How to Make a Fire Piston For Under 10 Bucks

Fire Piston Complete

Fire Piston Complete

Today I’m going to show you how to make this fire piston for under 10 Bucks. You can get the supplies needed at Lowes, Home Depot or most hardware stores.

Tools Needed:

1. Pipe cutter or hack saw

2. Knife

3. Screwdriver

4. Drill

5. Drill bits

6. File and or sand paper


Supplies Needed:

1/2 inch x 6 inch copper stub out

1/2 inch oak dowel rod 6 inches or longer

1 wood drawer handle

3/8″ I.D. x 9/16″ O.D. O-Ring



Fire Piston Parts


Step 1. Measure your copper stub out so it’s 4-1/2 inches in length and cut off the excess with your hack saw or pipe cutter.

Fire Piston Measure


Step 2. After you cut the pipe it should have a rough edge like the picture below.

Fire Piston Cut


 Step 3. To allow easy insertion of the piston rod, taper the first few millimeters of the inside with a half round file or a piece of sandpaper folded into a cone. Make sure to remove any metal dust.

Fire Piston Bevelled


Step 4.  Place your dowel rod inside the copper stub out as far as it will go and cut it a few millimeters longer than the copper stub out.

Fire Piston Cut Shaft


Step 5. Make a smooth and even ringed groove about 3 mm off the end of the piston rod. This cut is meant for the O-ring and both have to match exactly. You want to get an even groove that is the exact same depth all the way around the rod. If the groove is not even, the rubber O-ring will not seat right and leakage can occur underneath the O-ring when trying to compress the air inside the piston. It is a precision job and it requires a lot of trying out by putting the O-ring in place and trying to make it slide into the tube. When searching for the right fit, the piston rod should enter the tube without trouble and move freely up and down the piston tube (use Vaseline to lube the o-ring) and without too much resistance when pushed. The groove can be made by Inserting the piston rod (just like a drill bit) into a hand drill power tool. You can now let the rod spin and use a file or fine toothed saw to make the cut. You can also carve this out by hand with a knife.

Fire Piston O-Ring Groove


Step 6. Place the o-ring in the groove.

Fire Piston O-Ring


Step 7.  Drill a shallow hole into the working end of the piston rod (the end with the rubber O-ring), approximately 4-7 millimeters wide with a depth of a couple millimeters. This is the tinder cup in which the tinder is placed.

Fire Piston Cup


 Step 8. Drill a small pilot hole in the other end of the dowel to attach the drawer handle.

Fire Piston Pilot Hole


Step 9. Your wooden drawer handle should have a pilot hole drilled in to it take a drill and drill the hole completely through the handle like so.

Fire Piston Handle Drilled


Step 10. Now take a drill bit slightly bigger than the screw head you are going to use for the handle and drill out the hole you just made about half way into the handle.

Fire Piston Handle Drilled


Step 11. Put the screw into the handle.

Fire Piston Handle


Step 12: Attach handle to the dowel.

Fire Piston Handle


Step 13. Place some char cloth into the tinder cup lubricate the o-ring with some vaseline or spit, slide the dowel into the copper stub out and give it a good whack. Make sure to pull out the dowel quickly so you give the ember oxygen. If you have a good seal on your o-ring you should have a glowing ember like below.

Fire Piston Ember