FOR SALE Master the Bow Drill

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Tom A Hawk

45 Cal.
MLF Vendor
MLF Supporter
Jul 6, 2006
Reaction score
Finger Lakes Region - NYS
Well...the snow has melted and Its not yet time to mow the grass. Why not finally accomplish something with bragging rights that you've always wanted to do. Learn to make fire by friction and be the center of attention at your next Ronde or primitive camp.

Our bow drill kits are $29.95 plus shipping.

The kits come with instructions and something you can't get anywhere else. Personal assistance is just a phone call away.

Tips for success:

Making fire with the bow drill is dependent on several critical factors that when understood and managed, greatly increase the rate of success. With experience and practice, knowledge of these factors will enable you to determine which are likely to blame when failure occurs.

Spindle / Board Materials

There are a wide variety of materials that can be used for the spindle and hearth board. Extensive lists are available on the internet and I won't attempt reproduce them here. However, there are some characteristics they have in common.

- In general, soft woods work better than hard woods. The woods should be able to be dented with thumbnail pressure.
- A spindle / hearth board combination that produces a fine, silky feeling powder when rubbed between thumb and forefinger is desirable. A combination that produces a hard, granular powder is probably not a good choice.
- Conifer woods are not usually a good choice due to resin/pitch in the wood. However, I have had success with spruce on spruce.

Hand bearing

- Whatever material is used for the top hand bearing, strive to minimize friction. Friction on top interferes with heat generating efficiency on the bottom end. The bearing can be lubricated with fat, soap, pitch, etc.


- The spindle should be straight and spin true without wobble. A wobbling, crooked spindle allows heat to escape.
- The spindle should be about the same diameter as the board is thick. 3/4" - 1" works well.

Bow / Cord

- The bow should have enough clearance so the it does not contact and interfere with the spindle and rigid enough to maintain cord tension. The cord needs to be tight enough such that it does not slip on the spindle.


- The hearth board should be held firmly with the foot to prevent it from moving. Movement disturbs the dust pile and prevents the coal from forming.

- The top bearing hand should be locked firmly against the shin to prevent spindle wobble.

- Long, smooth strokes with the bow work better than short choppy ones.

- As smoke begins to rise, lean forward slightly and allow your upper body weight to bear down on the spindle to increase friction.


If smoke continues to rise from the dust pile after bowing has stopped, it is likely that a coal is forming. Don't be in a hurry. Wave over it with the hand to feed oxygen and let the coal solidify and congeal.

The dust pile should be protected from elements that rob heat and prevent coal formation such as wind, rain and snow.

While not critical, a notch carved into the hearth board that is wider on the bottom than on top ( like an inverted V ) makes it easier to lift the board away from the coal without disturbing it.

The only other required element is "elbow grease". Please let me know if there are any questions on the above or if further explanation is required. Armed with this information and with a bit of practice you should be able to get a coal in about 20 seconds of bowing.