Basic Bushcraft Skills
How To Baton Wood With A Knife
One of the most consistant task you will do when out wild camping, or in a survival situation, is process wood to make a fire. Processing wood is simply working the wood into manageable pieces.
Once you have processed your wood down to small enough pieces, then and only then, it is considered the right time to baton with your knife.
But those pieces have to be in proportion to the type and strength of your knife in the first place.
Personally, I am in the 'Anti Knife Baton' camp when it comes to bashing the crap out of my knives, but it really does come down to one question: "Is your knife man enough for the task"?
Here we have a typical before and after photo of a knife that has been used for batoning wood, and finished up in two pieces!
This is a 12" Pukka knife, with a 3/4 tang - razor sharp but just not man enough for the task it was asked to do.
Most knives are not strong enough for the task - they are simply not designed to be whacked with a mallet all the time. Hit a knot in the wood and it can be like striking metal.!
So I bet you thought you'd come to this page expecting to find out how to baton wood with a knife eh..?
Instead I'm saying don't do it - don't use your knife for this bushcraft task - use an axe. That's what axes are designed for. And they do it very well. Most axes are a 1/2" think slab of metal with an edge on them. Sharpen that edge up and 'hey presto' the perfect tool for the job.
So when is the right time to baton wood with your knife?
In my humble opinion you have to have sufficient blade to strike in order to split the wood tour trying to resize.
If you think about it - you wouldn't try to baton a 3" log with a 2" blade.! There's nothing to hit. But what about a 4" blade? That leaves you 1" to strike once the blade has been punched into full depth.
Is that enough? Don't think so.
Is that part of the blade the strongest? Don't think so again.
Are you more likely to force the knife in at an angle? Yep, I reckon so.
Then you get to the point where your wriggling the knife about, up n down AND side to side, and let face it folks, that's not good practice.
So the only other choice is to start bashing the knife on the handle, because that's all that's sticking out to hit,!
I can understand in a situation where you only had your knife with you, but even then there are other ways, and better ways to baton wood without killing your best friend.
There are ways to save your knife and only baton when you have the right sized, manageable pieces of wood to split.
But before that, you can reduce larger logs down to those manageable sizes, without using your knife or axe - here's my video on How To Split Wood Without A Knife: