Bushcraft basics: Fire starting with Pine.

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Bushcraft basics: Fire starting with Pine.

Post by RGR SNAPLINK » Thu Oct 14, 2010 7:38 pm

So you are out of your dryer lint and Vasoline balls and you need to start a fire. Oh, and it is pissing rain on you. No worries, this is a tried and true method. If there are Pine trees in your area, you are in luck!
First, find a downed pine. Not one dropped by man, but one that has died. When a Pine tree is about to kick the bucket, it goes into "shock." Much like us humans, it draws it's vital fluids to it's core in a last ditch effort to live. This area of concentrated Pine oil is what you want to get to.
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So, find a pine branch or even trunk if the outer part is rotted enough you can get to it with some sort of ease. You can spot Pine easily enough by it's bark, and by the way Pine rots. It rots in layers as you can see by the following pic. I found this chunk of wood in my neighborhood and was lucky to find that. I don't have the best pic of how Pine breaks down, but Pine "knots" and the base of branches, rot away leaving what I can best describe as fins. Kind of like on an air cooled dirt bike motor.
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So knock of the flaky outer shit, and get to the hard inner core.
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Batton it in half, then that piece in half again. More to form a nice oily edge to work with. I used a hammer, the sun was going down fast. You can use anything hard to beat your blade down.
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If you have a hat, turn it inside out to catch all your shavings into.
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Place the edge of your knife perpendicular to the wood. Do not go at an angle! You want your shavings as thin and fine as possible!
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With two hands on your knife, and firm pressure applied to the wood, scrape up and down. This is much easier and WAY less painful if you have something like a chest rack to brace it against to keep it stable. Even with the little admin pouch area exposed on my old Ranger Rack, it still sucks.
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This is what your shavings should look like.
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Get all your little twiggys ready.
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Take your handful of Pine shavings,
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and mash them down to a golf ball size.
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Place your little ball of wonder on a surface you can easily transport.
Place your blade, sharp side up in the middle of your wad of shavings while your son watches on repeatedly asking you what you are doing,
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drag your flint stick toward you, dropping your sparks into the mass.
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Viola, FIRE!!!!
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re toUse your knife to get up under your fire and lift as you need to add O2.
Last edited by RGR SNAPLINK on Tue Oct 19, 2010 5:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: back woods basics, fire starting with Pine.

Post by DonTrusTheMEDIA » Thu Oct 14, 2010 9:43 pm

Great skill to know and many props to you for teaching it to the next generation

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Re: back woods basics, fire starting with Pine.

Post by Spartan299 » Thu Oct 14, 2010 9:50 pm

Excellent! I'm glad ta see that someone gets the whole back to basics, primative, survival skills thing. I still get the biggest laugh outta the vaseline and cotton balls deal.

Again, excellent write up and pics!
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Re: back woods basics, fire starting with Pine.

Post by maldon007 » Thu Oct 14, 2010 10:01 pm

Awesome, I knew about fat wood, but not the details...Gonna try to get some this weekend.
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Re: back woods basics, fire starting with Pine.

Post by Electricity » Thu Oct 14, 2010 10:45 pm

That was great! Very informative. Thanks OP.
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Re: back woods basics, fire starting with Pine.

Post by Mister Dark » Thu Oct 14, 2010 10:51 pm

Fat wood for the win. But I have never balled it up like that - or used that much at once, for that matter. Although in the rain, it probably would be nice to have the stuff burn for a while. I'll give it a try!

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Re: back woods basics, fire starting with Pine.

Post by Chef » Thu Oct 14, 2010 11:04 pm

It's kind of hard to find a naturally-dead dried-up pine tree of suitable vintage around here, the land rape was pretty intensive. There are plenty of pine stumps, however, and hundred year-old pine stump knots are still pretty well impregnated with resin and turpentine and will flare up real good.

Nice tutorial!
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Re: back woods basics, fire starting with Pine.

Post by Blackdog » Fri Oct 15, 2010 1:55 am

Chef wrote:It's kind of hard to find a naturally-dead dried-up pine tree of suitable vintage around here, the land rape was pretty intensive. There are plenty of pine stumps, however, and hundred year-old pine stump knots are still pretty well impregnated with resin and turpentine and will flare up real good.

Nice tutorial!
Same here. I have been keeping an eye out for a pine that was allowed to fall all on it's own since I got here. Tinder fungus no problem but fat wood seems to be as rare as unicorns. Just for grins I tried using the heart of a cut down pine stump, nice dry wood that can be split and used for kindling but kind of not good in the fat department. The search continues.

Nice technique, I like it, thanks.
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Re: back woods basics, fire starting with Pine.

Post by the_alias » Fri Oct 15, 2010 2:07 am

Great stuff!
Pine is such a useful wood!
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Re: back woods basics, fire starting with Pine.

Post by SwampRat » Fri Oct 15, 2010 2:20 am

Excellent thread! Lots of fat wood in my AO, I like your method of the thin shaving though. I will definatly need to try that.
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Re: back woods basics, fire starting with Pine.

Post by ninja-elbow » Fri Oct 15, 2010 3:01 pm

If you don't mind me adding OP:

Tip to finding fatwood - find your naturally dead stump. Give it a good kick or thump (or 3 or 4) and shake some of that punky dead stuff off. Look for the "spires" that are still standing. Stick your face down in there and give it a good sniff and if you smell pinesol then you got fatwood in them spires. Harvest those.
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Re: back woods basics, fire starting with Pine.

Post by RGR SNAPLINK » Fri Oct 15, 2010 3:43 pm

ninja-elbow wrote:If you don't mind me adding OP:

Tip to finding fatwood - find your naturally dead stump. Give it a good kick or thump (or 3 or 4) and shake some of that punky dead stuff off. Look for the "spires" that are still standing. Stick your face down in there and give it a good sniff and if you smell pinesol then you got fatwood in them spires. Harvest those.
Hell yeah, I can't believe I didn't mention that smell! Good oil soaked Pine wood has a very strong scent. Not strong enough to make your truck smell piney though, as I found out today.
Last edited by RGR SNAPLINK on Fri Oct 15, 2010 5:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: back woods basics, fire starting with Pine.

Post by ninja-elbow » Fri Oct 15, 2010 4:48 pm

You can see it sometimes too, the wood will look all waxy.
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Re: back woods basics, fire starting with Pine.

Post by Towanda » Fri Oct 15, 2010 4:59 pm

Thanks, OP! Nice write-up!
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Re: back woods basics, fire starting with Pine.

Post by RGR SNAPLINK » Fri Oct 15, 2010 5:30 pm

Thanks for the praise all. I will post more little things like this I learned while I was in the Army soon.

Ninja, I am assuming Oregon is full of Pine? I am moving to the Salem area within a year. I am SUPER excited about it!
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Re: back woods basics, fire starting with Pine.

Post by JoeTosco » Fri Oct 15, 2010 5:37 pm

Great tutorial, well detailed by the pics.
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Re: back woods basics, fire starting with Pine.

Post by doctor patches » Fri Oct 15, 2010 5:44 pm

tons of pine up above me, i'm in reno. i plan on taking some late season fishing hikes up to high mountain lakes, i'll keep an eye out for "spires", and will try to snap high res pix to show off the "waxy" surface, if possible. i take lots of pix, im sure i'll get some good ones, even if its by accident! lol
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Re: Bushcraft basics: Fire starting with Pine.

Post by doctor patches » Thu Dec 02, 2010 11:55 pm

so i can see tons of stumps (well, i did before the snow) along the highway opposite side of the river where i fish. do i want fallen trees or the left standing stumps? will a burned through area host fatwood producing stumps?
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Re: Bushcraft basics: Fire starting with Pine.

Post by RGR SNAPLINK » Fri Dec 03, 2010 12:08 am

patches152 wrote:so i can see tons of stumps (well, i did before the snow) along the highway opposite side of the river where i fish. do i want fallen trees or the left standing stumps? will a burned through area host fatwood producing stumps?
either or, anything that is still protected by bark or inthe stump if the stump is solid enough. I know fire brings out the oils fast, so you might not have much luck with the burned area.
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Re: Bushcraft basics: Fire starting with Pine.

Post by doctor patches » Fri Dec 03, 2010 12:13 am

RGR SNAPLINK wrote:
patches152 wrote:so i can see tons of stumps (well, i did before the snow) along the highway opposite side of the river where i fish. do i want fallen trees or the left standing stumps? will a burned through area host fatwood producing stumps?
either or, anything that is still protected by bark or inthe stump if the stump is solid enough. I know fire brings out the oils fast, so you might not have much luck with the burned area.
so will the fallen logs and standing stumps (non burned stands) be ok to harvest in the spring once the melt comes? or will the wet and freezing ruin any of the oils inside?

and where did you learn this? any good resources that show or explain other markers to look for or places to find fatwood? will any variety of pine produce it or is it particular kinds?
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Re: Bushcraft basics: Fire starting with Pine.

Post by Chef » Fri Dec 03, 2010 8:14 am

will the wet and freezing ruin any of the oils inside?
Nope.
and where did you learn this?
It's part of the basic good ol' boy knowledge base where I come from. But they sell it in the L.L. Bean catalog, too, so I guess one could learn about it that way.
any good resources that show or explain other markers to look for or places to find fatwood?
Google image search for "pine tree stump?" :lol: Or an L.L. Bean catalog, maybe.
will any variety of pine produce it or is it particular kinds?
I've always used fatwood from yellow pines (longleaf pine, slash pine, scotch pine, loblolly pine, etc.), but there aren't really any white pines where I live, so I don't know about those.
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Re: Bushcraft basics: Fire starting with Pine.

Post by doctor patches » Fri Dec 03, 2010 5:22 pm

Chef wrote:
will the wet and freezing ruin any of the oils inside?
Nope.
and where did you learn this?
It's part of the basic good ol' boy knowledge base where I come from. But they sell it in the L.L. Bean catalog, too, so I guess one could learn about it that way.
any good resources that show or explain other markers to look for or places to find fatwood?
Google image search for "pine tree stump?" :lol: Or an L.L. Bean catalog, maybe.
will any variety of pine produce it or is it particular kinds?
I've always used fatwood from yellow pines (longleaf pine, slash pine, scotch pine, loblolly pine, etc.), but there aren't really any white pines where I live, so I don't know about those.
there's an Orvis store here in reno, that's almost L.L. Bean-esque...

since there's no specific reference offered, i did the google, and wikipedia seems to be rather well versed on the topic

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fatwood" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

for inquiring minds...

just be careful searching "fat wood" with safe search off!!!
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Re: Bushcraft basics: Fire starting with Pine.

Post by Amicus » Tue Dec 21, 2010 6:36 am

Once that fire is going, consider a cup of "pine needle tea"?

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Re: Bushcraft basics: Fire starting with Pine.

Post by Amicus » Tue Dec 21, 2010 6:44 am

"Place your blade, sharp side up in the middle of your wad of shavings while your son watches on repeatedly asking you what you are doing,"
Missed that first time through...liked this thread when I first read it, like it lots more now.

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