Suitable trees/plants to use for fire crafting?

jakeyarwood

Malcolm Douglas
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Currently looking into making a couple of different primitive fire kits to practice indoors with. I'm new to all the flora here so am unsure which woods are best to use when constructing a bow drill / hand drill setup. What are your favoured materials to use for your hearth board, drills and bows? Suggestions appreciated! I'm in Perth, WA so anything specific to the area would be great.
 
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Jeepcreep

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This may not be helpful,due to the fact I'm from the US,and I'm not familiar with plants from your area.I favor yucca stalks for my spindles,and if you tie two stalks parallel,they make great fire boards.Another fire board I favor is poplar or Cotten wood,also quaking aspen.For bows,any dried/ dead but solid hard wood is good,a natural curve in good,but not required.
As far as hand drills,again I favor the stalk of a yucca,fire boards also like the bow drill set up.A little tip when using a bow drill,apply a little lubrication in the bearing block hole,( ear wax works well) to cut down on friction and heat build up in the bearing block.
 

Thrud

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Lucky to be in WA, plenty of grasstree spears which make a excellent drill and board, I think Hairyman suggested using starter cable to use on the bow, which is an excellent idea. I've got spare if you need it. For the bearing block any hardwood(aren't they all!) ear wax or oil from the side of your nose, a little charcoal or sand for the board. The tinder ball; well that's where the fun starts...
 

blacklion

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They Thrud I grabbed a stack of grassheads and had them in thw cupboard drying for a few months. I tried the other day to make a simple hand drill and even tried the plough method witg both failing. A faint smell of burning, no blackening or smoke it just indented. Any thoughts on that?
 

Thrud

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The first time I did it it took me an hour and I was knackering. Bracing the bow against your lower leg helps. Obviously pressure is important on the bearing block. If the plate gets "squeaky" then it can men it is getting too polished by the drill and you may need to roughen the hole in the base either with your knife or by putting a few grains of sand or a little pit of charcoal into it. The other thing is to cut slightly more than a simple V out of the base, it should have a slightly rounded apex. Collect the ember on a leaf or some such and then drop it into your very dry tinder ball. Don't go crazy blowing hard on it, it sometimes takes over half a minute to start to smoulder, holding it it your hand and moving it through the air can be just as effective. I can't get it to work all the time!

Some grasstree spears are fairly rotten and almost like balsa(strangely a hardwood!), these are no good, my base will indent with a fingernail, but is otherwise pretty hard.
 
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blacklion

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Cheers for your help. Ill try adding grit cause it is definitely squeaking and polishing the baseboar. I havnt tried the bow drill with it yet ive only tried the hand drill. Ill give that a go too. Cheers mate
 

Aussie123

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Lucky to be in WA, plenty of grasstree spears which make a excellent drill and board, I think Hairyman suggested using starter cable to use on the bow, which is an excellent idea. I've got spare if you need it. For the bearing block any hardwood(aren't they all!) ear wax or oil from the side of your nose, a little charcoal or sand for the board. The tinder ball; well that's where the fun starts...
Have a look here for some tips on identification:

http://bushcraftoz.com/forums/showthread.php?111-Xanthorrhoea-(Grass-Tree)&highlight=xanthorrhoea

Xanthorrhoea aka Grasstree, Grass Tree, Blackboy, Yakka (not to be confused with the American yucca which is completely different and doesn't occur in Australia, except perhaps as an ornamental in someone's garden).

Grasstree's have a variety of uses including:
Fire sticks, a source of resin for hafting and gluing, spear shaft, tinder, a bush food (leaf bases and nectar) and has been used as both an incense in religious ceremonies and a varnish for furniture.

Its a useful and very distinctive plant, and its easy to identify
 

Thrud

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Yup! If the resin is treated with nitric acid, it produces picric acid, which is also known as Tri nitro phenol (TNP) this is highly explosive. A lot of resin was exported exactly for this purpose, but once TNT was developed the need for the resin dropped off.

Do not try this at home...
 

blacklion

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Hmm very interesting. Don't worry, I'm not a fan of blowing myself up!
 

jakeyarwood

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This may not be helpful,due to the fact I'm from the US,and I'm not familiar with plants from your area.I favor yucca stalks for my spindles,and if you tie two stalks parallel,they make great fire boards.Another fire board I favor is poplar or Cotten wood,also quaking aspen.For bows,any dried/ dead but solid hard wood is good,a natural curve in good,but not required.
As far as hand drills,again I favor the stalk of a yucca,fire boards also like the bow drill set up.A little tip when using a bow drill,apply a little lubrication in the bearing block hole,( ear wax works well) to cut down on friction and heat build up in the bearing block.
Thanks for the tips buddy, good thinking re: lubricating the bearing block!
 

jakeyarwood

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Lucky to be in WA, plenty of grasstree spears which make a excellent drill and board, I think Hairyman suggested using starter cable to use on the bow, which is an excellent idea. I've got spare if you need it. For the bearing block any hardwood(aren't they all!) ear wax or oil from the side of your nose, a little charcoal or sand for the board. The tinder ball; well that's where the fun starts...
Indeed, WA is wonderful! Thanks a lot anyhow Thrud - I'll bear those points in mind and I'll be trying out the grasstree spears asap.
 

jakeyarwood

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Have a look here for some tips on identification:

http://bushcraftoz.com/forums/showthread.php?111-Xanthorrhoea-(Grass-Tree)&highlight=xanthorrhoea

Xanthorrhoea aka Grasstree, Grass Tree, Blackboy, Yakka (not to be confused with the American yucca which is completely different and doesn't occur in Australia, except perhaps as an ornamental in someone's garden).

Grasstree's have a variety of uses including:
Fire sticks, a source of resin for hafting and gluing, spear shaft, tinder, a bush food (leaf bases and nectar) and has been used as both an incense in religious ceremonies and a varnish for furniture.

Its a useful and very distinctive plant, and its easy to identify
I knew they had a number of uses but I didn't know there were that many! Amazing :)
 

Jeepcreep

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If you see any onimental yard yucca with the flower stalk,may I suggest trying to obtain a stalk.Once the flowers go to seed and disperse ,the stalks are useless to the plant.Simply snap it off deep into the plant,let the stalk dry,and cut it into desired lengths,I can get up to 6 good spindles out of one stalk for my bow drill,one or two,if using the stalk for a hand drill.
If it is allowable to ship overseas,I would be glad to ship some dried bow drill spindles for the price off shipping.Im not sure what the law is since I'm from the us.
 

Jeepcreep

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Generous offer Jeepcreep, but I'm not sure about customs, generally they don't like "organic" things.

Just checking, is this the sort of yucca you use (there are/were some near me on a rail line) ?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hesperoyucca_whipplei
Yup,that's the stuff,I try to find stalks that are 1/2 inch diameter or a somewhat less for spindles.The flowers are edible,sautéed in butter,Im not fond of them,but some folks relish them.the stalks have a pith heart,but dry ridged,making them ideal.
 

jakeyarwood

Malcolm Douglas
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If you see any onimental yard yucca with the flower stalk,may I suggest trying to obtain a stalk.Once the flowers go to seed and disperse ,the stalks are useless to the plant.Simply snap it off deep into the plant,let the stalk dry,and cut it into desired lengths,I can get up to 6 good spindles out of one stalk for my bow drill,one or two,if using the stalk for a hand drill.
If it is allowable to ship overseas,I would be glad to ship some dried bow drill spindles for the price off shipping.Im not sure what the law is since I'm from the us.
Good to know if I do happen upon any random yucca! That's very kind of you Jeepcreep, the offer is appreciated. However I'm uncertain on shipping laws as well though, and in the end I would prefer to save some $$ and work with native flora here so as to start familiarising myself with what works, what doesn't etc.
 

koalaboi

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Hi,

Teaching Aboriginal studies to 15 year olds, I set them the challenge of making fire using traditional methods: ie hand drill....and they succeeded by getting a good little fire going on the concrete in front of the deputy principal's office. She was really impressed.....and that's dinkum, no irony at all, (she got Duke of Ed happening at my school).

The timber used was lantana.

KB
 

jakeyarwood

Malcolm Douglas
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Hi,

Teaching Aboriginal studies to 15 year olds, I set them the challenge of making fire using traditional methods: ie hand drill....and they succeeded by getting a good little fire going on the concrete in front of the deputy principal's office. She was really impressed.....and that's dinkum, no irony at all, (she got Duke of Ed happening at my school).

The timber used was lantana.

KB
Right on! That's a great way to teach young folk. Thanks for the info also, I'll keep my eyes peeled for Lantana.
 
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