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Hi everyone, I am interested in learning survival skills and quite new to this particular sport. I have attended a wilderness gathering in Wiltshire and one survival course which got me hooked.
Bushcraft seems to provide some good all round skills. Whilst I am no arsonist, I realise the importance of being able to make fire in a survival situation.
I have become competent using a fire striker and have also had success with steel and flint stone using a carbonised cotton T-shirt. :)
However, after many hours of frustration, sweat, blisters, much smoke, piles of soot and expletives - I have so far failed to create a fire by friction. :(
I have tried both bow and hand drills. Is there an ideal combination of woods I could use? :confused: When is the best time to stop drilling and start blowing?
Any advise appreciated
i'm sure there are plenty of blokes (and blokettes) around here that can let you in on good local woods to use. but, for what it's worth, i just added my list of favorites in the Firecraft section of this forum. might be worth checking out. maybe you have related species over there.
it would be difficult to help you unless i was there with you, but i think newcomers to hand drill fail to get an ember because:
- the wood is cut green. it is much more advantageous to use dead, slightly decomposed and weathered wood for spindle and hearthboard. sucker sprouts (adventitious growth from stumps and cankers and burls) work well--and are usually straighter than the usual twig and branch fare.
- applying too much pressure. allow the spindle to rotate smoothly. it seems disadventageous to bear down with all of one's might. last year i went to the doctor...not for an ailment, but to use her more-accurate weighing scale to do hand drill on. she humored me and i got to take the scale outside. i did hand drill eight times on it, all using Seep Willow (Baccharis viminea) on sotol (Dasylirion wheeleri): four times performing it "normally" to an ember, four times using the floating method exclusively to an ember. i averaged all the maximum bearing-weight measurements. doing hand drill normally, it took 3.5 kilos of downward pressure; using the floating technique it took 2.0 kilos. not too much is required...
- applying too little pressure. if your spindle tip and/or socket is developing a smooth, glassy sheen to it, this is an indication that either you are applying too little pressure or that the wood is too dense.
- stamina is inadequate. when a friend first showed me how to do hand drill, i spent a couple days practicing. upon retrospect, the wood i was using (California Fan Palm on itself) was the best and easiest combo this country has to offer. but my stamina wasn't developed enough to last long enough, physically or mentally, to get the ember. thousands (literally) of embers later, i can regularly get am ember within 15 seconds--sometimes under 5 seconds with the right wood.
examine the wood dust you are creating. is it like a fine powder, or does it remind you of tiny, thin sticks? if you are creating mininscule, dark splinters, you're in for a rough time.
and to answer one of your queries...i've made over a thousand hand drill embers, and i've [I]never once blown on the wood powder to get an ember. blowing on it is irrelevant and can only do harm by dislodging the pile of wood powder. once the wood powder (or char) reached roughly 800 degrees F., it will spontaneously combust and turn into a glowing, red fire-egg. add it to tinder, then blow, and hatch the fire-egg into fire! at least that's my experience...
if you have any questions you can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks Storm, I hadn't noticed that section! I'll give it a try. :)
Your best bets in the UK are Lime or Ivy. Sycamore is also good. Don't try Rowan. ;)
Thanks Mart, Is that for the drill or the hearth, should one be hard wood and one soft?
I saw a guy at a wilderness gathering in wiltshire about a year ago now and he made it look so easy to use a hand drill.
He seemed to create fire whilst giving his talk in a relaxed kind of way and stopping for a breather half way through, before putting in 15 seconds of work near the end and hey presto - Fire!
I guess it's a combination of materials, technique and timing.
Thanks for your advise, I'm off to look for a lime tree :D
Welcome aboard Firestarter .... glad you found the forum. I've moved this thread over to the 'Firecraft' sub-foum ..... you'll probably find answers to loads of your questions in there :D
ive just started bushcraft and i no the importance of fire, i can start a fire with matches and fire steel but i have using tissue paper to start fires with the firesteel and i now want to use natural tinders what is the best tinder for fire with a firesteel
ive just started bushcraft and i no the importance of fire, i can start a fire with matches and fire steel but i have using tissue paper to start fires with the firesteel and i now want to use natural tinders what is the best tinder for fire with a firesteel Dandelion fluff is fun if not very practical as it burns out quickly.
birch bark is much more practical.