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Knife "batoning" for camp/survival fire making

Discussion in 'Wilderness & Survival Skills' started by LCO213, Feb 1, 2013.

  1. LCO213


    Jan 17, 2013

    Using a knife for heavy wood processing/batoning is a really popular idea right now. As of late, I've seen countless videos of people breaking their knives while batoning wood. Some say it's excessive abuse of a knife...some say any good knife should be able to handle it, i.e. the old "wood vs. steel" argument. In some ways I think it pushes knife makers to engineer stronger blades, and better steel. I'm one to believe that all tools are task specific, and I like to keep my knives sharp for when I need to cut something...and, I think a lot of this heavy batoning argument comes from the "one knife" philosophy.

    So...what are your thoughts? Do you baton with a knife for camp fires? Why, or why not? What are your thoughts on this topic?

    I'm not talking about processing small pieces of wood for kindling; I'm talking about splitting logs.

    Last edited: Feb 1, 2013
  2. knifehunt

    knifehunt Banned BANNED

    Nov 10, 2012
    People have been batoning for years, it's nothing new as some like to think. Any (GOOD) fixed blade will have no problem batoning, and it is not abuse. I baton with Beckers made of 1095 and have never had any problems with breakage. I take down trees with my Bk7. Why you ask?
    "cause I can".......


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  3. LCO213


    Jan 17, 2013
    ...never heard anything bad about the BK line. I personally have never used a knife this way. Is technique a major consideration? I mean, there are tons of videos online of people breaking their knives doing this, and fighting with the manufacturers...who often say: "this is gross abuse."
  4. Mannlicher


    Nov 19, 2008
    batoning, like most other things, has a place. Getting at some dry wood, in a time of need, is the place for this practice. I have to say though, in some 60+ years afield, I have yet seen the need to do so myself.
    Oh, I mess around, chopping and abusing wood, not out of need, but because it's fun. ;)
  5. knifehunt

    knifehunt Banned BANNED

    Nov 10, 2012
    No real technique really.... just don't twist the knife. If the manufacturer calls it abuse then it's time to find another maker, like BK&T.
  6. marcinek


    Jan 9, 2007
    Yes. Keep the point lower than the handle, and you can baton with a SAK and not break it.

    Point above the handle, and you stress near where the blade meets the handle...which is often the weakest point of a knife (even a fixed blade).

    Major? Yep. Complicated? No.
  7. lambertiana

    lambertiana Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 7, 2000
    I have batoned when I needed to cut or split wood and didn't have a hatchet handy. When I have a hatchet or axe, those are the preferred tools.
  8. TwinStick


    Jan 21, 2011
    Yes, i baton. I baton nasty, twisted, knotted wood. Because it is free. I have not broke a knife yet. I believe i have come close on 3 occasions. When that happened, i stopped & got another knife & batoned from the bottom. Even had to use 3 knives once to get the 2 stuck ones out. One mans use is another mans abuse.

    Words to live by: Bring enough knife. Buy enough knife.

    Obviously, in nasty, twisted, knotted wood, a 1/4" + thick blade would give me much less worries about breakage than a 1/8" blade would. Make your decision & go with it. Then, test the heck out of it in your yard, BEFORE you need it for real. Then you will know what it is capable of. If it does break, then it is not a life or death situation, just out some $$, unless they replace it.
  9. TheKallumS


    Dec 17, 2012
  10. FortyTwoBlades

    FortyTwoBlades Baryonyx walkeri Dealer / Materials Provider

    Mar 8, 2008
    Batoning is something that is very very easy to do very very wrong. At its worst you have 8-ton gorillas using a claw hammer to bash some helpless little knife with a thin grind and hard heat treatment through a whole dang knot-filled hardwood and then they complain when it breaks. On the other hand you have plenty of folks who know the limits of their tools, read the wood, and don't bite off more than they can chew using appropriate force on an appropriate blade in an appropriate manner. I baton all the time, but it's for kindling purposes or for rapid rough shaping of wood when crafting stuff. I don't go for anything thicker than my shin unless I'm doing it for laughs. Split a 8' long 10" diameter maple trunk with a CS barong machete once just to see if I could.
  11. FortyTwoBlades

    FortyTwoBlades Baryonyx walkeri Dealer / Materials Provider

    Mar 8, 2008
    By the way, the technique you used to run over the knife isn't really a good test of its strength. That's all compressive rather than deflective or torsional force. But the BK-2 is, indeed, an absolute glutton for punishment. :)
  12. Oakengroves


    Sep 4, 2012
    There are only a handful of knives I have batoned with. A few moras, Benchmade 275 Adamas, and BK2. A knife has to have a certain "affordable but built like a tank" characteristic before being subjected to batoning Otherwise, a small hatchet is always preferred.
  13. blademan85


    Dec 25, 2012
    x2 two on the kindling...Probably 3" to 6" dia. Max..Splitting it on down to pencil size.Batoning is almost a daily thing in winter when prepping for a nightly fire.3/32" blades dont do well..Keep it in the 1/8" to 1/4" thickness convex is usually best for me from my experiance..Others may have luck with scandi or semi flat grinds in those spine thicknesses.
  14. TheGame


    Sep 24, 2008
    I have batoned a ton, and I haven't broken a single knife by doing it. I don't do it because I have to, I do it because I believe it's fun.
  15. the4th


    Mar 20, 1999
    Lynn? Is that you?

  16. Dorito Monk

    Dorito Monk

    Nov 17, 2008
    I don't baton with my knives, for a couple of reasons:

    1) I feel is outright needlessly abusive to baton with a knife, especially when the knife wasn't purpose-built for doing it. The scores of "I broke my knife while batoning, what went wrong???" BF Threads / Youtube Videos are a testament to the fact that you're much more likely to break your knife if you choose to baton with it. I do a lot of borderline-abusive things with my knives on occasion, but batoning is kind of where I draw the line. If you want to baton with your knives, go for it, but you have no-one but yourself to blame if they snap / chip / disintegrate.

    2) I've been going camping since I was very small, and I've never NEEDED to baton with my knives. I would submit that very very few people have ever NEEDED to baton their knives through logs to split firewood. In nearly any situation where you might want to baton your knife through a log, you could, instead, just do what this guy does:


    When I was small, that's basically the way I learned to split wood without the use of a hatchet/axe/splitting maul - make a notch, apply a wedge, hammer the wedge through the log to split it. The risk of breaking your knife, hurting yourself, etc. is almost nil, and you don't need a great big sharpened prybar to do it. For most of my life, I only brought a single blade pocket knife for camping purposes alongside a hatchet and small saw, and I could make do without the saw OR the hatchet when it comes to firemaking if I really needed to, using a wedge and a little bit of imagination.

    Now, if you do WANT to baton with your knives, that's just fine as far as I'm concerned. Lots of folks have fun with it, and there are plenty of knives on the market now that are specifically built to handle that kind of use (like the venerable Bk2, which is apparently harder to kill than the Terminator robot :eek:). I would suggest that if you want to baton things, you should only do it with knives that are made to withstand that particular task. It's not a fad I subscribe to, though, and it's really not something you NEED to do with your knives at all - just a matter of preference.
  17. majigy

    majigy Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 19, 2010
    I beat the crap out of my one and only fixed blade with batoning,haven't had a problem...yet,anywhys. I think it's a waste of energy to do a splitting task with a knife though.
  18. Magnaminous_G


    Jul 13, 2011
    I consider batonning in the same category as filtering urine through a pant leg filled with pebbles and sand: it's a skill I should know and which could potentially save my life, but which I hopefully will never have to use, except in very limited circumstances like taking small limbs off a trunk or quickly splitting a stick.
  19. godot


    Oct 12, 2003
    The first time I learned of batonning, it was in conjunction with someone breaking their knife. Over the years I've seen a number of posts about broken knives and others saying it was a normal activity. If I ever HAVE to visit a forest, I think I'll bring an axe.
  20. pap11y


    Jul 4, 2012
    I dont usually need to. I always have hatchet or machete so knife is used for other tasks

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