The Bow & Spindle Fire Starting Method is one of those ways of primitive fire starting that everyone seems to know about, but surprisingly few have actually ever done it. It is a skill, if not an art. It can be hard or easy. As with virtually any other skill, it doesn’t just happen in a vacuum. But if you know how to do it, what to use, and get in just a little practice, it is not that hard. So, it is not a myth that you can make fire by rubbing two sticks together. It has apparently been being done since the beginning of time.
The trick is in knowing what kinds of sticks to use and how to best rub them together. There are lots of ways that work. Among the best known and most effective are the drill methods including the spindle and bow and the hand drill methods. These are by no means the only or even the best wood-on-wood friction methods. I think, owing largely to the Boy Scouts of America, the bow and spindle may be the best known of all. This method is thought by some to be an improvement over the hand-drill and more primitive methods. It is generally easier than the fire plow method and more versatile than the hand drill method–with some exceptions and qualifications. There are dozens of takes on this basic bow and spindle method of fire starting. It is a good and fairly consistent method of fire-making, if you know a few basics. Without such knowledge, it can be frustrating and fruitless.