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FIRE DRILL TIPS<p></p>

By Defiant<p></p>

I wish to state from the beginning that I don’t endorse primitive survival. I was a boy scout and live by the motto “Be Prepared”. I believe the more you are prepared for the better off you will be and that includes knowing primitive survival but the people that fore go serious preparation to focus on primitive survival exclusively are making a big mistake. I don’t wish to encourage that mindset but I feel it necessary to cover a few fine points that is left out of most online information.<p></p>

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I have a machete with a saw blade cut into the top edge that I used to make this fire drill today out of materials found in the woods next to my house. The obvious question is if you had it together enough to have a machete why don’t you just carry some matches? Ask a primitive survivalist, it just seems ignorant to me. I have made these with a knife, a hatchet and once with just rocks to see if I could (but that would take all day). I used cottonwood fluff for tinder. It ignites easily but burns up very quickly which is why I also have some dry birch bark to continue flame. People will say dryer lint, charred cloth or some other kind of tinder but again I have to ask why don’t you just bring a cigarette lighter? Familiarize yourself with things in your area that will not only burn but ignite from small smoldering coals. It is not always common and you should gather it and keep it dry when you encounter it. Most of the time I see people demonstrate fire drills it is in warm climates where fires are much easier to start. Notice also that the bow I use is fairly heavy and has a natural bend to it. This allows me to put some muscle to it. My hand wraps around the bow and string, and the string is tensioned by squeezing.<p></p>

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The key to the spindle is to sharpen it to a point on one end and round it on the other. The sharp end goes in the piece of wood in your hand. It will have very little friction and turn easy. The round end will go into the fire board and create more friction. People have asked what kind of wood? Dead and dry but not rotten. Harder woods seem to work better. The same goes for the fire board. To shape the spindle I break a rock which exposes a sandpaper like finish and scrape the wood over it to shape. I learned that sharpening my pencils on concrete block when I worked construction.<p></p>

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Note that the notch is V shaped in both angles. I works best when embers can drop directly onto tinder. The board can also be made with sharp rocks to split wood, dig a hole to start drill and then to saw out groove. I also make my boards about ¾ of an inch thick. They last longer for repeated use.<p></p>

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I used spruce tree roots for the string that I wove together. Your area may have other things to use for cordage in your area and you should familiarize yourself with what’s available. I simply tie a granny knot and cut a groove in the end of the bow to hold it. The string is easily removed which is important. Tree roots are good for lashing things together but will dry out. OK for things that stay lashed but for this application it has to be moist to remain flexible. They will soften with use but it helps if you can moisten it for use. So again you ask, why not just bring some paracord. I can only assume whoever would be using a bow drill is standing there wearing a fig leaf.<p></p>

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I always carry a Zippo, a Mini Maglight and a pocket knife. If the world ever deteriorates to the point of primitive survival this pocketful of stuff will make me KING!
 

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I have used sycamore for the board, spindle and handle. I got a fire after a bit of tuning up. I had pepperoni with me so I greased the top of the spindle so it wouldnt burn further into the handle. Once I had everything tuned up and ready I had a fire in under a minute. Plus if you cant spot sycamore in the woods you shouldnt be there.
 

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The rules of thumb in picking a wood are:
No sap in the wood.
If you cannot make a depression in the wood with your fingernail, its to hard.
If your whole finger tip leaves a depression, its to soft.
It has to be just right. And most importantly DO NOT mistake the top of your spindle with the bottom after you have greased it.
Proper technique is a must.
The first time I got a fire going with a bow drill I couldnt get the grin off my face for an hour. Its worth the effort.
 

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For many of us it comes down to the mountain climber question-"why did you climb the mountain? answer-because it was there." It is a skill that we want to learn and that is enough reason in itself. There may also be times when you will not have that match.
 

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if youre in the west...

if youre in the west, cottonwood works great for the base and the top, and ive successfully used the dried out flower stalk of a Yucca plant for a spindle. the yucca stalk works well cause it grabs the string well and is pretty round. and when dried out, it is as hard as wood. ----- Eric
 

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Bowdrill wood

I like cedar, sycamore, and silver bell the best. I tend to put a little too much pressure with softer woods such as willow or bass wood, however these are both good options. I also have had a lot of success with Juniper which should grow in your region if your in the lower part of the state. If your not getting a coal it is very possible it is your technique rather than the wood. having good dry wood that has not begin to break down or show signs of dry rot is sufficient as long as it is not too hard. here's a video I've done about bow drilling please check it out and ask any questions you may have. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kmglRfNLc3U
 

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The best wood I have found is bass wood. Just make sure its dry. Though not really a wood we have yucca growing wild. The dry stem, after the flowers fall makes an excellent spindle. My favorite is yucca into bass wood.
Josh
 

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if youre in the west, cottonwood works great for the base and the top, and ive successfully used the dried out flower stalk of a Yucca plant for a spindle. the yucca stalk works well cause it grabs the string well and is pretty round. and when dried out, it is as hard as wood. ----- Eric
^^^this^^^:thumb:
 

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I have used sycamore for the board, spindle and handle. I got a fire after a bit of tuning up. I had pepperoni with me so I greased the top of the spindle so it wouldnt burn further into the handle. Once I had everything tuned up and ready I had a fire in under a minute. Plus if you cant spot sycamore in the woods you shouldnt be there.
The only thing you've done under a minute is lie, and probably sex too.
 
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