Bow & Drill, Hand Drill, Flint/Steel, & Basic fire s
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Thread: Bow & Drill, Hand Drill, Flint/Steel, & Basic fire s

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    Bow & Drill, Hand Drill, Flint/Steel, & Basic fire s

    Fire making: the Bow & Drill by Kenelm52.

    I tried to keep this short and to the point. I hope to add some video footage to this soon along with more/better pictures. If anyone has any questions, feel free to ask. Enjoy.

    Material…

    Fireboard:
    1. Locate a dry/dead softwood stick/branch. I like using Quaking Aspen, Bigtooth Aspen and White Pine as both work well and are quite common here in the NE.
    2. Split/shape, finished your fireboard should measure approximately 1 1/2 inches wide (+/-), around a 1/2 inch thick, and around 4 + inches long. Then carve out a shallow crater for the drill (note pic #2).

    Quaking Aspen fireboards, notice the different stages...

    Crater carved out for the drill on a Quaking Aspen fireboard, note tip of drill pointing towards the crater...

    A dry/dead White Pine, perfect for fireboards and drills...


    Drill:
    1. Locate a dry/dead softwood or softer hardwood stick/branch.
    2. Try to find a piece that doesn't need much shaping (some cases you may have to carve out your drill from a chunk of wood or a larger stick/branch)
    3. The end result should be anywhere from 6-10 inches long, straight, and about a half of an inch thick +/-, one end should be rounded for the socket and the other should be carved to a low blunt tip for the fireboard. I re-use my drills until they get below 4 1/2 inches, when they get below 6 inches is when I have to take my boot off so the size doesn't interfere with my drilling.

    Quaking Aspen Drills, note dead limbs...

    It doesn't get any better, one of the pieces recovered before finishing...

    The above piece finished...

    White Pine drill and fireboard before and after...



    Socket:
    1. Any dead or green hardwood (you can use a piece of bone or stone, just chip out a crater in the middle for the drill end) branch that’s around 2 inches thick
    2. Split the branch down the middle, cut the length to size (4 inches long +/), and then carve out a half inch crater directly in the middle

    Maple socket, approx. 5 inches long...


    You should use some type of lubrication to put in the socket hole. Lubrication in the socket makes drilling/producing an ember much easier, it also helps preserve the life of your socket. Pine sap works THE BEST. If you do not have access to Pine sap, you can use soap, other "thick" saps from some plants/trees, greases, etc. - lubricating isn't necessary but I advise ALL beginners to start out using some sort of lubrication.
    Here I used sap from a White Pine...




    Bow:
    1. Almost any "strung bow" shaped piece of green or dead wood will work (the less durable the string, the more flex the bow should have)
    2. The bow itself should be anywhere from 2-3 feet long and around 3/4 of an inch thick /- some
    3. Notches should be carved out at each end for the bow string

    Maple bow, note natural curve, bow is approx. 2 1/2 feet long and 3/4 of an inch thick. Note the left side, the "handle", para cord is wrapped around the handle so I can adjust tension while drilling with my thumb.

    Notches...



    Bow String:
    1. Keep it simple, start out using 550 cord. After you have mastered your technique, you can move on to handmaking cordage from natural sources, such as the inner bark from Basswood.

    Top: wear on 550 cord after 50 + fires; Bottom: new, unused 550 cord...


    Tinder...
    1. Lots of options here, dry/dead grasses; strips of dead Cedar, Juniper, and Milkweed bark, etc.
    2. After enough has been collected, you will have to form the tinder into a "birds nest" type shape. The "birds nest" should be somewhat compacted into a semi-tight "ball".


    A Marshland is a great place to look for dry/dead tinder in the winter months...

    Before shaping...

    After...


    Fire plate...
    If you will be drilling on the wet ground, you will need a “fire plate” to protect the fireboard from absorbing moisture. A fire plate also can make it easier/safer to handle your ember. I typically use a piece of Gray Birch bark if drilling on the ground. I like to drill on a rock if possible, though sometimes the rock may be wet as well all depending on the conditions. No matter where you drill, make sure that the fireboard is on solid ground and doesn't move around while you are drilling.

    Drilling position/set up...
    Left foot on the fireboard semi close to the hole, right knee on the ground, left hand holding socket, wrist rested snug against your left leg, bow hand holding the bow near the end of either side (note bow section pics, I hold the left end), socket down on the drill (straight, not crooked), drill in long/constant strokes while applying pressure on the socket/drill.
    Twisting the drill into the string...



    Now it's time to get drilling...
    1. The first step is to bed the drill into the fireboard. Take it easy when bedding the drill, save your energy for producing an ember

    Here I used a White Pine drill/fireboard. It took me less than a minute to bed...


    2. After bedding, stop to carve out the v notch in the fireboard & add more lubrication to your socket.

    Here's a great example of the "perfect" notch, notice that the point of the v doesn't quite reach the center of the hole...


    3. Now you can begin drilling again, this time for an ember.

    After less than a minute of drilling, I noticed a nice amount of smoke (note pic) coming from just outside the notch in the pile of powder gathered from the friction - I have an ember. Total drilling time from bed to ember, not more than 2/3 minutes. Drilling time can vary depending on the conditions and what quality material you are using. One of the biggest mistakes people make is stopping too soon, make sure you have a useable ember before you stop drilling.


    4. Now begin to blow on the pile for a few seconds, then use your knife blade and hand to pick up the ember and place it on your birds nest and carefully blow on the ember until ignition...






    Not much longer, FIRE…


    Having trouble?
    Hits/tips...
    Bow string/drill slippage:
    - tighten/loosen your string
    - lube up the end of your drill/socket
    - rough up the drill (socket end) and/or socket hole with your knife or a stone
    Drill popping out of the fireboard/socket:
    - hole drilled too close to edge/v notch
    - hole in socket not deep enough

    Basic Fire Set Up for Flint/Steel, Bow and Drill/Hand Drill, etc...

    I typically use a tepee fire, this set up works very well. I use it with flint and steel, bow and drill, and hand drill and other methods.

    The first step is collecting tinder, kindling, and larger sticks/branches for the fire. Make sure you collect enough material to keep your firing going, you don't want to be scrambling to feed the fire when you are trying to cook/boil water, build/set up camp, etc.

    Here I used dead Goldenrod seed heads and stalks for my tinder (inner) and strictly seed heads for the outer...


    Once the tinder has been collected, form it into a tepee type shape and place it in your fire pit. It rained the night before so I collected some strips of bark from a dead Ash tree and placed them in the fire pit to use as a "fire plate" to help prevent the tinder from absorbing moisture from the wet ground...


    Then take three larger sticks and form the tepee frame, larger sticks are used so the frame doesn't burn down/collapse prior to the 2nd stage of kindling...


    Then fill in the sides with small twigs leaving an opening on one side...


    Now place a good size tinder ball right at the entrance touching the tinder inside the tepee. If you are using flint and steel, make sure to take some extra tinder and break it up real fine right on the already well broken up pile.


    Now you can strike your Flint/Steel (or place your ember on the outer tinder ball if using fire by friction and blow until ignition), directing spark to the outer tinder ball until ignition...







    Prior to this stage is when you want to begin adding more kindling then slowly larger sticks...


    Hand Drill…

    Drill...
    I like using White Pine and Cattail for drills. Cattail is great because it is easy to work with and always close to needed size and straightness, but useable dead stalks are typically always going to be too wet inside to use immediately, so they will have to be dried in the sun after being stripped to the correct size. White Pine works great and finding a dry/dead piece is very easy but getting it to the needed length and width requires some work with a knife. Finished drills should be anywhere from 27-32 inches long and no more than a quarter inch thick.

    Cattail drills prior to being stripped…

    Stripped, drilling ends are too thick and will have to be slimmed down a bit

    Perfect…

    Leftovers…


    Fireboard…
    The fireboard should be set up the same as for your bow and drill, if square, it should be little thinner. Hand Drill fireboards should be around 3-4 inches long.

    Used White Pine fireboard…




    Drilling…
    After carving out a small crater for the drill, I set the fireboard down on a suitable (dry) location for drilling. Different from the bow and drill, I use a rock or rocks to hold the fireboard in place instead of my foot. The reason for this is it puts me in a better position to drill and it also allows me to change sitting positions easier while drilling. I can go from sitting on my knees with an aggressive downward drill to a leaning backward aggressive drill – changing positions helps your arms when they start to get tired w/o having to stop drilling.

    Note rocks on each end of the fireboard. Rocks should be no higher than 3-4 inches tall.


    Bedding the drill…
    This is the hard part and it can take some time all depending on how hard you work/what type of wood you are using. If you are going to break at any time, do it in the early stages of bedding. Keep in mind that every time you take a break, you are just making the process longer by allowing the drill tip/board to cool off.

    When drilling, switch off from full hand/fingers to strictly palm, this can help prevent blisters (one thing you don't want in a survival situation is open wounds on your hands). When you get to the bottom, hold the drill in the hole with one hand while you move the other to the top, then bring up your other hand and work your way down again. The transition needs to be fast and smooth. If the drill keeps popping out of the hole when drilling or transitioning, then you aren't putting enough pressure on the drill.

    The different stages of bedding…
    1. The first noticeable change is the squeaking sound from the wood heating up
    2. The second is the smell of the wood
    3. Third is the powder gathering around the hole
    4. Starts to smoke – time to stop and carve out the notch, The tip and board a little charred up. If you can get this far, you can create an ember.

    The v notch, it should also be a little flared out at the bottom…


    With the Hand drill I like to save the bedding powder and place it under my notch. The added powder will allow you to make the ember bigger, which in turn will make it easier/safer to handle and use.



    Drilling for an ember…
    The notch should be facing towards you so you can see what’s going on, this also helps to block wind. When you start drilling again, it will take a short while to get it going, then the smoke will start, keep an eye on the pile of powder for smoke. When a good amount of smoke starts to appear from the notch, you know you have a useable ember. Like with the bow and drill, I like to make the ember larger by blowing on it before moving on my tinder pile.




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    Great write up . Thanks

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    Hell yes!

    Good thread, pics and write-up.

    Thanks,

    Kyle
    RLTW


    RIP Dale Brehm, Ricardo Barraza KIA 19MAR06
    RIP Pat Tillman KIA 22APR04

    A-2/75 RLTW

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    Great write-up. I vote for a sticky.

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    Thanks, guys.

    I'll see if I can get some "in action" pics up, maybe this weekend.

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    Very cool stuff. Thanks!

    +1 for sticky!
    NRA Pistol Instructor
    "All the arms we need are for hugging."

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    +1

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    I've been busy with work but new pics to the above will be added within the next few weeks along with two new topics, hand drill and fire plow.

    ETA: some updates made, more coming later...

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    My son is in Scouts and when they tried to do it they could not get it to work. After he saw this he was pretty sure the technique they used was not as refined.

    Excellent How-To!
    .
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yt1fYSAChxs
    .

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    Quote Originally Posted by red_metallic
    My son is in Scouts and when they tried to do it they could not get it to work. After he saw this he was pretty sure the technique they used was not as refined.

    Excellent How-To!
    Thanks!

    I'd suggest anyone new to this method to try exactly as above. You don't have to be as "neat", but it can be easier for beginners. Here's an example of a "quick" bow and drill, not as pretty, but it works...
    The below was all from one dead White Pine branch.
    Drill, bark can be easily hand picked off...

    Drill and Fireboard, notice how they are left as is, fireboard was hand split with the help of a piece of stone and the other end left rounded. Drill isn't the straightest but it'll work. The drill is also a little short, so I had to hold the fireboard barefoot when drilling.


    Ember...



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    Hand Drill added

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    no offense but here is another idea.

    Ok so you want to make fire. Good, fire is great and irreplaceable. Go buy a Zippo lighter. Then go buy 3 or 4 packs of flints, next go buy 5 or 6 bottles of fluid and another 5 or 6 wicks. You will never need to look for the right stick to make a fire. Just bust up some small twigs and get some wood with a hatchet. God do I have to think of eveything.


    All of these things should be in everyones bug out bags already.

    Sorry if I offend anyone and this is good knowledge your putting out but in a life threatening situation I do not want to be digging around for a good stick. I want fire and I want it now. You can carry everything you need in a large alice pack. Well you might need a little more for guns and ammo but the survival stuff will fit in your ruck.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mastergunner82
    Ok so you want to make fire. Good, fire is great and irreplaceable. Go buy a Zippo lighter. Then go buy 3 or 4 packs of flints, next go buy 5 or 6 bottles of fluid and another 5 or 6 wicks. You will never need to look for the right stick to make a fire. Just bust up some small twigs and get some wood with a hatchet. God do I have to think of eveything.

    You're on vacation with your family taking a small airplane tour of whatever area you're in. The plane loses power, and you crash land in a field. The sun is going down and you need fire. The pilot has no fire making equipment. You don't have a lighter with you. BAM you're fucked.

    Or maybe your wife took your car to the shop to get new brakes installed. You are using her car to get to work and you don't have your BOB. Car stalls in a winter storm. BAM you're fucked.

    Yes, having technology is great. It makes many tasks easier. But knowing basic skills without using technology is important. You learn how to add before using a calculator for a reason. This is why this information has been posted.
    Don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today. There might be a law against it by that time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mastergunner82
    no offense but here is another idea.
    Go buy a Zippo lighter.

    and thats a great idea, untill you are running/patroling along and fall in to a river/pool/what ever and now your majic fire starter (aka zippo) fails to start because it is all wet. Or its like mine and the damn bar that holds the grind wheel on breaks.


    while i have quite a few refillable lighters in my BOB kits none of them are zippos, I want something that will work if it gets wet, and it never hurts to know how to do it the hard way, because sometimes that all you have is the hard way.
    In the begining there was 1911, and JMB said it was good.

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    As I said before....

    You are all putting out good info! I don't dissagree with any of it.

    As far as bam I'm fucked goes.... put the zippo (or any other high quality lighter) in a zip lock!! Bam I'm no longer fucked. Have on in every car and Bam I'm not fucked. I admire the old world way of makeing fire. But I'm probably going to use a lighter inless something incredibly assed up happens like..... I'm on vacation in alaska (or Canada) and everyone around me just plops over dead. Boom I'm by myself and for some reason I'm naked. Golly that would be scary. But guess what? I'TS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.

    Let me remind you all that I admire the old way to make fire. Don't want an argument in a pretty awesome board. [/b]

 

 
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