Author Topic: Help on hand drill  (Read 6552 times)

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Offline RangerXanatos

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Help on hand drill
« on: September 04, 2014, 06:50:34 AM »
I need some help on the hand drill.  Right now I've been using blackberry on cottonwood and have been able to get dust and a little bit of smoke.  I've tried mullein and can't even get that to make dust. To me it seems like I just cant get enough downward pressure yet but I'm looking for other recommendations on anything I need to improve.  I've gotten coals using thumb-loops on mullein and horseweed but I want to be able to do it without the thumb-loops.  Right now I'll just keep practicing to get my muscles in better shape for it.

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Offline madmax

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Re: Help on hand drill
« Reply #1 on: September 04, 2014, 06:56:10 AM »
Man, the hand drill is tough to get.  In my bumbling world.  It is amazing when you get a coal.  Keep on keeping on.
At least it's not a femur through the pelvis.

Offline Moe M.

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Re: Help on hand drill
« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2014, 06:25:13 AM »

  Somethings are just not worth the effort,  I can understand challenging yourself,  but there's a limit to just how far you should endure the frustration of failure,  not to be a smart ass,  but have you considered carrying a Bic lighter.
  Before you call me a bad name,  think about this,  friction fire is tough even when you have the right materials,  and the materials have to be just about perfect in moisture content,  not too soft, not too hard, the humidity in the air can change the game,  there are so many variables to deal with, when does the hand drill become worth the effort ?
  The Bic lighter was low,  but it makes a point,  for most of us carrying several ways to make fire in the bush is all we'll ever really need, in my personal kit,  I have a couple of small Bic Lighters, if one fails I can fall back on the other,  I carry a ferro rod in my pack, and one on my person,  I carry a flint & steel kit that has everything I need to get flame including the tinder,  and I also carry a small bag with a spare flint, steel, tinder, fat wood, cotton balls, and the 3" stub of a bees wax candle,  also in my kit is a 2-1/2" burning lens.
  I carry cordage in sveral different ways including my boot laces,  tarp and ridge lines, and a paracord bracelet,  that gives me the ability to make a Bow Drill fire, which for most people in most areas of this country and points North is probably the simplest and most effective way to make fire by friction,  like you, I have been nothing but frustrated with trying to master the hand drill,  but as much as it would be a huge ego boost for me,  I have better things to do with my time,  and if I can't get a fire going with the seven or eight means that I now carry,  I shouldn't be allowed to roam the woods alone.
                                                                                                                                         :shrug:
 Just one man's opinion.
In youth we learn,   with age we understand.

Offline PetrifiedWood

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Re: Help on hand drill
« Reply #3 on: September 05, 2014, 09:15:41 AM »
I think most people who learn friction fire do so knowing there are easier options. It's not about getting fire going as much as it is about getting a fire going using a primitive means.

The last time I was at the range there was a guy working on the sights of his 50 caliber percussion rifle. I'm not an antique firearms aficionado, so I don't know the particular rifle he was using. But it wasn't a modern muzzle loader. He told me he has taken several elk with it over the last ten years.

There are a lot of modern options he could have used that would be easier and more efficient, but to a lot of people the WAY something is achieved is as important as the end result.

That said, I have only tried hand drill a few times and it is not something I want to try again, lol!

Offline FlaMike

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Re: Help on hand drill
« Reply #4 on: September 05, 2014, 11:35:18 AM »
I am just now getting started with learning Fire by Friction, so I'm not the best to be offering advice, by a long shot.

But, since you mentioned being able to get to the coal stage using mullein and horseweed, would not that be the materials more likely to produce a coal with a hand drill?

In that you are currently producing a lot of dust and some smoke with blackberry on cottonwood, I'd suspect the problem has something to do with the hardness of the two materials, compared to each other.

Am am in full agreement with PW's opinion that the way, or method, is often the most important part of learning a new skill. We seldom do things a certain way because its easy, some of do it a certain way because its a part of history that should be kept alive.

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Offline xj35s

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Re: Help on hand drill
« Reply #5 on: September 05, 2014, 12:05:56 PM »
try the blackberry on mullein or mullein on mullein. Not sure cottonwood is good for anything but tinder when the time is right.

I haven't made a friction fire yet but that's my thought going by all that I've read on the subject.

Keep at it. experiment a lot.
pessimist complain about the wind. optimist expect the wind to change. realist adjusts the sails.

Offline madmax

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Re: Help on hand drill
« Reply #6 on: September 05, 2014, 02:28:20 PM »
I've done the bow drill an hand job.  And 2 Bics are in my pocket when I roam the woods.  lesson learned.
At least it's not a femur through the pelvis.

Offline Spyder1958

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Re: Help on hand drill
« Reply #7 on: September 05, 2014, 05:52:26 PM »
Woods is the Master here, Maybe he'll come along and help out. I wouldn't even try here in this environment.
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Offline Moe M.

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Re: Help on hand drill
« Reply #8 on: September 05, 2014, 05:55:46 PM »
try the blackberry on mullein or mullein on mullein. Not sure cottonwood is good for anything but tinder when the time is right.

I haven't made a friction fire yet but that's my thought going by all that I've read on the subject.

Keep at it. experiment a lot.

  I've been successful with the bow drill making fires,  the hand drill is something I've never gotten the hang of,  I've seen it done in videos,  Matt Graham makes it look like child's play,  so does Cody Lundin, with me, as soon as I see a little smoke my hands are burning hotter than the spindle,  and I've yet to come close to and ember.
  I've heard several of the guru's say (in books) that if you are using Mullein it should be dry (as in aged) and that the best fire board (hearth board) for Mullein is the Mullein root,  I've never tried it and don't intend to,  I'm sure that I'll break down and try it again some day,  but not anytime soon,  although I do have a dried Mullein stalk stashed in my camper van waiting for that day when I feel that I need to punish myself for some wrong that I've done.    :shrug: :lol:
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Offline wolfy

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Re: Help on hand drill
« Reply #9 on: September 05, 2014, 06:19:14 PM »
Woods is the Master here, Maybe he'll come along and help out. I wouldn't even try here in this environment.
I noticed in Woods' last video that, even he wears leather gloves with the mullein stalks.....AND he pointed out the hole worn in the palm of one of them, too.   Bics are way cheaper than leather gloves, I figger!  ;D
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Offline woodsrunner

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Re: Help on hand drill
« Reply #10 on: September 05, 2014, 08:31:31 PM »
take a couple days off and save yer hands....as far as i can tell you appear to have good form
cottonwood root works better than branchwood if thats what yer usin....your hearth is to thick 1/2"-3/4"tops
i never used blackberry, so i can't help you there....you can get more downward pressure by kneeling instead of sitting...though i don't believe that is the problem....as p.w said keep on keeping on, you'll get er....then you won't...then you will....takes time to own it...woods
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Offline mneedham

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Re: Help on hand drill
« Reply #11 on: September 06, 2014, 06:01:51 PM »
So I cut some cattail stalk and some goldenrod as well.  I was going to let them dry a little.  Are those good choices?

Offline woodsrunner

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Re: Help on hand drill
« Reply #12 on: September 06, 2014, 08:35:13 PM »
So I cut some cattail stalk and some goldenrod as well.  I was going to let them dry a little.  Are those good choices?
cattail is a bit delicate but will work if the plant is completely dried....and as long as you dont apply excess pressure and break the spindle.

golden rod works great if the pith is intact....some plants like goldenrod, fireweed, bull thistle, ect, often lose thier piths as the plant dies...better to cllect those plants green and allow them to dry out at home.

mullien, on the other hand never loses its pith and is best collected during winter through early summer, after the stalk turns black and begins developing long cracks along its length, it becomes more difficult to obtain an ember from it.
Sotol, and yucca are desert plants and are best collected after the previous years stalks are dead and well dried out.

i am certainly no expert!...many others here can offer tips i'm sure that i am unaware of, i hear Alan Halcon won a contest by achieving a five second ember...a feat ive never achieved...but don't worry about any of that...just keep after it!...it ain't easy, but it ain't rocket science either 8)...woods

 
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Offline Alan Halcon

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Re: Help on hand drill
« Reply #13 on: September 07, 2014, 10:44:25 PM »
I'm not a fan of cottonwood or willow for the handdrill. For the bow and drill, those woods are just fine.

I routinely get 3 and 4 second coals, with the fastest being 2 seconds (all timed), using sotol. A very close second is Mexican and California Fan Palm, with 3 second coals fairly common.

Sotol is found in Arizona, but I can sometimes find it in shopping center parking lots in the high desert, used as a landscape plant. Fan Palm, both Mexican and California, I've seen in all kinds of different states, especially all throughout southern states and Nevada.

The section from the fan palm you want is the stalk that bears the fruit, which by the way tastes like dates.

http://outdoorselfreliance.com/firemaking-set-from-a-fan-palm/

hope that helps

Offline RangerXanatos

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Re: Help on hand drill
« Reply #14 on: September 08, 2014, 10:13:59 AM »
Thanks for the tips guys!

I'm not a fan of cottonwood or willow for the handdrill. For the bow and drill, those woods are just fine.

I routinely get 3 and 4 second coals, with the fastest being 2 seconds (all timed), using sotol. A very close second is Mexican and California Fan Palm, with 3 second coals fairly common.

Sotol is found in Arizona, but I can sometimes find it in shopping center parking lots in the high desert, used as a landscape plant. Fan Palm, both Mexican and California, I've seen in all kinds of different states, especially all throughout southern states and Nevada.

The section from the fan palm you want is the stalk that bears the fruit, which by the way tastes like dates.

http://outdoorselfreliance.com/firemaking-set-from-a-fan-palm/

hope that helps

Thanks!  I'm in northeast Georgia and we don't have any sotol here.  We do have some sort of a palm tree at one place but I don't believe I've ever seen the fruit stalk.  I'll keep a lookout for it.

In the meanwhile, I'll keep looking for a different hearth board.  :)

take a couple days off and save yer hands....as far as i can tell you appear to have good form
cottonwood root works better than branchwood if thats what yer usin....your hearth is to thick 1/2"-3/4"tops
i never used blackberry, so i can't help you there....you can get more downward pressure by kneeling instead of sitting...though i don't believe that is the problem....as p.w said keep on keeping on, you'll get er....then you won't...then you will....takes time to own it...woods

It is part of a branch.  I have also thinned the board out.  I've been sitting when doing it because I get tired of not having anything soft to place my knees on (for lack of bringning something).  Just doing the bow drill hurts when granite is all around you.  Lol
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Offline Reallybigmonkey1

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Re: Help on hand drill
« Reply #15 on: September 08, 2014, 08:43:53 PM »
 You said you live in Northeast Georgia, I live in Northwest Georgia so I'll tell you what works for me.  Eastern red cedar for hearthboard is my number one pick. Use the outer wood and not that red smelly core, it wont work. My number two pick is willow. Those are my only two. As far as the spindle, my number one pick for this area is Mullein. The other good ones are Goldenrod, Daisy Fleabane, Horseweed. My last choices are Bull Thistle, sow thistle, lambs quarter, cattail and dog fennel. Them will work but they suck. You HAVE to build up your hands and the muscles by daily spinning. Ive had friends that would spin till they blister then heal for a week. That never works. Spin for 5 to maybe 10 minutes everyday and in two weeks your hands will be used to it and your triceps and pecs will be built up enough that you will be able to put serious down pressure on it. One other thing I noticed on your video, when the spindles hollow pith leaves that little divot in your hearthboard, chip it out of there with your knife. That divot does nothing but slow down your speed. I read where Alan Halcon mentioned Fan palm, use it if you can find it but we may not have it in North Georgia. Alan has absolutely mastered the hand drill so anything he says will work if you can find the materials. Good luck man.
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