Trying to make a Dwarven Tinderbox



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Iodo
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Trying to make a Dwarven Tinderbox

Postby Iodo » Wed Jun 03, 2020 3:03 pm

I thought that maybe my carpentry skills might be up to the challenge so I decided to give this a go, this is the box I have so far:

Image

I think it's much bigger that something I would carry trekking, but maybe? it depends on the final weight. It's turned out bigger than I thought it would be because of the thickness of the wood I have on hand but I'm sticking with it, at the moment I just want something that works that I can learn to use. In the future I'll probably make a more compact version. It's far from finished but I've got a bit stuck because I have no experience of how a tinderbox is actually used, so started cutting wood with no real plan at all

please help :mrgreen:

I want to be able to use a wooden damper to put out charred material and I've seen photo's of tinderboxes where this is done, so that's what I started to make, but I don't understand it well enough, and I could hardly find any information online about using a wooden tinderbox with a damper

do you have to do anything to stop the wood of the box from being flammable or will it just not burn?

how close fit does the damper need to be to put out the ember?

The only photo's I found were of char-cloth under the damper, does this work with other kinds of charred material like punk wood etc...?

Also I messed it up a bit, unknown to me I have two countersink cutters, no idea where the extra one came from but it's a lot sharper than my normal one (left)

Image

this is the damper I've made:

Image

the countersink from that sharp cutter (that I've now hidden) is so deep it nearly goes all the way through the wood, normally I wouldn't worry but that means the back of the damper isn't flat, I'm probably overthinking this but does that mean it will trap air and wont work? because the compartment in the box is slightly off square it took ages to make and I don't want to remake it but I will if I have to

I guess if it would cause a problem I could fill it with something, maybe epoxy, if that's not flammable
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Re: Trying to make a Dwarven Tinderbox

Postby Greg » Wed Jun 03, 2020 9:47 pm

The function of a damper is to cut off oxygen to the burning tinder. If it either A) fits tight enough to restrict airflow, or B) goes all the way down to be able to smush (and thus snuff out) the tinder, this will work also. You won't be exposing the wood to fire for long periods, so you could expect charring but little burning of your wooden box.

I like what you've got going here! With the three compartments, I'd recommend using it like this:

Slot 1: Firesteel, various flint pieces, loose bits of linen that haven't been charred, etc.
Slot 2: Dry kindling for bundling/nests (ie. sticks, twigs, birds nests, twine that can be unwound, pine needles, fatwood, etc. This one should be replenished regularly as materials are available.
Slot 3: Charred tinder. This could be charred cloth, conks (fungi/mushrooms that grow on logs), and/or punky wood.

The way a tinder box works (if you're using a damper) is to keep the charred tinder in its box, rather than holding a piece of charred material on your flint. You throw sparks down into the box until an ember catches on one of your pieces of charred tinder, and then hold your tinder/kindling bundle inside the box up against the glowing ember. Blow down into the box until you get your bundle to catch, and then transfer the bundle to your prepared fire pit. There will still be ember(s) glowing in the tinder box, so you use the damper to snuff them out so you can use them again tomorrow, etc. Proceed with building your fire with the burning bundle and the (I'm assuming here) other sticks and fuel you had prepared.

This differs from how most people make flint & steel fires in that the charred material is typically one small piece (often cloth) that is placed into the bundle after it catches an ember and is left to burn up in the bundle after it ignites.

The only thing I would caution you about is your little metal peg handles on the damper. They'll work just fine...but after you drop the damper in, I'd leave it alone for a few minutes because they could heat up and then burn your hands when you go to pick it back up.
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Re: Trying to make a Dwarven Tinderbox

Postby Iodo » Wed Jun 03, 2020 10:37 pm

Thanks so much for the info :P it's really useful, I'm understanding it better now
Greg wrote:The only thing I would caution you about is your little metal peg handles on the damper. They'll work just fine...but after you drop the damper in, I'd leave it alone for a few minutes because they could heat up and then burn your hands when you go to pick it back up.

I hadn't thought that it might get hot, I could put a leather loop between them to lift it with? they are sam browne studs after all
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Re: Trying to make a Dwarven Tinderbox

Postby BrianGrubbs » Thu Jun 04, 2020 1:33 pm

The leather loop is a great idea, not only will it give you insulation, but it will make it easier to manipulate and index the damper as you are putting it in the box.

Great work as always! When Greg was talking about the technique of holding the tinder on the box to blow into flame reminded me of Keith Burgess' video on flint and steel fire lighting. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSwLly61QJs which was the first time I'd seen it done like that. With your compartmentalized tinderbox, that would absolutely be the way I would use it!

Also, that damper should absolutely work.

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Re: Trying to make a Dwarven Tinderbox

Postby Iodo » Thu Jun 04, 2020 7:48 pm

BrianGrubbs wrote:Great work as always! When Greg was talking about the technique of holding the tinder on the box to blow into flame reminded me of Keith Burgess' video on flint and steel fire lighting. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSwLly61QJs which was the first time I'd seen it done like that. With your compartmentalized tinderbox, that would absolutely be the way I would use it!

Also, that damper should absolutely work.

Brian

cool, thanks for the link :P and I'm glad no one's said I've done something totally wrong, so I guess I can leave the damper as it is and don't have to worry about the deep countersink
Gimli: It's true you don't see many Dwarf-women. And in fact, they are so alike in voice and appearance, that they are often mistaken for Dwarf-men.
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Re: Trying to make a Dwarven Tinderbox

Postby Iodo » Sat Jun 06, 2020 12:02 pm

I've added a leather strap to the damper and it seems to work quite well:

Image

and I realize that I shouldn't have made the carving symmetrical because the damper only fits in one way round, I can see that getting annoying quickly

also, any ideas about a kind of (easy to make) catch I could put on the sliding lid to keep it closed? I had intended there to be enough resistance to keep it closed on it's own, then I think I went a bit mad with the chisel :mrgreen: so if I tip the box it just slides out
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Re: Trying to make a Dwarven Tinderbox

Postby Peter Remling » Sat Jun 06, 2020 12:16 pm

Put a mark on the strap to indicate the direction it the damper needs to be put back in. Make it by hole or a stud so it can be felt in low light.

I wouldn't do anything about the lid fit at this time, give it a while to see if the wood swells naturally with humidity.

Really great project and your variety of skills is inspiring.
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Re: Trying to make a Dwarven Tinderbox

Postby Iodo » Sat Jun 06, 2020 12:52 pm

Peter Remling wrote:Put a mark on the strap to indicate the direction it the damper needs to be put back in. Make it by hole or a stud so it can be felt in low light.

a hole in the leather is a great idea, thanks :P

Peter Remling wrote:I wouldn't do anything about the lid fit at this time, give it a while to see if the wood swells naturally with humidity.

hmmmm... it's a good point but It's very loose, so loose I was thinking that I might need to pack the groves with thin leather to stop it from rattling, I don't think the wood is capable of changing that much
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Re: Trying to make a Dwarven Tinderbox

Postby Peter Remling » Sat Jun 06, 2020 2:04 pm

[/quote]
hmmmm... it's a good point but It's very loose, so loose I was thinking that I might need to pack the groves with thin leather to stop it from rattling, I don't think the wood is capable of changing that much[/quote]

That would work. That or a piece of felt. You can always remove it if needed at a later date.
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Re: Trying to make a Dwarven Tinderbox

Postby Elleth » Mon Jun 08, 2020 7:50 pm

That looks awesome! I love the filework on the damper lid. :mrgreen:

For what it's worth, the solution I've found to the "the lid is loose and rattling" problem is just to keep some extra tow (or whatever) inside as padding. But granted that's maybe easier said than done after you've been using stuff up for a while.
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Re: Trying to make a Dwarven Tinderbox

Postby Iodo » Mon Jun 08, 2020 8:20 pm

Elleth wrote:That looks awesome! I love the filework on the damper lid. :mrgreen:

Thank you :P although it's not filework, I cut it with a chip carving knife and it did work better than I expected

Elleth wrote:For what it's worth, the solution I've found to the "the lid is loose and rattling" problem is just to keep some extra tow (or whatever) inside as padding. But granted that's maybe easier said than done after you've been using stuff up for a while.

cool, that sounds simple and like it would work so I'll bear that in mind for if my other ideas fail, also is this meaning that you use a similar tinderbox design? if you do I'd be interested to see pictures and to know how big it is etc...
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Re: Trying to make a Dwarven Tinderbox

Postby BrianGrubbs » Thu Jun 11, 2020 3:07 am

Iodo wrote: also, any ideas about a kind of (easy to make) catch I could put on the sliding lid to keep it closed? I had intended there to be enough resistance to keep it closed on it's own, then I think I went a bit mad with the chisel :mrgreen: so if I tip the box it just slides out


What about something like this, but better made?
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Re: Trying to make a Dwarven Tinderbox

Postby Iodo » Thu Jun 11, 2020 7:11 am

Thanks for the idea, but I should have posted an update sooner, I have already solved it, sorry

I glued some linen onto the underneath of the lid and kept adding layers until it was a fit I liked, seems to work OK for now
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Re: Trying to make a Dwarven Tinderbox

Postby Elleth » Wed Jun 17, 2020 6:15 pm

Iodo wrote:... also is this meaning that you use a similar tinderbox design? if you do I'd be interested to see pictures and to know how big it is etc...


Ah!

I haven't used that type, though I'd like to give one a try at some point!

In fact, when I posted before I'd just gotten back from a short jaunt where I had my old 18th c. tinderbox in my pocket, and it was rattling like mad. First thing I did when I got back was pack more tow in there:

merf-18th-c-tinderbox.jpg
merf-18th-c-tinderbox.jpg (141.59 KiB) Viewed 1236 times


Char's under the damper, then flint and striker on top, then lots of tow to keep everything in place. The lid is a nice friction-fit, but the buckskin bag you see there is sized right to keep the lid on should it pop loose.

This tinderbox is a plain "octagonal box" from Mr. Goebel's Goose Bay Workshop:
http://goosebay-workshops.com/Boxes-Bar ... Containers

I asked him for an additional damper plate to go inside his standard offering. I like it quite a bit: the only drawback (hardly a complaint) is that the solder wouldn't hold up to the "bury the box in the coals" technique of making char. But then - neither would a wood one, so no great loss.


I don't in fact yet have my idealized "Middle-earth" tinderbox. I've had a sketch for one for ages, but haven't yet freed the funds to have it made.
For what it's worth, this was my initial sketch for the "Middle Earth" tinderbox and firesteel, along with a Gotland striker for scale:
merf-tinderbox-pattern01-initialsketch.jpg
merf-tinderbox-pattern01-initialsketch.jpg (41.11 KiB) Viewed 1236 times


I don't know as I'd go with exactly this approach if/when I finally commission one: I think I'd make it simpler and back further away from the WETA-Gondor aesthetic. Still, I like the all-iron, clamshell-with-a-lanyard-loop construction idea: I'd thought I could cord it my belt pouch so as not to lose something precious in leaf litter. Maybe with a toggle on the lanyard so the whole thing could come unhooked when it was time for the box to go in the fire.

Anyhow.... someday. Many projects yet to be completed between now and then. :mrgreen:
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Re: Trying to make a Dwarven Tinderbox

Postby Iodo » Wed Jun 17, 2020 8:17 pm

Cool, thanks so much Elleth :P

I based (by based - I mean exactly copied without really knowing how it was meant work LOL) my design on a drawing of an 18th century domestic tinderbox that was never intended to be taken out of the home and used anywhere other than at the hearth, so that small tin of yours is probably the kind of thing I will eventually end up with, or maybe just a smaller wooden one
What I have so far is almost finished but since going back to work I've not got around to testing it yet. To solve the "making of char" problem I found a small steel tin that fits inside the box, I don't know if yours is big enough for this but you could always give it a go?

your design is beautiful :mrgreen:
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