#AskPaulKirtley Episode 19: Bow Drill With Natural Cordage & Ember Consistency, Top 3 Bushcraft Focus Areas, Beginner & Budget Axes

#AskPaulKirtley Episode 19: Bow Drill With Natural Cordage & Ember Consistency, Top 3 Bushcraft Focus Areas, Beginner & Budget Axes

Paul Kirtley in snowy woods for Ask Paul Kirtley episode 19

In this episode of #AskPaulKirtley I answer questions on bow drill consistency, bow drilling with natural cordage, winter tents, the top three areas of bushcraft to concentrate on, beginner and budget axes, alternatives to the Gransfors Bruk Small Forest Axe, what to do with your wallet, phone and passport while out in the field, and whether or not wearing your clothes in your sleeping bag stop it from working efficiently…

What Is #AskPaulKirtley?

#AskPaulKirtley is my Q&A video and podcast series that aims to answer your questions about bushcraft, survival skills and outdoor life.

The idea here is partly to take the strain off my email inbox and get answers out to people in a more timely fashion.

Rather than send an answer to just that one person, I’d like others to benefit from the answers too. So, just in the same way I’d previously write an email answer, here I’m going to speak the answer (which is much quicker than me typing out an answer, so I’ll get more questions answered as well as benefiting more people).

Click here to find out the different ways you can ask me a question.

Watch #AskPaulKirtley

Click on the four arrows bottom right for full screen view. This video is available in full HD. Click on “HD” to choose the quality level you want to stream.

#AskPaulKirtley videos are also available to view on my YouTube channel.

Listen To #AskPaulKirtley

Use the following Soundcloud controls to listen to the audio podcast right here or download the .mp3 to your device…

Links For This Episode of #AskPaulKirtley

Bow Drill: The Keys To Success
How To Light A Campfire With One Match
Firelighting: Why We Teach It The Way We Do
How To Build A Survival Kit On Bushcraft Principles
Bushcraft on a Budget: All the Kit You Need for Less Than £100
How To Split Firewood on Snow: Key Axe Techniques
Tree Felling For Winter Firewood: Axe and Saw
Carving A Set Of Utensils For A Frost River Utensil Roll
Snowtrekker Tents
Hultafors Axes
Gransfors Bruk

Books Recommended In This Episode Of #AskPaulKirtley

How To Watch #AskPaulKirtley On Other Platforms

The videos will be uploaded to my YouTube channel and embedded in the Facebook Page associated with this blog as well as embedded here on my blog.

How To Listen To #AskPaulKirtley On Other Platforms

Podcast RSS Feed: You can subscribe via the #AskPaulKirtley Podcast RSS Feed

iTunes: You can subscribe to #AskPaulKirtley via iTunes

Soundcloud: Follow me on here on Soundcloud

Leave A Comment…

Leave me a comment below. Let me know what you think of this episode. I read every one.

But remember if you want to ask a question for a future episode, don’t do this in the comments below, do it in one of the ways explained HERE.

Related Material On Paul Kirtley’s Blog:

#AskPaulKirtley Episode 18

The Value Of A Tarp In Your Day Pack

PK Podcast 011: Andy Chadderton On Life As A Professional Deer Stalker

How To Live In A Heated Tent

What Gear To Pack For A Day Hike In The Woods


20 thoughts on “#AskPaulKirtley Episode 19: Bow Drill With Natural Cordage & Ember Consistency, Top 3 Bushcraft Focus Areas, Beginner & Budget Axes

  1. Great to see you again Paul. It’s been too long!

    1. Thanks Isa. Nice to be back 🙂

      Thanks for your questions. I’ll get to your other questions in coming episodes.

      Warm regards,


      1. Hi Paul

        Thanks for answering my bow drill question.

        I typically use dead dry grass with the finest stuff in the middle of the bundle. My bundle is usually about a foot in diameter. I have used much less before and had it work numerous times (again same material).

        I can see why my comment about burning my hands might have sounded like I only have a small bundle but the burning I’m referring to is when the whole thing sets alight. It’s then that I can’t hold onto it and so I have dropped it several times. To prevent that I usually make a handle to begin with.

        Having listened to your answer I think the reason why I sometimes lose the ember is because I don’t bring the sides of the bundle into contact with it and so it just dissipates. I’m probably just too complacent.

    1. Hi Chris,

      No, it’s not a dim question. It’s not so obvious.

      There are two ways you can download the .mp3 file.

      The first is there is a small download button directly to the left of the “share” button on the Soundcloud player.

      The second is via the link in the #AskPaulKirtley RSS feed, which contains links to the .mp3 files:


      I hope this helps! 😉

      Warm regards,


      1. Thanks very much Paul.

        I’ve just downloaded the last two and am really looking forward to listening to them.

        Over the last couple of weeks I have listened to all the “Ask Paul Kirtley”s and all the PK Podcasts and enjoyed them all immensely.

        Thank you for providing such an interesting, informative and enjoyable resource.

        I hope everyone appreciates what they are getting for FREE!

        Very best wishes

  2. Thanks again Paul for another great episode.

  3. Thanks for the advice Paul, much appreciated, regarding your answers on lighting a fire in very wet conditions, I have in the past found my fire almost burning out from the centre creating a ring of damp wood around the outside, I overcame this by making better use of feather sticks, which you have covered previously, and using lots of them, quite often conditions I’ve been out in have been very wet, and challenging even with good skills, after the fire burns long enough, you don’t the same problem, the surrounding wood dries enough to burn. Choice of wood was also very important, piney dead upstanding branches, air dried worked for me. Burned hot and fast. Really enjoying the pod casts, learning lots and definitely better skilled from learning and using the skills in the field. Keep up the good work.
    Your the man !

  4. I have to say it, Happy Birthday Paul.

  5. another brilliant episode paul,lots of great tips that im sure will def help us all out.thanks for making it.

  6. Thanks again Paul for another good set of answers to good questions. (Best to date and they’re all good).

    Your comments on aLok bags are spot on, best I’ve found so far and you can still use your phone /camera while inside them. For those on a tight budget breast-milk storage bags work well for phones (& wallets) and are substantially cheaper than the aLok ones (not as long lasting but good enough for the woods or hills).

    I’m always surprised that folk don’t realise they are the heater/engine room for their sleeping bag and for a heater to work it needs to have fuel in it and works better starting from warm than cold. I find its best to get into my bag warm (star jumps) and make sure I’m well fuelled (haribo) ;p

    Thank you for your continued enthusiasm for the outdoors and your willingness/enthusiasm to share your knowledge.

    1. Hey Luke, thanks for your comments. I appreciate your feedback on this episode. It’s good to know I’m getting the tone, balance of topics and duration right for people.

      It’s good to hear your routine for getting into your bag warm and is similar to mine on cold nights – jogging on the spot typically.

      I hadn’t heard of breast milk storage bags being put to use that way, so that’s a great tip. Thanks! 🙂

      Thanks for watching and adding to the conversation.

      Warm regards,


  7. Hi Paul,
    very interesting article as usual.
    Thanks for sharing .

    Warm regards

    Pierluigi Tucci

  8. Hi Paul
    Great show as always, with regards to Tinder / Fire lighting if the conditions are damp/wet i gather a few pocketfulls of small twigs and put them in my trouser pockets body heat normally gets the worst of the moisture out after a hour or so. Regards

    1. Hi Paul,
      Great thinking! Another plus is gather pitch wood and bundle small pieces. Very hot and immediate
      effect on damp fuel.
      Kind Regards
      Pacific NW

  9. Hi Paul! Excellent episode of your bush chat! You are great at talking to outdoors folk either green or
    highly experienced. We never stop learning and basic camp and wilderness skills are essentially same
    world-wide. Just a different approach to the environment experienced. Yes, keep things economically
    simple as much as possible. I like a good knife, cruise axe, and intermediate light-weight bow-saw;
    this is crucial equipment in rain forest. Keep up your great program, sir
    Jim-Pacific NW

  10. Hi Paul.
    After 18 episodes I have decided to stop being a lurker and leave a comment!
    I particularly enjoy #askpaulkirtley. It has inspired me to explore my interest in Bushcraft in the coming months and to shift my emphasis away from “gear” towards the other areas of your craft such as tree identification etc. Hopefully I will have some questions for you soon.
    Scott. Manchester. UK

    1. Hi Scott,

      I’m glad you did come out the shadows and stopped lurking. This is one of the best comments I’ve had in a long while 🙂

      You’ve made me a happy man Scott. I look forward to your questions.

      Warm regards,


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