The best fire-starting device available is the fire steel. Pound for pound, it will start more fires than any other option available, and its durability and reliability make it a logical choice for the outdoorsman. Here’s how to make an integral fire-steel loop in the sheath-making process.

Step 1. Take a piece of leather and cut it into a 1.5-by-2-inch rectangle. This leather should be the same thick-ness as your main sheath body, or lighter.

Step 2. Sand the edges along the unfinished/inside long side of the leather to allow for easy insertion of your fire steel. 

Step 3. Wet your leather to help it sit better around your form. For 0.375-inch fire steels, sometimes referred to as “military” size, I use a ballpoint pen body as my form. 

Step 4. Glue the inside 0.5 inches of the leather nearest the pen body with contact cement. Allow it to sit a few minutes and become tacky prior to sticking it together. Let your glue set and your leather dry before moving on to the next step. 

Step 5. Since this fire-steel loop is going to sit where the welt is, you need to sand down the thickness to have it match your welt. Also, you need to make sure the width of the fire-steel loop inserted into the sheath body matches the width of your welt. Take a utility knife and trim it to the right width.

Step 6. Glue the bottom of your fire-steel loop to the inside back of the sheath body. Again, apply the glue to both the fire steel side and unfinished inside of the sheath body. Let it sit and then adhere together when both sides are tacky.

Step 7. Glue the sheath body together as you would normally in the sheath-making process. 

Step 8. Make sure your stitching holes are drilled through the fire-steel welt. Saddle stitch as usual, and double stitch the top and bottom of the fire-steel welt if you want to. 

Step 9. When your sheath is done, fit your fire steel to it. It may be necessary to wet your fire-steel loop and apply some pressure to insert it. Don’t leave your fire steel in the wet loop for too long as chemicals in the leather may break down the rod.

Step 10. Use a cord to keep your fire steel inside this loop. It can be strung around the bottom to lock it in place. Shock cord or 550 paracord work well. 

This process is no more difficult than making a sheath. It is slightly more time consuming, but your knife/fire-starting needs are met with a sheath equipped with an integral fire-steel loop. Never leave home without these two important tools carried in one convenient package.

This article originally published in AMERICAN FRONTIERSMAN®  2014-#158 issue. Print and Digital Subscriptions to AMERICAN FRONTIERSMAN®  magazine are available here

Related Stories: Handcraft a Knife Sheath

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