Thursday, March 15, 2007

Feather Sticks 1

As I mentioned in my last post I've been playing with feather sticks all week. Although I'm using dry pine I'm having a high level of success using the Canadian knife (it just keeps getting better the more I strop it) and the Blastmatch.
Of all the items from the NRA survival kit the Blastmatch is by far my favourite and If I ever really had to light a fire it may well be first choice - you can use it one handed or with gloves on if you have to. You can see American Bushman and Pablo rave about it on their sites too.
It is a method I've never had much success before as my feather sticks traditionally looked more like the bad example in books than the good one. It is really a nice achievement for me as it shows than several of my skills are improving. I'm managing to get knives sharper than before and also to use them more skilfully than previously.
One thhing I have noticed is that thicker sections of pine seem to work better than thinner ones which tend to burn out more easily. I hope to add some photos and maybe even a video in future for now I'll leave you with the wikipedia entry.


American Bushman said...


If you really want to feel humbled in your feather stick making skills you should check out Ray Mears' book. He's got the "good, better, best" pictures of his feather sticks and they're all better than what I routinely create.

Still, getting a fire started from a metal match and a featherstick is a liberating experience.


Sailor said...

Hi Sam
Nice site, but just a warning about the Blastmatch, I hah and used one on and off for about a year and like Pablo and American Bushman raved about it, I even used it instead of my trusty Fireflash which was left at home. Then one day when wanting a small brew fire the stricher (the bit you push onto the steel fell off, thats right fell off! cold drinks all round! in a survival situation this could have been a disaster and for some reason you will have a hard time trying to use it like a fire steel. Its no good having all the bells and whistles if it fails when most needed, I am now back useing my Fireflash, the Blastmatch (yep I bought another one!) is somewhere in my pack, just in case I wear out the Fireflash!

Donald said...

Sailor, I just ran across your comment as you used the word FireFlash, a term I had just recently heard used in one of the Ray Mears videos. It appears like the MagFire from Finland, if one looks at the shape of the handle, etc., as opposed to the FireSteel from Sweden.

I don't know why you would have a problem using the Blastmatch just because the tungsten carbide (wolfram) striker fell out. It leaves one with 1 7/8 inch x 1/2 inch ferrocerium rod which one can use just like a FireSteel or other ferrocerium rod. In fact it's a thicker piece. I have a broken one--as you probably know, but some might not, keep the rod straight with some pressure on the scraper when thrusting to keep the tab (where the mentioned striker is attached) from being broken. I had a younger Girl Scout who did not do this and broke one of mine. After that I figured it was "free" ferrocerium and the Girl Scouts and I enjoyed using it as a plain rod. I did not have to remove it to do this although I could have. If I had removed it from the outside caseing, this would have resulted in a 2 7/32 (56mm) long rod (more inside mounting) of which about which 1 7/8 is used when unit is working as intended.

One of my favorite methods of fire starting. Perhaps I should mention that I heard a rumor that they might produce the BlastMatch in orange (I believe they used to as I have seen a picture) and with a 3/8" thick rod, to lighten it, and presumably save ferrocerium at the same time. Meanwhile mine all have a 1/2" rod and that is the one I was writing about.

I have made feather sticks out of fatwood and lit them with a BlastMatch and other ferrocerium rods. It is probably faster though, just to scrap them to create fuzz to catch the spark. Same with bamboo and birch bark.

Anonymous said...

Pretty cool site you've got here. Thank you for it. I like such themes and everything that is connected to this matter. I would like to read a bit more soon.

Julia Swenson