In a survival scenario, when the stress levels are high and time is against you, even a simple action can pose serious problems. Splitting firewood to make a fire is an easy task when you have an axe, but you might not be lucky enough to have one. If that’s the case, wood batoning is the best next thing you can do and here is what you need to know about this technique.
Nothing is easy when it comes to survival, especially if you find yourself stranded in the wilderness. Survival TV shows cannot depict the reality you will have to face on the field. There’s some skill involved and practice required for wood batoning. Learning the proper technique requires time, and you will also have to put to the test, your fancy survival knife.
What is wood batoning?
To put it in a few words, wood batoning is the act of splitting a piece of wood using a knife and a wooden baton. Wood batoning can also help you carve wood when you lack the proper tools. The physics behind this technique requires the use of a sharp blade and the weight of an improvised hammer.
Wood batoning works because it provides you with more control over the wood splitting and cutting process. It’s much more precise than if you would use a hatchet or any other tools. You can even use your folding knife to split kindling out of large logs or branches. Wood batoning is also used for making slats or other shapes in pieces of woods if you plan to build traps, weapons or tools.
Related article: Picking The Right Wood To Build A Fire In The Wild
Although the size of the knife doesn’t matter for wood batoning, the type and shape of the blade are pretty important. For this technique to work, I recommend using a fixed blade knife, with a full tang, square spine. Most survival knives follow these criteria, so you shouldn’t have problems in picking one. Just make sure your knife is built to stand the abuse of wood batoning.
Wood batoning step by step guide
To get you started, make sure you have the following ready:
- Safety glasses (or any other type of eye protection)
- A flat working surface (chopping block made from logs or tree stumps)
- Baton (an average piece of hardwood)
- Survival knife
Step 1 – Safety is a must
Chips of wood will start flying when you get to work, and you need to protect your eyes. Having bits of wood in your eyes when you struggle to survive is the last thing you need. Also, I had splinters in my hands more times than I could count, and I don’t recommend it. Make sure you wear gloves to protect your hands, you will be glad you did.
Another thing, I learned over the years is that you need some kind of flat surface to make your work easier. A tree stump can work as a chopping block, and it provides you with the stability you need to cut or split the wood.
Step 2 – Get the tools
First of all, finding the proper baton can take some time, if you’re not familiar with the type of wood available in your region. You should pick an appropriately sized piece of hardwood for the task at hand. For large splitting jobs using a large knife, get a baton similar or smaller to a baseball bat. For smaller tasks, you can use a 1 pound club without any issues. Make sure you pick dry hardwood for this task. Otherwise, you will be carving the baton with the spine of the knife, and it won’t last to finish the job.
Step 3 – Give it a go
Once you have everything you need is time to get to work. Get your piece of wood and place it on the chopping block. Place the knife on the upper end of the wood piece, in the middle or any other position you want. It depends if you plan to split it in two or work your way to the center. Start hammering the blade spine and work your way down through the wood. This job may seem easy, and it can be so if you use a knife with a large blade. When using a smaller knife, it becomes tricky to hit the blade spine.
Either way, you will need to stop and adjust the blade from time to time. Wood batoning is never a straight up job, and there’s no guarantee you will finish the cut or split without making adjustments. Be careful when you pry the stuck knife from the piece of wood. This action is the one that causes the most injuries when batoning wood.
Step 4 – Keep going at it
Wood batoning is a skill that can be used over and over for various tasks. It will help you turn logs into splinter or turn them into elaborate carvings. Few people know that the first pioneer used wood batoning to make house shingles. Since you won’t need to do that in the wilderness, stick to what you know and start a fire using the kindle you made.
Wood batoning is an important survival skill that can come in handy in all sorts of environments and scenarios. This simple technique is easy to master, and there are fewer things that can go wrong when splitting wood using a knife and a baton. Compared to swinging a machete or an axe, you’re much safer using this technique, and even kids can do it. Even a small pocket knife can help you split wood, and you won’t have to sweat while doing it. Wood batoning helps you save energy and work smarter. After all, that’s the way every survival situation should be approached.