Pump Drill Method: Fire Building Skills

The Native American tribe, the Iroquois, is known as the pioneers of the pump drill method of making fires. They did so through the use of a flywheel that generated friction. This makes it share the same kind of principle behind the bow drill. Its construction is rather complex, but because of that complexity, it makes fire building an easy process.

The crossbar and flywheel will be made of hardwood, and the spindle and the fireboard will be made of softwoods like the hand drill. The “Pump Drill” is also called the “Cord Drill”.


  • The first thing you’ll have to do is find a piece of hardwood. Then cut a little hole at the center of it.
  • You will then use some kind of cord like a paracord to attach a sharp rock to the edge of our hardwood stick.
  • Next, you’ll have to put a rounded piece of wood onto the end of our stick. The position of the wood will be one inch above the rock. This will allow the wood to stay upright. It should freely fit so that the device is able to rotate within of it.
  • Afterward, you will then need to find again a slightly rounded piece of hardwood and drill a hole into it through the center, having the same width as our stick.
  • You now will make a drill through the rock with the same width of the stick and push the stick into the hole. The arrow must be kept at least an inch or two under the rock. Without moving, the rock should fit in comfortably.
  • You then will have to scratch two notches on the latter parts of each side of the curved wood. It will allow you to attach string around it. After that, you will tie a portion of our cord to connect the edge of each side of the curved wood to the angle of the stick, but away from where the arrow is pointing.
  • Before we finish, you will take hold of the curved wood as a handle and then push the arrow to the hole into the firewood. Afterward, spin the device to twist it in the upper direction.
  • Lastly, you will just need to let the device untwist itself. Since the arrow got moved towards our board, we’ll now have embers that will make our fire.


The Pump Drill method is a good technique to add to your fire building vocabulary. This isn’t the easiest way to build a fire so you’ll have to keep on trying until you hone in on it.

Like this fire building skill? Read about the other primitive fire building skills here.

Leave a Comment

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This