DIY Antler Handle with Replaceable Firesteel

Antler Handle with Replaceable Firesteel

Have you ever made or owned something that you felt was irreplaceable and choose not to use it, rather than scratch it or damage it in some way? That’s exactly how I felt about my antler handled firesteel, it was beautiful, but pretty much useless because I carried it around for show, but always had a “secondary”, cheap firesteel with me, the one that I actually used.

Then the idea came, why not make an antler handle with replaceable firesteels, if one gets used up or breaks, I can unscrew it from the handle and replace it with another to have a brand new “visually appealing” firesteel instead of just discarding the valuable handle and buying or making a new one.
So, let’s begin:

Tools and Materials

Tools for the Replaceable Firesteel

Tools used:

  • Hacksaw (or at least the blade)
  • Drill
  • Drill bits (I used a 2.5mm and 10mm one)
  • Utility knife
  • Threading die (I used a 8mm one)
  • Cutting pliers (the ones with cutting tip are recommended)
  • A small clamp (or vise)

Materials for the Replaceable Firesteel

Materials:

  • Antler (just a small piece)
  • Firesteel (I used a 8cm long, 8mm diameter one; use at least the same size or bigger)
  • Bolt (I used 8mm diameter)
  • Two component epoxy (I used Poxipol)
  • Steel wire (0.8 mm)
  • Shock cord (paracord or any cordage that you fancy, optional)

I’m sure you already noticed a pattern with the diameters, if not, here it is: you will need the same diameter threading die and bolt as the firesteel and a drill bit one size bigger. I used a 8mm diameter ferrocerium rod and, accordingly, a 8mm die, a 8mm bolt and a 10mm drill bit.

Preparing the handle

Sanding the antler.Cutting the antler.Cut antler.Antler handle 2nd cut.Antler handleSanding the antler handle.Antler before sanding.Antler after sanding.Nearly completed antler handle for the firesteel.Hole for the shock cord or lanyard.Sanded hole edges.Drill a 1.5-2cm deep, 10mm wide hole.It's important to make it as straight and centered as possible.Annealing the wire.Winding wire on the bolt.Wire coil.Trimming wire coils.Completed wire coil.Put the coil back on the bolt, but do not thread it all the way, leave room for some glue.Test fit.If everything fits, double check, prepare and mix the epoxy.Apply the glue, concentrate on the sides of the hole.Gently push in the bolt.Clamped antler handle.

I think the pictures and annotations suffice in explaining the process (if not, post your questions in the comments) so, I’m going to use this space for some tips and ideas:
Any piece of antler is good for this project, however, it seems that the tip and base of the tine looks better than other parts.
You’ll see a lot of sanding going on in this instructable, it’s not because I like antler dust or sanding in general, but the fact is, that sanding is the most important, I could say only, factor that influences the overall look of the handle.

Preparing the ferrocerium rod

Sand down one end of the rod so that the die can grab on.Cut a 1-1.5cm long thread in the rod, you might need a vise for this.Finished thread.

When sanding the rod’s end don’t be too vigorous, you don’t want to start a fire.
You might need a vise for cutting the thread in the ferrocerium rod; the firesteel I used was a composite, magnesium and ferrocerium, and as magnesium is pretty soft I managed to cut the thread using just a pair of pliers to hold it.

Always wrap a piece of cloth around the rod when you hold it with pliers or put it in a vise, it prevents scratching the protective coating.

Assembling the antler handle with replaceable firesteel

After it has set and cured cut off the excess glue with an utility knife.Heat the bolt head until you see fine smoke coming out of the handle.Quickly cool it down with water.Remove the bolt, if it won't budge repeat the heating/cooling steps.Antler sanding.Finished antler handle for the replaceable firesteel.Screwing the replaceable firesteel in to the antler handle.Firesteel screwed into handle.Antler handle with replaceable firesteel.

When heating the bolt make sure you only heat the head and let the heat slowly propagate through, cool it down as fast as you can when you see the smoke (it would probably be better to cool is down just before it starts to smoke).
The threads inside the handle may be a bit tight because of glue residue, try screwing in/out the bolt a few times to clear them out.
After you put it together try resisting the urge to repeatedly screw in/out the rod, the threads will wear down because ferrocerium is relatively soft.
Thank you for reading, have fun making and using your own.
Please post your questions/ideas in the comments below, I’ll answer each one in a timely manner.

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