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Thread: Bow drill , spindle only turn 180 degree

  1. #1

    Default Bow drill , spindle only turn 180 degree


    I cant figure out why my spindle can only turn 180 degree after that it block.
    If I don't put pressure on it ( only turn it with my fingers) it turns completely.

    What i use:
    A rock with a socket ( really smooth)
    Birch for the spindle.
    Unknown soft wood for the board.
    Unknown wood for the Bow
    Shoe lace

    Thank you

  2. #2
    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    SE/SW Wisconsin


    Hunter63 saying Hey and Welcome.
    There is an intro section at:

    As far as your spindle only turning 180 do know that it will stop and reverse with each stroke, right?
    Generally turns a few complete turns before you run out of room, that direction and go back the opposite way.

    Did you try a different spindle?
    Geezer Squad....Charter Member #1
    Evoking the 50 year old rule...
    First 50 years...worried about the small stuff...second 50 years....Not so much
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  3. #3


    Be sure to check the contact between your Hand Hold (socket) and the spindle as well as the contact between the spindle and the fire board. Any knots or irregularities will cause the spindle to freeze, bind, or vibrate. None of these issues are desirable. Also, the tips of your spindle shod be cone shaped with no "flats" and the body as near perfect a cylinder as possible. To check this, roll your spindle across a fat surface to see if it drifts left or right. Lastly, check the edge of where each end stops being round and begins to taper. This should be uniform, even, and lacking any flat spots. This may seem like a lot of craftsmanship, and it is, but it should help with your results. Oh, is the hole you've burnt in to your fire board too deep? You may need to just burn in another hole. Please keep me posted. I love helping folks through these things. It helps me learn too!

  4. #4


    I think may have the answer of what I was doing wrong.
    The rope was not attached at the same level.
    When I was pulling the bow it made situation worst, this is why I did not saw it when I was just turning the spindle with my finger.


  5. #5
    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    KY bluegrass region-the center of the universe


    There is a method called the Egyptian spindle which I prefer to use where the cord is wound and tied to the spindle.

    In use an extra turn of cord is wound at the top and bottom of the knot.

    This method keeps the spindle from flipping out of the sockets and bouncing around making you wish you had three hands to control everything.
    If you didn't bring jerky what did I just eat?

  6. #6


    The ropes should cross the spindle on the inside of the spindle and not the outside. Or, the spindle should be on the outside of the string. It that makes any sense.

    I am sure someone here can say it better than me.

  7. #7


    Hi, after removing some variables and using some perfectly straight and well industrialize materials. I have found for the length of the spindle I needed more thickness.It seems that the force required to go for a bent was less than for force required for spinning (under the friction of the socket and the board). So the rope stopped moving and just preferred bending the spindle.
    Its was not so obvious with the half turn problem.


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