Discussion in 'Fire' started by IHatchetJack, Sep 6, 2011.
Hand drill practice for tonight: recently harvested mullein on eastern red cedar.
Thanks @bacpacjac !
@NWPrimate I absolutely love the scenery in your videos and posts. It's like a green paradise or something. I love the dry air in the Colorado mountains, but that means it's only green like your mountains for about 2-3 months a year. Keep posting those spectacular views!
This is my first attempt in a while. I thought I would share even though I didnt get an ember. Horseweed on pine. Bonus if you ID the leaf...
You are going to tell us what the leaf is if no one guesses it, right?
Horseweed is a great spindle wood...I've made hand drill embers with it on 21 different hearth woods...including eastern white pine.
Kind of resembles Hibiscus, but I really have no clue. A for effort on the ember, I just learned a good use for Horseweed! It's everywhere down south
I sure will!
Horseweed makes a great spindle and very abundant, give it a try!
@OMRebel, is it a Thicket Hawthorn leaf?
Here is another attempt using a bow drill. This is a yucca spindle on a cedar board. The mystery leaf is Rose of Sharon.
An excellent combination!
Bacpacjac and MonkeyDaddy10 congrats to both of you.
I think Rose of Sharon might be a good wood to try, too. Never tried it myself cuz it's rare around here...
@Jacob sent me some saguaro rib, cliff-rose and other stuff. I got several embers using the saguaro rib for a hearth. Then I tried using a piece of saguaro root he sent for a spindle--to no avail. Yesterday I asked him if the saguaro ribs were good as spindles and he said yes.
So, this morning I whittled out a saguaro rib spindle and used it to make 15 unique hand drill embers!
Surely you don't want to see all those ember pics, so here's a few.
Thank you Jacob!
Saguaro rib spindle on (Purshia sp) cliff-rose hearth.
Saguaro rib spindle on desert willow hearth
Saguaro rib spindle on Ponderosa pine hearth
Saguaro rib spindle on a saguaro rib hearth
Saguaro rib spindle on western red cedar hearth.
I also got embers on woods including cherry, mahogany, English walnut, alligator juniper, tree of heaven, redwood, cottonwood and willow.
Made a friction fire kit of sorts. Add a sharp object, and some wood to complete the set .
Hearthboard, bowstring, and bearing block...you're pretty much there. Good job.
Tell me about your bearing block. What's the bearing block wood and the metal part of it?
English Walnut scrap with linseed oil.
The bow drill divot was machined out of 01 steel. I've made a few for testing on knife handles and settled with this design. The temperature of the divot reaches 160-180 degrees if you are working with a damp drill or hearth. If you have an excellent set, then 140°F seems to be the normal maximum temp of the insert.
This was important to discover because you can't install it in a rubber material, or on any knife where the glue or epoxy used to create the micarta has a melting point lower than 200°F. I've installed a few in micarta, and a G10 scale set with good results.
That's nice, good work!
Stone nice work on those 15 embers using saguaro rib, as a plug. I was worn out just reading your post.
Very cool information, thank you for sharing the results of your tests
And I got another ten with it today! Including harder woods like black locust, black walnut, and elm. Also, Crepe myrtle, rabbitbrush and chinkapin I got from @kcardwel; tulip poplar, eastern white cedar and pecan; and Canaan Fir I got from @Badey. My hands are sore. I'm not sure I have pics because my phone died...I replaced it but don't like the camera nearly as much as was in my older phone.
Got a firefighter refresher class tomorrow to prepare for the current wildland fire season so my hands get a break!
I finally got a look at some of the pics I shot today.
Here's some of the embers.
Saguaro rib spindle on black walnut hearth
Saguaro rib spindle on Canaan fir hearth
Saguaro rib spindle on eastern white cedar hearth
Saguaro rib spindle on pecan hearth.
I like the camera on my new phone...it's sharp.
Saguaro rib sounds like one of those magical materials, like Yucca or Sotol.
Have fun in class.
Indeed! I'll rate it right up there with Yucca, beargrass (Nolina sp), fig, agave and ferro rod. Haven't tried sotol yet.
Oh yeah forgot about Beargrass. Good call. Havent tried fig or agave.
Beargrass is good...but that's desert southwest beargrass (Nolina sp) rather than Pacific Northwest beargrass (Xerophyllum tenax). I don't know how the Pacific NW beargrass is at friction fire but it looks like it would work if you could find a big enough piece.
The Beargrass from here, works very well also. Due to our short growing season it is hard to find a perfect, long, straight spindle, though it can be done.
The Southwest species, probably benefits from longer, more frequent warm days. Ive seen some monster stalks from the Southwest. Some about 2 inches in diameter and 6 or 7 feet tall.
Due to the infrequent find of a perfect Northwest stalk of Beargreass, mostly, I carve a plug and put it into a composite spindle.
The Beargrass stalk here, is very sturdy and can be bent by heat. The inner cell structure is dense and porous, but not as dense as Yucca. Think along the lines of a strong balsa wood.
I remember from my years in Montana/Wyoming there was nice sized Beargrass available. I imagine it would be true for Idaho.
In this country, I find the best Beargrass at around 3800 to about 6000 feet in elevation. The closer you are to the Valley also known as the"wet side", the bigger the stalks ( longer growing season and more water I would assume).
Tonight’s hand drill practice. Very reliable combo of Goldenrod on E.W. Cedar. More to keep my hands conditioned than anything.
Eight unique hand drill embers tonight.
Saguaro rib spindle on box elder hearth. Or maybe red kryptonite...
Saguaro rib spindle on mountain ash hearth
Saguaro rib spindle on pear hearth
Saguaro rib spindle on pin cherry hearth
saguaro rib spindle on sagebrush hearth
saguaro rib spindle on sycamore hearth
saguaro rib spindle on western hemlock hearth
saguaro rib spindle on quaking aspen hearth
Man, that's awesome, Stone. Thanks for the continued inspiration and ideas!
Thanks so much!
I am trying to find at least different 4 types of wood that I can make a friction fire from for each of California's different regions (coast, inland valley, desert, and mountains). I tried Grey Pine for the first time to day and it quickly and easily produced a very nice ember.
After I got the ember I thought I would like to blow it into a flame so I added some termite dust off the spindle to the ember to act as a coal extender and started carving a feather stick. It worked. I was able to make the feather stick and I still had enough ember left to light it on fire. I am very happy because now I have a wood for friction fire that is grows everywhere in the inland valleys.
I went for a hike with the family. I grabbed a couple of pieces of Doug fir because I had seen NWprimate use that wood for friction fire. It worked and I am glad because it grows all over the place around here.
It's been years since I last made a friction fire, and I've caught the bug recently. Been doing about one or two per day.
Big Leaf Maple branch spindle on Big Leaf Maple hearth. Both pieces harvested locally.
Some practice from the last couple of days. Only the middle one was taken to flame.
While I can generally find small dead fir saplings that work great for sets, firs are not very shade tolerant, so in older sections of the forest Western Hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla) is much more common because it has evolved to grow under mature trees.
So far it is one of those mysterious species that sometimes works like magic, and other times won't cooperate even when everything seems to be in order. This has been my experience both with saplings, driftwood, and larger standing trees. Moisture is always a factor, but even when it seems dry, it is almost like rolling the dice.
My best guess is that state of decay is the most likely variable that determines success; but even though this little sapling seemed perfect, I couldn't get it to produce an ember.
The dust looked good and lit right up with a ferro rod, but in three divots and twenty minutes of drilling, I just couldn't find the right combo of speed and pressure to ignite it with friction.
I don't have any still images for this one because at some point during my hike out, my camera must have fallen out of my chest pack after I failed to zip it properly. I spent two hours wading through ferns and salal looking for it, but it could have been right under my nose at any point without me seeing it.
I got an ember this morning with a Doug fir set after soaking the set in water for 12 hrs. I made hearth on the small side so it would be easier to dry out. It took me 20 min to carve the set and get an ember. Most of that time was spent doing drying cycles. I would never have thought this was possible, until I came here and started seeing the stuff you guys were doing.
Here it is soaking in water after 12 hours.
I split away the old divots to make the hearth smaller and carved 3 new divots.
Here is the ember!
That's awesome @Seahunter ! It is interesting that it only took one divot to dry things out. I have really come to appreciate the moisture resistance of resinous conifers when it comes to friction fire. I think soft deciduous woods make easier embers when they're dry, and the knots and sap of the conifers can make things more difficult; but in my area firs seem like they have the lowest moisture content when everything is soaked. I don't know enough to say if it is actually the resin or the structure of the wood that keeps it dry inside, but something is keeping the water out.
Douglas fir works well for me, but the two true firs in my area (Grand & Pacific Silver Fir) are both easier to work with and seem more reliable. Do you have any true Abies growing in your woods to experiment with?
Great idea @Seahunter and great work with the drying cycles!
How did you decide this section of hemlock seemed just right? (I'm visualizing a small collection of hemlock spindles in different states of decay getting tested all at once, but that's the overkill side of thing...)
Noooooo! That's one of my worst "miscellaneous" fears while being outdoors.[/QUOTE][/QUOTE]
My plan was to run the spindle through the hearth on the first and 3rd divots and try for an ember in the middle divot. The first time I filled the notch it wasn't even smoking after I stopped. The second time I filled the notch it had an ember. The hearth was nearly dry. I think the water only penetrated a few millimeters into the hearth. The spindle on the other hand had water to the center.
This wasn't my idea. I tried this once before without drying cycles and failed.
@Guillaume Longval suggested the drying cycles and it worked.
@NWPrimate sorry to hear about the camera. I have been meaning to ask what camera you use. I am always impressed with the quality of your photos.
Taking that @rsnurkle style approach would have been smart and might have yielded better results, but I took the unscientific route of inspecting the sapling I cut and determining that it looked and felt good enough. Hemlock can be relatively hard, so I'm looking for a decent amount of rot induced softness without the usual accompanying moisture. I think a lot of this is likely determined by what season it was when the tree died and the condition that it was exposed to both in the long and short term, but it still comes down to guess and check for me most of the time.
Great work @Seahunter !
Its kind of fascinating that it works.
I'm really hard on cameras so they don't last all that long for me, but I'm usually using a little Canon SX610HS. They eventually succumb to damage from being repeatedly knocked over or soaked with rain, but they're surprisingly durable for a little lightweight camera.
I typed too quickly: the "great idea" comment was in reference to your goal of finding and practicing with multiple friction fire materials in each of the ecosystems you could locally encounter. I thin that's a great personal challenge that will push you to collect very practical knowledge of the areas you are bushcrafting in. Thank you, though, for the link to the original drying cycles discussion, good reminder for me to review it. My locale's spring downpours are probably one of the better times if year to test that technique out.
@rsnurkle what you typed makes sense now that I looked at it a second time. I was trying to watch my kid and read at the same time which didn't work. Thanks for the encouragement.
I am pretty sure grand firs are planted here as a landscaping tree. I haven't noticed them in my local woods. The distribution map i found shows them growing on the coast here, but they may not grow this far south or I may have just not got the search image yet. I will look out for one.
Thanks, and thanks for the help. It is crazy that it works. When I first came to BCUSA I saw a challenge that Badey wrote that had a soaked set and a green wood set as part of the challenge. I had read multiple times that a friction fire set couldn't have any moisture in it so I thought that Badey didn't know what he was talking about. Then a few days later, the first post by NWprimate I read had a video in it where he made a friction fire with a green wood set. At first I thought he just put leaves by the hearth so we could tell what species it was then I realized the leaves were growing out of the hearth!
I am indebted to you guys for all the knowledge you have posted here. Last night I re-read the "Building and ember thread" since I knew this would be a difficult set. There is so much good info in that thread.
Four unique hand drill embers tonight.
Saguaro rib spindle on hickory hearth.
Saguaro rib spindle on vine maple hearth
Saguaro rib spindle on beech hearth
Saguaro rib spindle on hackberry hearth.
I don't know why the last two pics are vertical...they show horizontal in my picture gallery.
I finally got Sweetgum to work on willow. It took lots of pressure.
My recent failure with a Western Hemlock sapling got me thinking about how some materials seem better suited to hearths, and others to spindles. Western red cedar branches are a great source of friction fire material, but their continuous curve means that it is difficult to get a straight spindle out of them.
I opted to use a dry rotted cedar branch for the hearth, and tracked down a nice straight hemlock sapling for the spindle.
The vast majority of the time, I end up using the same wood for both the hearth and spindle, but this experiment showed me the value of being flexible. Hemlocks and cedars often grow side by side in the same areas devoid of firs, and not having to try to make a curved branch straight, or drill into a hard material saved both time and energy.
I had the benefit of dry conditions and several days of sunshine leading up to this attempt, but the combination worked surprisingly well and made for an easy ember.
Friction Fire Tuesday yielded eight new hand drill embers this afternoon. Here's a sample since I'm sure you don't want to see them all.
Lamb's quarter spindle on mahogany hearth...I had never used Lamb's quarter for friction fire before.
Lamb's quarter spindle on saguaro rib hearth.
Dill spindle on desert willow hearth.
I thought I had nine new combinations, but I accomplished pigweed on mountain ash back in March so it doesn't count as new today.