Thursday, April 28, 2011

Overlooked Secrets of Fire By Friction Bow Method

Overlooked Secrets of Fire by Friction
for the
Bow Method

By Kato Haws Jr.

Disclaimer -- although building friction fires can be a lot of fun, it is not very practical. I recommend that everyone learn fire building using a lighter or matches and always carry them in the wilderness.

The text below is incomplete without photos. See the complete tips illustrated with photos here.

Tip #1 --Square off the tip of the spindle, so as to bring maximum pressure to bear on the rim of the spindle. This makes a big difference on how hard you have to push to get the spindle smoking, thus saving muscle power as well as cutting down on abuse to the hand piece.
Tip #2 -- Proper notch construction is important. Choose the notch type for your situation, and carve it as symmetrical and clean-cut as you can.

Normal “V”

This is a reasonably effective notch type and easy to cut with a knife.

Undercut “V”

This notch type is the easiest to cut with a sharp rock. However, the spindle must cut itself down into the baseboard a ways before sawdust begins to collect in the notch.

Inverted “V”

This is the most effective notch in my opinion. This notch requires a sharp knife or saw to cut.

NOTE: the notch need only be cut ¾ of the way to the center of the circle.
Tip #3 -- A wooden hand piece is often sufficient. Choose a green branch about 3/4” to 1” thick. Choose a spot on the branch where there is a knot if possible.

For a solid-core spindle cut a “V” shaped crater about 3/8” deep and a little wider. For a hollow core spindle draw a circle just bigger than the size of your spindle top and crisscross it with cuts -- then dig out the cuts to form a flat bottomed hole.

Press and polish some paraffin, nut meat, or a chip of hand soap into the hole for lubrication. The following are inferior lubricants: pine needles, dry grass and oil from beside your nose.

NOTE: A wooden hand piece will generally withstand the 10 or 12 pounds of pressure necessary to get a coal. The trick is to press lightly and to keep the lower tip of the spindle blunt.
Tip #4 -- Use a fairly small diameter spindle to cut down on muscle power. A spindle of 7/16” or 1/2” diameter is ideal for the bow method. (A very soft spindle -- such as sotol -- desert spoon -- would be an exception).
Tip #5 -- Use a stout, stiff bow. If you use a supple bow it will likely slip on the push stroke. This is because a supple bow bends and loosens the string.

NOTE: You can tighten up a slightly loose bow string on the fly by using pressure from your thumb, but this will not help much with a willowy bow.
Tip #6 -- A clove hitch is easy to tie, and is fairly secure and adjustable for attaching your bow string.

Choose a round or square cord about 1/8” thick for your bowstring.

If you need to use a flat lace, tie one end to the bow and twist it to make it round before tying the other end. The reason for this is to avoid the binding that occurs with a flat lace.
Tip #7 -

You can tell when a coal has been generated when the notch is full and the sawdust farthest from the spindle begins to smoke. One way to achieve this is to stroke hard enough to obtain moderate smoke for about 30 strokes and then finish up with 10 or 15 maximum speed strokes.

NOTE: The material pictured is white cedar (no hole cedar”) fencing from the lumberyard and is a good practice material for baseboards and spindles.

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