A fire plough in Vanuatu.
A fire plough (left), as opposed to a hand drill (right).

A fire plough (or fire plow) is a firelighting tool. In its simplest form, it is two sticks rubbed together.[1] Rubbing produces friction and heat, and eventually an ember.[2] More advanced are "stick-and-groove" forms, which typically uses a V-shaped base piece of wood, and a "friction stick" as the activator.[2][3]

The typical fire plough consists of a stick cut to a dull point, and a long piece of wood with a groove cut down its length. The point of the first piece is rubbed quickly through the groove of the second piece in a "plowing" motion, to produce hot dust that then becomes a coal. A split is often made down the length of the grooved piece, so that oxygen can flow freely to the coal/ember. Once hot enough, the coal is introduced to the tinder, more oxygen is added by blowing and the result is ignition.


  1. ^ "Fire : Egyptian Bow Drill, Fire Plough, Fire Piston, Fire Saw, Fire Thong". Woodcraftwanderings.org. Retrieved 2012-12-17.
  2. ^ a b "The Fire Plow by Bart & Robin Blankenship". Hollowtop.com. Retrieved 2012-12-17.
  3. ^ https://archive.org/download/popularsciencemo10newy/popularsciencemo10newy.pdf [bare URL PDF]