Black Smith Shop

Demonstrating the art of flint and steel fire starting in the Old Somerset Forge. In the old days before the strike any were match, the smithy had to use the steel striker and a piece of flint or other type stone to make a spark. The tinder as it was called could be  many types of flammable material. I believe that the most popular was char cloth. It could be made in a small tin any time the forge has a fire going. Cotton and linen are the best material to char in the container, which has a small hole in the top to let out the gases, but not let in oxygen. As soon as an ember was detected the cloth was placed in a bundle of tinder. Wood shavings work very good. Once the forge was hot the Smith could make an other striker, usually made of an old file or other harden pieces of steel. He could also put his char tin near the fire to make more tinder for the next time, or sell it as a product. Most all metal was recycled in the shop, heated and forged to another
shape, including nails and rivets.

Old Somerset Forge was established in 1980
Below is a part of my private collection, made over many years, facing the heat of the fire.

Snake make of file medium body Flint lock gun tool, hammer, screwdriver, striker  Mouse with twisted tail made of old file  Another snake striker stamped eyes
Large snake design KEEPS FINGERS CLEAR Traditional designed like was used in England Bar type with twisted tail and curl on the end Dragon with curled tail made from a file
The practice of starting fire with flint and steel takes a little skill that must be learned by trial and error. (watch your eyes) The science behind this operation is simple, flint is harder than steel. Striking a sharp piece of flint down the side of the striker shaves small shards of steel off the surface that is very hot because of the friction. You learn to aim the hot sparks at the charred cloth, usually resting on a table top, stump or the ground. You can also place the charred cloth under the flint and strike it with striker. If you are right handed the first method the flint is struck down the steel striker held in the left hand. In method two the flint and cloth are held in the left hand and struck downward with the steel held  in the  right hand. There are a lot of videos on YOUTUBE to explain the art.
Reproduction of a 1720 oak tinder box, with sliding lid 1720 style tinder box with lid open to show components  Modern style box open showing all tools of the art. 
Steel striker, flint stone and ember caught in the char cloth  Pine wood shaving and char cloth with glowing embers   Cloth placed inside the shaving, blowing gently  
 Moving the shaving through the air rapidly will work also  Ember is about to ignite the wood shaving, smoke showing  At last a flame appears, now light a candle, fireplace or forge 

My grandfather was a blacksmith in Somerset Co. Md.
in the 1930's. He worked on a farm and this skill was very
valuable, for repairing of equipment and making tools and
other items. The file is a very old tool and is mentioned in the
King James Version of the Bible, 1 Samuel Chapter 13 verse
21. It is a high carbon steel and is very hard, but not as hard
as flint. The char cloth is made from natural fiber such as linen
cotton and some tree fungus. The material is placed in a small
tin with a tight fitting top with a small hole in the lid. The tin is placed near the fire and allowed to heat until no smoke
 comes from the hole. The tin is allowed to cool before
opening. The cloth is then stored in an air tight container
until ready to use.
Thanks for your time.


Items on this page are not for sale, but are part of a private
Collection. Similar items can be located on the internet. 

Goldmar Nov. 2016                        Other links to visit

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