Friction Fire

We probably won't cover all the following in one session, but this gives a sense of what can be learned about fire making:

Basic concepts
-Conservation of energy - do not spend more than you have.
-Practice the skills when you're comfortable - don't wait for an emergency to start trying.
-Physical parts of fire making: materials, technique, and kit design. Two out of three equals zero - unless you get lucky.
-Mental parts: knowledge and attitude. Knowledge without confidence, and confidence without knowledge are both dangerous. They can work together for better results.

Fire safety
-Fire can spread to the sides, underground, and overhead. Clear the area of flammables.
-Clothing can catch fire while warming up too near the fire with very little warning. Loose fitting clothes might overheat without you feeling it until too late.
-Watch for embers dropping from overhead - it most often happens when burning branches with leaves on them, or stirring a fire.
-Please don't burn tree trunks, roots or living limbs overhead. It's not directly a safety rule for people, but I believe it's very important to avoid hurting or destroying other forms of life mindlessly.

Fire from a match - not primitive, but good to practice
-Use matchstick size dry tinder material, gradually go up to larger pieces of wood.
-Collect much more material than you think you need of all the smaller sized material. If you have extra tinder and kindling, place it in a dry place for the next people who need it.
-The snap rule: if branches make a clear snapping sound when they break, they are dry enough to burn efficiently. As with most rules, there are some exceptions. Some woods have a woven or braided fiber structure that does not allow them to break easily even when they are very dry. This can make them useful for "splinter stick" kindling, which is very important in wet woods.

Fire from an ember
-Use very thin, fine material. An ember won't light a matchstick sized piece of wood.
-Bird's nest and punk burrito methods to get flame from ember.
-Coal extenders: punk, fungi, mugwort or other common weeds.

Hand drill
-One of the simplest friction fires, just drill and base board (some call it hearth board).
-Need the right materials to succeed before hands wear out.
-Make sure to have more than enough tinder, kindling and wood so you don't have to start over.
-Different positions for flexible and not-so-flexible people.
Floating style or conventional.

Bow drill
-Usually more pressure and speed possible compared to hand drill, so wood can be a little less perfect, though perfect helps!
-Basic positions, and when to break the rules.
-Basic hand-holds and lubrication.
-Different drill wrapping styles.
-When to bow high, bow low, or somewhere in the middle.
-Possible to do with a broken arm... though it's a little harder to make a kit with one hand. If you're clever enough you can do this with one person more than one way. See how many ways you can do it.

Two person cord drill
-Need real teamwork, but it's a very fast way to make a coal. Good technique for smaller kids if small kit is used.

Mouth drill
-It works for the eskimos! ... and I finally tried it and made fire this way.

Kit Materials
-Many materials work for any of the parts. Think of the range of possible attributes of any of the parts. They can be hard or soft, stiff or flexible, brittle or tough, resinous or not, heavy or light, etc. The attributes of the material can determine the best shape and size of kit parts. A hard, small diameter drill will cut through a soft baseboard very quickly, and a soft drill will grind away quickly in a hard baseboard, with neither giving a coal. What does work?
-Handholds: wood, bone, antler, stone and others.
-Greasy, waxy or oily things like acorns, walnuts, beeswax and some seeds make good handhold lubricant.
-Stone baseboards - the Holy Grail of friction fire?
-Baseboards from fungi.

Shaping the parts
-Learn basic tool safety for axe, knife, saw.
-Size matters; how big is too big, how small is too small?
-Fire bow: straight or curved, ways to attach cord, bow length, flexibility.
-Drills: found wood, weed stalks, or split and shaped wood. Hardness variables.
-Drill shape: straight, tapered, small in middle, pointed, round or flat end, or other.
-How to use crooked drills.
-Handhold size and shape.
-Base board thickness, grain direction, and notch styles, cutting the notch without breaking one side away.

Primitive kit
-Make your own cordage, stone blades, scrapers, drills and grinders.
-Cordage from roots, bark, weeds, leaves, sinew, rawhide, maybe more (intestines...) -Try anything - it must be tough and flexible.
-Stone tools are faster and easier for some things than factory-made tools.
-Butternut base board drill. When the nut shell gets too dull to drill with, eat the nut, use it for bait, or save it for handhold lubrication.

Dry tinder in wet forest
-Fungi, splinter stick, feather stick, punky (partially decomposed) wood, stuff inside hollow trees, inner bark under leaning dead trees. Woodpeckers sometimes make it easy to locate suitable dead or punky trees from a distance.

Make a kit in wet forest
-Split and carve drill and baseboard from dry dead wood.
-In long term wilderness outings collect perfect materials even if wet, store them until dry inside your shelter, hollow tree, or under clothing. Once you have a fire you can really dry out any damp kit parts to get them ready for the next fire. If the sun comes out, dry your wet materials on rocks in a sunny spot or spread them out on bushes or tree limbs above the ground.

Extreme Survival
-Don't get hurt. A deep cut or broken bone can seriously reduce your chance of survival. Take great care with cutting tools, take the long way down the stream bank when going for water, and don't ever poke something into your eye!
-Fire is not always the first thing you need. Learn to make fire anywhere, any time, but only do it when it increases your chance of survival.
-Learn some invisible-fire skills for heat or cooking food or melting snow.
-Learn to hide all traces of your extiguished fires.
-A well trained child is more help than an untrained adult. They know good tinder and firewood, what to do if lost, what to eat or avoid, how to pay attention to nature's warning signs, travel silently and much more.