Monday, October 3, 2011

The Firefly Emerges With A Hand Drill

Making a fire may be the most important survival skill one can possess.
I have seen people start fire with a many different techniques, the simplest being a lighter, but I wanted to test an idea I had using the hand drill from my survival pack.
So here I present to you, with pictures, the results of my test.

Here is the hand drill.

I collected tinder of milkweed silk, birch bark, dried pine needles and shredded soft wood.
The pine needles and shredded wood are in there.

Then I took a twig that was dried, strong enough and small enough to fit into the drill and used my knife to make a point on it, put it in the drill and tightened it in.
Try to find one that is fairly straight.

You can use your knife to make a slight indentation on your flat wood so that the tip of the twig doesn't dance around. Since I used a thin top piece and a thicker bottom piece of wood I stuck some tinder between the two pieces of wood before I started drilling.
Under this top thin wood strip is birch bark. Below that is milkweed silk, pine needles and some wood shavings. I had to push out the milkweed silk from near the drilling point as the silk would wrap around the  wooden stick and insulate it, keeping it from getting hot enough. I held the top piece of wood in place by placing my foot on the far end of it.
You can see how the drill heats the wood and the charred shavings around the beginning of the hole. What I didn't catch on camera is the smoke it made. The stick ended up boring a hole through the top layer and then down to the bottom layer. It did take a few times to get the kindling to finally spark, I spent about 20 minutes with this first attempt.
The birch bark really made the fire take off. It didn't give me any time to capture the smoking before igniting.
I did this test in my garage since it is a windy day and I didn't want to start fire to the neighborhood. After it started I dumped it on the bare garage floor, I sure hope my husband doesn't mind the scorch mark. Ooops! 
Here you can see the several indents on the larger board from moving the drill around. I am not sure which one actually sparked the fire. I am pretty sure that the wood shavings are what caught fire first and then the rest of the kindling made it burst. Be careful with the tip of the drill stick, it gets very hot and can burn you even if it doesn't look hot or is smoking.

An additional note on milkweed silk.
Milkweed silk will ignite almost like black powder, with a burst! Use extreme care when using it for tinder. It also has an insulation property that is said to be warmer than goose down. It was used for life jackets during WW2 as one pound can keep a 100 to 150 pound man afloat for a few hours.
Milkweed is vital to monarch butterflies, so if you are going to use some for kindling please take the seeds off the silk first and spread them where they can grow uninterrupted. I collect the seed pods before they open and release the seeds so that I can contain the seeds and plant them where I want them for the butterflies.
The stem of milkweed is a wonderful source for cordage. It makes a very strong twine when spun right.
The sappy milk is said to be a great remedy for poison ivy.

Kindling will vary on where you are. Get to know some of the native plants in your area so that you won't be drilling for nothing.

So in conclusion the hand drill; worked to start a fire, was fairly fast, was a bit of a lower arm workout, and can be used for more than just the purpose of drilling holes. I am very glad that I decided to get one for my survival pack.

If you have ever used a bow drill for starting a fire, this should be a piece of cake for you.
I hope this has been helpful to you. I find a campfire to be very cozy especially with some fish planked next to it and some camp bread slowly roast over it.

Thank you for stopping by.
Dee Dee

1 comment:

  1. Interesting! I pack a loaded Zippo Fire Starter and a few Bic lighters in my pocket. Still, as a woodsman, I do carry a hand drill; however, I never thought about using it in this way, so it's actually a good tip. I use my (1950's made) hand drill to bore holes into adjoining timber pieces (ranging from 1.5" to 4" in diameter) that I cut to size with my fast saw, usually making things for a campsite, wherein I leave nothing man-made behind. I whittle wood pegs and drive them (w/an all-steel campers rigging ax) into the holes bored through cross-members, to assemble things like a bear-resistant shelter, which I then drape over and attach to the frame, my jumbo camouflage tarp. I do not like flimsy factory tents. Tarps fold-up flat to pack easily, and have multiple uses. I can also construct traps, fishing poles, tree stands, a latrine shanty, rain catchment, and so on, rather than packing in a bunch of stuff.