Now we’re getting to the tough stuff. This section of the book isn’t for the faint of heart, but only for those who are truly manly men who want to conquer fire in all possible ways. These are the fire starting methods that will separate the men from the boys. If you really want to impress your friends and family, then this is the place for you. Once you master these techniques, all your hunting and fishing buddies will fall flat on their faces when they try to copy your shining example.


Let’s start with a little experiment. As you are sitting there reading this, start rubbing the palms of your hands together. They should start getting warm. Now rub them faster, with more pressure. They should get even warmer. Keep rubbing them until you get fire… no don’t; you’ll never get there. You can’t rub your hands together fast enough to start a fire. To do so, you’d have to be able to create heat faster than your body can dissipate it to other parts of your body; not exactly something within the realm of possibility (not to count that pain will stop you).

Getting a fire started by rubbing sticks together requires rubbing them fast enough that the heat can’t escape, but instead continues to build up to the point where it makes the wood start burning. To do this, your fire starting materials will have to be carefully prepared.

While there are several different friction fire starting methods, they all have certain things in common. They all use a fireboard, which needs to be made out of a soft wood, such as one that would be easy to cut with a knife. Please note that I am not using the technical terms “softwood” and “hardwood” but rather one that is physically soft. There will also be a spindle in most cases, which is nothing more than a stick, about 1/2 inch in diameter with blunt, rounded ends. Some prefer a soft wood for the spindle, while others prefer a hard wood. Personally, I have had better results using a hard wood. Both pieces of wood need to be bone dry, or all you’re going to do is get some exercise. The way these fire starting methods work is by shaving off sawdust from the fireboard and heating it to the point of combustion. The goal is to produce a glowing coal, which can then be placed on the tinder and blown upon, causing the tinder to ignite.