Saturday, April 12, 2008

Improvised Bow Drill

Yesterday my friend and I were hiking in the nearby woods, and we decided to test her bow drill skills. It seems that everything that could pose a problem, did. First, finding adequate tinder, then her soapstone handhold was too soft, so the spindle had drilled almost all the way through at this point, then we realized the bow (with buckskin string) had been dropped somewhere in our travels. So we had to come up with some solutions to fix these problems and ultimately achieve fire.
First, a string for the bow. While I had a backup bow, we were testing her skills, not mine, as well as her equipment on hand. I was merely an observer in this. So after a moments thought, she produced a fine shoelace from her shoe, which served perfectly.
Next, tinder. We managed to locate a piece of bark with somewhat fibrous inner layer.
After giving the set a go, we found problems with the spindle, and realized the wooden spindle had actually bored deep enough into the stone that it was not spinning as freely as one would like, so we needed to find something to replace it, preferably without too much time needed. We weren't the first to visit this spot, and some others had seen this area as a good place to consume alcohol. As such, there was a few beer cans around, so why not try the bottom of a beer can? This worked rather well, surprisingly.
And so we were able to achieve an ember, and with some coaxing, a flame.

Above you can see the shoelace, beer can, and set used. The green coloured stone is the soapstone handhold.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Bamboo Fire Saw

I recently tried the Bamboo Fire Saw method of producing fire. I have not been instructed in this method, though I have seen pictures, videos, and read about the process.
There is a large stand of Bamboo next to a creek near here, so I made my way there to gather the necessary materials. I wanted to go into this endevour with the assumption that I did not have my bow drill set with me, nor tinder, so I gathered tinder along the way. I did have my stone knife, but I was reluctant to use it, since I was trying to produce and ember without the usual tools I have with me, or with no tools at all.
I hadn't been in this patch of Bamboo in quite awhile, and so I spent a bit of time exploring while I gathered materials I would need. There was a faint smell of skunk, as well as a pile of bird feathers (unsure what kind, they're grey and very common to find around here).

In this photo you can see a dark groove in the bamboo, thats where I was sawing away to produce some dust to form the ember. I did produce some dust, but it didn't collect very well. I did have some help from my friend, but we were unable to sustain the necessary endurance to get an ember.
After this attempt I did some research on the topic, and I found some great information on producing an ember with Bamboo in Russel Cutts' book, Wildfire: Fire Making Art. The method he illustrates is designed so that one person can do it. I plan on demonstrating that in this blog soon.
The method I attempted can be seen here (with success!)