Instructables
Picture of 7 Methods of Primitive Fire Starting
I have used all of the following methods successfully. Each one CAN produce fire, but is not guaranteed to. My personal favorites are the fire piston and the flint and steel. I have noted a few "ibles" about making both. Certainly you could also purchase both. They are small and easy to pack, and have a high success rate. But I suppose you never know when all you'll have is a few sticks and a shoestring so it's good to know how to use 'em.

Please note that I did not have images available for the techniques listed here so I let Google fix that for me. I noted no copyright notices on the sites where the images were located.
 
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Step 1: Hand Drill

Picture of Hand Drill
Hand Drill
Using a hand drill is one of the simplest friction methods, but high speed can be difficult to maintain because only the hands are used to rotate the spindle. It works best in dry climates.

Step One Cut a V-shaped notch in the fireboard, then start a small depression adjacent to it with a rock or knife tip. Set a piece of bark underneath the notch to catch the ember.

Step Two Place the spindle, which should be 2 feet long, in the depression and, maintaining pressure, roll it between the palms of your hands, running them quickly down the spindle in a burst of speed. Repeat until the spindle tip glows red and an ember is formed.

Step Three Tap the fireboard to deposit the ember onto the bark, then transfer it to a tinder bundle and blow it to flame.

Step 2: Two-Man Friction Drill

Picture of Two-Man Friction Drill
Two-Man Friction Drill
Two people can do a better job of maintaining the speed and pressure needed to create an ember using this string variation of a friction drill. Step One Have one person apply downward pressure to the drill while the other uses a thong or shoelace to rapidly rotate the spindle.
RyanH14 months ago

match or a lighter maybe

This is an awesome instructable. However, it is copied almost directly from this article (except step 6): http://www.fieldandstream.com/photos/gallery/survival/fire/2006/10/seven-ways-light-fire-without-match?photo=0#node-1000014415
Maybe you should cite it so you don't get in trouble.
charcloth is not actually set on fire, throw some in a metal container and then throw near fire to produce
There are actually a few ways of making char cloth. One is to put a cotton rag or material such as a piece of blue jeans into an airtight metal containder and put it in the fire. Another is to burn it and then stomp it out when it's a dark brown color.
Correct, the point is to burn off some of the carbon so that it doesn't combust. To set them on fire is a silly and inefficient waste of material. But, the author can do whatever works for him. 
pfred23 years ago
A magnifying glass isn't primitive enough for you?
Hmm, didn't know they had magnifying glasses during paleo times.
MissouriVillian (author)  pfred23 years ago
If your speaking to me a magnifying glass is about as Sherlock Holmes as I wish to get, but no, it's not what I would call primitive.
donbelt1 year ago
Might be hard to have charcloth without the fire first. In that case conk works, it is a tree fungus you can pick off the side of a tree and split open. It will hold a spark and smolder. It varies in appearance, but I find it most consistently on birches and beech trees. Google some images.