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Knives

Millions of years have passed since man first noticed that a sharp flake of obsidian, flint, or agate could
cut. No one knows when the birth of the cutting edge took place; it is enough to understand that the
knife was man’s first tool. No image, figure or shape would carve his destiny so profoundly, and even
today every item we touch, eat, wear, or drive has at one time been touched by a cutting edge. We
humans, without fang or claw, will always require our essential edge, and are simply naked without it.

Intro.

How to write just 20 pages about knives? There is so much to knives and blades. Their history, cultural
significance, blade shape, steel type, tang style, grip type, manufacture, rockwell hardness and all sorts
of other fascinating details. After all we have been making knives for at least 1,000,000 years.

In this chapter we are just going to talk about the fundamentals. The things you really need to know to
select and use bushcraft knives in the field. You will discover the rest by building your skills using your
chosen blade in the field.

We will cover 2 basic types of knives and how to use them in combination with a saw and axe specifically
for bushcraft.

Light / General Purpose Fixed Blade Knife

You will always have a fixed blade knife with you when you know you are going for a bushcraft
adventure. You need a strong fixed blade for many tasks ranging from cutting light wood to food
preparation. Harvesting delicate flowers, carving a spoon, even shaving the inside of a branch for fine
tinder to light your fire. This knife is the single most important tool you have other than your brain.

The blade needs to be strong enough to do light wood chopping work, and you need to be able to drill a
hole in wood with the tip. For bushcraft purposes you will also want the knife to be able to strike sparks
from a firesteel. High-carbon steels work best. When you buy the knife check that the knife can be used
with a firesteel.

Typically the blade will be 8-11cm long. The thickness of the blade is usually from 2,5 to 4mm. Blades of
this type often have a so called Scandi grind that helps a small knife have a bit of splitting and chopping
capability. All that is not nearly as important as developing your skills and keeping your knife sharp. More
on that later.

This is the knife you will use most often so be sure that is fits your hand comfortably and that you can
use it wearing gloves.

Generally you will find of of two kinds of light or general purpose knives on the belts of bushcrafters. A
light puuko style blade or a medium weight general purpose bushcraft knife
(pic) Typical examples of the general purpose knife

Top to bottom

A puuko is a scandinavian style light wood carving knife with a light blade. It is designed to be used
alongside other tools such as a heavy duty knife or a saw / axe. These light knives usually have a straight
spine and a partial tang. These are clearly light blades best suited to fine wood carving and processing
wood up to the size of your wrist. They are pretty good for food preparation due to their light weight and
small size. The grip will be oval or very smooth. This is important when doing carving projects that
require you to work with the knife for a long time and grip it at many different angles. Puuko style knives
are not specialised for butchering meat and skinning carcasses but they can certainly be used for that.

(pic medium blade)

Medium bushcraft knives are generalist knives which are clearly much heavier in the hand. The blades
are longer and heavier, often 3-4mm wide at the spine. These knives are designed to be very strong and
yet quite compact, but this also means that they are a compromise. They quite good at a lot of different
tasks but not great at any particular job. A bit too heavy for food preparation or fine carving work, and
yet not a full heavy chopper to process large amounts of firewood. A drop or spear tip shape helps give
good control over the tip of the knife.

Heavy Duty Knife

When you are going into a remote place, or will have serious conditions needing a lot of wood or other
life-support activities, you are going to have to bring a bigger knife.

(pic)

This knife will handle the heavy chopping, prying, smashing and hacking work. The heavy duty knife also
needs to be able to serve as an adequate tool for rough carpentry and butchering duties. If you are in
any kind of life threatening environment due to weather or other factors you need to spend some time
and money on your choice of Primary Edged Tool.

Typically the Heavy Duty knife will have the weight more forward towards the tip of the blade to help
with hacking and chopping tasks. The blade will usually be 12 to 20cm long with a handle that is easy to
grip in gloves. The blade will also be thicker 3,5mm for a classic Saami Leuku, up to 8mm for a survival
oriented end-of-the-world knife.

The heavy duty knife can be paired with the general purpose knife as found in the Saami Leuku / Puuko
combinations. The Leuku is outstanding for tree-felling in the boreal forest and for butchering. The
Puuko handles the rest.

In remote circumstances where complete reliability is the primary concern it is even better to use a
“companion” knife. This is a tough bare bones skeleton knife that is smaller than the primary knife but
can do all the tasks that the primary can. It will just take a lot longer and be much less comfortable. This
is the knife that will save you if you (or your wilderness companion) lose your primary knife.

(pic)

Saws & axes

If you are going to rely on having fire to be able to eat or be warm, or if you intend to build a natural
shelter then you need to think carefully about your ability to process large amounts of wood.

You will start off cutting standing dead trees and branches no thicker than your wrist. You can use the
heavy duty knife and a thick stick to take down trees of this size. If you are looking at building a long fire
or staying a few days then you need to add another wood processing tool.

If the weather is OK and you are within a few hours of help then you start by adding a lightweight folding
saw. As you gain experience and venture into more remote wilderness in more severe weather
conditions you need to start thinking about investing in a bow saw. These are much less likely to snap
under intense use, and are not nearly as vulnerable to becoming brittle in very cold weather.

Finally, if you are on a multi-day trip in snoy country where fire is a must, then so is an axe.

Why?

An axe is totally multipurpose, it can be used for carpentry, tree felling and delimbing, cutting cordage,
even fine tasks and food preparation if properly sharpened. Look at the shape of an axe and compare to
a traditional Inuit food prep knife called an Ulu.

(pics)

Of course it is heavy but if you are setting off for that kind of adventure you will be able to carry that kind
of a load.

An axe head is impossible to break, no matter how cold it is. Generally the party will have more than one
axe with them so even if a handle breaks, with a bit of an effort a new one can be made in the field.

Finally, you can use an axe perfectly well with big warm mittens on, when your hands aren’t working too
well. Important thoughts when you are going to places that are cold and remote.
Knife Fundamentals.

Blade awareness.

This is the single most important part of knife safety. If you cut your femoral artery in the field you will
bleed out and die in about 4 minutes. If you are lucky and just have a gaping flesh wound you may
survive with just permanent loss of function and feeling in the area you hit. This you will only know for
sure after several months of healing. Do not risk it. KNOW where the sharp part of your knife is.

The Sheath

The sheath is often overlooked as an essential piece of safety equipment. The sheath makes sure your
knife is where you want it to be. In your hand or safety locked away. Sheaths are made of plastic, leather,
kydex and other materials. Make sure the sheath holds the knife securely at all times, but also be sure
you can remove the knife from the sheath easily.

The knife is either IN your hand or IN the sheath.

(pic)

When you take your knife out of the sheath be AWARE of where the sharp blade is. Incredibly people cut
and injure themselves every year taking their knives out and putting them back in.

(pic)

The Blood Circle

When there is a knife involved there are only two places a person can be. Holding the handle or facing
the point and edge – in danger. Just like with a gun we have to constantly be aware that the knife can kill
us or our friends. When you are holding a knife stretch your arm all the way out and move the knife
slowly back and forth. As far as you can reach, like you were making a circle around you. Anywhere you
can reach with the blade is the Hurt-Zone. The Blood Circle. When you are holding the knife, it is YOUR
job to make sure that no one and nothing is inside your Blood Circle. If you are not holding the knife it is
YOUR job to make sure you are not inside anyone’s Blood Circle.

Concentrate on what you are doing. If you are unable to concentrate for whatever reason, put the knife
away in its sheath and wait until you can.

(pic)

Holding the Knife

Hold the knife with a relaxed grip. See how it feels in the hand. Feel the curve of the handle and move it
around in your hand until you find the “sweet spot”. If you can’t find the sweet spot maybe the blade is
not quite the right one for you. When you are in the shop picking your knife, make sure you test for this
“fit” between your body and the tool.

(pic)

Holding the knife in this forehand grip gives you a strong stable grip that is suitable for many basic tasks.

Cut away from yourself.

Always make sure that all parts of you that you do not want to cut with the knife are behind the blade.
This means that you have to pay particular attention to your supporting hand. Make sure it is well behind
the blade.

(pic)

If you need to add more power you can brace against your own body or even against a tree stump. Take
it EASY. Make SMALL cuts. It is much easier and safer to make many small cuts in control than force the
blade through the wood with great power and risk the blade slipping out of control or even snapping.

(pic)

(pics)

Elbows on your knees.

Cutting the femoral artery that runs through the inside of your leg is potentially fatal. Pay particular
attention to this when you are sitting down working on a piece of wood. It is very easy to slip and cause a
serious wound. Put your elbows ON your knees and you will be sure to be in a safe position. Remember –
anything that you don’t want to cut must stay behind the blade.

(pic)

Transfering the knife

Handing the knife to another person is the most dangerous thing you can do with it. During the transfer
neither you or the other person are in complete control of the blade. The best idea is in fact not to hand
your knife to someone else at all. You will no longer have your primary tool available. Offer them your
back-up knife instead. You also would not usually ask to use someone else’s tools. Instead, you should
ask the person for help with the task at hand. You will often find that the person will do the job
themselves or perhaps will even show you how to use their tool to safely.

If you are going to hand your knife to someone else, the next best idea is to put your knife IN the sheath
and THEN hand it to the other person. Obvious, no? But of course the sheath is all attached to your belt
or for some other reason it is just not convenient. This is why its good to have a companion or back-up
knife for your friend to use.

If you are still thinking of handing an open blade to someone who you care about, or if you don’t want
to spend time learning how to manage deep knife cuts in the field then use the following method. The
basic concept is to constantly control the edge of the blade and for both people always to have the knife
in a strong grip.

Hold the knife in your normal forehand grip

(pic)

Rotate the blade up and back. No need to change the grip on the knife or use your other hand. Now the
blade points up and away from your hand and is also safe for your friend’s hand as they reach for the
handle.

(pic)

Now your friend can take the knife directly into a forehand grip of their own. The blade can not cut you
even if your friend were to make a clumsy movement and snatch the knife from your hand. You have
control over the blade until your friend has a firm grip on the knife. Make sure to make eye contact and
be clear and concentrated on what you are doing. Be sure to get the knife back this way too. Coach your
friends on the method and keep your fingers safe.

(pic)

First Aid

You WILL get cut. You WILL see your friends get cut. It happens. The idea is to minimize the risk by using
active blade awareness, correct methods, and a properly sharpened blade. Carry a cut kit. Be trained in
basic first aid. Be sure your friends are too.

If anyone in your party is going to have an axe, carry and learn to use a military tourniquet. You can
argue with me all you want about how the wrong use of a tourniquet can cause tissue die off. No use of
tourniquet when needed WILL cause death. Learn how to use it. Be able to use it on yourself with one
hand. Use it on me if you think I need it. Let the hospital deal with “potential crush trauma to the tissue”.
I will be happy you did not let me bleed to death in 4 minutes on the forest floor. No, I do not want you
to run around looking for paracord and a branch to improve a tourniquet during that time. I think we are
clear on this, yes?
(pic)

What is in my cut kit?

Duct tape

2 rolls gauze

Elastoplast / Band-Aids / plasters of various types

Various other wound dressings for blisters, mild burns and cuts.

2 pairs Nitrile gloves

Steri-strips

Antiseptic swabs and powder

Methods

Now we have been through the basics of handling a knife safely let’s get down to how to really use it. I’m
going to assume that you know how to use a knife for all the general camp tasks like food preparation,
cutting cordage, harvesting green edibles, and opening packaging. Use the forehand grip. Be aware of
the blade. Put the knife in its sheath when not actively using it. Simple.

For processing wood for the fire and for wood carving there are some techniques that will make the job
faster and smoother.

Cutting through big sticks with a small knife.

Circling.

Take the knife in a strong forehand grip or brace against your body. Using small and manageable cuts
circle all the way around the stick until it becomes thin enough to break it off.

Using a Baton

When most people think of batoning they imagine splitting a big log with a knife and a pounding stick. In
fact you can use a baton to make many of your cuts easier, more effective, and much safer.
Get a short fat stick about the thickness of your wrist and the length of your forearm. Place the edge of
your knife blade on the part of the stick you want to work on and start tapping gently on the spine of the
knife as you move the knife blade around on the wood. This is “tapping” not smashing. The idea is to give
many short precise and controlled inputs to the knife blade. This is much more controlled and much less
tiring that trying to shove the edge and point of your blade through wood with your muscles.

Using a puuko style knife and a baton you can take down standing dead trees up to the size of your calf.
It will just take a long time. The good thing is that these techniques work even better with the heavy duty
choppers we normally use to process wood. Learn the techniques with your general purpose knife first
and THEN transfer then to the heavy duty blades.

(pic)

Splitting wood with a small knife and a baton

Once you have managed to cut a thick piece of wood to a suitable length for a fire you still need to split
it. You can use a surprisingly small knife to split a big piece of wood. Yes of course it is more efficient to
do this with an axe or a splitting maul or a hydraulic log splitter, but we are here, in the woods, with our
basic bushcraft knife, and we would like to make a fire. If you look at the length of your knife it will tell
you how thick a log you can split. You can split a log that is about as thick as 1/3 of the length of your
blade.

(pic)

Get your small log and set it upright. You can use a “sissy” stick to hold the log in place while you set the
edge of the blade across the top of the log. Then use the baton to tap down the knife into the wood.
Once the blade has penetrated the wood you can use the baton with more force to drive the knife down
into the wood and split the log. If you are on a hard surface make sure to have a piece of wood to catch
the edge of your knife if it should suddenly split the wood sooner than you expected. The last thing you
want to to destroy the nicely honed edge of your knife against a rock.

(pic)

Scraping

Your knife has a cutting edge but it also has another working surface that is not often mentioned or
used, the spine. You can use the back of the blade to scrape off bark or make very fine material for
tinder. The spine of the blade is much more controlled and less likely to bite deeply into the wood when
all you really wanted was to remove the bark.

(pic)

Whittling - Try Stick


Once you have tried out the basic cuts you can practice and perfect them by making projects. Carve and
whittle a pot hook, a spoon, a tent stake, a toggle. You could even create a Try-stick. This idea was
created by the legendary Mors Kochanski and involves making a stick consisting of over 10 carving tasks
which are essential to wilderness self-reliance.

(pic)

Below are step-by-step instructions on how to make a try stick:

1) Blunt End:

When Is It Used?: The blunt end is used anywhere that you want an edge you would like not to any
points or splinters on, more specifically for using against a tarp (think center stake) or against the body
for a Roy Craft style pack (pack made from the landscape). This can also be utilized to make a striking
tool for batoning or on tent stakes as this helps keep the wood from splitting when beating the crap out
of it (it essentially hardens the wood without fire hardening).

How Do You Carve It?: This is one of the easier notches to carve it just take a little time. Simply start an
inch or so from the end of your stick to begin removing material as you spin the stick in your hand. you
simply keep working your way up the stick with the motion a few millimeters at a time until you end up
with a rounded end.

2) Material Reduction:

When Is It Used?: This type of carving is used mostly for decorative purposes (think railing and furniture)
but can also be used to make handles for improvised tools, making toggles and even a makeshift fishing
reel.

How Do You Carve It?: You can carve it by marking out the area you desire to reduce and then press
down firmly with your knife or easily baton your knife into the stick all the way around the area. If the
area to be reduced is fairly wide you can do the same process in the center of this area and potentially
several other times with in and then utilize your knife to pry these slits away from the stick. Once the
material is removed in bulk you simply go back to smooth it out and even things up.

3) Pot Hook:

When Is It Used?: This type of carving is used almost exclusively as a pot hanger but can be used to hand
any type of gear around camp. This is one of the easiest to carve and one of the most used portions of
the try stick that you will run into, practice it and practice it often.
How Do You Carve It?: You can carve a pot hook my batoning your knife in an "X" pattern into your stick.
Go to the back of the X and carve to the center of the X. You then want to remove the material to each
side of the bottom of your X leaving you with a raised triangle which the bail for your pot hangs on.

4) Saddle Notch:

When Is It Used?:Think Lincoln Logs when you think saddle notch as it is primarily utilized for joining logs
together when building a structure. Aside from the obvious use of building a cabin or shelter this notch
can be utilized when making a Roycraft pack to join the three sticks at each point so the fit of the pack is
much tighter.

How Do You Carve It?: To carve this notch you must determine it's depth and width by measuring it
against the stick you plan to merge with the notch. Once you have everything measured out do a plunge
cut (or baton) in the center to match your depth and then keep doing the same on each side until you
reach the outside edge. You then must only pry the sections out and clean up the shape as needed.

5) Dovetail:

When Is It Used?: This notch isn't utilized much for in-field crafting as it if more often than not utilized
for crafting furniture. Essentially if you want to make a clean corner for a cabinet, box or other container
this is the notch you should implement.

How Do You Carve It?: Baton (or cut) the outer portions of your trapezoid, cut (or baton) one or a few
vertical cuts(depending on the size of your notch) to your desired depth in-between the sides of the
trapezoid. Pry out the bulky portions of the interior and shave the interior to desired finish.

6) Latch Notch:

When Is It Used?: This notch is critical for crafting traps in the field as it is utilized in figure 4 traps for
locking against 90 degree plains.

How Do You Carve It?: Baton or cut a 90 degree at the bottom of the notch placement and then at an
angle cut to the 90 degree side of the notch and pry out the interior of the notch and clean up the notch
by shaving.

7) 90 Degree Plains:

When Is It Used?: This is most often utilized when making a figure 4 trap but can also be utilized for
decorative furniture, bow making, handle making, and much more.

How Do You Carve It?: This is one of the easier items on the try stick to carve as it simply requires baton
and pry. You simply start on one side of the stick and baton each side of the of the area you want at a 90
degree and pry the area in between leaving you with a 90 degree plain. You do this same action on each
side of the stick creating a square creating four 90 degree corners. After this is complete simply shave
each side down until you square smooth surfaces.

8) Split:

When Is It Used?: This notch is utilized to merge two differing types and diameters of material especially
in basket making. The piece of bark you see sticking into the stick below is fairly secure and if this was
done using green wood it would have sealed around the inserted material. This technique is also utilized
for growing two different types of fruit on one tree.

How Do You Carve It?: To carve this simply drive the tip of your knife into the the stick (a narrow profile
knife is needed so as not to leave a large hole) and then place the material into the slot created.

9) Bow Notch:

When Is It Used?:The notch used is not one I personally use when crafting a long bow I usually just cut a
V notch on each side of the bow. For the most part this notch is only utilized in the bow making process.

How Do You Carve It?: To make the notch in the video I usually baton at an angle in a half moon
configuration and then do the same thing 1/2 inch up from the first half moon. You then pry the area
out in-between and smooth everything out so there are no sharp edges.

10) V Notch:

When Is It Used?: The V notch is utilized in a variety of primitive trap most specifically the figure 4 where
it is used to lock the upright against the support stick (think triangle fitting into a v).

How Do You Carve It?: Carve at the angle needed on one side and go to the opposing side and carve a
matching side to the V. At this point you can pry the center out or cut a vertical line in the center to
make the prying action a little easier.

11) Root Stripper:

When Is It Used?: Fortunately we do have a great deal of soft wood conifer trees so I have been put this
type of makeshift tool into action quite a bit.

How Do You Carve It?: Start by making a simple "V" notch as described above and then extend the "V"
further into the stick. You would then thin each of the four sides of the stick until it is nearly in a wedge
design.

Saw

Folding saw vs bow saw


Axe

Axes are essentially heavy knives on a stick. They are incredibly versatile and can even be used with a
broken handle. Axes can be used for carpentry, food prep, butchering game, preparing leather and many
other tasks that we don’t often think of when we think of the axe, even making a spoon. Axes are
obligatory equipment when you really NEED that firewood. In fact, humans have been making and using
axes for over 30,000 years. But we also have to know that axes are the most dangerous of the tools we
take into the forest. Axes are fast, heavy, and sharp and we swing them around with great force near to
the vulnerable arteries and muscles of our knees and legs. Please be careful. If you take an axe, take a
tourniquet and know how to use it. Accidents with axes are rarely trivial.

There is so much to selecting and using an axe that cannot be easily and safely conveyed to you in a
simple book, so we will cover only the basics of what you can do with an axe and how to handle them
safely. If you find yourself considering buying and carrying an axe, get someone to show you. You will be
inducted into the great process of developing axe-manship.

“Master your ax instead of fearing it. You master axe work by practicing it. Chopping is an art. It takes
years to become an expert. You can learn only so much by reading manuals and looking at illustrations;
the rest you can learn only by swinging. Take a cautious, rather than aggressive, approach to chopping
your first logs. Placement, control, proper stance, and technique are far more important than power.
Only when you have become fully proficient does power become a consideration. This chapter gives
some basic instruction.” – Bernie Weisgerber in “An Axe to Grind”

Believe me, it is worth it. The real pleasure of working with an axe is the incredibly smooth and efficient
way you can get through large amounts of wood. There really is nothing like it. For fire-dependent trips
of more than a few days or in a remote areas I always carry an axe. Always.

“A woodsman should carry a hatchet, and he should be as critical in selecting it as in buying a gun. The
notion that a heavy hunting knife can do the work of a hatchet is a delusion.”

~ Horace Kephart, from Camping and Woodcraft, 1917

Axe anatomy

For the sake of clarity, refer to the diagram below of basic terminology. All you really need to know is
that you grip the handle and swing the sharp end against wood.

(pic)

Selecting an axe
Size

Hand Axe or Hatchet

Length

Weight

Head shape

Uses

¾ Axe

Length

Weight

Head shape

Uses

Transporting an axe

On your backpack

In your hand

Key skills

Felling

Without experience felling trees, you should never lay an axe to a trunk you can’t reach around with one
arm. Practice accuracy and technique on smaller trees.

(pic)

Determine the lean of the tree to be felled by viewing it from a distance two directions: front and 90º to
the side. Hold/hang the end of your axe handle between your thumb and forefingers and use it as a
plumb line to sight the tree’s lean. This will help you determine the lay or path the tree will fall.

(pic)
With proper tools (wedges, jacks, ropes), a skilled axeman can make most any tree fall in his/her desired
direction. However, it’s much easier to fell a tree towards its natural lean if that path is clear of other
obstacles.

(pic – felling)

Before Your First Swing

Visually check the tree for any widow makers (dead limbs) that might dislodge and crash onto your body.
Dead standing trees are excellent for firewood but also pose a higher risk of dropping limbs when being
hacked on. Even small twigs falling can damage your eye the moment you look up to check. Eye
protection is advisable.

Clear your swing radius of all debris that might snag your axe mid swing. Miss hits and glances mean
potential injury. The Blood Circle of an axe is far larger than that of a knife.

Watch the wind. Predominant wind direction and gusts can be your friend or foe when felling trees.

Have multiple escape routes. Things can go very wrong if a tree kicks back or gets snagged in an adjacent
tree on its decent. Take time to plan and clear paths. Be ready to drop everything and retreat if need be.

Swing Stance

Position your body so that your feet are behind the chopping strokes and to the outside of your feet.
Chopping stokes should be outside the “train tracks” (two parallel lines running to the outer edges of
your boots) with your feet inside the tracks on flat ground where possible.

(pic)

Face Cut

Aim to make a 45º face cut near the base of the tree. This notch should go about halfway through the
tree and be perpendicular with the imaginary line of fall. Make progressive cuts in a pattern to remove
wood chips. Accuracy is more important here than strength and power.

Never swing in an upward manner to remove wood chips in the notch. Upward axe swings are likely
glance and end in your face. Continue making 45 degree cuts from top to bottom of the face cut.
Decreasing your swing angle slightly to about 10º will help remove chips… just never swing upward! Also,
keep the axe handle as horizontal as possible while swinging. Do this by flexing your knees and waist
with the axe head at 45º.

Now you have a 45 degree face cut with an even shelf about halfway through the tree. Time for the next
notch.
Back Cut

The back cut is a smaller version of the face cut. Again, this cut needs to be a 45º notch with its shelf an
inch or two higher than the face cut shelf. This hight difference creates a “hinge” between the two
notches.

The hinge serves as a safety device to prevent kickback when the tree begins to fall. Even with smaller
diameter trees, the weight of the tree falling causes the base of the tree to push backwards. It’s physics.

You may find it helpful to score the area of the back cut with your axe to give you an accurate target. Use
the same cutting strokes as you did with the front cut. As you close in on the front cut from the rear, pay
attention to the trees movement. Once it starts to lean, you may get one more swing in. After that, it’s
time to get out of the way and let gravity take over. Do not stand directly behind the falling tree. Move
to a safe distance to either side… and get ready to drop your axe and run if need be.

Limbing

Limbing can be dangerous since there is no backup to stop the axe once it severs the branch. Here’s
some tips for limbing safely:

(pic)

Swing in a direction from the base (trunk) to the top of the downed tree. This removes the limb even at
the trunk leaving little to no snags.

Start by removing limbs from the topside of the downed tree to prevent them from interfering while
limbing side branches. Remember to keep your feet inside the “railroad tracks” and the limb outside the
tracks on all horizontal swings. Once severed, remove to keep your work area clear for side limbing.

Keep the tree trunk between you and the limb you are removing when at all possible. Keep your body
slightly behind the target limb as you swing.

Bucking

Once your tree is down and limbed, you need to move it to camp or your woodshed. Buck it! Bucking is
the process of chopping logs into manageable lengths for conveyance. If you know the length of your
axe, use it as a measuring tool to lay out the log sections to be bucked.
Bucking tips:

Scotch the log with wooden wedges or smaller branches on both sides of the log to be bucked.

Stand on top of the log with feet straddling your cut mark. Spread feet about shoulder’s width apart with
knees and hips slightly flexed. This stance is adjusted up or down depending on the length of your axe.

Maintaining your balance, swing accurately and begin making “V” notches from the center of your mark
to a width equal to the diameter of the log. For instance, a log 30cm in diameter will have a V notch
about 30cm wide.

Once you’ve notched one side of the log, turn and repeat the notching on the log’s opposite side. The
two V notches will meet in the middle of the log and break apart.

Splitting

Heating with wood warms you in three ways: harvesting, splitting, and burning. Here are few tips to
warm your heart while splitting.

Sharp stuff is involved in getting round wood ready to burn. Your safety should be your main concern.

Use a large axe to begin the splitting process. If you hate bending over to retrieve flying firewood after
each swing, try this trick.

Place the round on your anvil (wooden chopping block). Tie a piece of rope around the wood. I use a
Trucker’s Hitch which is easy to tie and untie.

(pic)

On your first strike, aim at the back edge of the round. You’ll likely strike the center portion. Now turn
the round with the first split perpendicular to you and begin slicing the round like a pizza. Green splits
easier than seasoned wood.

No flying firewood!

Pizza pie cut

(pic)

Grab the whole bundle and dump it on the split stack.


(pic)

For short, small rounds, I use a shorter ax for better accuracy.

(pic)

Notice that I’m on my knees with arms fully extended with a two-handed swing. The round is at the back
of the anvil. If I miss or slice through the wood, my axe will strike the anvil, not my body.

(pic)

Once split, I process the other pieces flat on the far edge of my anvil. Less force is required to split.

(pic)

With the axe-head in the edge of the anvil, twist the wood with your off-hand to complete the split. This
makes short work on kindling.

Wear gloves if you’ve got ’em

(pic)

Another safe method is batoning. Use a piece of wood to strike the butt of your axe at the precise
location you want to split. Never use a metal tool to strike your axe.

(pic)

On thinner, longer rounds use the baton method for safe splitting.

Other uses

Carpentry
Scraping

How to take care of your blades

Sharpen

Oil

Projects

Making sense of knife geekery

Geometry

Steel –hardness strength toughness

Shapes of grind

Other things you should know about knives

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