It is with a note of sadness that I finally retire the best hand drill I've ever employed. Little could I imagine that this opportune Goldenrod stalk from a floodplain would rise above the Mugwort, Mullein, and Yucca, as well as several other hand drill specimens now not even worth mentioning, in terms of its dependably consistent performance. This stick became my 'go-to' rod of fire whenever I truly needed to spin out an ember, particularly when experimental trials with others failed.
Requiring very little in terms of straightening and providing immediate success from its first trial, one year passed, then another as it gradually lost its original length of over one foot through relentless use. As it became too short to operate comfortably I reluctantly decided to provide a foreshaft of slender bamboo, cut near an internode to provide a stop for solid seating of the drill. From this time I reserved it for those no-fail situations - during which time it took on a more magical quality for its unfailing capability.
Countless fireboards later, I've just reached the point where it is simply too abbreviated in length to fulfill its intended purpose. The foreshaft itself now runs into the fireboard and it is time for retirement. A final portrait of a good and noble servant which created so many embers:
Here among its coworkers -
...and thus assembled, to show the exposed working surface which justified its retirement -
Come early autumn, I'll be optimistically revisiting that floodplain to seek out a successor. In the meantime I've been having some variable fun with Mullein. I'm sure that other friction firemakers have had similar experiences, I welcome additional tales of the terminal fulfillment (or loss) of a trusted implement.