Author Topic: Firestarting  (Read 729 times)

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Offline Bill Quick

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« on: July 08, 2011, 09:51:25 AM »
From the text archives:

Taken from American Survival GuideSubscription address is:American Survival GuideSubscription Dept.McMullen PublishingP.O. Box 70015Anaheim, CA 92825-0015714-635-9040

Can be downloaded as FIRE0001.ZIP.

The primary means of starting fire for European cultures over the last 1000years (possibly longer) has been flint and steel. Building the flint andsteel fire has become one of the sporting events common to black powderrendezvous. Because of this flint and steel sets and the knowledgerequired to use them are available to anyone who wants to learn thetechnique.

The four items needed to start a flint and steel fire are:1. Flint, or some other hard rock.2. A fire steel.3. Something to catch sparks.4. Tinder.

Flint has been the traditional stone because it is hard, andbreaks into keen edged fragments. Other stones will work, particularly thequartz based minerals. Look for stones that break into relatively flatsections with sharp edges.

The steel is struck against the sharp edge of a hard stone which shavesoff very small splinters of steel which are heated white hot by friction.To strike a fire hold the char on Top of the flint, close to the edge andstrike the stone with a long sweeping downward stroke of the steel. Charcloth can be wrapped around the stone. When a spark catches in the char, asmall glowing spot will appear. Blow on the spot gently and it will spreadinto the char material.

The most critical is number 3, the spark catching material. The most commonmaterial is charred cotton or linen cloth.

Char cloth is produced by heating in a low oxygen environment, producing acharcoal like substance. Get a metal can that can be resealed. Put thecloth to be charred in the can and seal it. Punch a small hole in the canand put the whole mess in a fire. Watch for smoke escaping through thehole in the can. When the smoke decreases slightly, remove the can fromthe fire and stopper the hole with a nail or something. After the cancools, look at the cloth. If it's dark brown, it wasn't heated longenough. If it falls apart at the slightest touch, it was heated to long.Experiment. The cloth needs to be 100% cotton, and free of dyes and othersynthetics. The heavier the cloth, the better.

Another good material to treat in this way is very rotten punk wood. Woodso rotten that it can be broken off with your hands. Maple is thepreferred wood, but others work well also. Gather several different typesand see what works well. Experiment. Charred punk is not as consistant ascloth, some will catch sparks very well, some won't at all. If it doescatch, it is next to impossible to kill. Don't throw away the charred punkthat won't catch sparks, it'll be useful later.

Char material will glow, but it does not produce an open flame. That isthe job of the tinder. Lay the glowing char in a birds next of fine drytinder. Shredded paper, dry grass, and cedar bark all work well. Gentlyblow on the ember until the tinder bursts in to a flame.

On sunny days, a magnifying glass will get an ember going in the charmaterial very easily. From there to getting the tinder going is noproblem. The charred punk that you couldn't light with a spark will startthis way.

ANOTHER WAY - Bow and Drill

The four items needed to start a bow and drill fire are:1. The bow.2. Drill, or drills.3. A flat plank.4. A bearing block.And some char material and tinder of course.

The first item required is a bow. 30" long and .5 to .75 inches thick. Alittle bit of flex, but nothing like an arrow casting bow. Notch the endsof the bow and tie on a heavy cord, leaving just enough slack to wrap thecord around the drill. Nylon boot laces work very well, but any cord willwear out rather quickly.

Drills should be bone dry, with no pitch or oil. Relatively soft drillswork better. Western Red Cedar, Red Alder, and Willow work well. Also tryWhite Cedar, Cottonwood, Birch, Aspen, and Poplars. Drills should be 6 to8 inches long, with the bark stripped off, and .5 to .75 inches thick.Round one end, and make a blunt point on the other.

The flat plank should be 2 to 3 inches wide and .5 to .75 inches thick. Itshould be made from one of the woods used as a fire drill above. Cut atriangular notch roughly .25 inch into the fireboard, this is to catch thesawdust. At the point of the V gouge a small hole for the drill tip. Workwith that notch. To shallow and the dust forms a ring around the drill, tonarrow and the sawdust doesn't have the mass to support an ember.Experiment.

Lastly, is the bearing block. This is what you hold in your hand to holdthe top of the drill. It should be slightly, or more bowl shaped, so thethe top of the drill doesn't wonder out. Common materials are hollowed outstones, hardwood knots, and carved bones. The author recommends a oneounce shot glass, as the shot glass is almost friction free when the drillturns inside it.

Place something flat and dry under the fireboard (plank) to catch the emberwhen it forms. Wrap the cord around the drill. Take shotglass in theother hand to hold the top of the drill. Put the point of the drill in thesmall hole at the V. Spin the drill with long smooth strokes of the bow.Use moderate pressure. You want some pressure to create friction. In abit there should be smoke rising from the drill hole, and a wood dust pilerising in the notch. Watch the sawdust pile, and when it seems to besmoking on it's own carefully lift out the drill. If the sawdustcontinues to smoke there is an ember in there that will burn its waythrough the sawdust pile.

Now you can put some tinder on the pile and blow it into a flame, or lighta piece of char with the sawdust ember. Since the sawdust pile is hard tomove, and easy to blow away, it is easier to light the char with it.Again, this is a good use of punk wood that won't work with the flint andsteel.

The time to think of matchless fires is sometime before your match supplyruns out. Collect the materials now, and they will be bone dry when youneed them.

OTHER READING:Making Sure-Fire Tinder, by David S. Ripplinger, published by Track Of TheWolf.Primative Fire & Cordage, by John McPherson, P.O.Box 96, Randolph, KS,66554

SOURCES:Mountain State Muzzleloading, RT.1 Box 154-1, Williamstown, WV, 26187Track Of The Wolf, Box Y, Osseo, MN, 55369Jas Townsend & Son Inc., P.O.Box 415, Pierceton, IN, 46562Dixie Gun Works, P.O.Box 130, Union City, TN 38261Arrowhead Forge, RT.1 Box 25, Wilmot, SD, 57279Prairie Forge, P.O.Box 234, Lavina, MT,59046

"You can get a lot farther with a kind word and a gun than a kind word alone."  --   Al Capone


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