As is so often the case with difficult journeys, one may have been inclined not to start at all had they known in advance the challenges they would face…. Paradoxically, this lack of foresight is simultaneously the same force which begets brazen confidence in the face of adversity, and ultimately impels one to overcome what may have previously seemed to be impossible. Therefore, one can safely conclude that ignorance, it would seem, is the key ingredient to success! Or at least, this hypothesis has certainly proven itself true in my experience.
Case in point, I present to you the Para-squid Flamethrower & Bottle Opener. As I have previously mentioned elsewhere, had I known how long it would actually take to hand braid 1300 para-squids, I undoubtedly would have devised some other system for simultaneous carry of 9ft of paracord and a Firesteel.com ranger ferro rod. However, my ignorance got the best of me and before I even realized what I was committing to, I had already dropped serious dollars on the necessary materials to complete 1300 para-squid danglers; no matter the fact that I had yet to design or prototype the Bone Daddy skull logo striker and bottle opener.
While I spent upwards of a year making 4 para-squids a day in order to hit my mark, I also began working with a fine jeweler to craft the logo striker/opener. The first prototype was made out of pure silver so the jeweler could shape/mold/modify the skull as needed. However, we wanted to be able to test the prototype, so small pieces of an actual Firesteel.com striker were cut and inset into either side of the jaw. As expected, the Firesteel.com striker pieces worked perfectly and produced wonderful jets of sparks which you have seen featured in our how-to videos. Little more thought was given to the matter. We would make a mold of this silver model and cast duplicate copies out of steel so that the strikers inside the mouth would be exact functional replicas of Firesteel.com's... or so I assumed...
Unfortunately this is where it all began to fall down. Unlike a bottle opener, whose function is easy to duplicate through a careful study of its external geometry, ferro rod strikers are far less obvious, and the elements which are key to their function are not perceptible to the naked eye. I had to learn this the hard way.
Since Mora Knives offers a number of water resistant blades in stainless steel which feature spines that are capable of throwing sparks, I figured it would also be an ideal material to cast the skulls. Not so much... I had two prototypes cast in stainless steel; they looked outstanding, popped bottle caps like nobody's business, but would not create sparks no matter how hard I tried. At first, we concluded that the striker edges were not sharp enough straight from the mold, and would need to be hand filed after casting in order to be able to scrape material from the ferro rod. However, this option was immediately struck down when sharpened edges still failed to draw sparks. Furthermore, hand filing the edges of hardened steel proved to be so time consuming as to make the process cost prohibitive. With fulfillment slated to begin in less than 6 months, it was a mad dash back to the drawing board.
Lucky for us, necessity is the mother of all invention; and from the ashes of defeat, a solution emerged which ultimately yielded a far more functionally useful tool than I had ever imagined being possible. As I have come to learn, paramount to a ferro strikers’ effectiveness is the hardness of the material used and the sharpness of the striking edge. Casting the skull as a single finished piece that was hard enough and sharp enough had already proven impossible, but we didn't want to throw away all of the hard work that had gone into making the skull a jewelry grade piece of functional art. With this in mind, we had to figure out a way to maintain the awesome aesthetic of the skull as it had already been advertised, while also providing the function for which it was built.
Through the power of our Instagram network, I was able to connect with an exceptionally talented metal worker who has his own small production shop here in the states, and together we discovered an ideal solution. We could still cast the skulls in stainless steel so that they get the added benefit of corrosion resistance.
However, we would leave an oval recess in the back of the jaw where a laser cut, custom washer matching the dimensions of the recess can be inserted. This washer would be cut from an alternate high carbon steel, flat sanded and deburred, and laser welded in place. In this way, pre-sharpened/hardened strikers can be welded into the skulls, and no great time would be required to file and finish each skull.
Much to our surprise, when we tested this new striker design we realized that we had accidentally stumbled upon a wholly unique approach to ferro rod striking that may revolutionize fire starting with a ferro rod. Unlike traditional strikers that only engage one edge with one surface of a ferro rod, our striker features a striking edge that lines the entire circumference of the hole in the back of the skull through which the ferro rod is inserted. Because of this, once the rod is fully inserted, a gentle twist of the striker will bring the opposing edges of the striker into contact with either side of the ferro rod, seeming to bite into the material and lock the rod in place. Now, when the rod is removed, scrape occurs along the full length of the rod on both sides simultaneously, effectively providing the amount of sparks you would expect from a ferro rod twice as long as the one we have included.
In grand Bone Daddy Fashion, we have once again proven that less is more, while simultaneously getting a jumpstart on our long-term goal of bringing all of our manufacturing back stateside. Through our exuberant ignorance, we embarked on a journey which has ultimately led to a profound discovery. What bliss there in ignorance!