Instructables
Picture of How to Split Firewood...With a Knife
Hi Folks! Welcome to my first Instructable!
First of all, this method was not originally my idea. I noticed that there was not an Instructable on this subject, and I decided to make one. Feel free to leave tips, suggestions, or questions in the comment section.
This technique is known as Batoning, and it is most useful (in my experience) when splitting thin pieces of wood for kindling, or for when the surface you are splitting on is not completely level.
From Wikipedia: This technique is useful for the simple splitting of wood for kindling, to access dry wood within a wet log, and for the production of shingles, slats, or boards. It is also useful for cutting notches, or making clean crosscuts against the grain of the wood. Batoning requires much less energy to perform than chopping, which is helpful in survival situations where energy should be conserved. The technique is also especially useful when a chopping tool is not available.
 
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Step 1: Gather Materials

Picture of Gather Materials
Safety First:
Eye Protection

Work Gloves (I'm not using gloves because it was hard to work the camera with gloves on)

Sturdy Shoes

Splitting wood can be a dangerous activity. I am not responsible for any injury to yourself or others as a result of this method. Be Careful.


A stump/sturdy surface

A log to use as a club/hammer
Should be easy to hold and swing with one hand

A fixed-blade knife
The knife you use should have a thick spine, and a grippy/secure handle.
Do not use a kitchen knife; do not use a folding knife. Both will probably break.
The blade of the knife needs to be longer than the diameter of what you intend to split
Warning: There is the potential that the blade of your knife will break off into the log. I have never had this happen to me, but just beware.

Wood to split: Should be cut to size to use in a fire.
jvaupel7 months ago

very kewl!

pav195610 months ago

I use my Becker Campanion
See: http://www.kabar.com/knives/detail/182

It is made by Ka-Bar was designed for work!

Also split the log (quartering it) and wrap the bottom with twine or hold the bottom togeather with rocks and you can have a Swedish Stove!

See

http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-make-a-Swed...


As gpay10 said, this is a variation of Tew and Froe. For a really useful, perfectly weighted, handsome and easy-to hold Tew (mallet), go to your local bowling alley and ask for a discarded bowling pin. I've been using one for years to split small chunks.
Works perfectly. Great Instructable. Thank you.
cfm11 months ago
Before you start, carve a few small wedges of different widths so you can tap in one or more into the split behind the knife. This can be to help split it, or to just get the blade unstuck by taking the pressure off of it.
stevetork11 months ago
Well written Instructable. Also many good comments. I first learned of this technique from a Roy Underhill (The Woodwright) book. Roy used a small hatchet. I've used my hatchet (one with a metal shank works nicely) to split kindling for years. It's a fairly safe method to make small pieces and your hands are well away from cutting edge.
smokehill11 months ago
As others have mentioned, this is a pretty risky thing to do, for all but the most robust and sturdily-built knives. Still, it's a good technique to know about in an emergency, though ordinarily you should use a hatchet instead of the knife.

If weight is not a consideration (which it would be to some backpackers), there is also a tool, sometimes called a Wood Grenade, that is made of hardened steel & shaped like an ice cream cone with a flattened top. You stick the pointy end in the center of a short log, hit it with a HEAVY hammer, and the wood splits, usually in several pieces at once. I make my kindling with it, using a small sledge (several pounds weight). Works better with dry, seasoned wood, obviously.

For those who didn't grow up with a wood stove, you should know that there is an UP and a DOWN side to splitting wood. The grain is further apart closer to the roots, so you should turn the wood UPSIDE DOWN from the way it grew, to make it somewhat easier to split. Also, starting your cut in a radial crack (if there are any) saves some elbow grease.

And SHARPEN your ax or hatchet, if you use one, regularly. Saves lots of time & work, and lessens the chance you'll have a tragic accident.
gpay1011 months ago
Us old timers call this, using a "Tew and Froe" the log or wood mallet, is the "Tew" and the skatchet blade is the "Froe". the Froe looks like a long thin hatchet approx 2" x 10" that is sharpened along the entire upper edge. It is held with the handle up and blade down upon the wood to be split, it is then struck on the Froe end opposite the handle with the Tew. shingles and rails used to be made this way as well.
mikecz11 months ago
As author states, do NOT use a folding knife! I broke my Leatherman on a piece of maple about 4" diameter by 3-1/2" long. (I wanted smoke wood for the BBQ.) I was using a stick about 1-1/2" thick for the baton. I was just amazed when I realized the blade of the Leatherman broke!.

I sent the tool to Leatherman with exactly this story AND THEY REPLACED IT! So, I'm not gonna do that to the Leatherman again but I have to say this was warrantee above and beyond my expectations!
Heavy, full tang knives are best suited for this. The rat-tangs of Kabars can break under higher amounts of stress. Great 'ible. I'm surprised no one ever wrote about this.
I was just coming here to say this as that is what happened to me and my Ka-Bar that I bought 30 years ago. It was heartbreaking.
gare842111 months ago
Good instructable. Just as you warned in Step 1, a few months back my blade broke off into a log. It was an inexpensive knife, and the company replaced if for less than the original price. I now know not to attempt this with a knife of any sentimental value.
keng11 months ago
I think it was Nesmuk that said, "Never use a knife when you can use an axe." But if you gotta this is the way to do it. Also note that knives that have a distal taper (get thinner from the hilt to the point) are weakest near the tip (ie fighting knives like this Ka-Bar). And nothing says you have to start the split in the middle, I guess you could split of just a bit from the outside and work your way in. It would be easier on the knife too.
The Metal One11 months ago
being a montanan knowing what to take with you hunting\fishing\camping\anything is vital to potential survival situations. batoning is great, but use a hatchet instead of potentially breaking your knife. bring a small saw to save time and energy as opposed to relying on your hatchet. basic stuff really
senditnow11 months ago
You have made an awsome instructable, very useful for me and great a great time of yr for this post!!! 5stars! You're great thanks yo!!! i wish you a happy and warm holiday season!
zucchero11 months ago
Thanks for the very clear and good instructable. However I have to go along with other to say that this is a rather "emergency only" practice and not to be used in hard wood or in logs with knots. My personal thoughts on this skill: "Know it but don't use it"
bgipson111 months ago
Batoning with a knife is
and should considered an
emergency means of
splitting wood when you have to a fire to survive otherwise use a small hand axe or hatchet
tim_n bgipson111 months ago
I came here to say the same thing - also smacking the tip of the knife with a log is a bad idea.

If you've got a saw to cut the logs, you've probably got an axe for splitting them.

Don't forget axes aren't all for splitting
mountainfish11 months ago
It should be noted that the warranty on a kabar does not cover batoning. This doesn't mean that I wouldn't do it. I would. I bought a kabar specifically because it is a tough knife. Just as PossibleFire mentioned the tang narrows at the handle. Batoning is hard on a knife. Again, I would still do it in an emergency. But try to limit this and NEVER pry your knife sideways to assist in the splitting process. That is asking for a busted knife and kabars ain't cheap.
rhackenb11 months ago
Very clear instructable. This seems like it would work on non-complicated logs that don't have serious knots in them. I don't have anything like a kabar but I do have several short machetes that I use a lot and keep sharp. Good job on the instructable!
pickles4311 months ago
Smart!
PossibleFire11 months ago
Kabar! Love the knife, its great. Just be careful batoning with it, the tang narrows off in the handle, so basically it breaks mostly were it hits the handle. Good instructable :)
M.B.S (author)  PossibleFire11 months ago
Thanks! I did not know that about the knife, I'll keep it in mind in the future
jessyratfink11 months ago
Gorgeous photos! :D
M.B.S (author)  jessyratfink11 months ago
Thank You!