Primitive SkillsBow Drill Primitive Fire Starting Skills Method

Bow Drill Primitive Fire Starting Skills Method

This Bow Drill Primitive Fire Starting Skills Method offers an ancient method of starting fire without matches or a lighter, a method that applies friction to generate heat. The heat eventually produces an ember in the burnt sawdust. The ember is tiny, smaller than the head of a cigarette, and fragile.

Once the ember is formed it is carefully placed into a “tinder bundle” (a bird’s type nest of stringy, fluffy, and combustible material). Once the ember is in the tinder bundle it is then carefully nurtured and coaxed into flame. Once the tinder bundle bursts into flame, it is placed into the fuel that has been assembled ready for ignition.

Bow-Drill-Primitive-Fire-Starting-Skills-Method -The Homestead Survival

“Primitive (first) skills are our shared inheritance. It is the shared thread which links us to our prehistory and binds us together as human beings.” Quote by Steve Watts

Knowledge is not complete until it is passed on. But, the knowledge that is passed on must be complete. Quote by Dino Labiste

Bow-Drill-Primitive-Fire-Starting-Skills-Method -The Homestead Survival

Do you crave to learn about the essentials of Bushcraft? Well, then there is something very basic about this subject you must know; making a bow drill.


Following key tools are needed for the task:

Hearth board: select an appropriate dry wood to carve out the hearth board from. Few good suggestions are basswood (lime) Sycamore, Willow. Certain wood combinations such as Ash on Willow, Hazel on Poplar, etc. can also be used

Your hearth board must be a foot tall and 15mm thick.

The end of hearth board which will bear the bow should have a slight circular depression.

Wooden drill: the drill must be about 7 inches tall, 2 cm thick, and thoroughly straight. About drill thickness, keep in mind that it must make enough rotations when being bowed in the heather notch to produce friction. Carve one of its end pointed and keep the other one blunt.

Bow-Drill-Primitive-Fire-Starting-Skills-Method -The Homestead Survival

The bow: it must be as steady and rigid as possible to avoid the string from slipping out. Give it a length of up to 85 cm along with a slight bend. Rawhide or sinew can make up the string material.

Bearing block: use a tough, dry wooden piece for its frictionless properties. Sculpt a small circular depression in the middle of the block. Stuff some fresh leaves into the depression so as to reduce friction.

Tinder: use Honeysuckle or Brass bark (dry wood) for the tinder. Break it down into soft fiber threads by buffing it in between your hands.

An ember pan: to place beneath the heather board.

Assemble yourself in a position from where you can bow the drill easily. Begin with drilling against the depression created in the hearth board earlier. After getting a nice burnt circle in that pit, chip out a notch measuring about one-eighth of the circle.

Place an ember pan beneath the prepared notch and start drilling with smooth and quick moves until fire sparks are seen. Apply pressure in a downward direction and from the top using the bearing block.

Your bow drill set-up is now complete

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Melissa Francis
Melissa Francis
Greetings! I'm Melissa Francis, the founder and primary contributor to The Homestead Survival. With over 20 years of experience in homesteading, sustainability, and emergency preparedness, I've dedicated my life to helping others achieve a simpler, more self-reliant lifestyle.

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