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Primitive Technology: How to Make a Cord or Pump Drill Fire Starter

Add this to your bushcraft skill set. A primitive cord or pump drill allows you to make friction fire and drill holes.

A cord drill or pump drill operate on the same principle as fire sticks or a bow drill. They use friction to produce an ember from which you can make fire. But they offer a mechanical advantage that, once you become skilled in their use, uses less physical energy than either the fire sticks or bow drill method.

A pump drill can also be used in combination with a cutting edge or stone bit to drill holes in wood or soft stone.

See how this fellow crafts both drills from material at hand.

We’ve been following this man’s adventures and projects in employing primitive technologies. His videos explore how pre-industrial humans may have lived and used the natural materials available to them.

Of the cord and pump drills/fire starters he crafted here, he says,

As far as fire making goes I’ll stick to fire sticks as the parts are easier to make. But for people with soft hands, this would be a good method for making fire without getting blisters. The effort during the fire making is less too. The pump drill was successful at making fire too but because their were so many moving parts I had to try many times before it worked. Cords would break, the flywheel would loosen and the drill kept jumping out of the socket. I spent an afternoon trying to get fire with it but it eventually worked.

I would be more likely to use this device as a carpentry drill. It would be useful for drilling holes in timber that was going to be assembled with pegs. One thing I need to work on is the stone drill bits. They need to be fixed firmly to the shaft so that they are in line with the spinning action. If they are off a bit the whole drill wobbles.

Click the link below to see more of his fascinating primitive technology explorations.

NEXT: Primitive Skills: This Man’s Ingenuity Will Blow You Away

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Primitive Technology: How to Make a Cord or Pump Drill Fire Starter