My Youtube Version of my exertions
Since first making salmon skin leather I've had some of the more obvious projects in mind such as pouches and sheaths, but I also had an eye on trying making some cordage to power a bowdrill to get an ember.
I made two sorts of cordage, one was a strip like a thong and the other was a twisted one which I initially left with some spare to reload and overcome a breakage but latterly I decided to double up for strength, I also fashioned a chunky loop one end to slide onto a bow.. I found myself with some time on my hands and decided to have a crack in the woods and took my camera along.
I selected a trusty bowdrill combination of Lime and Hazel for the set, it wasn't a session trying to do a set from scratch or whatever, it was simply an experiment with a view to seeing if salmon cordage could power a set to an ember. Note that there are two drills in the above picture, they are of slightly different diameters because I wanted to be prepared that if I tied the cordage in place and couldn't undo it to make adjustments I had two slightly sized options which may fit.Suggested Further Reading:-
After a fair bit of fannying around I did the slide test to see that I had the drill locked in. If you can grab the drill and slide it up and down the bow string it isn't in tight enough.
I have to say I was a bit apprehensive and I let my stance and technique become a little tardy and I was rather tentative as I started bedding it in. However so far so good.
After cutting the notch to receive the ember I cut a forty five degree angle on the two bottom edges of the notch, this is something that is usually done in damper conditions but I'd already decied that even if and when I reached the point that I thought a viable ember had formed I was just going to keep going until I couldn't give any more so the potential excess powder had somewhere to go other than out.
And to the final action. I was pleased when I started to get copious dark powder and those satisfying wisps of smoke curling up the drill. You may recall the loop that I put into the twisted cordage, I narrowed the end of the bow to slip it on and drilled a hole at the other end to accomodate using a simple overhand which gave me a fat stopper knot, hence the fact that you can't see any cordage wrapped around the drill in the above picture.
You can also see a lighter area in the middle of the drill, even though it was tight at the start it did have the occasional slip, I wonder if it's both due to it's slightly elastic nature and the fact that the drill bark, on closer inspection, was a bit smooth and shiny.
I have to say that I was pretty knackered by the time I threw in the towel.
But I'd got sustaining smoke-just. I reckon I must have generated the smallest ever amount of 130 degree viable dust that needed careful nuturing to get it to coalesce into a useable coal.
Having got to the stage where I had a proper coal it would have been silly not to see it out to a proper tinder bundle conclusion.
After a well earned and extended break/ breather for a brew, I can usually talk whilst bowdrilling but as I'd gone hell for leather I was puffing rather a lot, I started to look at the strip of leather setup. Having squeaked a result with the first combination I looked on this a something of a free hit. The only changes I made was to use two limpit shells as a bearing block as opposed to a wooden one, and I abraded both drills a little to take away the smoothness a tad.
It didn't start particularly well as the cordage snapped near the handle end. I'd tied a small length onto the main piece as I figured the bit where I was holding the drill is unuseable cordage and extending it gave me more working length.
I drilled a hole in the bow and just used the knot that joined the two pieces as an anchor. Bedding in was going well but then disaster struck and the cordage broke in the middle. I'd got my answer, twisted cordage was the way forward on any subsequent attempt.
It wasn't the smoothest of bowdrilling sessions ever but having ticked it off I'm in a better position to make any further attempts a bit smoother with a bit of luck.
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