Thursday, June 12, 2008

Making a friction fire in the wilderness

1. Gather tools
You'll need to find or make four tools
Bow: a two-part lever made by tying a shoelace or skinny pack strap to the ends of a strong but flexible piece of wood
Drill: a thin spike made of soft wood like cedar or basswood
Board: a flat piece of hardwood split from a branch or trunk
Block: a small piece of wood, stone or bone to put pressure on the drill
2. Prepare the board
Use a knife or sharp stone to bore a circular hole in the board, about halfway into its total thickness. Now cut a 30-degree notch through the entire board that connects the circle to the plank's closest edge. This will allow sawdust from the wooden parts to collect and ignite.
3. Align the parts
Wind the drill into the bowstring, and fit the pointy edge into the depression on the board. Kneel close and use your opposite foot to stabilize the plank. Press the block tightly on top of the drill.
4. Begin drilling
Slowly maneuver the bow back and forth to spin the drill and warm up the pieces. Increase speed until heavy smoke appears. You need to wear off and compact enough hot sawdust from the wooden components to create a small, glowing ember in the board's notch.
5. Light the tinder
Once an ember has formed, gently fan it — or blow on it as if you were whistling. Tap the board to transfer it to a nest of dry, dead plant matter, like paper, bark or grass. Add wood, and you should have yourself a fire.

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