Bow Drill: Carving a Perfect Notch
(As featured in the February 2009 issue of Practically Seeking)
To be successful with Bow Drill you simply have to do more things right than you do wrong.
To make it fast, easy and effortless, you must do ALL things in the manner of a quest for perfection.
I have watched literally thousands of people struggle unnecessarily with this fire-making technique.
Almost every time the problem was one of three things:
– Poor Form
– Imperfectly Constructed Components
– or a Bad Notch.
Perfect Form will be addressed in our next YouTube Project, and your kit's components should always be carved as perfectly straight and vibration-free as possible.
Right now, we are going to focus on Carving a Perfect Notch.
Curious as to just
easy and effortless Bow Drill and other friction fire methods can really be?
Come to our next
learn for yourself!.
Tips & Tricks for Carving a Perfect Notch:
- If you don't have a dollar bill or a piece of paper handy, there are many things outside, including a green leaf, that can be folded to make a square corner. Just fold that corner on the diagonal and you've got your 45 degrees!
- Don't get hung up on trying to "carve" your notch. By PUSHING the knife into the wood you will achieve a much cleaner cut with far less effort.
- Be sure to place your template at JUST the center of your burned-in socket. If your notch is too deep or too shallow your fire-making attempts will be far more likely to fail.
- Start slow, and err on the side of narrow and shallow. You can always carve your notch wider and deeper if need be.
- Make sure your knife is sharp. Using a dull knife will cause you to have to push harder and use more force, meaning you are far more likely to lose control and cut yourself. Knife Safety Rull #1: A Sharp Knife is a Safe Knife!
- ALWAYS KEEP YOUR OTHER HAND WELL OUT OF THE WAY OF WHERE YOU ARE CUTTING!!!!!
Step-by-step Instructions for Carving a Perfect Notch:
- A perfect notch is just about the size of a 1⁄8 pie slice. There are 360 degrees in a circle, so 1⁄8 is an angle of 45 degrees, and this is pretty much the perfect-sized angle for your notch. It must also have smooth sides, be cleanly carved, and needs to run almost (but not quite) to the center of your burned-in socket.
- Once you have burned-in your socket to the full diameter of your spindle,
take anything that has a square corner and is pliable enough to bend
easily (such as a dollar bill) and fold it on the diagonal. Voila! Your
template for a perfect 45 degree angle!
Place the point of your template at JUST the center of the burned-in socket on your fireboard.
- Make an outline of the perimeter by pressing down with the edge of your knife alongside your template on the top of your fireboard.
- Now use your knife again to mark straight down the front of your fireboard, where the scored "V" from your template meets that edge.
- Begin removing wood from within the notch by simply pressing inward with your knife on the CORNER of your fireboard, not on the flat front or top. Keep your blade angled inward so it matches the outline made with your template. The resultant cut will be at an angle sloping toward the center of the notch itself.
- Carefully repeat Step 5 on the opposite template line, also following the
inward angle. This second cut will allow you to "flip out" the center
portion of wood between the two cuts, easily removing a large chunk.
ALWAYS keep the hand that is holding the fireboard well away from where you are cutting!!!
- Turn your fireboard over and repeat Steps 5 and 6 on the underside corners of your fireboard.
- Having removed a chunk of wood from both the top and bottom corners of your fireboard, repeat these same steps coming in from the flat front, on the much smaller and more easily manageable amount of remaining wood.
- Return again to the top corner, pushing your knife in on one side first, then the opposite side, and again remove the resulting loosened chunk. Then do the same again from the bottom corner, and then again from the middle. Repeat these steps as necessary, always working the corners first, until you reach the point you made with your template.
- Remove any excess material along the sides of the notch so that they go straight down, and are perpendicular to the flat top of your fireboard. Make the sides of your notch as smooth as possible, cleaning up any remaining rough areas or unevenness where the dust may be able to catch. Be sure to check the size by re-fitting your template into the notch, and remove any remaining material as needed.
A Perfect Notch is one of the Main Keys
Fast and Effortless Bow Drill Success.
So Have Fun, Carve Safely, and Continue to Practice your Bow Drill!