Saturday, May 5, 2012
Using Mullein Stems for Bowdrill Firemaking
I love making friction fires...rubbing two sticks together. There is something fascinating about spinning a shaft of wood against another to give life to a glowing ember. Some days I have to spin up a hot coal just to smell the smoldering wood...that's my aroma-therapy.
Earlier this year I started using more mullein stalks as drills for bowdrill firemaking. Mulleins are common in the roadsides and waste areas around eastern Nebraska. They are easily recognized by their velvety rosette of leaves, woody stem, and flowerhead stalk. The woody stalk makes a good drill component when used with a cottonwood fireboard. The stem consists of a sturdy woody outer shell with a styrofoam-like inner pith. The soft inner pith and hard outer stem can be a problem sometimes. A couple of technics help...
stem near the business end helps.
Also, cannot sharpen the top of the drill to a point, to spin freely in the socket, because of the soft pithy
core. To aid this, I tied a piece of
short hard wood stem to a point, I force it into the styrofoam like pith. Now I have a hard wooden top to my drill that can take more abuse and be sharpened to spin more freely in the handheld socket.