Making a primitive fire with a hand drill.12:46


Today we are going to be going over the hand drill which is a primitive fire making technique.  It is one of the most difficult techniques because you have to use your own speed and pressure, but its simple to create the kit components.

The Components. 

First you’ll need the spindles.

These look different than the spindles on a bow drill, they are longer and they are smaller.  Ideally, you’ll want your spindles to be the width of your pinky.  If it’s too small you’ll drill right through the board.   The smaller your spindle the more RPM’s you’re going to get.  The thicker the spindle the better it will be on your hands.  Any kind of stalk such as Cattail works great as a spindle, anything that’s pithy.  Another thing about the spindle is that I like them to be about 2 feet long.  It should also be pretty straight and free of any twigs coming off the sides.  Doing the hand drill you’ll most likely get some blisters as a beginner.



Your next component will be your fire board. 

At most your fire board should be a half inch thick.  It should be very dry.   A few good woods to use. Yucca, Poplar, Cyprus, and Willow.  Find out whats good in your area.  Dry and a soft density. Too soft and you will drill right through it.

To get your fire board ready you are going to go in about 1/4 inch from the edge of the board and create a divot for your spindle to rest in.  Use your knife to make a nice resting place for your spindle.


Rotate your spindle in the hole you’ve created to make it bigger.  Not starting our fire just yet.


Use your knife to carve a notch next to your divot.  This will allow your fresh burning ember to fall down under the board.


Put something like a leaf under the fire board to catch your coal when it falls out.

Now its time to make a fire.

There are 2 positions you can use when staring your fire.  One is a kneeling position.  This way is good if you don’t have a lot of strength.

The other is the sitting position where you sit like this and drill down.


Start by warming the board up.  You don’t have to exert a lot of force, just a little pressure to heat it up. Start at the top of the spindle and work your way down, use your entire hand length. Keep pressure applied because if you lose pressure you’ll lose heat.   As you start to see smoke apply a little more pressure and start to speed up.

Soon after, you should have a nice burning ember to start your fire with.