Splitting wood with a knife

It is very easy to slit pieces of wood with just a knife as long as the piece of wood is not too thick.

Place the knife on to the piece of wood to be split and hit the back of the knife with a baton to drive it into the wood

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Once you can no longer hit the back of the knife, you hit the protruding tip instead

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until the knife is sufficiently far down that the wood splits in two

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A few weeks ago someone was making a spoon and had selected a piece of wood the was almost the same thickness as her knife, and so one the back of the knife had been driven in to the piece of wood, there was no tip protruding to hit (it was -25 today when I did this tutorial and the Birch was frozen and so too easy to split for the demonstration)

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I tried to free the knife from the wood and attempted to drive if further in, but it was not possible.  Eventually I can up with the idea to drive the little bit of blase tip that was protruding in to a block of wood

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and then I hit the bottom of the piece of wood to be split with a baton. driving the wood against the knife blade and this worked really well

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I’m sure this isn’t the first time people have used this method, but it is the first time I have come upon the idea and I will be using it again.

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5 thoughts on “Splitting wood with a knife

  1. You have a pretty stout knife for this, I personally would use a axe. I wonder how many good knives get ruined by battoning? I of course grew up with a axe and am never far from one. I always carry a axe or hatchet in my pack. I have even made a sling for my axe and hatchets when I don’t carry a pack. I do use my leuku’s for cutting tasks and lopping branches that hang down into my trails, un-sheathing a Leuku is much faster than taking off a pack to get out the axe. I think the Bushcrafting schools are teaching this technique because they don’t have the proper training themselves. In only a rare instance should a knife be beat on with anything. The need to carve a spoon would not be a rare instance in my humble opinion.

    • Mors Korchanski taught me to use a knife for such tasks. He has even felled large trees with just a Mora knife. If it’s a “good” it won’t be ruined by battoning!

  2. No doubt in my mind that Mors Korchanski can do all kinds of things, after all he was a survival instructor for the Canadian Air Force. I remember reading and seeing video’s of him showing how to select and use a axe, also making and using a bow saw. On a really cold night I would rather be cutting firewood with axe and saw, using the axe to split firewood. Using a knife with a batton, is a survival skill, for when all you have is a knife. Most of the real woodsmen in my life would consider a axe a better survival tool than the knife.

  3. This is an excellent technique for teaching knife skills Kevin. I teach my students to carve a small wedge first then to batton. The wedge is used then to split the wood further if the knife gets stuck.

    Once I have got my students used to using a knife to batton I then teach them to how to use an axe……

    Mors also gave me a good class on this many years ago at the Moot.

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