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Friction Fire

Updated: Feb 22, 2023

I always wanted to get a fire started by rubbing sticks together. In my mind if you could get a friction fire started, you could survive just about anywhere! Besides, it just seems like a suer cool thing to be able to do.


I read books and watched videos about how to make and use a bow drill. After each new book or video, I was positive I would be able to make a kit and get a glowing red coal from it, but each time was a miserable failure. Sure, I could get a lot of smoke, but I just couldn’t get a coal made. I spent countless hours trying to figure out how to do it with the same results every time…smoke, but no coal. I was sure I was using the wrong kind of wood, or just not sticking with it long enough. I would push myself hard until sweat dripped down my nose and my arm felt like it was going to fall off.


Eventually, I attended a wilderness survival school and got some instruction! Within 20 minutes I had built a kit and made a coal! I even learned how to produce a coal from a hand drill! It was so rewarding after all the years of failed attempts!


The difference was having real live instruction. Someone who knew how to spot what I was doing wrong and correct my kit, my stance, and my technique. Looking back, I realize I had been doing several small things wrong. My spindle was too fat, my notch wasn’t carved far enough into the fireboard. I certainly wasn’t using a very good hand hold, and my stance sucked. Correcting these things made all the difference in the world and I was getting beautiful orange glowing coals in a matter of seconds!


Then I went home and started experimenting with different types of wood. What I quickly learned was different types of wood behave differently. The way to carve a kit out of maple is slightly different than the way to build a kit out of cedar, but the more I tried, the more I was able to identify the issue and correct it until it worked. The more I actually understood what was happening with the wood and the mechanics of the kit, the more success I had.


For anyone who’s tried and tried without success, my advice is to seek out someone who has accomplished what you are trying to do and ask for guidance. Just a little guidance will start you down the trail you want to be on. From there you can go as far as you want.


- Andre Branning

Owner & Operator

Nature Connect LLC

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