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Thread: Yucca Leaf Fiber Bow Drill String

  1. #1
    Member RoadLessTraveled's Avatar
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    Default Yucca Leaf Fiber Bow Drill String

    I tried using another proven material for making a bow drill string, yucca leaf fibers. I've seen these leaves used with no more processing than just twisting a couple of whole leaves together a few times. I decided to rip the leaves into smaller fibers and make a two strand twisted cord, thinking that this would probably increase my chance of success. The time I spent processing and making this cord was less than 1 hour!

    I used three yucca leaves. Here's what they looked like before I processed them:
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    I folded the leaves along their length to put lengthwise cracks in them, then I spun them between my palms to further loosen the fibers. Then I pulled them apart into smaller pieces. Here's what the smaller pieces looked like:
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    Then I took the groups of strands and twisted them into a cord. After twisting the cord, I stored it in a small zip lock bag for about an hour until I had the opportunity to go into my back yard and test it:
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    The cord was a bit thicker than my previous cords and it felt much stronger. It was also green, so it stretched a slight bit. But since I only tied one end, I was able to relatively quickly adjust the tension and continue bowing.

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    And here's the video of the cord being used to make fire:

    Last edited by RoadLessTraveled; 03-11-2013 at 04:21 PM. Reason: updated video link


  2. #2
    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    I wonder if the ornamental yucca would work....we do have them around here.
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    Senior Member jfeatherjohn's Avatar
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    Of course, we have a lot of Yucca around here and I have used yucca cordagefor many different tasks. I have not bowed with it. Thanks for the heads up!
    KF7ZJR I always carry a pocket knife, just in Case.

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    Senior Member Stiffy's Avatar
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    We have a few yucca plants in the foothills area here. That's good information.
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  5. #5
    Member RoadLessTraveled's Avatar
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    I've tried three different species so far, and they all have strong/flexible fibers. I'd be surprised if your ornamental yucca leaves didn't work. They may not work without processing (at least minimal) such as pulling into strips and then twisting. Smashing, boiling or baking, soaking over night, and then scraping off the green material to get the cleaned fibers would give the best chance of success, if the simpler approach fails. It really is a pleasure to feel the cleaned fibers...

    Quote Originally Posted by hunter63 View Post
    I wonder if the ornamental yucca would work....we do have them around here.

  6. #6
    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RoadLessTraveled View Post
    I've tried three different species so far, and they all have strong/flexible fibers. I'd be surprised if your ornamental yucca leaves didn't work. They may not work without processing (at least minimal) such as pulling into strips and then twisting. Smashing, boiling or baking, soaking over night, and then scraping off the green material to get the cleaned fibers would give the best chance of success, if the simpler approach fails. It really is a pleasure to feel the cleaned fibers...
    I have been trying to eradicate them for a couple of years now....very invasive, but maybe they will come up again.....LOL
    Oh Well,
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  7. #7
    Member RoadLessTraveled's Avatar
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    Funny! Sounds like one of the corollaries to Murphy's Law. You can't get rid of the plant when you don't want it... and then when you decide you want it, you can't get it to grow

    There are also several trees whose bark or roots make excellent cordage. Those are on my list to learn to use. Basswood bark is especially good.

    Here's a chart showing some good materials:

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  8. #8
    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    The beavers have been doing a job on the bass wood and willows...of course the roots are still there......and the cat,..... is giving me the "stink eye" when ever I start thinking about bow string.
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    Super Moderator crashdive123's Avatar
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    If that cat gets to be too bothersome, just break out the old tennis racket strung with catgut.
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    Excellent RLT! tried to pass you some rep, but I gotta spread the love!

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