Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Ferro/Magnesium Fire Starters

Some inexperienced wilderness back-packing people like the idea of the magnesium block and a Ferro-rod bonded to it as their primary fire starter. They think this is the best fire starter to own, HOWEVER, be very aware of cheap China and other knockoffs as some do not work at all!

If you feel you must buy one or already own one and even if it's a DOAN manufacture who's a Military Supplier, you need to test it at home to be sure it works if not, you're better off junking it for two reasons:
1. The magnesium block may not be a quality magnesium metal and will not ignite.
2. The Ferro Rod is bonded in place poorly or with inferior epoxy and the rod can fall off and be lost, leaving you without a way to start a fire.

Watch this video demonstration produced by DOAN.
Uploaded on Aug 19, 2010
Perhaps it's not legally a fraud, but it is deceptive to gain sales. Many Mag sticks will not light a fire or even light themselves. Hard to believe someone in the manufacture would not know that. Magnesium bars are wonderful for starting fires, just make sure you buy one that works, check out the video.

Below is (was) my Coghlan's 7870 Magnesium Fire Starter. I have had this one in my range bag for maybe 15 years and never used it until yesterday. Glad I didn't really need it to start a fire.

After just 4 strikes the Ferro rod fell off!

 I don't recall where I purchased it but it is stamped Made in USA.

Bottom Line:
I do not recommend any Ferro-magnesium block fire starters because the rod can fall off. It could leave you in dire straights without a way to start a fire. Yes, a bow drill is always an option but few are good at that method.

Buy and use a Ferro Rod like this one, I just ordered one and it's on the way.
#FSAR-BLACK; Swedish FireSteel by Light My Fire; Army Model; The Army model has a rod about 3/8" in diameter and 2 1/2" long. It comes packed on a lanyard with a striker. The assembly weights a bit over 1 1/2 ounces. Some folks prefer to keep a square corner in the back of their knife blade to serve as the scraper. It is said to last for about 12,000 uses. . Made in Sweden, $16

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Swiss Army Knife

I've always liked the Victorinox, Swiss Army Pocket Knives because of all the extra goodies they include. I was given one, an "Officers" model but with only a 2 3/8 long big blade and a 1 1/2 long small blade as a promotional gift to me from a company I was contracting from.

Lately I have been trying to upgrade or fill in some weak spots in my knife stable with a more durable or useful sizes. In the mail last week came a new catalog from Coleman's Military Surplus and as I paged through it wishing I had a few hundred dollars for some of the deals they were offering. I spotted a used German Issue One Handed Knife, Swiss Army Knife Lock-Blade Trekker for $19.95! To buy that knife new is $50.00 so how bad could it be used? They advertised it as in "Good Condition" so why not buy it and see. I could always return it and get my money back. The description that got my attention was it included a 'saw' which I really wanted in a folder and a reasonable 3 1/8 long one handed opening blade! Also the closed length is 4 1/4 inches long which is slightly bigger than my hand and should provide good blade control, so I bought it. The only things this used knife is missing compared to the newer model is that it does not have the toothpick or tweezers. The other thing I don't care for is the serrated blade but that is easy for me to remove.

Here's some photo's of the knife. I'd say it's 'hardly used' and I got a deal!

Link to buy:

Sellers Description:
German Issue One Handed Knife, Swiss Army Knife
$19.95 ($70.00 if purchased new)

"This Victorinox® Swiss made multi tool knife was made for and used by the German military. This knife is ideal for campers, survivalists, hikers or just to tuck away in case of an emergency. This knife includes a Phillips screwdriver, wood saw, serrated locking blade, a 1 ½” reamer, bottle opener with a flat head which can be used as a flat head screwdriver and a can opener with a smaller flat head screwdriver end. Closed this knife measures approximately 4 ¼” long. Locking blade length is 3 1/8” long. Used, good condition."

Thursday, December 11, 2014

How to Epoxy Bond Sand to a Knife Handle for Improved Grip

As most of you know, fish are slimy and dressing them can be an adventure trying to hold onto while filleting. Most filet knives have plastic handles and once they get slimed they become very slippery. For me the area I needed to improve is the grip for control of the blade when I'm separating the flesh from the skin. Good knife control is crucial for removing all the flesh in one professional filet and leaving all the skin behind. Below is how I accomplished improving the grip/control!

Supplies Needed:
Construction Sand
2 part epoxy, (30 minute set time for adequate mixing and working time and any color you like)
Paste type brush
Sand paper

Sand to roughen the surface of the knifes handle for epoxy adhesion.

Mask off areas you don't want the sand bonded to.

Scrub the handle with alcohol to remove any oils for better epoxy adhesion.

Mix the epoxy about 1/3 of the tubes to be sure you have enough to coat the handle.

Brush a very, very heavy coating of epoxy onto the knifes handle. The depth being same as a sand grain.

Place the knife into the container of sand and bury it with the surrounding sand.

Using your hand/fingers apply firm but gentle pressure to force as much sand evenly into the epoxy coating as you can.

Rotate the handle 90 degrees and bury the handle again and apply pressure like you did with the sides.

Repeat the procedure at least twice to be sure you have embedded as much sand deeply "and evenly" into the epoxy.

Let the knife rest until the epoxy sets.

Do not fool with it until 24 hours have past for the epoxy to cure.

Gently rub or brush off the sand grains the epoxy didn't get to bond in place.

Now try it out!

If you have some bare spots touch it up the same as the above procedure.

Here's the stuff needed.

The sand, $4.00 per 60 lbs.

Here are the steps:

The grooves in this handle I cut in using a Dremel and a rotary burr a couple years ago hoping to increase the grip but they were not much help.

Here the handle is sanded and masked.

The heavy epoxy coating applied.

Out of the sand box coated with sand.

The finished knife left side.

Close up of the left side.

The finished knife right side.

Close up of the right side.

This was very easy to do and the grip feels much improved. The sand grains are solidly bonded on and not rubbing off. Can't wait to try it out on some slimy fish!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Coast Products Model: HP5 LED Focusing Light

We all need a good pocket size flashlight, actually several of them. But today the LED lights are expensive hovering around the $50 mark. I like the MagLight that uses 2 "AA" batteries, it's a light that has only one beam power but has a rotating bezel that allows a spot or a flood beam. This is a very good quality light but the price has risen to $25. I've always wanted a multiple beam power light so I can control the battery power management but again they are 2-3 times the cost of the MagLight until last week!

I found this "Coast" LED compact light at WalMart for just $19.93 (Suggested retail: $58.99) What an awesome quality small LED light for the money. Beam focusing from spot to flood on either high or low power. The high or low power light on flood is extremely even edge to edge. The high power spot clearly illuminates my neighbors house 150 feet away so spotting a bear, pig or another human is not a problem for this light. The low power spot is more than adequate for trail walking and the low power flood is perfect for around the campsite or in the tent.

A tail stock sealed push button switch activates the power settings sequentially simply by depressing the recessed button switch two times.

I like the single "AA" battery (I stock them in both alkaline and rechargeable) and it even came with one, a Duracell! An all aluminum case and tailstock with an 'O' Ring sealing the tail stock to the body.

Spot diameter high or low @ 5 feet is 24 inch diameter

Flood diameter high or low @ at 5 feet is 7 feet diameter, very even edge to edge.

Comparable quality big name brands LED's cost $50-$100

It's truly a great pocket LED light, especially for the money.

Factory Packaging Specifications:

135 lumens Hi, 4:45 minutes run time
15 lumens low 5:30+ minutes run time (factory website specs say its 41 lumens which is more believable)
Beam is Bezel Slide Focusing, from spot to flood and when set to flood it is a very uniform edge to edge flood pattern
Spot beam distance, hi 89 meters
Powered by, 1-"AA" battery
Aluminum Case with 'O' Ring seals
Impact and water resistant
Length: 4.65 in.
Diameter: Body - 0.8 inches; Bezel - 1.08 inches
Weight: 3.0 oz.

Suggested retail: $58.99
At just 4.65 inches long, the Coast HP5 High Performance LED Flashlight offers the best combination of small size and bright light. A quick momentary cycling of the switch gives you the option to select between a high output setting or a low output. The Pure Beam Focusing Optic System with Slide Focus provides superior beam consistency from spot to flood, with no dark rings typically associated with focusing flashlights. The Bulls Eye spot beam pattern gives you a great focused spot with a maximum beam distance of 89 meters, while producing an outer ring of flood light which allows you to see a broader area to the sides. Our Beam Lock System easily locks in your desired beam with a slight twist of the focusing bezel. Built tough, an impact-resistant, lightweight aluminum casing resists rust and corrosion. Tested and rated to ANSI/FL1 standards, the HP5 also features an unbreakable LED and rubberized O-ring for reliable water resistance and durability. Backed by Coast's lifetime warranty against defects in materials and workmanship.

My Comments
The light is a sturdily built, powerful compact light that has a sliding bezel to zoom from a flood to a spot. A slight twist of the bezel locks it in place. Also has a lanyard hole if you wanted to wear it around your neck.

Disassembled shows the "AA" that comes with it and the lanyard hole in the screw in tail cap.

The tail cap is aluminum and 'o'-Ringed to seal out rain.

The body is made of aluminum.

The tail switch is a shrouded push button. Depress it slightly will turn on the light high power release it and depress slightly again and it will turn on the low power. When you have selected to power you want depress the button all the way and it stays on. The button requires a firm force to actuate. At first I thought it was too firm but this is actually good because it will not turn on unintentionally in your pocket or pack leaving you with a dead battery.

Here's what the spot and flood beams look like:
I'm standing 5 feet from my garage door. For size reference the door is 7 feet tall and every horizontal cross bar is 21 inches apart.

High power spot, about 2 feet in diameter with 6 foot diameter flood. (The camera light sensor couldn't handle the bright concentrated spot however the spot is actually the same diameter as the low power spot but almost 4x brighter)

High power flood, about 8 feet diameter.

Low power spot, about 24 inches in diameter with a flood of about 7 feet diameter.

Low power flood, about 10 feet in diameter.

The LED light is more than adequate for everyday use and backwoods outdoor work!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014