It is really hard to find a good video about friction fire. Most don’t really go too much into wood selection other than giving you a list of “wood combinations” that work together. This video shows you the finger nail test and explains how to check to see if the wood is actually dry enough to use.
Another couple of points about this video:
- He uses the spindle to create a good socket in the hearth (fire board). Good technique that most “experts” online do not do.
- He also checks the dust after he creates a socket. The color and consistency of the dust will help you figure out how well your spindle and hearth will work.
- It isn’t too obvious in the video, but using the initial dust from creating your socket will help you get an ember quicker. I assume that he did that considering he piled all the remaining dust on top of his ember to keep it going.
Here is the video:
How to read the dust:
- Light brown and lighter dusty dust means that you are going too slow or there is not enough friction. Try going faster and pressing down a bit more. It could also mean that your wood choice was too soft.
- Light brown and fuzzy type dust means you are just shaving off pieces of the wood and not actually getting any heat. Go faster. The dust will get darker and be kind of fuzzy in appearance as you get closer to the right combo of technique and wood.
- Dark brown almost black and fuzzy dust is what you are after. This is the perfect combo so look for embers burning in the dust.
- Dark brown/black that are almost like little rolls of wood means that you are possibly going too fast and not pushing down hard enough. The wood dust is more like shavings that are not keeping enough heat to burn.
- Dark brown/black that is almost a crusty or already burned looking means that you are going too fast or pressing down too hard. It could also mean that your wood choice was of a type wood that was too hard.
This is perfect dust:
There are many different charts out there on what type of wood works best. The big thing is for you to test out several combinations and get used to testing the wood’s density with your fingernail. It has to be able to dent it without a massive amount of pressure, but it should not break or crack under that pressure.
Keep trying different wood types from your area to get that perfect combination for you. Technique plays an important factor as well. I can get the softer woods like pine and cottonwood going, but fail with maple and cedar. It really comes down to what works for you.
Good luck and have some fun!!!!