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Fire Drill (Read 143 times)
Kick
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Fire Drill
Oct 1st, 2019 at 6:27am
 
I've been messing around trying to get a useable fire drill going and have come up on some problems. To start with, I was just using what I had lying around: pine and silver birch. Both are said to be pretty terrible friction fire woods and I think I have to agree. Really I was just wanting something I could test my handhold on; a piece of reindeer antler. The handhold is super comfortable and seems to be working well so I'm happy with that but the wood I was using was useless. I've now managed to get hold of some willow, which is supposed to be fairly good but I'm having the same problem I had with the pine. I've managed to get it seated and holding in place and I've started smelling burning, stopped after a bit to check and the hearth board and spindle end are polished smooth, still perfectly white and the other end of the spindle that was in the handhold is blackened and worn down. The hearth board is made of the same piece of willow as the spindle but it just will not bite in and just polishes it. Does anyone have any experience with fire drills? Any tips? Thanks!
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Mersa
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Re: Fire Drill
Reply #1 - Oct 1st, 2019 at 7:19am
 
Charcoal!!! You need to crumble charcoal in inbetween your friction sticks, I find fire by friction very hard and have only successfully done it once and with 2 people and a very large spindle that was almost 2m in length, one holds the pressure and the other spins the stick , every time I've tryed by myself I can't hold the pressure or get the spin fast enough, my main advice is using the wrong wood is asking for failure, the correct materials are more important than the technique I feel, personally I just use a fero rod and throw sparks!! The day I actually made it work was the same day I realised that naked dumb humans die real fast in the wild.
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Morphy
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Re: Fire Drill
Reply #2 - Oct 1st, 2019 at 8:12am
 
I've heard yucca has the lowest ignition point of any wood and makes one of the easiest friction fires. I imagine there's not a whole lot of it growing where you are but maybe you can buy some online if you want some really good stuff for your pack. Granted that is sort of a contradiction to be buying primtive friction fire wood on line but it's fun to try new woods anyways.

The other thing that comes to mind is did you notch the hearth board deeply enough so the punk can fall out and build up your coal?
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Mersa
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Re: Fire Drill
Reply #3 - Oct 1st, 2019 at 8:22am
 
I used the traditional woods of my area, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xanthorrhoea
I can't see yucca being good but that being said I've never really come across DRY yucca either.
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walter
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Re: Fire Drill
Reply #4 - Oct 1st, 2019 at 8:35am
 
Bow drills work well here in the sw U.S.  Juniper on juniper, juniper on poplar and yucca on poplar are all good. BTW, best woods are standing dead.

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Re: Fire Drill
Reply #5 - Oct 1st, 2019 at 10:11am
 
Morphy wrote on Oct 1st, 2019 at 8:12am:
The other thing that comes to mind is did you notch the hearth board deeply enough so the punk can fall out and build up your coal?


That's the thing, I'm not even at the stage where I can notch it. There's no punk being formed at all it's just spinning and polishing the spindle, not even darkening. The other end however is burning up against the antler hand hold. I've tried going slower, going faster, more pressure, less pressure but it's the same every time with all the woods I've tried. It could be that they aren't dry enough but the other end of the spindle is burning so.... Yeah. No clue.

Yucca is a little hard to find in Finland... Cheesy I'm starting to see why friction fire (at least as far as I've understood) wasn't used much in the Nordic countries. I think I might have to buy some better wood if I really want it to work.

I have flint and steel which I don't think of as reliable (needs very dry tinder and my technique sucks) but is currently far outpacing the bow drill in effectiveness Cheesy The surest fire (heh) way I've found to start a fire without matches or a lighter, is punk wood and a magnifying glass. Works amazingly well.
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Re: Fire Drill
Reply #6 - Oct 2nd, 2019 at 3:06pm
 
Success! ...ish... I was out for a walk earlier today and saw this incredibly dead and dried out piece of wood. I have no idea what type of wood it is (The outside has weathered grey but underneath is quite orange so might be cedar. What a sliver of cedar was doing there, I have no idea) but I thought I would try it out as a board anyway as it was already the right sort of shape. It was actually quite damp due to recent rain and lying in grass but I brought it home anyway. I left it to dry for a few hours and then thought "F it, let's give it a go". I tried out the pine spindle but it was just polishing it again with the handhold end burning up. I then decided to just turn the whole spindle around and use the end that was now burning up as the burning side. The end that I had been using was completely polished so I thought it might work well in the handhold, and it did! I actually got some burn in and quite a lot of powder. Unfortunately I didn't get almost any smoke and no ember but then I wasn't really going for an ember, more just seeing how it would work out. It really does seem wood choice is everything. More experimentation required and I need to see if I can find a bigger piece of that wood.
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Morphy
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Re: Fire Drill
Reply #7 - Oct 2nd, 2019 at 8:38pm
 
You could take a short cut and stick it in a power drill. Just to see if it will catch at all. Did that with red oak and found out no matter how fast I tried it would not catch. Maybe my technique just wasn't up to it though.
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Re: Fire Drill
Reply #8 - Oct 3rd, 2019 at 2:22am
 
That's a good idea I might well try that if I can find some more if it. This piece is pretty small.
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Mersa
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Re: Fire Drill
Reply #9 - Oct 3rd, 2019 at 3:50am
 
I'm telling you adding charcoal is a big help.
I also used a drill with the wrong woods to no success, I feel that once you find the right woods your on the road to success, but with a hell of a lot of effort still needed, I really like the indegenous Australian natives technique I was taught and think that where I am based it's likely easier to do than the bow drill, concept is the same just the way the stick is spun is done by hand, amazing when you see it happen in seconds from well skilled people with the right stuff, but kick if I were you being in Finland i would go down the fat wood and some form of spark, flint, ferro. It works very well and I think you probally have an abundance of fat wood growing near you??
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Re: Fire Drill
Reply #10 - Oct 3rd, 2019 at 7:36am
 
I do. I actually only found out about out recently tough when I started working on a wooden spatula and the web's turned out to be very good fat wood. I was kind of annoyed I chopped it up and carved it but I've collected together all the chips and got a good amount. I've also got a lot of punk wood now. Really the bow drill is just a good challenge to try out than a serious skill I want to develop Cheesy
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