Holding a Flint & Steel: Its all in the wrist

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We recently wrote a short article on how we use a traditional Fire Steel and a piece of Flint for the  'Bushcraft Journal', the online magazine for all us Bushcrafters out there......

Here are a few edited highlights from the article :

12071486_529495417214080_513587266_nWe had an incident at a recent Show where a guy randomly picked up a piece of flint and one of our demo traditional Fire Steels and proceeded to bash the life out of the flint whist showing off to his mate that he was an expert at Flint & Steel!!! Before I could intervene, his mate, unfortunately got struck in the face by flying bits of shard and uncontrollable sparks!!! So ok he got sparks and lots of them, but he also knackered my flint piece and narrowly missed his mates eyes thank god!!! I calmly took the Flint & Steel off him and showed him that Flint & Steel can be done in a much calmer, more controlled way. Now I know everyone has their own method and I'm not saying that theirs is wrong and mine is right, but this is the method that both Mark & I like as it not only preserves the flint edge but the sparks jump straight into the Tinder.

Lining up my fire steelI tend to find that the sharper the edge on the flint the better, but not too thin or micro shards can fly off. I clamp the flint using the tips of my  fingers. I use my flint at an angle of 75-90 as this helps to preserve the edge more. Some people hold the flint at a flat horizontal 45, this works fine and produces sparks but can cause the edge of the flint to be worn out much quicker and stray shards can fly off  as the flint is taking the full impact from the Steel. By holding the Flint at a shaper angle you are creating a slicing/shaving  effect which when  hit correctly by the Steel creates a better quality spark and keeps the edge of the flint much sharper. I place my Tinder on the flat bed of the flint and where I  clamp my Tinder with my thumb is where I line my strike up. I find that the fluffing the edge of the Tinder and placing it just shy of the edge of the Flint works better for me.

Holding the flint at a steeper angleHolding the Fire Steel….now choosing a Fire Steel is like choosing a pair of shoes (well it is for me) it has to feel right and comfortable. Some people like holding the Fire Steel behind the belly of the Steel as they find this more comfortable (and some peeps are nervous about striking their knuckles on the flint). I hold my Steel by my fingers tips onto the belly of the Steel as I find this gives more control. The hand that’s holding my Flint, I keep quite still and firm and the hand holding the Fire Steel, I keep loose and fluid. Try to imagine the  Fire Steel slicing bits of Flint off (this is what causes the sparks) and let your wrist do all the work. Use an arc motion when striking. Practise makes perfect and if the Steel doesn’t work (no sparks) try adjusting the Flint to a sharper angle 90-95 but keep the same fluid action with the Steel. To see the full article please contact The Bushcraft Journal.

We have several videos in our library section that anyone interested may find useful. 

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  1. Dean Johnston

    thanks for this, informative and useful.

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  2. Andy Turner

    Excellent article Helen,yes it's all in the smooth action of the wrist. Having the correct angle of the flint,taking your time as well. I recommend anbody read through the articles and look at the videos on your website. Fantastic!!

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  3. Tim Bernard

    Yes ,it is all about the angle of the flint and keeping a relaxed wrist and motion.when I first got my flint and steel I found it really tricky to get decent sparks.Getting better slowly trying not to knacker my flint!

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