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Thread: First natural wood BD fire, tree ID?

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    Member DCorlando's Avatar
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    Default First natural wood BD fire, tree ID?

    Hi all, been trying for a while to start a natural wood bow drill fire and finely got one to go. Finding wood that I can get to work has been challenging. Here in central Florida anything that is dead rots very quickly and so far no luck finding anything that is still solid enough to use. There is a small tree growing next to my house and I had to trim a section that was rubbing the roof edge. The wood was sitting on the outdoor pile for a few months before I decided to try it. Made a great spindle but the hearth board was quite hard to split with just a camp knife and oak batten. To my surprise it went to ember quickly. Would really like to try and figure out what species it is. It has very distinctive bark and the leaves looks a bit like Cornus.

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    BTW - I did find a lot of Basswood near Lake Apopka and have some drying now.

    Anybody know of any other species I should be looking for? Thanks, Dale
    Last edited by DCorlando; 03-03-2019 at 11:33 AM.


  2. #2

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    Looks like chokecherry to me.
    But you guys down there in FL grow weird trees.
    If we are to have another contest in…our national existence I predict that the dividing line will not be Mason and Dixon's, but between patriotism & intelligence on the one side, and superstition, ambition & ignorance on the other…
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    Member DCorlando's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LowKey View Post
    Looks like chokecherry to me.
    But you guys down there in FL grow weird trees.
    Thanks, I looked up choke cherry bark and found a match. Looks like I can make tart jams with the berry and it makes a great bow drill spindle and hearth. Heck, the way it went with the bow drill it might even work as a hand drill. Hard to believe it was growing wild in my back yard.

  4. #4

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    We (kracaneuners) got on a palm frond kick awhile back looking to start a fire from found onsite materials. Palm. Bow and hearth. Weaved the string from the frond (That didn't work too well.).

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    Member DCorlando's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by madmax View Post
    We (kracaneuners) got on a palm frond kick awhile back looking to start a fire from found onsite materials. Palm. Bow and hearth. Weaved the string from the frond (That didn't work too well.).
    I did try a palm spindle on palm hearth with a para-cord bow string. Got lots of smoke but could never get an ember. Might be worth trying a palm spindle on a half punky oak hearth. Both are easy to come by around here.

  6. #6

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    You need a better ID than the bark. The leaves, flowers and fruit have to match. The wood might also have a "sour" smell to it, but not always.
    If in doubt see if you can ask a county extension agent, or at least someone a little more familiar with southern trees than this NorEaster guy.
    Be sure before you eat it.
    If we are to have another contest in…our national existence I predict that the dividing line will not be Mason and Dixon's, but between patriotism & intelligence on the one side, and superstition, ambition & ignorance on the other…
    ~ President Ulysses S. Grant

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    Woodsman
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    Sassafras is my go to wood for my herth boards, I'm in Pennsylvania but I'm pretty sure it grows as far west as Texas. It is easy to identify because there are three different shaped leaves one oval like (unlobed), one resembles a mitten (bilobed), and the other I call the dinosaur footprint (trilobed). If you are in a season that there will be no leaves you can snap branches and it will smell kind of lemony (like fruit loops) and the roots exactly like root beer. If you find a tree at least as tall as you, you can make at least 10 herth boards, here is a picture of a sapling so you can see the leaves. And I will take another later of the bark to share as well. xs_1530825320949.jpg I've also had luck with mountain laurel.
    Last edited by Chī; 03-07-2019 at 08:02 AM.

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    Woodsman
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    Last edited by Chī; 03-07-2019 at 04:01 PM.

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    Member DCorlando's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LowKey View Post
    You need a better ID than the bark. The leaves, flowers and fruit have to match. The wood might also have a "sour" smell to it, but not always.
    If in doubt see if you can ask a county extension agent, or at least someone a little more familiar with southern trees than this NorEaster guy.
    Be sure before you eat it.
    Thanks, I will be sure to check more carefully before making some jam. I was having some doubt if it's a real choke cherry as the flower buds look a little different but it's just starting to flower so I'm not sure.

  10. #10
    Member DCorlando's Avatar
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    Update on my quest to find fire drill wood. Went for a walk in the woods next to a near by lake and hit the gold mine. Found a patch of willow and what I found interesting is there were dead branches on the living tree that I could not break by hand (not too rotted) and harvested some. In the same area I found a maple that had blown over but only half was dead with the live part keeping the dead part off the ground. I harvested some of it too. Both were very dry and I was able to get an ember with both the same day I harvested.

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    On the left is the willow and the right the maple. The willow was very easy to get ready with just a camp knife, batten and pocket saw. The maple because of the size required a small axe to split the hearth board.

    The willow made an ember with little trouble while the maple just barely went and it took a while to blow into flames. Felt great to get fire using natural un-processed wood.
    Last edited by DCorlando; 03-07-2019 at 04:55 PM.

  11. #11
    Member DCorlando's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chī View Post
    Sassafras is my go to wood for my herth boards, I'm in Pennsylvania but I'm pretty sure it grows as far west as Texas. It is easy to identify because there are three different shaped leaves one oval like (unlobed), one resembles a mitten (bilobed), and the other I call the dinosaur footprint (trilobed). If you are in a season that there will be no leaves you can snap branches and it will smell kind of lemony (like fruit loops) and the roots exactly like root beer. If you find a tree at least as tall as you, you can make at least 10 herth boards, here is a picture of a sapling so you can see the leaves. And I will take another later of the bark to share as well. xs_1530825320949.jpg I've also had luck with mountain laurel.
    I was a small boy when our family moved to Florida from Ohio but I can still remember my dad made some Sassafras tea - loved it. Don't think there is any Sassafras this far south but I still want some Sassafras tea :-)

  12. #12
    Woodsman
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    It grows on the east coast all the way down to Mexico and sassafras leaves are a prime ingredient in traditional southern gumbo, it's probably nowhere near as abundant as up here but I'm sure you can find some. If not I'll send you some so you can get your fix lol. The Amish make sassafras jelly and I'm going to try to attempt a batch.

  13. #13

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    Well, good job! Very satisfying isn't it?

    We spend summers up around the Smokies. Sassafras is all over the place. I even thought about cultivating some more on our land.

  14. #14

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    Sassafras grows into thickets from root runners. If you plant one, you won't have one for long. You'll have many many more than one.
    If we are to have another contest in…our national existence I predict that the dividing line will not be Mason and Dixon's, but between patriotism & intelligence on the one side, and superstition, ambition & ignorance on the other…
    ~ President Ulysses S. Grant

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    It starts with sassafras then the next thing you know you have sassafrases. If you aren't careful you'll have sassafrasestests. Kinda like rabbits.Only rabbits aren't called sassafras. Well, you know what I mean.

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