Hudson Bay Steel & Flint Fire Striker

So there's nothing quite like the feeling you get when a package arrives for you in the post box.

I knew immediately what it was - and got it out onto the back lawn as soon as possible so I could play.

I opened it slowly, because that's how I like opening new toys.

It was a Hudson Bay Flint and Steel set.

I bought it on eBay from D&B Primitive Forgeworks a few weeks ago and I am pleased as punch.

Darrel Aune, a full time blacksmith, bladesmith and primitive/survival tool maker and enthusiast, made this particular piece. In fact, he sends the flint and steel in a tin can containing a small package of charcloth and some jute twine. The jute is used as tinder to catch the heat of the glowing charcloth, which of course catches the initial spark.

I guess it is called a Hudson Bay style because of the shape that was traditionally used by Voyageurs and travelers in the region. There are all kinds of shapes and styles that derive from various places around the world.

You can see his forgemark in the photograph above.

The concept of a steel & flint is very simple.

You strike the hard, high-carbon steel against a piece of hard stone (like flint or chert or even quartzite) and small splinters will be cast off in the impact.

The energy of the impact will convert to thermal energy, and the small particles will ignite and become sparks.

The trick is to hold the flint in one hand, with a sharpened edge exposed - remember it is the steel that is shaved off and not the flint that ignites.

On top of the flint, you squeeze a piece of charcloth (see my tutorial on How to Make Charcloth for Tinder for a Firesteel or Steel Striker) against the top of the flint with your thumb and strike down on the stone with the steel.

Using a flick-of-the-wrist technique, you strike the two objects together at great speed. This speed greatly increases the impact energy.

The slivers will tear off, ignite and send sparks upwards onto the charcloth. Once the charcloth is glowing, you put the hot substance into a ball of tinder.

In this case I used some dried grass that was laying about on the lawn, and wrapped this in some newspaper in which the package arrived.

I blew air into the ball of tinder, and within seconds thick white dense smoke poured out (the grass was still a bit damp from laying around on the lawn), and then with continued breaths, the ball ignited into flames.

After showing Spring my new toy, she carefully made mention of pyromania.

But there is something purely magical about rediscovering a link with the past (over 10,000 years ago) when humans first started using iron to cast sparks and make fire.

There is something magical about carrying this skill through the ages, into an age of matches and piezo-electric ignitors and technology. And of course, I enjoy the sense of not being reliant on modern technologies to create fire - which keeps the bogeyman away, which cooks our food, which warms our shelters and boils our water and which touches a primal part of us.



Where To Go & Under the Weather

The last couple of weeks I haven't had much chance to get out into the woods. My new job is going very well, and I have been fully engaged there. Last weekend I was sick with the plague - or at least a very bad cold and all I could do on the Monday holiday (Victoria Day in Canada) was shuffle out into the park behind the house with Monty the beagle and sit sniffling and coughing on a bench while he snuffled and cavorted about nearby.

I am hoping at the very least to begin to make the 1 mile walk around the perimeter of my work's compound - it winds through some bushy areas and there are lots of wild plants there to explore and to photograph.

A dog walker told me a few months ago that there is a thousand-acre forest about a 30 minute drive from here - so I think I'll poke around there and visit it in the coming weeks.

Decado has bought the farm - a 70-acre farm apparently - so I am awaiting his generous invitation to go out there and explore the thickets and woods.

Hopefully he reads this and provides a generous invitation to go out there and explore the thickets and woods.

I certainly hope that he reads this and provides a generous invitation to go out there and explore the thickets and woods.

A generous invitation to go out there and explore the thickets and woods would be terrific.

Just saying.

In non-woodsy related news, Spring and I intend to visit a sunny clime sometime this summer and spend a bit of time by a beach. That should be a nice relief... Monty will likely stay at a friend's house.



List of Popular Blog posts

Here is a list of some of the most popular posts on Mungo Says Bah!
I intend to write posts this coming season on the following various topics:
  • Various pieces of woodcraft
  • Frosts Mora knives reviews, laminated and carbon steel
  • Edible plants of Southern Ontario including Algonquin Park
  • More details on how to build a tarp tent
  • Detailed canoe camping gear list
  • Information on crook knives
  • Photographs of my bushcraft gear and kit
  • Lots more spoon carving
  • Mushroom types and learning about fungus
  • Gransfors Bruks axe review
  • Edible wild plants
  • Fallkniven f1 information and review (hopefully!)
  • Wool blankets and camping
  • How to whittle a fish hook and all sorts of other whittling projects
  • Ferrocerium and firesteel rods facts and information
  • Camping food lists and techniques
  • How to build wood folding camping chairs and other furniture
  • Information about Mors Kochanski
  • Various other bushcraft projects
  • and - as ever - a multitude of Monty the Beagle photographs!


The Moon and the Sky and a Plane.

After work Spring and I had dinner and read. We were tired after work and it was one of those nights where it felt like it was a Thursday but it was still only Tuesday.

Spring stayed inside and stayed warm in the evening chill.

Monty and I sat outside for a little, and I put down my book and listened and watched.

In the sky there was the moon and a plane.


Monty's Walk in the Valley - Fungi and Flora

Monty and I went for a walk this afternoon in the valley.
Mungo Says Bah!

Mungo Says Bah!

Mungo Says Bah!

Mungo Says Bah!
He galloped and positively charged across the back field until he reached the wooded entrance to the valley.

Mungo Says Bah!
I saw a Jack-In-The-Pulpit. This is an interesting looking denizen of the Southern Ontario region.

Mungo Says Bah!
The flaplike spathe (the hooded floral leaf) is light green when young, later changing to a purplish brown.

Mungo Says Bah!
You can see a young and more mature leaf in the images above and below - by virtue of the purplish brown striping.

Mungo Says Bah!
It is often striped and curves over the club shaped spadix which you can see in the image above poking up (the Jack in his pulpit).

Mungo Says Bah!
They are mostly found in low open woods or swampy areas in early May.

Mungo Says Bah!
I don't know what this is, but it looks interesting - symmetrical, with spikes on the leaf.

Mungo Says Bah!

Mungo Says Bah!
I just like the look of the broad, bright green single leafed plant above.

Mungo Says Bah!
The valley, and surrounding areas (including where we live) used to be an apple orchard. The apple trees have gone wild, but still produce some nice fruit later in the summer. The blossoms are just now opening up.

Mungo Says Bah!
Pine needles. Fresh and full of Vitamin C.

Mungo Says Bah!
Spruce needles - also young and full of Vitamin C. When making a bed for the night in the woods, it is better to use soft Spruce boughs that lay down flat, than Pine needles that poke and spike you at all hours.

Mungo Says Bah!
Violets give a purple and blue and white splash to the green woods floors.

Mungo Says Bah!

Mungo Says Bah!
Coltsfoot - Tussilago farfara

Mungo Says Bah!
Coltsfoot is one of the earliest appearing spring flowers in Ontario.

Mungo Says Bah!
Garlic Mustard - Alliaria officinalis. This highly competitive plant spreads rapidly and effectively blocks sunlight and uses nutrients from which other wildflowers such as Trilliums would normally derive nutritive value.

Mungo Says Bah!
I'm not sure if this is Wild Carrot (Queen's Anne Lace), Poison Hemlock, Fool's Parsley or something else. Given that 2 of the 3 plants I've just listed are poisonous, I'll go for a positive identification before nibbling on it.

Mungo Says Bah!
This neat looking polypore bracket fungus looks new - the flesh is white and spongy, yet firm.

Mungo Says Bah!
The top looks like feathers.

Mungo Says Bah!

Mungo Says Bah!
In the words of Wildman Steve Brill,
Polypores have three features that, in combination, make them distinct:

1. They nearly all grow on wood, such as trees, logs, stumps, or buried wood. That's because these fungi are either decomposers or parasites, or both.

This does not mean all mushrooms that grow on wood are safe to eat. Other types of mushrooms also grow on wood, and some of them are poisonous.

2. Polypores, sometimes also called bracket fungi, are generally shaped like shelves, not like umbrellas (although some are crust-like). If there's a stem, it's usually short and off-center.

Again, not all mushrooms with off-center stems are safe to eat. Mushrooms other than polypores have off-center stems.

3. Polypores all have many tiny holes, or pores, on the undersides of their caps (polypore means many pores). Microscopic spores emerge from these pores. You can usually see the pores (but not the spores) with the naked eye, but sometimes they're so small, you'll need a magnifying glass or loupe to see them.
Mungo Says Bah!
Turkey Tail: Trametes versicolor. This saprobic fungus feasts on the dead wood of hardwoods (and rarely on those of conifers).

Mungo Says Bah!
After a good rollicking snuffle through the woods, I put Monty's leash on and we headed out.

Mungo Says Bah!
Monty sniffed a quick hello to a passerby.

Mungo Says Bah!
Tired, but happy, he slept for the rest of the afternoon.



Most Popular Posts