American Bushman

"If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing." —Benjamin Franklin

Monday, May 01, 2006

Friction firestarting

While doing some work yesterday with a Bark River Knife & Tool golok I tried to see if it was up to the task of sole blade during an outing. The argument has been advanced that you can do more big knife tasks with a small knife than small knife tasks with a large knife. For the sake of this argument we'll throw the golok into the knife category instead of the tool category which is where it more truly fits.

Using only the golok I sectioned out a piece of tree that had fallen on my property during an early February snow storm. I also harvested a large branch to use as a baton.

I have also been harboring an interest in starting a fire using only natural materials and the "easiest" of those methods seems to be the firebow. From a single piece of wood I can harvest the hearth board, the spindle or drill, and the bearing. All I'll need once this wood is dry is a green branch and some cordage to make the bow.

Here's my procedure:

  1. Split the section as close to center as possible.
  2. Baton the golok through the bark side of one half to create a "board" with two flattish sides.
  3. Using the golok as drawknife flatten the sides of the "board" so it will sit as close to flat as possible
  4. Baton the golok across the grain to split off a piece of "board" approximately 3-4" long (bearing block)
  5. Split the remaining piece of this half (batoned off above) and split it lengthwise into three (or so) pieces
  6. Carve one or more of those pieces down into a spindle. (I find it easiest to again drawknife the golok constantly turning the stick to get a nice even finish.)
  7. Straighten the spindle. I tie mine to something strong and straight and will turn it from time to time as it dries.

Now we wait...

I already know the golok is up to the task of harvesting firewood and building shelter but I had no real evidence to support my theory that it could be used for all knife-related tasks around the campsite. This, of course, excludes the knowledge that goloks and machetes, along with parangs, bolos, khukri, etc., have been used extensively for generations around the world as the only blade in a household.

I guess I just didn't know if I could successfully use it as my only blade. So far so good.

Thanks for reading,



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