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Wood Stoves and Knives
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Jeremy Gus
(gustafsj) - MLife

Locale: Minneapolis
Wood Stoves and Knives on 09/23/2009 14:59:55 MDT Print View

I know that this topic has bounced around in various threads about knives, but I am looking for a little more detailed feedback from those of you that regularly use wood stoves.

Using a wood stove as a sole source of heat for cooking certainly requires a innovative way of getting dry kindling in those really wet conditions. To me this means being able to split wood and carve out the inside to get the dry tinder to start a fire. I've also scraped off the bark layer to get to the dryer wood underneath in order to have better kindling to work with...

I just can't see my Victorinox Signature II Pocket Knife doing this and maybe not even my Gerber Clutch Multi-Tool. I certainly get nervous putting either of these to a piece of wood more than doing a little carving.

I know your opinions will vary greatly, but please give me a little more direction as to what is really necessary to realistically build a fire in really wet conditions and still remain ultralight.

Maybe a heavier knife isn't even the answer...

Dave .
(Ramapo) - F
Wood Stoves and Knives on 09/23/2009 15:09:36 MDT Print View

AG Russell featherlite for making feather sticks.

Frost Mora for baton applications and wood splitting. Also, makes feather sticks too.

I use these with my Bushbuddy. Haven't gone hungry yet. Most of the time I just take the AG Russell.

If you want a real bushcraft knife, the options are limitless. My favorite is my Carver (smaller version of the Skookum Bush Tool). You can order them here:


P ritch
(Flix) - F

Locale: Seattle area
Stove fuel on 09/23/2009 15:27:32 MDT Print View


In the interests of full disclosure, one of the main reasons I am interested in UL gear is to offset the steel I carry into the woods. . .

Although you can usually find dry fuel under the canopy of trees, there are times up here in the PNW when everything is wet, and soaked in quite a bit. When you are depending on dry fuel to cook, the ability to chop and split wood can be pretty important.

Since your main concern is harvesting dry enough wood to use a wood cookstove, as opposed to a warming campfire, I think a small fixed blade knife with a blade length of about 4", a solid tang and a flat spine would be best suited. You could probably get by with a lightweight folder for a while but batoning and chopping is pretty tough duty.

Another option would be an ultralight hatchet such as the Gransfors Bruks Mini. This is ideally suited to the task you specify but does not have the multi-use appeal of a fixed blade knife.

Moras are lightweight and inexpensive, but their stick tang can fail during this kind of use. (Many people do it all the time, but if you're counting on it, a better suited knife may be in order.)

Frank Deland

Locale: On the AT in VA
spiliting fuel for wood stoves on 09/23/2009 16:07:46 MDT Print View

Here is a photo of the method and knife used to split kindling for your wood stove...a sure method way of getting a stove going in wet weather.

Here is were you can purchase the "Swedish Knife " with a wood handle.

Edited by rambler on 09/23/2009 16:09:36 MDT.

Dave .
(Ramapo) - F
Wood Stoves and Knives on 09/23/2009 16:09:59 MDT Print View

>>Moras are lightweight and inexpensive, but their stick tang can fail during this kind of use.

Everyone always says this. I agree to an principle at least. But I have never heard of an actual report of a Mora failing due to lack of a full tang. I'm always tempted to take mine outside and deliberately thrash it to see how much abuse it'll take before breaking.

As much as a full tang knife I'd wager...

Moras are pretty bomber. And they only cost $10. Don't be afraid to use one.

Frank Deland

Locale: On the AT in VA
Mora knife on 09/23/2009 16:22:03 MDT Print View

The knife in the above phot is indeed a Mora Knife, Swedish made, 8 1/2 long 4 1/4 blade., as seen in Dave's link.

it is a one piece knife with a handle. I do not see how this can fail. Even if the handle broke, one would still hold a one piece knife.

Edited by rambler on 09/23/2009 16:23:09 MDT.

(HighAltitude) - F
Re: Wood Stoves and Knives on 09/23/2009 16:25:01 MDT Print View

IMHO moras are the perfect backpacking fixed blade.
Light weight, inexpensive to buy and they get the job done.

Here are a couple vids from knife tests.

P ritch
(Flix) - F

Locale: Seattle area
Batoning on 09/23/2009 16:33:29 MDT Print View

I've seen a number of Moras fail under hard use. At home, it is no biggie, because you're not counting on it. In the woods, you are out an important tool. If you go this way, proper technique and caution are important. This might be of interest:

Article on Proper Batoning Technique

(wentworth) - F
moras. on 09/23/2009 17:01:31 MDT Print View

As far as I know, people have only complained of the half tang moras breaking during batoning.

My stick tang is still going strong after 5 years of batoning.

I think people overestimate the need for a full tang knife. If you're careful about what you baton, ie. don't try and baton through a knot in hardwood, you'll be fine.

Oh but wait... only novices carry knives. Aren't we all meant to be using razor blades now? :)

John Davis
(billybooster) - F

Locale: So Cal
razor blades on 09/23/2009 17:35:13 MDT Print View

i take the label off my razor blades and soak them in a mixture of baking soda and vinegar for three minutes. I super glue two together and then weave a hollowed out half toothbrush handle to the non blade edge. You can chop a tree down with it AND it only weighs 0.9 oz - a bit of a weight penalty but it's worth it ;)

Keith Selbo
(herman666) - F - M

Locale: Northern Virginia
knife? on 09/23/2009 17:45:13 MDT Print View

I cook exclusively with my home made stove see:

Backpacking wood stoves use twigs. Your Victorinox should be
up to the task of peeling the bark off a few twigs to get things started when the wood is wet. I know this because I use a Victorinox Sportsman. I'm not enamored of the non-locking blade, but it's got the best mix of tools for me. I don't leave home without it.

(wentworth) - F
razor on 09/23/2009 17:50:23 MDT Print View

I've found an even lighter option than a razor blade is to just stay at home and look at pictures of people carrying heavy packs.
You can't get any lighter than that!

John Davis
(billybooster) - F

Locale: So Cal
but seriously folks on 09/23/2009 17:52:49 MDT Print View

ok jokes aside, i use a victorinox 400 blade deal, weighs too much but can open any animal or can or tree you put in front of it. Small wood, lots of it, seems to be the secret....

Chris Harbert
(Shavuotis) - F
Wood Stove / Wet Weather/ Leatherman Wave on 09/23/2009 18:57:58 MDT Print View

I think a Mora would work fine. I use a leatherman Wave and have no problems. I know that it goes against the backpacking light credo somewhat, but I also carry a quart sized ziplock bag full of wood pellets just in case the weather gets nasty. One hand full of pellets will run my stove for 30 min. with no need to re-fuel. Plenty of time to get the cooking done for a small group.

P ritch
(Flix) - F

Locale: Seattle area
Knife on 09/23/2009 23:23:15 MDT Print View

After watching Noss's tests on YouTube, I'm less wary of using a Mora in this capacity. As to the question as to where a Mora might fail, on the ones I've seen, either the steel failed right where it met the handle, or the handle failed, and the tang broke free. I'll look around for the pictures.

I did want to the comment about the stove using lots of skinny wood. The point is when wood is wet -really wet, simply peeling off the bark won't get you down to dry fuel. That's where that ability to chop and split thicker branches down to skinny wood for the stove comes in. There may be times when you may have to get to the heart of a 3" piece of wood before you find what you need.

Of course, having fatwood or some similar accelerant will sometimes allow you to get by with less than perfectly dry wood.

Tohru Ohnuki
(erdferkel) - F

Locale: S. California
Fallkniven WM-1 on 09/24/2009 01:29:37 MDT Print View

For batonning, splitting I wouldn't hesitate to use this knife, it's solid all the way through the handle. My only complaint is that the handle is small and thin, but it's light (or lighter than an F-1 anyway.) Mentioned in this thread:
UL pocketknife - what blade do you carry?

Fred eric
(Fre49) - MLife

Locale: France, vallée de la Loire
wm1 on 09/24/2009 01:49:40 MDT Print View

I still really like this knife,

i havent worked on the sheath yet, this knife is small i keep in in my pants pocket so a small solid cover of zytel or plastic should do for the blade, and i should be able to save at least 0.5 oz

but if i only need a knife for my wood stove my opinel n°6 / 26g/0.9 oz is all i carry.
after trying a bit i found the ladybug a bit too small for this even if for some on the forum the ladybug is huge :)

Edited by Fre49 on 09/24/2009 01:54:30 MDT.

Charles Vandenbelt
(chuckwagon) - F

Locale: Nashville
Moras on 09/24/2009 03:14:03 MDT Print View

I'm suprised nobody has mentioned the plastic or rubber compound handled moras. They are considerably sturdier than the red wood handled variety and the handle is permanently affixed to the blade. Also, for those who like to personalize stuff, you can scrap/trash the handle on a mora and rehandle it to your taste. Regards.

Brian UL

Locale: New England
Re: Wood Stoves and Knives on 09/24/2009 03:24:46 MDT Print View

I suspect that more often than not people who report Moras failing are abusing their knives. Ive seen videos of people "testing" their knives by trying to chop down a tree and all kinds of ridiculous stuff. Not the right tool for the job. Knives shouldn't be used to split anything more than say, wrist thick logs any thing more and you need an axe.
You need a knife with a Scandinavian grind a.k.a flat grind. Good for wood carving and easy to hand sharpen. Also avoid folding knives as they are by nature weaker because of the joint and could fail or close on you. Moras fit the bill. Plus they aren't precious so you can use them like a tool without fear of getting them dirty or breaking them.
Ive gotten big chips in one of my Moras and I would have been real bummed if it was an expensive knife. I was able to take a file to it and it looks like new. I would prefer to reserve the more expensive knives for cleaning fish and lighter work.

Edited by MAYNARD76 on 09/24/2009 03:42:43 MDT.

Gordon Smith
(swearingen) - MLife

Locale: Portland, Oregon
Sog Field Pup on 09/24/2009 05:08:48 MDT Print View

On my last trip I carried my Sog Seal Pup Elite for the very purpose you describe. A very nice knife, but at 9ozs including sheath it's a bit heavy. Since then I bought a Sog Field Pup. This knife weighs under 4ozs on my scale, has a 4 inch blade, full tang, decent steel. The handle is grippy and the knife is very well balanced. I haven't batoned any wood with it yet but I have no doubt that it is up to the task. The nylon sheath weighs about 3oz, but I haven't yet trimmed off the pocket and extra straps. I'm going to try to get a leather sheath for it first. At about $35 I think it's a great knife and a great value.


Edited by swearingen on 09/24/2009 05:11:32 MDT.