Discussion in 'Fire' started by IHatchetJack, Sep 6, 2011.
Have you had success hand drilling with other spindle materials?
So I've realized there is a variety of ways to position and orient one's body, foot, hearth board, bow drill, spindle, etc..
Could you friendly fire fiends kindly share how you position yourself and your equipment for bow drill friction fire starting.
There are other ways, but this is a good one.
I have, and there are a lot of good local options in the dry season including salmonberry, thimbleberry, black caps, burdock, & thistle. I've been able to get embers with wood spindles too (cedar, maple, firs, hemlock) but they are substantially more difficult to use than plants with hollow pithy centers.
I can't wait for our two week dry period.
Interesting. I have very little experience experimenting with different positions, but my first natural inclination was to kneel on my left knee, have my right foot on the board on the left side of the divot, hold the block in my left hand with left arm somewhat parallel to the hearth board, and move the bow with my right in a forward/backward motion (like one's arm swing while walking) perpendicular to the board.
had a great day fishing with @Draketake and then while he shot his bow I made a sage set from around the area and got a coal
IMG_4229 by Ken Cardwell, on Flickr
glamor shot with big siegle knife
IMG_4230 by Ken Cardwell, on Flickr
Half a dozen hand drill embers tonight. Here's three.
Alder spindle on pin cherry hearth.
Alder spindle on willow hearth.
Hollyhock spindle on a peach hearth.
And another three hand drill embers after those six.
Beargrass spindle (Nolina sp) on beech hearth
Beargrass spindle (Nolina sp) on persimmon hearth
Beargrass spindle (Nolina sp) on vine maple hearth.
@Stone, very impressive!!!
Tell me, are there any woods or wood combinations that you struggle with? That would be interesting to learn about.
raspberry and devils club--even though the thorns help with the traction
I have managed embers with oceanspray, camelia, and Indian plum but they were not easy.
Got rained out of work today, so I made a new bearing block.
Pretty sure it’s oak.
Elm on elm mini set, fatwood bearing block, punkwood coal extender. F1 for size reference.
Next up, the “fingers for a bow” micro set.
Muh muh muhhh Micro!
Can’t believe this worked.
The burn in
Plenty of dust but not enough heat.
trim the spindle, trim the baseboard, repeat. The spindles getting short, time to cheat.
One last hoorahh.
Sweet victory. I almost killed the coal by burying it under brown dust made when I hit the wider part of the spindle and kept going anyway. It survived though.
I think you may have opened a new door. Wow !!!!! Nice work.
You just wait till the pros start tinkering, Those sets will probably look downright obese.
Four unique hand drill embers tonight.
Pigweed spindle on persimmon hearth.
Teasel spindle on persimmon hearth.
Turnip stem spindle on a persimmon hearth.
Red osier dogwood spindle on persimmon hearth.
@Stone if you don’t mind me asking, what do you use for your spindle? Is the hole in the end of it round or some other shape to keep the end piece from spinning? when I’ve tried to make them I always had trouble with the end piece spinning. Thanks.
I didn't make the host spindle...that was Jason (@jcl-MD). The hole is round and tapers in over about three inches. I'll send pics of a spindle plug later today.
I laid out all the stuff I use, including the host spindle and spindle plugs, on a separate thread under the "Fire" category called "Hand Drill 'tools'". Probably not the best name for it, but the program won't let me change the title. Here's a link.
I think the secret with white pine is to A) make sure it has no knots - resin is concentrated in those, and, B) carve off the outer wood, no matter how dry it seems. There is moisture in it that will rob heat.
One hand drill ember tonight...lots of fails.
Cottonwood spindle on staghorn sumac hearth.
Seven unique hand drill embers tonight.
One on eastern white cedar with a cottonwood spindle--but I didn't like the pic. Another that I didn't like the pic of was teasel on western larch. Here are the rest.
Beargrass spindle (Nolina sp) on western larch hearth.
Cottonwood spindle on western larch hearth
Pigweed spindle on western larch hearth
Red osier dogwood spindle on western larch hearth
Yucca spindle on western larch hearth
Seven unique hand drill embers tonight.
Kale flower stem spindle on eastern larch (tamarack). Funny, I was just trying to condition the end of the kale spindle to break it in...
Kale flower stem spindle on black walnut hearth
Prickly lettuce spindle on western larch hearth.
Sunflower spindle on western larch hearth.
Tumbleweed spindle on black walnut hearth.
Yucca spindle on black walnut hearth.
And I'll do the next one in a separate posting shortly.
...and the last one tonight,
Kale spindle on a western larch hearth, hand drill.
I thought you might like that one...it's just your style. I can't remember if I purchased that one ready-made or if it was a custom piece.
Came from a skilled woodworker/craftsman on this very forum (you).
Still (naturally) in use. I've got another that lives in the truck, plus a few more of yours in various useful spots.
Two hand drill embers before dinner:
Cottonwood spindle on tupelo hearth
Hyssop spindle on yucca hearth.
Great stuff guys. @Jacob that is a pretty cool way of doing it. I have done one with a set that fits in an altoid tin but used the conventional way of bowing.
Six hand drill embers after dinner, but only five good pics.
Mexican bush sage spindle on Pacific silver fir hearth
Mexican bush sage spindle on mahogany hearth.
Mexican bush sage spindle on sycamore hearth.
Mexican bush sage spindle on western red cedar hearth.
Mexican bush sage spindle on a willow hearth.
The other one I got was using the same spindle on yucca.
The "take home message" from all these friction fire embers I post is that lots of different woods combinations can be used to make an ember. Once you have an ember, getting a fire is easy if you've adequately prepared your tinder and kindling.
When I was introduced to friction fire I was led to believe that the "only" good friction fire woods were yucca for a spindle and yucca for a hearth. Indeed, lots of combinations work. Native populations on every continent used hand drills and hearths of local material to make fires to heat and light their dwellings, as well as cook their food. All continents except perhaps Antarctica, which I'm not sure had a native population.
I tried a friction fire with a narwall on a penguin. I couldn't get an ember to save my soul.
Semper fi from Antarctica
Penguins...the original "fat would"
Part of the problem is that the penguins go bad whey you transport them across the equator to get them to the norwall tusks. Try shipping the tusks south instead, I don't believe they need as much refrigeration.
Yesterday I started the process of toughening up my hands for hand-drill. I find the techniques easy enough but damn, I think I may get an ember from my palms before the wood. Whatever works I guess.
I expect it to be a few weeks to a month before I have any tangible results - assuming my hands don't spontaneously combust first.
One hand drill ember before lunch.
Mexican bush sage spindle on a Douglas-fir hearth.
Mexican bush sage is a pretty hard wood and I have used it as both a hearth and a spindle. This latest run was just as a spindle. Most of the woods shown here as hearths were soft, but I also managed a hand drill ember with it on black locust.
Although I am not skilled at doing the 'floating technique,' this guy raises some great points on conditioning your hands. He says "two weeks." He talks about conditioning hands for hand drill friction fires from about 19:30 to 21:30 in the tape.
Another gent talks about relaxing your hands when doing hand drill because it lets the natural padding in your palms do it's job.
There are a lot of hand drillers--including some who post here--who don't use the floating technique. I'm not sure 'floating' is a wide-spread aboriginal technique; I haven't read it in eye-witness descriptions.
I'll be sure to check out that video. Thanks for posting.
Another three hand drill embers on unique combinations this afternoon.
I got some Canaan fir from @Badey, but since I lump all my 'true fir' species together I was at a loss to make a unique ember with it...until today.
I noticed I had NEVER used ANY true fir for a spindle wood. So I did today.
Canaan fir spindle on Canaan fir hearth.
Canaan fir spindle on sweetgum hearth.
Canaan fir spindle on yucca hearth.
My impression? It sure smokes a lot before it sustains an ember. Also, being a soft wood the spindle doesn't last long even on soft hearths.
And just in case you have never heard of Canaan fir...
I was just reflecting on growing up in Hawaii. As kids, my best friend and I spent a significant portion of our time building the biggest fires we possibly could.
It's fun to rekindle that spirit, as it were.
I thought I'd try steering this thread a little more into it's original intent...that of encouraging people to practice friction fire techniques once a week.
So, for today's lesson, I thought I'd feature "the notch."
Here's one of mine. It is 1/8th of the circle, not all the way to the center of the divot caused by the spindle, and it comes to a point in the center.
It has smooth sides from the dimensions you see to the base where it meets the coal catcher, which allows the free fall of the hot dust; you don't want it hanging up on the way down generally. If the hearth material or your cutting implement result in a smooth notch being impractical, you can angle the cut a little so there is nothing but air directly under the notch. I do a little of both...I find saws make much rougher notches than sharp knives. Even if I use a saw I will clean up the notch with a knife frequently.
I did get two unique hand drill embers today.
Canaan fir spindle and pecan hearth. I took a chance and started the notch in the wormy part of the wood...didn't seem to be a problem.
Kale spindle on rabbitbrush. I also got Kale spindle on basswood, but I got that one earlier so it wasn't unique.
My wife did say it smelled like slightly scorched broccoli in the house.
Today I accomplished three unique hand drill embers with kale as a spindle. But I also achieved four embers on a black walnut hearth.
Beargrass spindle on black walnut.
Hollyhock spindle on black walnut hearth.
Mexican bush sage spindle on black walnut hearth.
Pigweed spindle on black walnut hearth.
I've just started using black walnut for a hearth and one characteristic it has is to give the impression of a false ember before taking off. Once formed the ember is hot and long lasting.
Man I bet that walnut smelled sweet.
Probably...I don't have a sense of smell at all, and the spouse was not around to bear it witness.
African Crackerjack Marigolds
Here's a pic of the end of the cut marigold stem...
I would say I harvest the stems with my chain saw, but then I'd have to put this in the Liar's Bench section...
Another half-and-half hand drill set, with pre-dried salmonberry on fresh western red cedar.
The cedar was really brittle and difficult to work with and I cracked the hearth several times; once while carving the notches, and a couple times while drilling. The splits in the side of the spindle exacerbated this, but persistence ended up paying off.