Survivalism & Self Sufficiency Topics > Primitive Skills & Earth Skills

Bow Drill

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idelphic:
Had it in my mind to make a bow drill for a while... Finally got to it this past weekend and I have to say, that I'd rather split wood all day then try to continue trying to get it going... But,.. I'll try again.

The push block is made of Red Oak, as is the Spindle.  The bow is just a bit of the same I think.  It works to get dust and smoke, but beyond that I get nothing. I do wonder if my materials are at fault, they are from the scrap box my FIL hast from some of the work he has done.  Its' solid wood, no chemicals and not pressure treated.

I don't have much as for woods around me, but may look to a hike in the future to see what I can find laying around...

Suggestions, otherwise it's back to flint and steel for me.

JerseyVince:
Watch Les Strouds Surviviorman episode 1 season 1 in the Boreal forrest he does a good show and tell of making a bow drill, including how NOT to make one.

Did you make a notch in the base so the embers collect on the tinder and not just around the spindle?

Gray Ghost:
I have seen several variations; even on Les's show.

idelphic:

--- Quote from: JerseyVince on April 20, 2010, 08:58:14 PM ---Watch Les Strouds Surviviorman episode 1 season 1 in the Boreal forrest he does a good show and tell of making a bow drill, including how NOT to make one.

Did you make a notch in the base so the embers collect on the tinder and not just around the spindle?

--- End quote ---

Fun thing about the iPhone is that it has the YOUTUBE app... so I looked up S1E1: Boreal Forest.  Watched Les try to use the Fungus and then try again using different methods. 

As of right now,.. I'm making sure I have plenty of flint and steel,.. after two dozen attempts I'm not making any more progress then I was yesterday... I took vacation for this??  (not really)

I've drilled my spindle down nearly 3 inches total since I made it Sunday, most of which was yesterday and today.  I have produced plenty of smoke, but no embers. *poo*

I think i've been given a sign though, as the spindle went flying, two times it took me more then five minutes to find...Glad the sun is shining, and I don't need to have that fire. 

I did find that I could use my ankle as additional support for my bear down block.

fireman6:
  I've been having hell with this same topic for about two months now.  It's a little more complicated than they let on in all those survival manuals and tv shows.  I ordered a premade cedar bowdrill set from Tom Elpel's website with the idea that i would get proficient with it, then make one from stuff i could find at Home Depot, then go out in the woods with a knife and some string and try to build a fire.  So far i've made about 20 attempts, 7 holes in my fireboard, and gotten 5 fires.  If one little thing is off like too little tension in the bowstring or the wrong size notch, and all i get is smoke and a tired ass.  I thought i had it down until i tried to start a fire in the barbecue pit on Easter weekend and embarrassed myself in front of my whole family.  All i can say is don't give up!
  Not sure, but Red oak might also be too hard a wood.  I don't know what you have available in your area, but here is a list of woods i've compiled from various sources for bowdrill and handdrill firemaking :(ash, alder, cedar, poplar, willow, elderberry, cottonwood, mare's tail, mule fat, california buckeye, redwood, cattail, box elder,sycamore)
Hope it helps.

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