Attract Wild Birds
September 23, 2020
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Can a Survival Knife Really Start a Fire?

Author: Administrator
The day has finally arrived. The day hike you've planned weeks ago is here. And what a beautiful day it is. You grab your backpack and you're off to the great outdoors. When you arrive you think to yourself, "Did I remember to pack everything?" Believing you have everything for a good day on the trail you begin your journey.

After many hours in the wilderness you notice it's going to get dark soon. The sun will set in only a few hours. You start to make your way back when suddenly you realize you're turned around and lost. You pick the direction you believe is the right one and continue on.

It's getting darker now. The sun is almost set and you're nowhere near where you started. Reality hits you. You're now in a survival situation. And getting a fire started is now your primary concern. Luckily you've brought along your survival knife that you purchased online. But how will that help you start a fire?

To paraphrase a quote from Steve Watts, President of the Society of Primitive Technology, "The ancient campfires of our pasts call to us from within. Primitive technology is our inheritance. It is a shared thread that links us to our prehistory and binds us all together as human beings." Like those humans thousands of years ago you can start a fire using nothing but two sticks and something sharp. In this case the "something sharp" is your trusty survival knife.

But how can a survival knife start a fire? Here's how to make a fire by rubbing two sticks together as referenced by This technique is also known as a hand drill.

1. For the spindle and fireboard, find some dry, soft, and non-resinous (no sap) wood--like yucca, cottonwood, poplar, cedar, cypress, or elm--which are easier to create friction with. The spindle stick should be about 16 inches long, -inch thick, and fairly straight. Using your survival knife sharpen the bottom end like a pencil tip, and whittle away any jagged or rough spots on the shaft so you can easily run your hands along it.

2. The fireboard should be about six inches by one inch wide, and -inch thick. Carve this rectangular piece so it lies flat on the ground. With your survival knife cut a V-shaped notch, half as deep as the board, into the edge. Next, carve out a pencil-eraser-size depression at the base of the V, where you will place the spindle tip.

3. Position a leaf, piece of thin bark, or your knife blade (anything as thick as an index card) under the board to catch the coal that will fall out of the board's notch.

4. For the tinder bundle, gather dry and pithy materials (cattails, mullein, grass, bark, moss), and shape them into a bird's nest. Place it within arm's reach.

5. Get in a stable kneeling or sitting position, with one foot on the edge of the fireboard to steady it. Put the tip of the spindle in the board's depression, and place your hands at the top. Using significant downward pressure, roll your hands back and forth, up and down the spindle. Go slowly at first to deepen the board's notch. Then go faster (a lot faster), bearing down on the spindle with your body weight as you roll it in your hands. Hot dust will be generated first, then smoke, and as the spindle glows red from the friction, a tiny ember will appear in the notch. If the ember doesn't automatically fall into your catching device, gingerly tap the board.

6. Transfer the ember to the center of the tinder, blow gently until you have flames, then erect small sticks around it, tepee-style.

But you must remember. The method described above is very difficult without the use of a survival knife. Make sure you purchase a good quality one and pack it with you on every trip.

Regardless of why we venture into the wilderness, there's one fundamental rule that always applies. Be prepared. No matter what, or how much we pack, a good survival knife is simply a must.


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