As I positioned the tip of the hand-drill into the carved notch of the hearth, I couldn’t help but wonder how it is our Ancestors figured out this ingenious way of starting a fire by rubbing two pieces of wood together. Somehow they had figured out the need to carve a notch into the hearth…’
There is only one time that I have taken more time than I normally would have, but I paid the price with zapped energy and blood… Literally!
A few days later, the subject of the hand drill came up again and there seemed to be some discourse as to whether or not it was really necessary to get coal that fasts. My response was an emphatic “of course it is, it’s a race to save your life” at which point I proceeded to justify my position.
Some of you may recall an article I wrote a few issues back titled “The Hand-drill Challenge.” In that article, I described the procedure I use for figuring out if the woods I found were going to be any good. It came down to “if I can’t get coal in 15 to 20 seconds, I try different woods because those woods are more than likely not going to work if I continue.” This is where the importance of practice comes into Play Camping.
The Speed of Hand Drill:
Back to the speed of the hand drill, for those of you who have ever tried the hand-drill, you will have, no doubt, quickly found out that prolonged attempts will quickly tire you out, so much so, that continuing becomes futile.
The human body is only capable of producing any effective energy for a certain amount of time and depending on the individual it can be more or less than the other person. Sure, conditioning can help sustain your energy in camping, but, none the less, it is not infinite. The other thing is the wear and tear on your hands. Blisters are a common occurrence of the hand-drill, due to the constant friction on the palms from rotating the drill.
Use of The Blisters:
Not once have I gotten a blister from getting coal in eight seconds or less. Blisters do, however, become more prevalent when it takes me more than 15 seconds. They can become quite painful and prevent you from doing other things. Blisters, if not treated correctly, can become infected and when you’re in the bush an infection, or the inability to do something due to injury, is not something you want.
Getting Coal With Ironwood:
After fruitless attempts at trying to get coal alone, Tom jumped in to help out. Even while using the buddy system, we were still unsuccessful. We concluded we needed more help. We quickly looked around for a likely suc… I mean candidate. After all, who in their right mind would try to get a coal with ironwood. Looking around we saw Cody Lundin bounding near our camp. So we did what any two self-respecting, ironwood coal chasers would do… we headed Cody off at the pass camping.