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Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Guest Blogger; Friction Fire Genius

Sam Watkiss; a 2nd Year Forest and Arboriculture Student at Reaseheath College, has been experimenting with the bow drill friction fire method and has made some fantastic modifications and improvements to the method. 

He has kindly shared his discovery and he describes it here;   


Whilst in the woods the other day I was messing with different drill sizes for the bow drill.
I found myself with a few quite varied sizes (widths) of drill and it occurred to me that I am spending most of my time here, adjusting the bow tension....

This gave me a thought. Why don't I add a friction hitch to the cord? That way I can adjust the tension in a few seconds. I used the most basic friction knot I knew  - the Blake's hitch.

The Blake's hitch is one of the first knots you learn when you are learning the basics of tree climbing with a rope and harness. If you can hang your life off of a Blake's hitch without a second thought, I was pretty sure it could hold the tension of the little bow.

The hitch cord (green) holds the main bow string (white) in place using a fisherman’s knot on the actual bow. I just left a long tail on the green cord and tied the blake's hitch onto the bow string using that tail. Simple yet effective. The simplicity of it, is what makes it work so well. It is simply transferring your knowledge and skill sets from one area to and applying them to another. 

A close-up of the hitch

Adjusting the hitch is a simple operation

These modifications worked really well even with cord that is not particularly good; I'm currently using some cheap paracord for the hitch, and chainsaw pull cord for the bow string. The friction knot will not slip, I have physically bent my bow and slid the knot downwards to tension and it will hold the bow in that bent position with ease.

Sam Watkiss


Sam's improvement of the bow drill method means he can adjust the tension of his bow string without constantly tying and re-tying knots easily adjust a single bow to adapt to a new slightly thinner, or thicker drill. 

A fantastic invention and a lesson to everyone who practices bushcraft that there is still plenty of innovation and invention to add to bushcraft, it's not all about 'primitive skills'. 

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