Saturday, June 20, 2009
Bamboo Fire Saw
One of the technics used by the indiginous peoples of the Phillipines, to make fire, was the bamboo fire saw. In Nebraska you will not find any natural stands of bamboo except at the local garden center where it is sold as ornamental pieces. Nonetheless, I acquired a piece and cut several 2 foot lengths and split them in half. It is helpful if the walls of the bamboo are around 3/16 to 1/4 inch thick. The first pic shows the components: one half was my saw, another half as the fireboard, a tinder nest, and a fold of
buckskin for padding. I selected a 'saw' piece that had a nice length
between nodes and cleaned a good sharp edge with a knife. On the fireboard, I carved an indention and bored a small hole thru the bamboo. (Click on the pic to enlarge to see the prep-ed area beneath the 3 used slots.) Using the padding, brace the 'saw' firmly against the ground with your body. Place the tinder nest loosely around the bored hole in the fireboard, making sure it does not block the hole. Smoothly drive the fireboard back and forth against the saw piece, using the whole length between the nodes. You will feel the bamboo began to cut into the fireboard, the saw edge will darken, and smoke will wisp up. This is your cue to apply more downward pressure, and take faster, shorter strokes. This may take about 30-40 short, fast strokes to produce a coal. Carefully stop and inspect the notch cut into the fireboard. Gently blow into this notch. A coal will form at the hole bored thru, and may be small and stuck to the edge of the hole. You may need to take a small stick and gently dislodge it into the tinder nest. Carefully remove the tinder nest and blow to flame. The coals formed by the bamboo firesaw are small, so some extra fine downs, such as cattail, milkweed, etc., are helpful to spread the coal. It should only take 20-30 seconds to make a coal. This is actually a variation of the firesaw technic. The original method involved holding the saw in your hand and driving it back and forth against the fireboard. This variation, in my opinion, is more efficient because you can apply more pressure and control.