I have long been fascinated with fire generated by wood-against-wood friction. Some years ago a friend and I blundered along, pre-internet days, gleaning what we could from Bradford Angier’s Living Off The Country. We were at least able to gather some proper woods and after much effort, to generate smoke with a bow drill. We had, though, a fundamental lack of knowledge of specific details of how the process works. Essentially the goal is to create through friction, a quantity of wood powder, that is heated by the friction of its own making to a degree that it fuses into a small glowing coal or ember. The coal is then transferred to a nest of tinder which it ignites into flames. These flames feed successively bigger fuels.
To produce enough powder at the right temperature requires a developed technique. Regardless of whether one uses a bow-drill or a hand-drill, the mechanics at the friction point of the two woods is the same.
So, three or four years ago I chanced upon a skilled practitioner and was subsequently drawn into the company of a number of adepts. I must confess that while my technique and knowledge have improved, I have not been diligent enough to produce a coal, though tantalizingly close.
The still photo below shows excellent form and the concentration required, along with highly skilled tutoring.
Clicking this link: handfire will play a video that shows excellent fire-making skills. Both photo and video demonstrate a fine-tuned mentoring between generations.