How to Make a Native American Pump Drill Images

Things You'll Need

  • Hardwood dowel, 1/4 inch by 24 inches
  • 1-inch wide board, 21 inches long
  • 1 2 x 4 block, 4 inches long
  • Power drill
  • Heavy cord, 45 inches long
  • 1-inch wood screw
  • Ruler and a pencil
  • Vise
  • Long, thin piece of quartz

People have used the pump drill for centuries to start fires and drill holes. This tool was ideal for making holes in bone, wood or shell and for making beads. You can build a pump drill to use in crafts or as an aid for teaching history to your children. This simple project can be made from easily-found materials and will require use of a power drill. Please wear safety glasses when using power tools.

Use the power drill with a 1/4-inch bit to drill all the way through the top end of the wooden dowel. This is where the cord will go through the dowel.

Place the 2 x 4 block down on the table and use the ruler and pencil to draw lines from corner to corner, making an "x."

Place the 2 x 4 block into the vise and tighten the vise to hold it securely. Drill all the way through the block at the point where the two pencil lines connect in the center.

Slide the wooden block onto the dowel up to a point about eight inches from the bottom. Use the power drill to make a pilot hole through the side of the 2 x 4 block but stop before you get to the hardwood dowel.

Use the drill with the screwdriver bit to drive the wood screw through the 2 x 4 into the dowel rod. This attaches the counterweight.

Use the ruler and pencil to mark a line 10 1/2 inches from the end of the 1-inch wide board. This finds the center of the board. Drill a hole in the center of the line with the power drill.

Slide the 1-inch wide board onto the top end of the wooden dowel. Now run the cord through the hole in the dowel and tie the ends around each end of the 1-inch wide board. This completes the pump drill body.

To make the drill authentic, use a cord to tie the quartz to the bottom end of the dowel. For starting a fire, lash a hardwood peg to the bottom. To use the drill, twist the drill rod to wrap the cord around the dowel. Push down on the crossbar and the drill will turn quickly as the crossbar is moved up and down.


  • Use the pump drill as a teaching tool. Have your children research the ancient people who made pump drills and suggest some other projects that they could make from their research.


  • Always wear safety glasses when using power tools. Safety is always job number one.


About the Author

Ronnie Daniels writes content for blog, website and print publication. Writing professionally since 2007, Daniels has been published on various websites and offline in "Mirror Mirror Magazine." Constantly improving his craft and writing better articles and stories has become Daniels' goal in life.

Photo Credits

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