You’re On Your Own

How to Make and Use a Bow-Drill to Start a Fire

Believe it or not, there was a time when humans could start fires without matches, lighters, butane torches, or any other manufactured products. And believe it or not, IT STILL WORKS!

Although man can survive without fire, it is still usually considered to be a necessity. Whether used to stay warm, cook food, heat water, cauterize wounds, frighten predators, or roast marshmallows – it definitely improves life by orders of magnitude.

Here is one way you can create it (with some practice) without a trip to Wal-Mart.

This post comes from 2 articles.
How to Make a Bow-Drill for Starting a Fire, and How to Start a Fire Using a Bow-Drill

Part 1 – How to Make a Bow-Drill for Starting a Fire

Step 1:Understand that a bow-drill; consists of four parts: the bow, the hand-hold, the drill and the fireboard. The hand-hold and the fireboard are held on either side of the drill, which is spun by the bow to generate friction, heat and, finally, fire. Rub your hand together back and forth to understand the concept of generating heat through friction.

Step 2:Make your bow from a light sturdy sapling, slightly longer than your arm from shoulder to fingertip.

Step 3:Tie a piece of nylon cord from one end of the bow to the other, like a bow for archery. If you don’t have a nylon cord, you can use string, a shoelace, a strip of cloth or whatever is available.

Step 4:Use a dry, soft wood such as cottonwood, willow, larch, cedar, sassafras, alder, aspen, poplar, box alder or basswood to make the other parts of the drill.

Step 5:Make sure the hold piece fits into your hand snugly and firmly. Carve a small depression in one side of the hand-hold for the drill to ride in.

Step 6:Cut your drill from a branch 3/4-inch wide and 6 inches long. It should be round and straight. Carve both ends of the drill to a dull point.

Step 7:Make you fireboard about a 1/2-inch thick and flat on both sides. Make a depression in it, like the hand-hold, for the other side of the drill to ride in.

Step 8:“Burn in” your apparatus before using it to start a fire (See Part 2 – How to “Burn in” your apparatus).

Part 2 – How to “Burn in” Your Apparatus.

Step 1:Place your fire board on the dry ground and place your left foot across it to hold it stable, with your right knee on the ground. If you’re left-handed, do the reverse.

Step 2:Wrap the string of your bow around the drill once.

Step 3:Place the bottom end of the drill in the notch on your fire board. Hold it in place by putting the top end of the drill into the handhold notch and pressing down on the handhold.

Step 4:Hold one end of the bow in your right hand, with the string side facing inward, toward your left knee.

Step 5:Lean down over your left knee and press down slightly on the handhold with your left hand. Move your right arm back and forth in a sawing motion, causing the drill to spin back and forth.

Step 6:Increase the speed of the sawing motion and the intensity of your handhold pressure until the fire board begins to smoke.

Step 7:Do this for a while to grease your handhold notch and “burn in” your fire board to prepare your apparatus to start a fire.

Part 3 – How to Start a Fire Using a Bow-Drill

Step 1:Prepare a small tepee of twigs in your fire pit. Make sure you have enough fuel readily available.

Step 2:Gather a palm-sized ball of dry fibrous vegetation, such as dry grass or inner tree bark. Wad the material together to form a nestlike tinder ball.

Step 3:Keep your tinder ball near your fire board.

Step 4:Place your drill in its fire board notch.

Step 5:Operate your apparatus until your fire board begins to smoke.

Step 6:Give it about 10 more strokes.

Step 7:Lift your apparatus carefully away from the fire board. Notice that a small piece of coal has developed from the wood dust worn off by the action of the drill.

Step 8:Use a small twig to nudge the coal from the fire board into the tinder ball, like an egg in a nest.

Step 9:Blow gently on the ball until flames develop.

Step 10:Place your burning tinder ball inside your twig tepee and carefully fuel your fire.


October 7, 2007 - Posted by | "How To" - Survival Skills | , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. recurve bows are great!

    Comment by manoj | November 13, 2007

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: