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How to: Baton firewood with a butter knife

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Most survival knife reviews at some point show the blade being pounded – or batoned -through a block of firewood. But batoning is not a big deal if you use the right technique.  This method is so simple technique, you can baton firewood with a butter knife.

by Leon Pantenburg

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It seems like a real test – the knife blade is pounded with a stick or rock or something, and it splits firewood.

In reality, there are so many variables in this particular test, it can’t possibly be a valid test of anything.

But what happens if you get in a situation where you need to build a fire and all you have is split firewood, and no kindling. You’ll have to split smaller pieces to make the transition from initial flame to bigger wood. If you don’t have an axe, you may have to use your knife.

Batoning firewood started with picking the right wood:

  • Find wood that splits easily in the first place: Pine, ash, or some sort of soft wood. While some hardwoods, such as white oak and hickory split fairly easily when dry, they are not the best candidates for batoning.
  • Get a straight grained piece. Make sure the grain runs vertically at a 90-degree angle to the cut.
  • No knots or wavey grain.
  • Don’t get a piece too long – 12 to 18 inches is about right.
  • If possible, get old, dry wood. Green wood is harder to split, and some green wood, such as Mississippi gum, is virtually impossible to split green, even with an axe.

We’re going to baton with the knife using the “triangle” technique. It is just what it says: Start splitting out triangles. After you get out one triangle, arrange the knife so the next split is also a triangle.

If you split out four or five triangles and arrange them correctly, that should be enough to get your fire going.


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