I Made A 'Bow Drill' Friction Fire Starter & It Worked!



Recently, I have become more-&-more interested in learning the kinds of basic skills that would have been useful and essential for survival in a 'much more natural world' that was not yet overrun with so many 'modern conveniences'. So, with this growing interest in mind, I opened the door to the fun-&-rewarding world of camp-craft, bush-craft, friction-fire-making, survival skills, and more!


Reading, watching tutorials and enjoying the intellectual side of things is one thing, but eventually we need to get started on the practical side of the equation. So, I pulled out my pocket knife and carved some old scrap wood into my first bow & drill set. Well, right before that, I attempted to use the 'plough method'. What I got was a good amount of smoke and a great workout, but no ember! This is when I decided that the mechanical advantage provided by the 'bow' might provide a wise way to 'achieve that first success'. Then, with at least one win under my belt, I would be in a much better position to try other friction fire starting methods (namely plough and hand-drill).


So, here is how it went. Once all of the pieces were in place and ready, which was on my third day of learning and experimenting, it finally worked!


Here is the set that worked (see photo below) As you can see, I simply carved up some pine, used a dowel rod from the scrap pile, cut a branch from a hydrangea bush for the bow, and used a bit of nylon string (at first I used an old boot lace - it worked well, but eventually it wore out).

Then, I took my time spinning the spindle in the pocket, even after it began to smoke, until wood dust (coming from the friction of spinning) completely filled the gap that I had carved into the side of the pocket. Once this gap filled up completely with wood dust, I continued to spin the spindle until 'an even larger volume of smoke' was consistently emerging from the spinning action. At this time, I removed the spindle and blew very lightly on the wood dust in the gap to reveal that a red-hot ember had developed.


It was at this time that I transferred the rather large-and-healthy ember and placed it into the tinder nest (in this case a combo of dryer lint and dried leaves). Then, simply by blowing air through it (and with a bit patience), the fire finally ignited. Add to that just a bit of kindling and it was official!

All together, this was a fun-&-worthwhile experience, and a solid / more-official first step into the fun-&-rewarding world of camp-craft, bush-craft, friction-fire-making, survival skills, and more! Feel free to stay tuned for more-to-come!





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