson (Cooper Tools) called me to talk about what I'd asked about in the letter. :)
As far as re-heat treating files I haven't had good luck with that! Which goes along with what Pete said, in a way.
My problem with re-heat treating files... If I go ahead and draw them down to straw (~425F) they will sharpen ok but what's the point of making another soft-ass knife? The world is full of them I don't want to draw them higher than 350F. Ok, so when they are cold treated and drawn at 350F and are about 65hrc the edge can't be sharpened it crumbles away, like trying to sharpen a cement block! :/ I believe it's my sloppy heat treating methods at fault tho since there's nothing in the steel's formula like high phosphorous causing it.
I can re-heat treat the 1095 I bought from Brownell's tho so I'm really stumped as to what's going on.
Anyway... is it ok for me to argue both sides at the same time? ;)
I like used steel but have trouble with it at the same time. :)
Alvin in AZ
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<snippage> A good thing to use for firesteels IMHO are large "Allen" wrenches...the hex shaspe lends itself well to flattening and it is very forgiving in the cracking dept. Heat to brite red, quench in cold water, test...If no spark reheat and requench..I have a "marble" I use to strike sparks on my new strikers to test, it's brown flint with no sharp edges at all...now that's a test!, if it sparks with that marble it will work with about anything!. Another trick, after quenching I always throw the thing down on the concrete! I guarantee my stuff against breakage and I would rather me break it that a user. Just a few added thought to this old thread.
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Cool thanks. :)
On the metallurgy newsgroup a few years ago a guy that actually made Eklin's allen wrenches was on there and he claimed they were mostly made of 8650. It can vary slightly, but 8650 was the "target". :)
Not sure what the make up of those you're using is tho. :/
I'll have to compare the sparks now. ;)
Eklin vs a few large ones I have... one is a 5/8" Un-Breako.
Alvin in AZ
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