As per my earlier post, I started to learn the hand drill a few weeks back. What I soon learnt, is that there isn't room for imperfections with the hand drill, unlike the bow drill where you can sometimes get away with cutting corners (once you've learnt it.) With the hand drill, the type and condition of the wood needs to be just right, and the pressure and speed in which you spin needs to be just right. The thickness of the spindle also makes a huge difference.
On Thursday (14th July) after many attempts and trying various things including crumbled King Alfred's cake\cramp balls (which didn't work., I then tried once more using thumb loops on a new hole and amazingly I got an ember. I was ecstatic and was on a high. I thought I had cracked it! Since then, I haven't managed another ember. I realised that there is no room for complacency! You need to be always thinking, reviewing your setup, being connected and aware. I then noticed my Elder spindle had worn down and had gotten thicker which means more surface area and so requires more pressure and speed. Also, on that final go, the end of the spindle had got nicely charred and hot so that maybe helped too. I am now trying a new thinner Elder spindle but still no ember (yet) - I am getting smoke and brown dust and this most likely infers that I need to apply more pressure. So it's also made me realise that I'm not there yet, and still have much learning and practice to do, however the first ember has given me the motivation to carry on. I'd also like to be able to crack the Hand Drill free-hand without using thumb loops. At the moment, the thumb loops are helping me learn how much pressure I need to apply, and I can then try to emulate that free hand. I'm also not quite there with my strength so I need to keep at it, to strengthen my arms so I can go for longer and apply more pressure.
With friction fire, there is also more to learn, and I'm still learning with the bow drill as well!