PDA

View Full Version : Bow drill - materials question



Trunks
30-11-2009, 01:01
Evening all,

I was just wondering, as you do just before falling asleep! Is there a "best" combination of wood types? ie. Hard wood for the drill and a softer wood for the base, any specific wood types etc?

Cheers

James T

leon-1
30-11-2009, 11:28
Hi mate, there are a number of combinations that work and yes generally the drill is harder than the hearth, but on some occasions you can find the same wood being used for both.

Ash drill on a Willow hearth
Cattail drill on a limewood hearth.
Elder drill on an Elder hearth.
Elder drill and a Willow hearth.
Elder drill on a Pine hearth.
Elder drill on a clematis hearth.
Hazel drill on a willow hearth.
Hazel drill on Ivy hearth.
Hazel drill on a Crack Willow hearth.
Hazel drill on a Limewood hearth.
Hazel drill on a Pine hearth.
Hazel drill on a Sycamore hearth.
Ivy drill on a Ivy hearth.
Sycamore drill on Ivy hearth.
Ivy drill on an Alder hearth.
Poplar, Limewood and Cedar should work just fine on a cedar hearth board.
Sycamore drill on a Sycamore hearth.
Willow drill and hearth.

This was a list from on the forum back in 2004, it's by no means complete as there are gonna hundreds of other combinations as well, but it's a start.

rawshak
30-11-2009, 14:57
When I'm teaching people how to do bowdrill, I like to set it up so they have the maximum chance of sucess. For this I've found a Sycamore Hearth and a Sycamore drill to be a very effective combination. The bigest problem I've found using this combination is that I get through sets very quickly as it's such a soft wood, but it does form an ember fairly easily (I've had students form an ember with Sycamore in under two minutes on their first time!). Sycamore holds on to a lot of its dead wood, so standing deadwood is fairly easy to find.

leon-1
30-11-2009, 15:00
When I'm teaching people how to do bowdrill, I like to set it up so they have the maximum chance of sucess. For this I've found a Sycamore Hearth and a Sycamore drill to be a very effective combination. The bigest problem I've found using this combination is that I get through sets very quickly as it's such a soft wood, but it does form an ember fairly easily (I've had students form an ember with Sycamore in under two minutes on their first time!). Sycamore holds on to a lot of its dead wood, so standing deadwood is fairly easy to find.

Yeah Sycamore is good when just using one type of wood, so is Ivy.

Both Hazel and sycamore drills on an Ivy hearth work very well as long as the Ivy is seasoned well.

rawshak
30-11-2009, 15:30
Yeah Sycamore is good when just using one type of wood, so is Ivy.

Both Hazel and sycamore drills on an Ivy hearth work very well as long as the Ivy is seasoned well.

And of course, it's easy to get a nice straight hazel drill ;)

(great list by the way Leon :D)

leon-1
30-11-2009, 15:56
(great list by the way Leon :D)

It was part of a work in progress on here that I was doing that got sidelined when I got laid off at work.:o

I will at some stage get around to finishing it:rolleyes:

andythecelt
30-11-2009, 17:02
I generally stick with sycamore or willow. It's rare not to be able to lay your hands on either in Britain and both are easy to identify even in winter. I've played with a few other combinations but because I'm basically lazy I tend to stick with what works quickly and easily.

Whittler Kev
30-11-2009, 17:08
Hazel drill on a Pine hearth.


Good list Leon but I was always told that Pine had too much resin and avoid it as it smoked like mad but no ember came. Maybe I should give it ago:rolleyes:

leon-1
30-11-2009, 18:36
Good list Leon but I was always told that Pine had too much resin and avoid it as it smoked like mad but no ember came. Maybe I should give it ago:rolleyes:

Kev, they're right most of the time that is the case, but it can be done, it just depends on the bit of wood you have. Not all pine is soaked out and full of resin.

Pallets are a reasonable example even though they have been treated in many cases, but there are a great deal of bits of Pallet out there that people have learnt with which are made from pine.

coln18
30-11-2009, 19:01
i was taught by woodlore that pine wasnt suitable as well, but when i visited the Crannog centre up at Loch Tay last year, it was pine that they were using for the bowdrill and they had no problem getting an ember, although they were cheating a bit using a couple of fancy dan bits for their drill holder and for the top holder thingy as well

Colin

Lake
30-11-2009, 19:58
My best combo is willow on willow (Salix). Poplar is also good (Populus nigra) for both drill and hearth or in combination with willow.

Trunks
01-12-2009, 22:55
Thanks guys,

Leon that is a very comprehensive list. I will have to experiment with different types and update this thread.

How successful have any of you been without the bow and just spinning the drill in the hand - with drill extension?

Or is that just a set-up for the RM shows :o)

Thanks again for the info.

James

Joe
02-12-2009, 01:51
Hi Trunks,

I use Hazel drills on either Alder or Willow, sometimes Sycamore. I have had success with Scots Pine into Scots Pine several times before and it produces a sticky char but does work. To get started it helps to drop some grains of sand in the socket between drill and hearth. Creates a bit more friction on the slightly resinous surface. I wouldn't recommend it as one to start off with though!

For hand drill one of the better combinations is an Elder drill going into a Clematis hearth. Try it in tandem with someone else to build your confidence in the technique as something that can actually be achieved by 'normal' people.

Good luck!

Graham_S
02-12-2009, 09:43
I have great success with willow into pine (from a pallet)
It's what I use when I'm teaching Scouts.