Beginner Bushcraft Knife and Axe recommendations

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minamoto

Member
Aug 25, 2021
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5
tyne & wear
theres a lot of mentioning use of a knife to baton?....again im of the belief that anywhere in the uk you may go theres no requirement to baton with a knife OR axe/hatchet??......again....UNLESS its for fun purposes or practice or......sorry and all....but thats just the uk for you
again....exactly why i came here...to listen to " bushcrafters" get there views.....see how their kit compares to a wild campers.....and to pose the question??.....are some items REALLY required??....or have we ALL been ensnared by the images of the " lone survivor in the wild" syndrome?
 
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Toddy

Mod
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Jan 21, 2005
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S. Lanarkshire
It rather depends on what you want to do, on where you are, what the weather's doing.....that matters, because those 'twigs' are generally sodden wet while the inner timber is drier and works really well to make feather sticks, and those will start a fire nicely regardless of the weather.

Each to their own.
I manage fine with a wee knife and a laplander saw for the most part.
For a bigger group cooking/sitting around type fire though a decent axe or froe is a very good thing indeed :)

I baton .....and yes, I use a small knife to do it....because it gives me a gradiant of timber kindling.
It's a handy skill, and if done properly you can do it with a butter knife. All it needs to do is get into the end grain, and then any wedge will work to split.
You can split it using stones just hammered in too
Wedges rule :)
 

Broch

Full Member
Jan 18, 2009
5,609
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Mid Wales
This is a genuine question: what do you do with a knife that can't be done with those. I am well aware that people have very different habits and preferences.

A reasonable question

I would start by saying ‘what can’t I do with my full tang more robust knife?’ – and the honest answer to that is ‘slice carrots’ (as you know, it’s difficult to slice hard fruit and veg with a knife over 2mm thick).

However, to be more specific, most of the time I use my knife as a tool when working in the wood. A lot of that time I am snedding hazel and ash poles – I find a billhook too clumsy and heavy and a knife with a bit of weight to it ideal. I also need to be able to cut through reasonable thicknesses of rod with a single swipe. I regularly batton wood 100mm in diameter or more if it’s for craft work, though I’ll use an axe for fuel.

I often us an axe or my larger knife when ‘roughing out’ for carving and only get my carving tools out for detail (a mixture of Mora and other makes).

As others have mentioned, I also carry a SAK that fills in for most of the jobs where the other knife is not ideal.

Having said all that, when I’m teaching knife skills and techniques I issue Mora Companions – they’re ideal until someone has enough experience to make their own assessments.
 
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Broch

Full Member
Jan 18, 2009
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Mid Wales
theres a lot of mentioning use of a knife to baton?....again im of the belief that anywhere in the uk you may go theres no requirement to baton with a knife OR axe/hatchet??......again....UNLESS its for fun purposes or practice or......sorry and all....but thats just the uk for you
again....exactly why i came here...to listen to " bushcrafters" get there views.....see how their kit compares to a wild campers.....and to pose the question??.....are some items REALLY required??....or have we ALL been ensnared by the images of the " lone survivor in the wild" syndrome?

Mmm.... you cannot keep a group fire going for long winter evenings using small twigs and branches. We will be camping, as a group, next weekend with a fire for warmth and pleasure and we will have to feed that with material prepared from 4" to 8" logs (sometimes larger). Yes, you can keep a well established fire in with wood in the round, but you can't control the 'burn' of the fire to provide light, heat, flame when you need it - split wood is the only way to do that especially when it's damp (using hardwoods anyway).

Down in our camp, we use axes ranging from small hatchets to full sized felling axes to process wood for fuel - just because you don't attend those kinds of camps doesn't mean they don't happen.
 

TLM

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Nov 16, 2019
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1,006
Vantaa, Finland
OK, you are using your knives often for the heavy end of use. There one does need thickness, length and weight. I very seldom baton because there is hardly the need.

Naturally died dry pines can be used round for a very controlled long burning fire. Hunters of old used that when being on several days hunting trips and carrying a leanto. Works even in wintertime though it takes some experience.
 

Broch

Full Member
Jan 18, 2009
5,609
4,980
Mid Wales
OK, you are using your knives often for the heavy end of use. There one does need thickness, length and weight. I very seldom baton because there is hardly the need.

Naturally died dry pines can be used round for a very controlled long burning fire. Hunters of old used that when being on several days hunting trips and carrying a leanto. Works even in wintertime though it takes some experience.

Agreed; I did say 'for hardwoods'. It's good that we emphasise the difference between burning different types of fuel.
 

Robson Valley

Full Member
Nov 24, 2014
9,552
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McBride, BC
1. Buy a modest knife for a first knife, don't blow the bank account. You won't know what you really want in a knife without experience.

2. Pay attention to the head weight of whatever axe/hatchet you decide to buy. Good at controlled strikes for an hour without stopping? Strike at your heart rate, no faster, to go all day like with a PacNW elbow adze. Opening tins and splitting wedges or kindling, sharpening poles and pegs, no more than 2 lbs 4 oz. Splitting rounds for firewoods, probably 3+ lbs will give you the momentum to get the job done.
3. Take the time to become very proficient at freehand sharpening. It applies to every edge in your house.
 

Toddy

Mod
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Jan 21, 2005
37,015
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S. Lanarkshire
My Dad taught me not to use pine unless there was nothing else. It's spattery, especially when wet, it burns away too quickly, and if you're in a pine wood, then the roots are everywhere and that includes most likely under your fire and fire lingers long in pine needles and can flare up....so in preference I don't use pine.
Not for burning.
He would have been 110 today :)
Funny he's on my mind.

I very rarely use my knife for the 'heavy end of use'. I don't think of batoning as heavy though.
They do make life easy for things like snedding and taking off willow and hazel though.

Somewhere, a loooong time ago, I posted a thread on batoning with a wee knife.....funny enough I'm pretty sure it was a chunk of pine I seperated up though, mostly because it's what I had from a meet up in Perthshire. The photos ought to still be viewable, if we can find them.

I live in the lowlands, I'm surrounded by hardwood trees the length and breadth of the county.
A good hardwood log will last pretty much all evening. Pine won't.
 

minamoto

Member
Aug 25, 2021
32
5
tyne & wear
It rather depends on what you want to do, on where you are, what the weather's doing.....that matters, because those 'twigs' are generally sodden wet while the inner timber is drier and works really well to make feather sticks, and those will start a fire nicely regardless of the weather.

Each to their own.
I manage fine with a wee knife and a laplander saw for the most part.
For a bigger group cooking/sitting around type fire though a decent axe or froe is a very good thing indeed :)

I baton .....and yes, I use a small knife to do it....because it gives me a gradiant of timber kindling.
It's a handy skill, and if done properly you can do it with a butter knife. All it needs to do is get into the end grain, and then any wedge will work to split.
You can split it using stones just hammered in too
Wedges rule :)
once a fire is going and reasonably established it will do all of the work that youre on about...itll dry out wet wood...burn large bits..etc....just ask any person whos had to burn privet stumps in their garden.......massive clumps of knotted damp privet eventually dry and burn
again....i imagine its fun chopping up buts of tree or logs....but its not required....look at bon fire nights?....all sorts just thrown on once the fires established....tables...chairs...bushes...trees...you name it....and not an axe or knife for that matter in sight.
fun...yes.....a hobby..yes...practice an age old skill....ABSOLUTELY
but a REQUIREMENT??????
 

JonathanD

Ophiological Genius
Sep 3, 2004
12,709
1,325
Stourton,UK
Remember you‘re talking to people that spend a lot of time outdoors here, hunt, teach the skill, sometimes live with it and go on expeditions to other parts of the world as part of their work, study or lifestyle. So you’re talking to a very different demographic than that of those that have just watched all series of Bear Grylls and Ray Mears and go out for a bit of camping.
 

minamoto

Member
Aug 25, 2021
32
5
tyne & wear
once a fire is going and reasonably established it will do all of the work that youre on about...itll dry out wet wood...burn large bits..etc....just ask any person whos had to burn privet stumps in their garden.......massive clumps of knotted damp privet eventually dry and burn
again....i imagine its fun chopping up buts of tree or logs....but its not required....look at bon fire nights?....all sorts just thrown on once the fires established....tables...chairs...bushes...trees...you name it....and not an axe or knife for that matter in sight.
fun...yes.....a hobby..yes...practice an age old skill....ABSOLUTELY
but a REQUIREMENT??????
oh ...forgot to also say...no matter how large or small the bits of wood/tree or whatever it is that may seem to need the attention of an axe OR knife?...im pretty confident i could find any size you have or have cut to sixe already lying around in any wooded area.....from tree trunk size to the thickness of a match....and if theres a need to get to the "dry" bits im certain i can achieve this with the humble victprinox
 

Broch

Full Member
Jan 18, 2009
5,609
4,980
Mid Wales
once a fire is going and reasonably established it will do all of the work that youre on about...itll dry out wet wood...burn large bits..etc....just ask any person whos had to burn privet stumps in their garden.......massive clumps of knotted damp privet eventually dry and burn
again....i imagine its fun chopping up buts of tree or logs....but its not required....look at bon fire nights?....all sorts just thrown on once the fires established....tables...chairs...bushes...trees...you name it....and not an axe or knife for that matter in sight.
fun...yes.....a hobby..yes...practice an age old skill....ABSOLUTELY
but a REQUIREMENT??????
Yes!!!!

The point about a bonfire is that it's not in control! Yes you could burn whole tree trunks with a big enough fire. But, you could not add an 8" log onto dying embers and expect to get a kettle boiling in the next hour.
 

minamoto

Member
Aug 25, 2021
32
5
tyne & wear
Remember you‘re talking to people that spend a lot of time outdoors here, hunt, teach the skill, sometimes live with it and go on expeditions to other parts of the world as part of their work, study or lifestyle. So you’re talking to a very different demographic than that of those that have just watched all series of Bear Grylls and Ray Mears and go out for oh and bear grylls and ray nearsa bit of camping.
i agree totally....depends where you are in the world.....northern canada....axe? yes i can see that....as ive said though?? uk???............
 

Broch

Full Member
Jan 18, 2009
5,609
4,980
Mid Wales
oh ...forgot to also say...no matter how large or small the bits of wood/tree or whatever it is that may seem to need the attention of an axe OR knife?...im pretty confident i could find any size you have or have cut to sixe already lying around in any wooded area.....from tree trunk size to the thickness of a match....and if theres a need to get to the "dry" bits im certain i can achieve this with the humble victprinox

Oh dear. I think I'll leave this discussion.

I can split a 10" log with a SAK as well (it's a demonstration that's been going on since Mesolithic times) - but it will take me so long that the fire will have gone out by the time I get it done.
 
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minamoto

Member
Aug 25, 2021
32
5
tyne & wear
Yes!!!!

The point about a bonfire is that it's not in control! Yes you could burn whole tree trunks with a big enough fire. But, you could not add an 8" log onto dying embers and expect to get a kettle boiling in the next hour.
and youd need to start an open fire because?......no small stove or???.....theres not many places open fires are allowed???....so going out for days without the ability to boil or cook unless you need to build a fire? really???
 

JonathanD

Ophiological Genius
Sep 3, 2004
12,709
1,325
Stourton,UK
oh ...forgot to also say...no matter how large or small the bits of wood/tree or whatever it is that may seem to need the attention of an axe OR knife?...im pretty confident i could find any size you have or have cut to sixe already lying around in any wooded area.....from tree trunk size to the thickness of a match....and if theres a need to get to the "dry" bits im certain i can achieve this with the humble victprinox
So could I. But that would not be a controlled fire. That would be an uncontrollable fire. It’s about using less and leaving less, and controlling the fire you have. You couldn’t control the fire in the picture below without using a tool to cut suitably sized fuel.

11CAD340-B08E-433F-B730-38AA7F978B8F.jpeg
 

minamoto

Member
Aug 25, 2021
32
5
tyne & wear
Oh dear. I think I'll leave this discussion.

I can split a 10" log with a SAK as well (it's a demonstration that's been going on since Mesolithic times) - but it will take me so long that the fire will have gone out by the time I get it done.
my point is theres no need to split...just shave off the damp outer
 

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