Fire Making with Bow and Drill


Bow and Drill Fire Making


By Gary Benton

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1. The spindle, bow, and holder at the top are all hard woods, but the base is a softwood. Examples of hardwoods are hickory or oak, while softwoods are pine or cedar. Notice the holder and the base has a hole in them. This hole is to allow the spindle, when moving, to turn freely. This method of fire making uses friction, which is very difficult for most people to master, but it can be done with a little experience.

2. Shows the base with the hole, but notice the hole has been cut to the very edge of the wood and tinder has been placed at the base, around the hole and notch. As the bow moves and the spindle turns, if you do it long enough and with enough pressure on the holder, the notch will start to smoke. This takes some time and it is not easy for most beginners to do.

3. Once the tinder is smoking, pick it up and move it from side-to-side as shown in the illustration. The glowing ember should become larger.

4. Gently blow on the ember, but not too hard or you'll blow it out. Very gently blow and make sure the tinder is not compressed or flames will not appear.

Use caution because your tinder, which you'll be holding, may burst into flames, so be ready to move it or drop it on your pre-made tinder where you plan to have your fire. Before starting your Bow and Drill, have all you need for a fire ready and close to where you'll be working. Once the fire has started, place it against the tinder in your fire place, and as the flames grow in size slowly add kindling. You'll need dry and small items for tinder, slightly larger twigs and stick for kindling, and various sizes of wood as fuel.

The key to this method is steady pressure on the holder, fast and even work with the bow, and allowing the ember to fall into the fluffy tinder. Additionally air, gently blowing, is needed to get the flames you need for a fire.


Bow and Drill

Gary Benton has over 45 years of outdoor experience in camping, hiking, fishing, and other activities. He's no armchair survival man, he's walked the walk from the arctic to the desert and all the area in between. Gary has an associates degree in Search and Rescue, Survival Operations, a B.S. in Industrial Occupational safety, and all but his thesis completed for a M.S. in Counseling Psychology.
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