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Tools Needed to Make a Fire using a Bow Drill

Learn about the tools needed to make a fire with a bow drill from NYC Outward Bound's Marko Yurachek in this wilderness survival video from Howcast.


We've looked at starting a fire with a flint and steel. We talked about starting a fire with a lighter.

The traditional way that people started fires for a long time is with the classic rubbing two sticks together, and that's what this is. This is a bow drill fire. It's made by getting a fire board. This is a piece of cedar. These are other pieces of cedar that came from the cedar trees that we were looking at. And these pieces of cedar are split basically into a flat board and a flat drill that's rounded off. One of them's been rounded off a little more than the other.

So you have a fire board that's prepped by taking the drill and drilling into the fire board and then cutting a notch. The notch is going to be where all the hot wood falls out of and will catch. There are a couple of ways to catch it. You can catch it with your tinder, which I have collected here, or you can catch it with a board.

The nice thing about catching with the tinder is you don't have to transfer it anywhere. The down side of that is it sort of squashes your tinder. The upside of using a board is that it doesn't squash your tinder. But, you do risk dropping your coal.

So, you have a spindle or a drill, a fire boad. When you're selecting the wood you want a wood that's about soft enough so you can put a fingernail into it, and a drill that's about the same.

For hand holds I have several different hand holds. This is a stone that we've hollowed out a little divet in by taking another stone and just drilling into it. And you work that back and forth. This stone had a natural divet to begin with, and then we enhanced it.

I also have a piece of cedar from the same tree, but I drilled into a knot. The knots are much harder wood than the regular wood, so a knot won't burn through.

This is a really cool piece of a hand hold. This is actually a walrus tooth, it has a divet in there, and this is, in Alaska, what was traditionally used for a hand hold. And I also have a knuckle from a moose. This is a moose knuckle that has a divet in there that I've used quite a lot.

So, bones from animals, knots in trees, rocks, a harder wood, or a piece of ivory.

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