How to Use a Fire Saw to Start a Fire

Making a fire when in the outdoors can often make a difference between life and death. One method that you can use to make a fire is to use the fire saw method of the Australian Aborigines. The Aborigines utilized bamboo and other easy to find dry woods to create a fire by rubbing the sticks together and getting increasingly hot pieces of wood to come off until their tinder caught an ember that they could blow into a fire by placing the ember into a tinder bundle that was on their stack of wood that they were going to burn.

To make your own fire saw, there are a few materials that you will need. You will need three flat pieces of wood about 6 to 8 inches long, some fine fire-starting tender like crushed leaves or a cotton ball, some cordage, and two small 1 to 2 inch flat wood pieces. If you don’t have any cordage, you can improvise some vines for the cordage. Once you have all of these materials together, you are ready to begin.

The first step in starting a fire with a fire saw is to place your fire-starting tender onto one of the 6 to 8 inch long flat pieces of wood. Make sure that your tinder is This will place your tender in position to catch the spark when you use the fire saw.

The next step is to place the two 1 to 2 inch flat wood pieces on either end of the 6 to 8 inch flat wood piece that your tinder is laying on. This places the end pieces of your fire saw into position.

Now, lay the second 6 to 8 inch piece on top of this in order to secure your tinder in between the two long wood pieces. This places the other side on the fire saw.

With this done, use your cordage to tightly tie the wood pieces of the fire saw together in a solid stick that will hold your tinder in place. Tie both ends of the fire saw together so that your tinder does not slip out when you go to use your fire saw.

Now that your fire saw is assembled, take the third flat piece of wood and start rubbing it across the fire saw in a perpendicular manner. Make sure that you use increasingly faster speeds as you saw. This is needed to have the friction build up enough heat to create a spark that will light an ember in your tinder that is in the fire saw.

Once you have finally gotten an ember that is lit in your tinder in the fire saw, you take that ember and place it in a tinder bundle at the base of your stack of wood for your fire. You can then blow this gently until the fire starts. Once your tinder bundle starts to burn well, slowly add increasingly larger sticks to it to build a large fire.

By understanding how to use the fire saw method of starting a fire, you may be able to get a fire going if you are in an outdoors situation where you need a fire and don’t have a lighter or matches to use. Over my years as an outdoorsman, I have personally seen this method work to start numerous campfires and guarantee it to be a good method for starting a fire without matches.

Personal Experience
“How To Start A Fire,” How To To
Dick Baugh, “Fire-by-friction Methods of the Australian Aborigines,” Primitive Ways
Ray Mears, “Bamboo Fire Saw and Bamboo Cooking Pot,” Ultimate Bushcraft

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