One of my favorite tools for starting a fire is a ferrocerium rod. They are completely waterproof, dependable, effective, affordable, and last a long time. How could they be any better?
Well, they could have a handle. I know, you are probably thinking, “why not just buy a ferro rod that already has a handle?”
I have done that in the past and some of those rods, such as the ones from Purefire Tactical, have great handles while other brands not so much.
I primarily use bare ferro rods from firesteel.com because they are some of the best on the market and they are super affordable. While they do sell rods with handles, I tend to purchase their bare rods because they are cheaper, and a bare rod provides more storage options.
But sometimes I do wish to have a handle on my ferrocerium rod and here are a few more reasons why I like to make my own.
3 Reasons Why I Make My Own Handle
Handles on tools are not universally comfortable because everyone’s hands are different in size and shape. By making a handle you can customize it to fit your hand perfectly.
Depending on the design and materials you choose, a homemade handle has the potential of serving multiple purposes.
For example, some of the handles made by Purefire Tactical are quite large and hollow so they can be used to store extra gear.
A homemade handle can give a level of personalization that cannot be obtained elsewhere. Do you like more traditional materials and prefer a handle made from wood, bone, or antler? Or do you like a more modern look that can be achieved through using plastics, metals, and other materials? When it comes to the handle material, the sky is the limit, and the choice is yours.
Choosing the Handle
While I enjoy both traditional and modern materials, I tend to lean towards a more traditional look with some of my tools. For this article, I am going to be using wood.
This is because wood is an easy material to make a handle out of and I just so happen to have a surplus of cedar laying around. Cedar also happens to be one of my favorites types of wood but there is another specific reason I will be using it for this project.
Cedar takes a flame exceptionally well and, in an emergency, a cedar handle will provide a source of dry tinder to help get a fire going.
Making the Handle
What You Will Need
- Power Drill
- Drill Bits
- Sharp outdoor knife
- Tape (any kind that you have)
- Bare ferrocerium rod
- Measuring tape
- Rubber mallet
Many months ago I set aside a few pieces of cedar to dry out so that I could use them for future projects. I am now ready to make a handle for one of my ferro rods so the first order of business is to shave off the outer bark with a sharp knife.
I should start by saying I do not care about the exact dimensions of the wood as long as it is large enough to fit my hand. A large piece of wood can always be shaved down until you find the right fit.
Once the bark is off, I continued to smooth out the surface of the wood by removing any bumps or other imperfections with my knife. This can also be done with sandpaper or a power sander if you so choose.
The next step is to estimate the size of the handle. This will be different depending on the size of ferro rod you are using and the size of your hand. I am using a ferro rod that is just over three inches long and one-quarter of an inch in diameter.
I used a wood saw to cut the wood so that its length was just slightly longer than the width of my hand.
Now it is time to attach the ferro rod to the handle. There are basically two ways that this can be done. The first is by using an adhesive to glue the ferro rod into the wood. That works, but I do not particularly care for that method because once the rod is worn down it will be difficult to replace.
The second method is to pressure fit the ferro rod into the handle. This is done by drilling a hole into the wood that is exactly the size or slightly smaller than the ferro rod.
The rod that I am using is just over three inches long and one-quarter of an inch in diameter. The hole in the wood will roughly match that diameter.
I decided to set the ferro rod 7/8” into the wood. I measured this length out on the drill bit and placed a piece of tape onto the bit to act as a guide. This will help to make sure I do not drill too deeply.
Once the hole was drilled, I placed one end of the ferro rod into the hole and pounded it in with a rubber mallet. I do not recommend using a metal hammer as that can damage the ferrocerium rod. Since the size of the hole is almost identical to the diameter of the ferro rod, the rod should be tightly held into place after using the rubber mallet.
The last order of business is to add a lanyard hole. You do not have to do this as it is a personal preference, but I like them because they help to keep track of gear.
The size of the hole is determined by the diameter of the cordage you want to use. I typically use 550 paracord for lanyards so the hole does not need to be that large but size the hole according to the diameter of cordage you want to use.
After the hole is drilled thread the cordage through the hole and tie it off into a knot to form a loop. Before tying the knot, a piece of hacksaw blade can be added to the loop to be used as a scrapper. Hacksaw blades work well but they are thin and can be a bit flimsy. A piece of an old metal file or a pre-made scraper works great.
The Finished Product
Here is how it should look when it is all done.
As you can see, I made the handle quite a bit larger than the ferro rod. I did this for two reasons.
First, I want the option of scraping wood from the handle to use as tinder during an emergency without sacrificing the overall integrity of the handle.
Secondly, a large handle is much easier to use when my hands are cold or if I am wearing gloves.
I enjoy the pressure fit of the rod because once it is worn down, I can simply pull it out and pound a new one in place.
I have used the same above process in the past to make handles out of bone and antlers. I think wood is a great starter material because it is easy to come and easy to work with. It is also much easier to shape the wood to better fit the hand or to even decorate it.
I hope you enjoyed this quick project for making your own ferrocerium handle, thanks for reading.
Let us know what you think of this project by sounding off in the comment section below!