Quickest bow drill fire ever.....

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Van-Wild

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Feb 17, 2018
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Was walking the dog earlier by the river. I didnt see a soul for two hours. Half way round I thought I'd have a quick shot at a bow drill fire. The river bank has a fair few mature willows so it didnt take too long to find suitable materials, those being a light, green stiff branch for the bow, the fat end of which I cut off and used as the bearing block. The drill and hearth board came from the same dead, dry standing branch. The cord came from my pocket (I always carry 1.5m attached to my neck knife). I fashioned the set in about 15 minutes and settled down to burn the set in. Quite unexpectedly everything felt right. Once I burnt the set in, I cut the notch in the hearth and got to making a coal. To my absolute surprise I had a beautiful coal smoking away in about a minute! I genuinely hadn't expected that, I didnt even get a puff on..... it all just felt really quite comfortable and smooth. I guess I got it right for once!

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Apologies for not getting a picture of the coal, but I was so excited I forgot to flippin take one. Since it has been at least year since I was last successful at this method and I didnt even expect success this evening, I think I can be forgiven!

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Van-Wild

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Feb 17, 2018
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Excellent! Willow hearth board and drill? I will most certainly keep me eye out for something similar in this beautiful dry spell!
Yes matey, willow hearth board and drill. Green willow for the bow and bearing block.

I always look for dead standing (vertical) off shoot branches. Drill is always about an inch thick, with the hearth board 1.5in squared off. Drill and hearth from the same branch.

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Suffolkrafter

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Dec 25, 2019
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I've never tried willow I'll have to give that a go. Also it has never occured to me to use the same branch for both spindle and hearth! Seems obvious now you mention it!

I failed to produce an ember with my own set yesterday, even though it had worked perfectly the last time I used it a few weeks back. It's a birch hearth with spindle from a branch - no idea what species. After a bit of problem solving I figured out that firstly, it was only burning on the side, not the bottom of the spindle/hole. I rounded off the spindle but still only generated pale powder. I then guessed that the hole was too deep. After burning a new hole in, I had an ember very quickly. A valuable lesson.

I've also learnt that my choice of bearing block is more important than choice of hearth or spindle - so long as they're neither too hard nor too soft. But I reckon poor bearing blocks have accounted for most of my failed attempts in the past. I always use a piece of fatwood.
 
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Van-Wild

Full Member
Feb 17, 2018
730
555
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UK
I've never tried willow I'll have to give that a go. Also it has never occured to me to use the same branch for both spindle and hearth! Seems obvious now you mention it!

I failed to produce an ember with my own set yesterday, even though it had worked perfectly the last time I used it a few weeks back. It's a birch hearth with spindle from a branch - no idea what species. After a bit of problem solving I figured out that firstly, it was only burning on the side, not the bottom of the spindle/hole. I rounded off the spindle but still only generated pale powder. I then guessed that the hole was too deep. After burning a new hole in, I had an ember very quickly. A valuable lesson.

I've also learnt that my choice of bearing block is more important than choice of hearth or spindle - so long as they're neither too hard nor too soft. But I reckon poor bearing blocks have accounted for most of my failed attempts in the past. I always use a piece of fatwood.
I always make the drill first and when its ready I stick the sharpened end in the mud while I make the rest of the set. If I have friction between the drill and the bearing block I either spit in it or use a leaf or two for lubrication.

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Van-Wild

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Feb 17, 2018
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Skills

Guarantee if you needed a fire quickly it would never have worked first time.
First time I ever sat down and seriously tried Bow drill fire lighting, I promised myself I wasn't going home until I had a self sustaining fire.

4.5hrs later, I had a fire......

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Excellent work! I have never successfully got a fire from a bow drill. I broke my knee years ago, and I can't put weight on it bent for long enough, and I can't kneel on it either. I almost got there when I put the hearth on a tree stump, got it smoking, but never quite got an ember. One day, I'll get there.
 
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Van-Wild

Full Member
Feb 17, 2018
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UK
goodjob VW

If you get a set that works well keep it, wrap it up dry and carry on using it.
I have done. Well, I made a new set (willow on willow). One larger hearth board and two good drills. I have a bow and bearing block. I'll use it to light every fire in the garden and after C19 is lifted I will use it when I'm day tripping until it runs out.....

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punkrockcaveman

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Jan 28, 2017
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yorks
Love it. Great effort. I've not tried willow yet either, another thing on my to do list!

Down by the river the willows tend to hold great big bird nests of tinder after the winter floods too. If I could just get round to making some willow cordage, it might well provide all the ingredients for a bow drill fire!

On a side not, limpet shells have to be the best natural bearing block ever.
 

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