There are many ways to make bows for bow and spindle fire starting. I generally use two types of bows when demonstrating this technique. One is made from a natural piece of bowed deer antler. I don’t hunt much anymore, but there are so many deer around here it is easy to find antlers because they shed them annually–or friends will give them to me if I ask. Bows made from antlers will last a lifetime if cared for. They add a little primitive pizzazz that kids especially think is cool.
I also like to show a bow made from a piece of dried limb as could be easily be found and fashioned in the wilds. I have used green flexible bows before, but have decided that the rigid ones are more easily controlled and counted on to feel the same each time. The biggest concern with rigid bows is some method of quickly adjusting the tension, for which there are several good solutions.
The spindles and
fire boards I use depends upon who I am demonstrating to and how in depth they expect me to go. For simple and reliable demonstrations I use dried cedar for both parts. I prefer fairly long spindles, because it is easier for me to use them without having to bend way over while talking–and I can also use them for hand drill demonstrations in a pinch.
In the pictures, the fire boards got switched around. The lighter colored Cottonwood Fire Board was not intended for the bigger kit, and the picture above should also have a cedar board to match the cedar spindle, but it’s okay because I almost always close my demonstrations with group participation in the hand drill method. I prefer Cottonwood for that as used with a very long piece of one of several kinds of pithy stems. These long stems stick out the ends of the leather fire kit roll. I secure the roll with a piece of Jute twine, leather thong, or para-cord, which gives me extra working material as well.
These are typical of some of my fire kits. Of course nothing is set in stone. With the over One Hundred Ways to Make Fire without Matches at my disposal, I will pick and choose exactly which ones to demonstrate to suit each group with a few surprise kickers if time permits. I will sometimes provide a simple striker, rock, and char cloth to each observer as a take-away, which is always a big hit with scouts and such. I hope this gives you a few ideas.