How To Start A Fire With Sticks

Fire is one of the most important and powerful of the earliest technologies.It opened a wide range of possibilities for us on each level.

Fire Needs just three things: Oxygen, Fuel and Heat. The oxygen is the most important element because oxygen is already present in the air. The fuel can be any combination of things that can react with other substances so it releases energy and holds that energy, it can be anything that’s flammable like wood,paper,bushes,fabrics etc.

Fire Triangle oxygen, heat and fuel

We really need to focus on heat and how is the heat generated and where does it come from? Heat is the first and most important element that a fire needs. Heat is generated in many ways such as rubbing or mixing one substance to another.

The first thing that you need to do if you’re going to start a fire from scratch is made to find a sharp edge. If you have a knife that’s good, but if you don’t, if you are in a survival situation you would have to create that sharp edge by hit two rocks together to produce the sharp edge and once you have that sharp edge you can cut the pieces of wood that you need and most importantly adjust their shape to suit them to make the fire.

There are many methods to starting fire and no matter which method you choose, but here is the two most common Methods:

  • The Hand Drill Method
  • The Bow Drill Method

Hand Drill Method

Hand Drill method

The hand drill method is fire making process with friction that is helpful for survival situations and it requires lots of skills are required to master it.

In hand drill method two main things are required to start a fire.

  • Hand Drill
  • Fireboard

Hand Drill

A straight piece of the stick is used in the hand drill method whose rough surfaces are scraped away or if possible sanded to make it smooth. It can be approximately one to two feet in length and around ½ inches in diameter. While scrapping keep one end wider that will be used as the friction part which will spin against the flat piece of wood known as fireboard.


The fireboard is the piece of wood that will be on the ground on which the hand drill will spin. Fireboard can be around ½ inch thick and almost two times wider than the thickness of the drill you will use with that. As recommended, it should be wide enough to contain two rows of holes in it. The bottom side should be flat enough so it will not wobble while on the ground during rubbing.

Preparing the equipment

Find dead and dry drills and carve the leaves and branches off. Try to scrape any rough spots you find on the drill and carve each end to make it around one end should be thicker than the other to instill the friction against the fireboard. The other end of the drill should be pointy and if it’s not then try to sharp it to enhance the efficiency of the drill.

Now find a dead and dry piece of wood that will be your fireboard. Carve the fireboard flat from one side else it will wobble while using on the ground. At the top edge of your board create some holes around 1/8 inches in depth and ½ inches.

To make holes on the fireboard, put your knee or foot on the board and twist the drill using your hand with enough pressure to make a deep hole in the board. Make a 45 Degree angle incision at the edge of the board that will help you collect the coal while drilling.

Making the Fire

Place the board on the ground above some dry leaves or bard that will act as a barrier against the humid ground and hold the board with your foot or knee depends on your sitting position. Put a dry leaf or small piece of board under the incision that will collect the coal.

Press your hand tightly together and start spinning the drill back and forth while keeping pressure on the fireboard else it will not generate much heat. Keep in mind that pressing it down on the fireboard will generate heat much more batter than just spinning the drill over the top. The spinning will generate heat and after few minutes you will see black dust on the board under the incision.

Keep spinning faster else you will lose heat and don’t stop until you see smoke coming out of the bottom of the drill. Only drill with the palms of your hand because if your move towards your fingers you will not be able to put same pressure on the drill as it should be. While drilling your hands will move downward and you have to keep them moving upward fast to keep drilling.

Keep drilling faster once the dust fills up and after various runs, you will see even after stopping the dust will keep on smoking and that is the sign that your coal will form in few seconds. If the dust stops smoking then resume drilling else let it form the coal.

At the end leave the dust smoking for few seconds and carefully lift the dust away exposing the coal on the piece of board or the leaf that is under the incision and place the coal under a bundle of tinder and close the bundle while the coal is still burning. Gently blow in the tinder for few minutes until it burst into flames and place the tinder with rest of the woods to start a fire.

Bow Drill Method

In Bow Drill method you will need 5 things,

  • Drill
  • Flatbed Fireboard
  • String
  • Bow
  • Socket
Bow Drill method


Find a straight piece of wood that is around 1 foot in length and 1 to 2 inches in diameter. Carve the bark from always remember to keep it straight while carving else the drill will not be much effective.

Carve one end of the drill in a pointing shape and another end round and flat. The pointy side will be tour top that will go against the socket and the other ends will go on the fireboard.

Flatbed Fireboard

Find a piece of wood that is around 6 inches in width, 1 foot long, and 1 foot thick. Scrape both the side of the wood to make it a flat fireboard.

The flat side will keep it from wobbling around while drilling and the top side will use to collect the dust and coal.

Make a hole at the top of the fireboard and cut a 45-degree angle incision on the side that will help you collect coal on the piece of leaf or wood placed under the fireboard.


Find an 18 to 24 inches stick that should be around 1 inch in diameter and having a bend shape like a bow.

Keep in mind that this bow should be sturdy, if the bow is too much flexible than you will find a hard time stabling the drill straight which will increase the time of coal formation. Make a notch on both ends of the stick to tie the string so it will not slip.

Related Article: How To Make A Longbow


The string will be used to make the bow. It can either be a nylon string or even you can use hiking boot laces that are long enough to make a bow depending on the size of the stick you are using to make the bow.


It can be a hand size flat rock with a small dent or you can find a piece of wood of your hand size with around 1 inch in diameter. Make a small dent or notch in the middle of the wood that will hold the pointy side of the drill.

Making the Fire

Place the fireboard on the ground and put any dry leaf or a small piece of wood under the v-shaped incision to collect the coal. Coil the bowstring around the drill and put the round side of the drill onto the hole of the fireboard. Place your foot on the board to keep it from moving while drilling.

Hold the socket in your hand with the dent or notch towards the ground and put it onto the pointy side of the drill. Always keep your drill straight for maximum result. Now put pressure on the drill and start moving your bow back and forth. This back-and-forth motion will spin your drill and produce heat that will create black powder on the fireboard.

Keep the pressure on the socket so the drill will keep staring. You can use some green leaves inside the socket to reduce the friction of the drill and continue the motion until you see black dust on the side of the board. Keep drilling until you start to see smoke coming out from the dust and after few minutes stop to see the smoke.

If it continues to smoke without drilling it means the coal is forming and you can stop the drill and prepare your tinder or some dry leaves. Carefully pick up the fireboard that will expose the coal formed on the piece of wood under the fireboard and put it under the bundle of tinder or dry leaves and close it.

Gently blow into the tinder until the flames start coming out of it. Now transfer the fire to your pit or place it with other dry wood to make the fire.

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