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How to Make a Fire

  1. Gathering what you’ll need.
  2. Prepare your base wood.
  3. Set your nest on top of your base wood.
  4. Set up your fire making tools.
  5. Draw the bow back and forth whilst applying pressure from the top.
  6. Once the nest is starting to smoke, continue feeding kindling into the groove.


A good pen knife is essential for any wilderness outings. I am a big fan of the leatherman as the pliars are very useful. Be sure to wash it in fresh water after each use as they are susceptible to rust.
Leatherman Skeletool Multi-Tool

How to make a fire

Knowing how to start a fire with sticks can rescue a camping trip should you have forgotten the all-important matches or lighter. This method could actually save your life in an emergency so be sure to practice it before needing to employ it in real life.


Photo Credit: Designlazy.com


1- Gathering what you’ll need. Kindling should consist of anything thin, dry and fibrous (feather down, dried mosses, cedar bark and even pocket lint), and you’ll need much more of this than you’d imagine. You’ll also need firewood of various shapes and sizes, avoiding wood that is directly on the ground as this will most likely be a little damp. For the fire making tools you’ll need a sturdy yet flexible bow shaped piece of wood, about elbow to tip of index finger in length, with strong twine or shoe lace tied from end to end leaving a little slack, a strong and straight twig/branch (8-10 inches in length, sharp at one end, and a little less than 1cm thick), a soft, dry, flat piece of base wood, and a piece of bone or stone with a dent in it.

2- Prepare your base wood by making a half centimetre deep indent an inch and a half from the edge of the wood, and then cut a ‘V’ shaped from the edge towards the indent, with the point of the ‘V’ just slightly breaking into the dent (think: ǒ)

3- Set your nest on top of your base wood. Place the smallest fibres and kindling material in the centre and then work out, sheltering the small stuff with larger kindling such as dry leaves (note large kindling and fire wood should be to hand, but not yet on your ‘nest’). In the initial stages whilst you generate heat you want the nest to be insulated, before gradually allowing more air in once it is starting to smoke.

4- Set up your fire making tools. Twist your sharpened stick once in the bow string, and navigate the blunt edge through your nest, placing it in the dent of the base wood. Push the lightest and finest kindling into the ‘V’ shaped groove, ensuring that you continue to do this as you progress. Holding the sharpened stick vertically and place the stone or bone with the dent in it on top (this is where you’ll push downwards to apply pressure).

5- Get to work! Drawing the bow back and forth whilst applying pressure from the top will start to generate heat in the nest at the point where the blunt end of the stick is working into the dent of the base wood. Keep feeding fine kindling into the ‘V’ shaped grove. This may take a long time, but it’s better to keep up the temperature with a steady pasc rather than exhausting yourself by trying to ‘blitz it’

6- Once the nest is starting to smoke, continue feeding kindling into the groove, but begin to waft air into the smouldering kindling in order to encourage a flame. Should a flame materialise, begin carefully growing for your fire.


Put your foot on the fireboard close to the dent in order to keep it steady.

There’s a delicate balance with how much pressure to place down on the drill, as well as how tight to have the bow string. Practice makes perfect!

Keep the string tight but not too tight.

The dent in the base wood and the drill end should both be rough. If they get shiny, put a little sand in the notch to create friction.

Make a fire before it’s too dark to see!

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