Cap-Gun Lighter Built From Scratch

For most of us, a lighter is a cheap $2 plastic tool that serves a purpose, and little more. Some of us may go so far as to have a nice Zippo, or perhaps a windproof lighter for better outdoor performance. But if you’re a machinist, you could consider whipping yourself up something special, like this build by [W&M Levsha].

There’s plenty to love here for those who love making chips. The body is crafted out of brass and copper, soldered together by blowtorch. The lighter works by an unusual mechanism. The fluid tank is stuffed with cotton wool and filled with lighter fluid, which feeds a wick, which by itself, is fairly ordinary. However, ignition is via a spring-loaded aluminium hammer, which fires off a paper cap, igniting the wick. The flame can then be extinguished by blowing it out.

It’s a lighter that’s sure to be a conversation piece, though we wonder how welcome it’s cracking report will be at a quiet, reserved cigar bar. The mechanism may have more consumables than a typical lighter, but that’s the price paid to be truly unique. There are other creative designs out there too, like this lighter which uses a platinum catalyst for ignition. Video after the break.

22 thoughts on “Cap-Gun Lighter Built From Scratch

    1. The paper kind I would bet, but the plastic revolver types have pretty much disappeared.

      You could pick the paper discs out with a needle and tap the powder out, which was quite dangerous once you got a small pile going because it would really go off with a bang from the slightest provocation. When we were kids, we took a discarded hair dryer and pulled all the heating wire out of it, because the old models had this thin exposed spring going around a fiberglass form, and used the wire and the powder from the caps to make DIY blasting caps. In retrospect, it’s fortunate we only found the kind of fertilizer that was adulterated for safety, so our experiments never worked.

    2. Neither did I. But I looked it up after reading this story. You can order them online or buy them at Tractor Supply (and likely other places). Both the paper kind that this lighter uses and the plastic ones are available.

      My childhood memories of caps mostly involve hitting them with a rock. Wasn’t really into play involving toy guns, though there was no family prohibition of them.

    3. Both paper and plastic caps are available in the toy/school supply aisle in grocery stores in the Washington DC area. And of course any adult can buy a gallon sized jug of black powder at any gun store.

    1. > though we wonder how welcome it’s cracking report will be at a quiet, reserved cigar bar.

      With no compression,/containment, there is no report. Editors??? C’monnnn 🤨


  1. When I was about 12, I made I guess what you’d call a trench lighter style thing with the back end of a reel cap gun and a twist of charred tissue. You could blow on it to get the ember nice and hot and actually flame when the whole end was lit. I didn’t though think of or act upon the idea of stuffing it into a tank with a fuel… they kept flammable liquids away from me for some reason.

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