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Bow drill materials

Discussion in 'Firecraft' started by Quixoticgeek, Jan 7, 2016.

  1. Quixoticgeek

    Quixoticgeek Full Member

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    Am planning on having my first go at bow drill if the rain ever stops. I'm looking round my flat at what wood I have laying around the flat and it looks like I have hazel I can use for the spindle, then a choice of hearth board materials. Hazel is the most abundant, then sweat chestnut, then silver birch. I should have some willow too.

    Of these four, are any of them wholely unsuitable as a hearth board? As a beginner which am I most likely to find success with?

    Cheers

    J
     
  2. Mesquite

    Mesquite Anyone for sailing?

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    Willow, hazel, birch, sweet chestnut for the hearth board

    Willow on willow if you can is an excellent combination
     
  3. Tommyd345

    Tommyd345 Nomad

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    Willow is nice and soft, makes good hearth board. What's your bearing made from?
     
  4. ocean1975

    ocean1975 Full Member

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    If your looking for things laying around then try a piece off a wooden pallet,they are usually made from poplar and generally about the right thickness for a hearth board,good for a bit of practice until you sorce some other wood.I like to use an hazel spindle with a sycamore hearth.Good luck.
     
  5. NarzaCyst

    NarzaCyst Tenderfoot

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    Good luck mate, I wish you the best. I'm not exactly experienced on what woods to use, the only experienced have is form and technique.

    Beech on beech and pine on pine I have experience with.

    In my head (and this is only due to my train if thought) prepared woods will give you a false sense of what is needed.

    My first successful experience was beech that I cut from a newly fallen down tree, but I dried it out over a week in the kitchen.

    The best bit of advice in your success is this, once you have filled up the notch with dust at a slow to reasonable pace, the actual ember comes from high speed drilling, and when I mean high speed, I mean, intensely high speed drilling. Do this for as long as you can possibly do so, for me, it's approx 30-40 strokes at beginning stage, then you will learn about pressure and how many strokes you need.

    Also, fill the notch and walk away carefully. After that, gain your strength and breath, then go hell fir leather, that's how I got my first ember.

    Good luck my friend, I wish you everything in your success.
     
  6. David LaFerney

    David LaFerney Forager

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    White pine works good and is very common in my area. Albizia julibrissin - an invasive exotic which we commonly call mimosa is outstanding. I try to make the hearth and spindle out of the same piece of wood if possible. Verbascum - commonly called mullein may make the very best spindle if you are hand drilling.

    You should check out this guy.
     
    #6 David LaFerney, Jan 8, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2016
  7. Chaard

    Chaard Forager

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    I'm thinking of giving this a go this weekend too.

    I have Scapa of various woods in my shed but I'm first planning to use the Christmas tree as I'll be hacking and possibly burning it this weekend anyways.

    Let me know how you get on!
     
  8. John Fenna

    John Fenna Lifetime Member & Maker

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    I find Hazel on Hazel good but I prefer Hazel on Ivy
     
  9. Chaard

    Chaard Forager

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    Success! I just made fire by friction fir the 1st time :D

    Christmas tree on Christmas tree :) well nordman fir to be specific.
     
  10. David LaFerney

    David LaFerney Forager

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    Congratulations! Did you give yourself a cheer? I did when I did it the first time.
     
  11. Chaard

    Chaard Forager

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    no i don't think i did but i was pretty chuffed. i dropped the ember in some old straw from strawberry beds to make the flame so made a fair bit of smoke.

    The smell reminded me of fire crew training as they use straw on the fires in practice scenarios to reduce visibility to pretty much nothing.
     
  12. barbourdurham

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    first time i did it was with pine on pine and it took me about 4 hrs if i remember rightly. since then, willow on willow, sycamore on sycamore. always in the forest, made from nature the same day. i'd say ive had about a 90% success rate. but definately take yr time and warm up the set, burning it in and filling the notch with dust. take a rest and once yr ready, go for it. dont stop until yr shrouded in thick smoke. best of luck and practice practice practice.
     
  13. Tommyd345

    Tommyd345 Nomad

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    You should not need to go hell for leather or high speed. Best technique is slow steady and smooth. The trick to bow drills is pressure and technique, not speed.
     
  14. NarzaCyst

    NarzaCyst Tenderfoot

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    On the contrary, at 1 rotation per second and any varying down ward pressure of your choice, you would never be able to generate enough friction and heat compared to say 50 rotations per second. It's physics!
     
  15. Tommyd345

    Tommyd345 Nomad

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    Ok I'll re-phrase it, I do it slowly and steady and smooth, it's how I was taught, and how I teach it. As long as the spindle keeps moving, you really can go slow and steady to and get extremely consistent results. Iv never had a problem. It's all technique and practice!
    You can have 1000 rotations per second but it's not gonna count for squat if it's not pushing against the base board
     
    #15 Tommyd345, Jan 10, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2016
  16. Hibrion

    Hibrion Maker

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    Willow works well for both. I'm no expert, but a common problem I've seen even among those who claim to be is using a hearth board that is too thick.
     
  17. Quixoticgeek

    Quixoticgeek Full Member

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    I haven't decided, what ever I have lying around, chestnut, or Holly probably. Lubricated with some green leaves or some such.

    With the Ivy, did you cut a section out of a piece of Ivy? Does this kill off the whole plant or just the bit above where you cut? Or were you fortunate enough to find a downed tree with dead ivy?

    Heat is a function of friction, and that is a function of pressure and speed. Increase one, and you can decrease the other. There is no doubt an optimum level of pressure and speed to minimise effort for the result. At least that is my understanding of it from an engineering point of view.

    J
     
  18. Drain Bamaged

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    Regardless of what combination you use you will struggle with all of them without a decent bearing block of some description, I honestly think it is AT LEAST as important as any other part of the bowdrill setup and is probably responsible for as many successes or failures as any of the other parts, and remember the cordage chosen is another part too.

    D.B.
     
  19. Quixoticgeek

    Quixoticgeek Full Member

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    Cordage wise I am going to try with my 2mm polyester braided dyneema cord, if that doesn't work, I'll have to unravel one of my paracord bracelets and use that instead.

    Do you have any advice on bearing block choice?

    Thanks

    J
     
  20. Tommyd345

    Tommyd345 Nomad

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    Bearing block wise, I personally use a set of measuring spoons or a shot glass with some duck tape around it to prevent shattering. But if going old school and want to use wood, anything harder than the spindle! Use your thumb nail and poke it in the wood for your drill, then do the same for a few others. Whichever is the hardest to poke your nail in you can use! (Not an exact science ;) )
     

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