Results 1 to 7 of 7

Thread: Bow drill fire

  1. #1
    Junior Member Gary's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Location
    Langley B.C.
    Posts
    25

    Default Bow drill fire

    Tried starting a fire with a bow drill in the shop at work on a Saturday last year. We used kiln dried pallet boards as the base and bearing block and a broom handle for the spindle. We shaved pallet material with a razor knife for tinder. We were quite surprised to get an ember after about 20 minutes but we couldn't get it to ignite to flame. We didn't have much of a tinder bundle, left it on the ground and blew. I realize you need to have a good size bundle to pick up and blow into but we Didn't have the right material. After the first ember went out it was 3 hours before we got another and managed to ignite it to flame and have a tiny fire. The hole glazed up and so did the spindle. Bearing block was smoking instead of the baseboard etc. it certainly was fun

    Well last weekend a group of us went winter camping. It was raining when we got there and had been for over a week. It's wet in the bush in British Columbia during the winter. We tried a second time using only what we could find in the bush. Found a downed birtch tree that had fallen against another downed tree so it was off the ground. We used that for the base board and a maple spindle. We shaved cedar bark to use as tinder and I kept it in my pocket for the day to dry.

    We knew we didn't have enough of a tinder bundle to really pick up and fold around the ember but we just wanted to get an ember and blow it into a flame. We placed the baseboard with the notch over the cedar on the ground and went to work. We were surprised that we had a good ember after about a half hour (we had to play with the spindle and widen the notch a bit). We left the tinder on the ground and managed to blow it into a flame but it would go out as soon as we stopped blowing. I figure it wasn't quite dry enough. We took a quick break and tried again. This time we weren't getting much smoke and things were looking glazed again. We cleaned the end of the spindle and started a new hole but didn't have the same success.

    It was at this point that we looked back at the coolers full of beer and a 15 lb prime rib roast slow roasting over a bed of maple and cherry coals (of course we used a rotisserie and a small generator) and decided we would call it quits and enjoy a cold one. We knew that a larger and dryer tinder bundle would have given us a fire. We were just happy to have gotten an ember and a flame from material we gathered in a soaking wet forest. I am already looking forward to our 5th annual winter camping trip next year!!

    Cheers
    Gary
    Last edited by Gary; 02-04-2016 at 12:38 AM.


  2. #2
    Not a Mod finallyME's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Utah
    Posts
    4,225

    Default

    Your first attempt was with a bunch of pine. Your second was with more hardwoods...keep practicing.
    I've taken a vow of poverty. To annoy me, send money.
    http://www.youtube.com/user/FinallyMe78?feature=mhee

  3. #3
    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    SE/SW Wisconsin
    Posts
    26,323

    Default

    Kind nice having supper going while you are practicing....LOL.
    Congrats....keep at it.

    My first "flint and steel" fire was on a work bench in our factory.......almost set off the sprinklers....LOL
    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
    Member Wahoo Killer knives club....#27

  4. #4
    Ed edr730's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    somewhere in n michigan
    Posts
    586

    Default

    Gary, you did extremely good considering, as FinallyMe stated, your choice of wood was not ideal in either situation. In a wet woods it isn't easy to dry everything sufficiently also. It appears that with a good bow, endurance, coordination and perserverance you managed to get a coal in both situations. Kudos. I'm a bit impressed and would have bet against your success, considering the experience.
    You may have not made a terrible choice of woods in your second instance if you had chosen a birch that was paper birch (softer) which is very white not scraggly looking (yellow birch and harder). If you chose a maple which grew in a clump of trees rather than growing alone you would have soft maple which is much easier than sugar maple. I would have looked for cedar, white pine, basswood or willow. The choice of wood makes the effort so much easier. Both basswood and cedar splits so nice and easy and carves easy too. Basswood grows in clumps of trees and the bark would remind you of swamp ash or green ash. It is softer than cedar.
    Once you have your coal, your work is half done. You can keep it glowing indefinately if you have enough coal dust from using the bow and spindle. You can cheat and keep it going by adding finely ground powder from a piece of charcoal from an old fire . This extra powder can also be used in your spindle hole to greatly increase friction.
    Don't try to put the tinder on the coal and dust and try to blow...the tinder just blows all over the place. Rather, put the coal dust then the ember over tinder in either a nest or a cylinder made from birch bark or a tin can. You blow the heat and ember into the tinder rather than try to blow the tinder into the heat. If your tinder is good and you don't run out of coal dust, it will start.
    Sorry for the long post. But, these are just the basics that are necessary. There are always many other things that could be helpful. It's cake for you from here on out. Good job Gary. At that point I would have been looking at the beer and ribs too.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Wise Old Owl's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Paoli, PA
    Posts
    1,101

    Default

    just a thought,

    kiln dried pallet boards are much harder than regular pine and may have affected the outcome.
    "Never work against mother nature"--Caesar Milan.

  6. #6
    Ed edr730's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    somewhere in n michigan
    Posts
    586

    Default

    Pallets are made from many different woods. Sometimes hardwood, sometimes softwood or pine. Broomsticks as he used are always hardwoods. I've always seen that the dryer the better. I haven't had any success with hardwoods so I was surprised. Of course I have never tried more than 60 seconds. After that much time, I figure it just isn't working.

  7. #7

    Default

    One thing I am learning is the importance of a good bearing block. You mention two things that stood out to me: first, what you were using for a bearing block began to smoke, and two, you have a good supply of beer cans.

    I was walking around a pond area near where I work today and thought, "Why not try a bow drill from what I can find?" Well, I am not yet good at recognizing wood, but I found a hanging dead branch, gave it the thumb nail test, and went with it.

    For the bearing block, I used an old beer can that some knuckle head left laying on the ground. I smashed it down and used the bottom of the can for the bearing block and it worked extremely well.

    As the others suggested, try using a better choice of wood. But also, give one of those beer cans a try, I think you'll find it works well!

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-N920A using Tapatalk

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •