Learning the bowdrill is a bit like learning to play a musical instrument – at first it can be frustrating and brings little enjoyment but, as you get better at it, you find that you can make it play the tune you want.

In the first bowdrill video I looked at the basic principles behind the bowdrill, where to find the right wood and how to use a wet bowdrill set.  In this video I look at some more advanced techniques that increase the scope of the bow drill: allowing you to use green wood; weak bow cords; thin/small hearthboards; improve your bearing block and how to make mini/portable bowdrill sets.

There are many othere tips-and-tricks to using the bowdrill properly and, if you look on the interenet, you will find lots of good advice.  However, there is no substitute for putting in the practice yourself – it is only when your bow cord slips continuously (always just when that ember was about to form!) that you learn how to tighten the cord ‘mid-drill’ so that it becomes second nature.  Also, with practice, you develop a ‘feel’ for when a bowdrill set is going to work and when it is simply going to be a waste of time to even try.

In the jungle the problems faced with friction fire are obvious: high humidity; low sunlight; high rainfall and fast decomposition of dead wood…all of which can make producing an ember a challenge.  However, if you can make a functioning bowdrill set it is one of the most dependable and quick ways of friction fire starting and it is very portable as well.

Many people (myself included) gave up learning musical instruments simply because we never got past the stage where our music didn’t set the dogs howling….now, when I listen to people who can play well, I wish I’d persevered.

Similarly with the bowdrill – being able to effortlessly and quickly produce an ember is enjoyable and satisfying, having to sweat like mad and struggle to produce wood dust that refuses to ignite….well, that is aggravating.