Fire by hand drill

Fire by hand drill

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Radio stars

Hi bushcrafters,

Myself and my mate got to take a radio presenter out over the weekend. The local radio stations gets a lot of listeners here.

The girl who was called Linzi was really up for anything and we had her lighting fires, gutting fish, eating wood louse and limpets. Over all she had a great day and she is giving us a mention on friday.

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Thursday, 23 February 2012

Fire fun

Hi bushcrafters,

As usual myself and a friend set our selves a challenge for a bit of fun.

We met in a wood last night and decided to make fire with anything we could find and boil water within 2 hours.

We had our knives and that's it.

It had been raining quite heavily.

There was a carpark which somone had fly-tipped an old fridge so we set about getting some bits and pieces.

We found two old lighters but they were empty and the flints had corroded away to nothing.

There was lots of tinder about-birch bark dry goose grass among others.

We set about making a friction fire set using elder and sycamore.

For cord we used one of the strands from the power cable of the fridge. However this proved to be a very poor choice, far to slippy and not flexible enough.

As luck would have it we went for a quick scout and found an old rope swing. It was cheap blue nylon rope but it was perfect for us.

We used the Egyptian technique which was very effective.

We didn't need a bow because there was two of us which doubled endurance power.

After going at it for a while we realised that there was a number of problems.

Blue rope slips like crazy and withers at the slightest heat and is not wear resistant. It was also very wet which added to our woes in a different way. However because we were both serious student of the technique we managed an ember and quickly got a fire going to boil the water in an old tin can.

We decided to finish with an attempt at fire plough using elder and sycamore.

It was surprising how easy it is to produce smoke if you have decent endurance and strength.

It is not an impromptu technique suitable for the novice and could not be done by someone who had read about it in a book and not developed some muscle memory. Of course this applies to all techniques of this sort.

After a serious effort which exhausted us both we got a small ember.

I think the lesson from this exercise is that the countryside is full of rubbish which is a shame. However it can be used for lots of alternative uses.

Sometimes I wonder why we bring so much gear. It is a lot more fun and creative to improvise things.

Fun indeed.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Flint knapping fun

I visited the north coast over the weekend and did some flint knapping with a friend and mentor over from the mainland.

The flint is just lying on the beach here but it can be hard to find good stuff that has not been destroyed by constant battering the surf.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

All natural, unprepared percussion fire.

Hi Bushcrafters,

Following on from my little post yesterday.

As with any primitive fire starting method percussion fire really fascinates me. However it frustrates me too.

Why? Well it is very dependent on materials that are hard to come by.

I would love to hear from anyone who has used natural percussion materials, for example a mineral like iron pyrites and a hard stone like flint to ignite materials that can be gathered. Preperation is allowed however it must be able to be done in a short time and use material available in nature to a person with no tools etc. In other words making Amadou from a bracket fungus is out.

To put things in context. I have had success with king alfreds cakes or Daldinia concentrica and true tinder fungus. However the second fungus can only be found here is very small isolated populations so is basically unavailable to me.

I have also used charred plant material but this requires fire which kinda defeats the point of this little learning exercise.

I look forward to hearing about people personal experiences.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Percussion vs friction.

Hi Bushcrafters,

I have been looking into these two methods in a lot of detail recently.

I don't think I will ever have to use these skills in anger. I study them because I like learning them.

I look at them in the context of the environment and resources in my local area. Personally I am not interested in the jungle or desert or any terrain we don't have in Ireland. I am thinking in terms of going out with nothing and making fire within a short time. I am also talking about not having a fire already. Think ancient hunter lost and dressed in simple clothes with no equipment.

I am also talking about using all natural materials as our ancestors would have used.

I think they both have advantages and disadvantages.

I have heard people say that our ancestors would not have used fire by friction because of our damp conditions. People say that percussion would have been the thing.

Of course the weather has not all ways been as it is now. It was colder at one time and also warmer.

Personally I am not a fan of percussion. It requires a number of elements which are hard to come by in northern ireland, iron pyrites and the proper tinder. Also these elements require preparation. To go out and make fire by percussion from scratch is very very difficult even if you find a piece of iron pyrites which in itself is incredibly difficult to locate without ebay.

Fire by friction, once a good level of skill has been attained only requires simple carving and a piece of suitable cord if using bow drill. Hand drill is even simpler. I have gone out, when fresh, with nothing and made fire with hand drill from materials foraged on the day. It did require lots of effort but we must remember that our ancestors would be super fit and strong. Failure at fire by friction -if the materials are right is often a case of endurance.

Its a very interesting topic.
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Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Fast stone age axe.

Here is a way to make a fast handle for a stone cutting tool. Works best with willow or other bendy wood.

Knowledge in unlikely places


I have found that great bushcraft tips can be found by talking to people.

Even the most un-outdoorsy people know something that you don't know about bushcraft. Little things picked up over the years from grannies uncles etc.

I was getting my hair cut at the barber and we were talking about Ray Mears. He says that he remembers his granddad all ways carrying a match box in his pocket with fishing line in it wrapped round a match.

Granddad used to make hooks from stuff he found when out and about and he would keep them in the box. Thorns, Safety pins, bits of springs anything.

He told me that his granda was in the war and this is were he learned this practise.

He told me how he would whip it out when ever he came across water and caught a fish every time. He would dispatch it by hitting it on the back of the head with his knuckle like a poacher.

I do love stories like that. Bushcraft and survival is often born from necessity.

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Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Dead cow

I found this in the woods today. I smelt it before I saw it. Rotting flesh.

If you were of the right frame of mind and in need, a carcass like this would be brilliant resource even if the meat is to far gone.

Bones, horn, sinew, hide, teeth and some internal organs like the bladder for water storage.

It also provides bait for trapping and fishing etc.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Featherstick practice

Feathersticks are a fantastic skill often overlooked. Make your own tinder and kindling, develop knife skills- what more could you want.


A nice scene. Ruined by the big bloody com tower.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Bushcrafters in the mist


I was out doing a bit of training for an up coming adventure race today.

Started at 6am ran 15 miles with a 20 kilo pack over the hills, challenging enough given the rough terrain.

The hills were coated in a thick mist and I could hardly see my hand in front of my face.

There was a weird echo, kinda eerie but fun.

Look forward to the next one.

The pic shows where I was and was taken from the car.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Another beer bottle arrow head

Cherry tree hotel


I found this huge cherry tree in the grounds of a hospital.

At the base was lots of evidence of feeding.

A little mouse has made its home near a great source of food.

The cherry pips are split or have a little hole nibbled into them.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Bramble runners


Brambles or blackberry bush often have really long runners covered in thorns.

When prepared these make an excellent source of cordage material.

Simple remove thorns, split and bend to remove pith then use your nail to take away thick green outer bark. You will be left with the strongest inner bark, superior to nettles in my opinion.

Wild strawberry

The wild strawbs are in leaf. No fruit for quite a few months. However the leaves can be used for tea and the roots can be used to brush your teeth!

How to know if your an obsessive bushcrafter.

Look at this picture.

Do you see a broken laundry basket?

Or do you see a fish trap that is virtually ready to go?

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Tips for Learning about wild plants.


If you are starting fresh my advice is to choose plants and trees which are common throughout the world and have multiple uses.

Willow is a prime example as it grows everywhere virtually. Medicinal, tools, materials.

Learning wild plants can be daunting but well worth it.

If you learn just one a week, you will know 52 after a year. Then you will be miles ahead of most.

It is also worth learning the scientific names.

I allways break them up and come up with funny images.

For example pinus sylvestris- the scots pine.

Pinus is the family and is easy to remember. Just think of a map of the u.s covered in pins. Pin-us.

Sylvestris - you could imagine sly stallone wearing a vest cutting down a big pine tree with cones falling down and hitting his head.

Although this is not exactly how it is spelt or the full name, it is enough to remind you what the proper name is.

Think of trying to remember someone name and its on the tip of your tongue. Then someone says something that sounds like it and the proper name comes to you
Instantly. The brain works by association.

You can introduce things into the memory which can help you identify it.

So imagine 2 sly's cutting down a pine with 2 axes each. This means this pine has 2 needles per cluster. Then imagine they are wearing red orangey red trousers hats and vests. This represents the red tinge of the bark at the top of the tree. The amount of info you include is only limited by your imagination.

You are probably thinking this is a waste of time. However after just reading this you will remember the info quite easily.

The trick is to visualise it, smell ity hear it.

Test yourself tomorrow and I bet you can remember the name.

Good luck.
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Saturday, 4 February 2012

A quote I like.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less travelled.
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Saving energy in shelter building.


I found this excellent little arbor under the epicormic growth of a large Lime (Tilia spp). The ground was bone dry even after raining all day today.

It is enclosed on 3 sides and well sheltered. A bed and a fire for warmth or enclose it completely and you have a excellent shelter.

There is plenty of leaf debris for insulation and lime is of course one of the best for friction fire.

In a survival situation a place like this can save you a lot of effort.

Keep your eyes peeled.

Friday, 3 February 2012


I am currently being followed around by a friendly bullock. Although by the size of him I think they might have left him something.
Luckily I have my mora with me for protection lol.

Thursday, 2 February 2012


A nice little find in february. Full of vitamin C. There are hairs inside the hip which must be discarded.

Good for a tea or roasted in the fire.

More useful rubbish

A solid big pan full of leaves and water. The disc is not a lid but a sheet of ice from the top. Cool.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Our permanent shelter


Been out to our woodland. We started work on a more permanent shelter to use while we are there.

Ancient beech woodland


I have the great pleasure of wandering through an enchanting beech wood today. The sunlight is coming through the canopy and sees off the chill of the 2 degree temperature.

Now to get the bacon cooking for lunch. Washed down by hot sweet coffee.

The only problem is that the woodland is often the walk of choice for mental health patients so I might get a visitor or two. Lucky I brought a spare cup eh.

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