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Thread: My First Hand Drill Success

  1. #1
    Member RoadLessTraveled's Avatar
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    Default My First Hand Drill Success

    Well, I finally succeeded today. The first time, I didn't have a camera set up. The second time, I had the camera set up but discovered in the middle of the recording that my camera doesn't zoom out once you've started recording, which led to a lot of confusion and motion in that recording. So this video is of my third success today.

    I think the key for me was finding a good mullein stalk. I did almost everything the same today as I have done in the past, but with mullein.



    Here are a few other suggestions that seem to have helped me. The spindle should fit easily into the hole, not too tight. The notch should extend to about the center of the hole and be wide enough to allow the powder to fall out easily. About 1/8 of a pie piece seems to be a good rule. An important part of the process seems to be using the float technique. Use it at the start for two reasons: first to build up a pile of powder in the notch and heat in the hole without exhausting yourself, and second because applying less pressure allows the powder to be finer which helps it ignite at a lower temperature. One change to my technique that I tried today which probably helped me succeed is that when I began to get exhausted, I dropped back to a slower spin using floating so that I could keep the hole warm while I regained some strength. Once the powder has filled the notch, put all your effort into spinning fast and hard several times. Then, when you see that the smoke is pretty strong, stop spinning the hand drill, but leave it in the hole. I think that leaving the hand drill in the hole may contribute by keeping the heat down near the powder, it may help the powder ignite if it hasn't already. Then after you've stopped spinning for several seconds, if you see that the smoke stops, you can start spinning again without losing much of the heat. But if you see that the smoke continues, take the spindle out carefully so you don't damage the coal.
    Last edited by RoadLessTraveled; 03-11-2013 at 04:10 PM. Reason: updated video link


  2. #2

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    Wow , that was cool.
    What is "mullein" ?
    How did you make the hole in the board ?

    Thanks for posting

    Dwane
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    Super Moderator crashdive123's Avatar
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    Well done.
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    The newbie! Willie's Avatar
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    Cool. Good job!

    Willie
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    naturalist primitive your_comforting_company's Avatar
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    Great job! At about 1:40 when you start increasing speed and pressure, try using the full length of the stick. This equates to more time with spin and pressure. Often you'll see the ember roll out on top and turn red. Still, you did great! Keep it up!

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    Member RoadLessTraveled's Avatar
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    Dwane,

    Mullein is a stalky flowering plant that prefers to grow in gravelly soil. There are actually about 250 different species of mullein. The one that I used is Verbascum thapsus. It grows large, broad, and exceptionally soft leaves that are big at the base of the plant and taper to smaller ones at the top. The flowers only grow at the top of the plant. And they form little yellow clusters. Here are a couple of pictures that were posted by TJWilhelm on survivaltopics.com that show mullein at different stages of growth.

    Too green:
    1o69eg.jpg

    Just right:
    ak7udi.jpg

    Too old:
    28snbcn.jpg

    The spindle I used in this video I collected somewhere between the "too green" and "just right" stage. When I cut it, the flowers had already finished and only brown dried pods were left. But there was still a bit of green in its base. I let it dry for about two weeks. I found that if I tried to remove the leaves when it was green, some of the sides of the stalk would rip off and damage the spindle, whereas if I waited till they were fully dried, they crumbled off much easier. Then all I had to do was cut off small nubs where the leaves used to connect to the stalk which is not very difficult.

    I started the hole with the sharp point of a rock, then I spun the spindle in the hole until a hole about 1/16 inch was formed. Then I cut a notch into the side of the hole using a hack saw.
    Last edited by RoadLessTraveled; 03-25-2012 at 10:26 AM.

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    Resident Wildman Wildthang's Avatar
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    Great job RT! I was teaching the girls how to hand drill, Oh.....................never mind

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    Senior Member Thaddius Bickerton's Avatar
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    Mullen is also a useful herb that helps with congestion.

    Had not used one for a fire drill, thank you for sharing.

    Thad
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    Member RoadLessTraveled's Avatar
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    YCC, thanks for the advice. I always welcome folks to show me how I can improve. I will definitely try your suggestion.

    Quote Originally Posted by your_comforting_company View Post
    Great job! At about 1:40 when you start increasing speed and pressure, try using the full length of the stick. This equates to more time with spin and pressure. Often you'll see the ember roll out on top and turn red. Still, you did great! Keep it up!

  10. #10
    Senior Member SARKY's Avatar
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    What type of wood is your fire board made of?
    I know what hunts you.

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    Member RoadLessTraveled's Avatar
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    I took the hearthboard to Home Depot yesterday to try to match it. It looks like it's cedar - the color, grain, texture, and hardness all look the same, one side is rough and one smooth in both pieces of wood as well. So I bought a scrap piece of cedar 1x2 to see if I can reproduce my success. Cedar is a known good material for a hearthboard. Hopefully I'll have a chance to test the scrap this weekend. I'd also like to record on another video the process of preparing the hole, ideally using a primitive tool such as a sharp piece of flint.

  12. #12

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    Looks like he learned the correct technique from this guy.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0WjHZJbebJc

    The wave motion on the drill and waving the leaves is seen above, this is best video on hand drills i've seen.

  13. #13
    Member RoadLessTraveled's Avatar
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    MichMetal,

    Yeah, I studied this video and many others as I was practicing and trying to succeed with the hand drill for the first time. You're right. The waving of the leaves is something I learned from this video. I've succeeded by blowing air into the bundle as well. I'm not convinced one way is necessarily better than the other. You can force more air into the bundle by blowing on it (like a forge), which raises the temperature higher than what you'd achieve by waving it. But our breath is likely to have more water vapor in it than the air around us. Maybe as I get more experience one or the other way might prove more reliable.

    I know a fellow Texas Bushcrafter who has succeeded at making a coal/ember using only floating motion. He has mastered the floating method so well that he's able to get sufficient downward pressure to make a coal. Very impressive. He used Prickly Lettuce for the spindle, and Sotol for the hearth board.

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    Senior Member Old GI's Avatar
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    Heard that "ZIPPO" was derived from usual bowdrill results. Hence, ...... well you know the rest.
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