How To Make a Wood Fire Piston

Fire pistons have been traditional weapons that are used to create fires. For many years, fire piston, or sometimes referred to as fire syringe, is used to light up a forte. The idea behind the fire piston is heating gas, in the form of air, by a fast compression to light a piece of wood, which in turn lights the fire. The history of fire pistons traces back to the ancient and prehistoric times in both the South East Asian region and the islands of Pacific. The earliest discovery of fire piston traces back to 1867, wherein an article feature at The New York Times wrote about the use of fire piston in the West.

Here are the steps you should follow to make your own wood fire piston:

  • Step 1. While a huge portion of how a fire piston works relies on physics, making your own wood fire piston is relatively easy. To make your own wood fire piston, you will need a quarter-inch ‘O’ ring, the same ring that is commonly used for plumbing, a wooden dowel with an exterior diameter of one inch and an interior diameter of a quarter inch, a wooden block with sides of three inches by two inches by 2 inches, a small screw, a drill, drill bits with 5/8”, ¼” and 1/8” sizes, a ruler, a pencil, a saw that could cut through wood, some grease or oil.
  • Step 2. Measure some six inches from wooden dowel with one-inch diameter; mark this using your pencil. Cut through the mark using your wood saw. Mark across the middle of the wooden dowel; measuring from one end to the other. Drill a four-inch hole using the drill bit with size 5/8”. 
  • Step 3. Use your ruler to measure four and three fourths of the wooden dowels with quarter-inch diameter. Mark this point with a pencil and cut through this point using your wooden saw. Place a quarter inch bowl in one end of this dowel. Use a 1/8-inch drill bit to place this bowl. 
  • Step 4. Put the wooden block on a flat and horizontal platform, put the side of the block with three-inch by two-inch measurement facing up. Use your ruler to measure the center of this block and mark it using your pencil. 
  • Step 5. Use a quarter-inch drill bit to make an inch deep hole at the marked center of the block. Grab your quarter inch dowel and insert the unfinished side of through the hole. Flip your wooden block so that the two-inch side is not facing up; measure the center of the block and drill another inch and a half hole using your smallest-size drill bit. Get your screw and insert it at the hole in order to secure the dowel in its position. 
  • Step 6. Remember the bowl that you made on the quarter-inch dowel?  Measure 5/8 of an inch from the end of this dowel and mark this as the circumference or the outer side of the dowel. Use a saw to cut a groove with 1/8 inch deep. Place the plumbing “O” ring on this hole. Be careful to make the “O” ring just touch the wall holes of the groove that you created. You can use oil or grease to seal the “O” ring in place.

If the “O” ring does not seal in place, increase the depth of the groove.


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