Survival Manual

Bow Drill

Bow Drill
The technique of starting a fire with a bow and drill is simple, but you must exert much effort and be persistent to produce a coal which you can then blow into fire.

You need the following items to use this method:
The socket is an easily grasped stone, metal such as a spoon or piece of hardwood or bone with a slight depression in one side. Use it to hold the top of the drill in place as well as to apply downward pressure.

The drill should be a straight, seasoned hardwood stick less than an inch in diameter and about a foot long. The top end is pointed and the low end blunt to produce more friction/heat.

Fire board
Its size is up to you. A seasoned softwood board about 1 inch thick and 3 inches wide (2.5-7.6 cm)is preferable. Cut a depression near the edge of the board. On the side, make a upside down V-shaped cut from the edge of the board to the depression.

The bow is a resilient, green stick about 1/2 inch (1.27 cm) in diameter and a string. The type of wood is not important. The bowstring can be any type of cordage. You tie the bowstring from one end of the bow to the other, with a little bit of slack.

To use the bow and drill, first prepare the fire lay. Then have a tinder bundle ready. Place piece of bark or something similar under the fireboard where the drill will be placed. Place one foot on the fire board. Loop the bowstring over the drill and place the drill in the precut depression on the fire board. Place the socket, held in one hand, on the top of the drill to hold it in position. Press down on the drill and saw the bow back and forth to twirl the drill.

Once you have established a smooth motion, apply more downward pressure and work the bow faster. This action will grind hot wood powder into the tinder, causing a the coal fragments to collect in the upside down cut away of the fire board on the piece of bark. Once you believe you have enough coal to start a fire place the coal in the center of your tinder bundle and blow on it to ignite the tender into flame.

Tips: 1. The top of the drill needs to be pointed to make the job easier. If it is blunt it will cause more friction and will require you to use more energy. The top of the drill can even be capped with a pointed piece of metal. This will prevent it from wearing down and causing more friction on the top of the drill.

2. Each time you start a fire your drill stick will wear and will require you to reshape it with a knife.

3. The drill and fireboard or often preferred to be the same wood. It should be a hardwood such as oak or cedar but many other hardwoods will work just as well.

4. Your drill stick must be very very straight. Otherwise it will not spin on the fireboard easily and properly and continuously.

5. Do not stop to check on the progress of your coal. Practice makes perfect but you pretty much have to start from square one each time you stop the drill so do not stop at the first sign of smoke.

6. Do no moisten the top of the drill thinking water will make it spin with less friction. The opposite will occur.

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