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The same basic thing can be done with a pump drill. The only real difference between a pump drill and the bow drill is the way that the spindle is turned. Pump drills are harder, simply because the spindle has to be converted into a drill. To do this, a crossbar is needed, which has a hole that the spindle goes through. The string is attached to both ends of this crossbar, as well as run through a hole in the top of the spindle.

To help the pump drill work effectively, a weight should be added to the spindle as well. This can be a cross section of a tree branch that is five to six inches in diameter. The branch needs a hole in the center for the spindle to pass through, and then the two are attached together. This weight acts like a flywheel, providing continuing momentum. To use the pump drill, prepare the fire board in the same way as required with the bow drill and place the spindle into the indentation at the apex of the notch. Turn the spindle, so that the string wraps around it. Then, to operate the drill, pump the crossbar up and down. The unwinding of the string as the crossbar goes down will cause the spindle to turn and it will continue turning to rewrap the string in the other direction. The next down-stroke will accomplish the opposite, creating friction to start the coal.

As an alternative, both the bow drill and the pump drill can be used in conjunction with an orange to start a fire very quickly. Yes, believe it or not, an orange will burn readily. That is, it will burn readily once you get the juice out of it. Hmm, this might be another good party trick. To start a fire with an orange, you’ll need about a one inch hole in the side of it. Cut that out with your knife, and pull the plug out. Then, squeeze as much of the juice out of the orange as you can.

In addition to the orange, you’ll need a small rock. Ideally, you want a smooth stone from the bottom of a stream. It should be flat or slightly concave, so that the spindle won’t slip off of it. Place the rock in the orange, with the hole facing up and set the end of your spindle in it. Start the spindle spinning and watch your orange catch fire.

This works so well that you can actually do it without a bow drill or pump drill, simply using your hands to turn the spindle. Place the spindle between your hands and rub them back and forth, causing the spindle to spin on the rock. You should have fire within 30 seconds (oops, there’s another freebie).