Posted by: Juniper Road | November 30, 2012

Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire

Utility workout and primitive skills enthusiasts take note, I am perfecting my bow and drill fire starting methods and challenge you to a fire starting race! The act of creating an ember that can be nurtured into flame is a core work out, and similar to riding a bike. Not only once you figure out the “secret” will you always remember it, but there is an orchestrated symphony of thought and movement which produces that which we seek. Balance, motion, posture, muscle force, and patience are all at play.

The tools are what I’ve been neglecting. Everyone knows the proper tools for the proper job can make the difference between a finished project and one that seems to drag on. A quick Internet search on the subject of “Bow and Drill” fire starting will provide you what you need to get going. Despite my own investigations, I still had questions. Like, why is it taking so long to get my ember?

Indeed there is a dynamic symphony of aspects required for success. The key for my leap in abilities is attributed to a particular focus on the hand piece. I had been using a piece of folded and bent metal from the top of a soup can. The creased bowl shape channeled the top portion of my drill, but the metal conducted heat so greatly I needed a double padded glove to cut down on the discomfort levels of a hot hand. Part of that heat came from friction caused by my design. Dealing with this deficiency, I focused on the hand piece and swapped out the metal for stone.

While hiking the other day with our neighbors Tim and Amanda, I found a rock that fit very nice into my and. I then began to gouge, scrape, dig, and chip a dimple into what I deemed the bottom side of my rock. I worked on this for nearly two hours until I had a nice little pocket carved into the rock. This feature would be the spin point for the top of my drill. Its smooth edges, combined with spit and grease, allowed for an extremely efficient and fast spin of my drill. This allowed me to achieve the next level in my efforts, producing much more smoke and a slightly higher temperature than I could previously obtain, reaching the goal of an ember on a regular basis.

The gift of fire is mine! There is a primal nourishment from fire, and even in a first world pampering of sorts it still brings a feeling of comfort and pleasure. I’m no monkey, I’ve got a bunch of tools, and there are several aspects of the bow and drill method of fire starting that I could cover during a two hour class. Anyone want to sign up? Nature will provide the materials.

The biggest key points in my opinion are patience and making good equipment. Detailed attention to your gear will keep you safe and warm at night, or facilitate a neat party trick at your next bonfire.

Feel free to come sit by the fire, there’s room for everyone;)



  1. Next post:

    My new buffalo hide coat. 🙂

    Sent from my iPhone

    • Bwhaha! GREAT idea!

  2. I would love to come sit by the fire with you:). I can almost smell it! When will your classes begin?
    Aunt Sue

    • Class starts whenever you van make it! I tried it for the first time today…hard work!

  3. Reblogged this on thesurvivalplaceblog.

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