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Using Knife to Baton Wood
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peter vacco

Locale: no. california
trail clearing / Baton Wood on 09/04/2013 14:57:22 MDT Print View

so : i got me two very sweet machete type blades. one is about 1/4" thick and sharpened to stupidity. it is almost useless for clearing trails. the other a more the hooked blade "brush cutter" sort of an affair. it's razor sharp as well, and in anything, slightly uselesser for trailwork.
i am going back to my loppers and 1/2 size bowsaw.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: trail clearing / Baton Wood on 09/04/2013 15:14:30 MDT Print View

A 1/4 inch thick machete sounds like a kukri. Good for cutting down small trees (less work than a saw if you use it right) and limbing fallen trees. Useless for light vegetation, the thick profile will only push and not cut. For cutting through bushes and vines a thin machete like the tramontina works.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: trail clearing / Baton Wood on 09/04/2013 15:36:02 MDT Print View

I too, like lopers for trail clearing which, in my area, is mostly alders.

Machettes are popular with dog mushers who want to widen a trail or remove an offending branch. But they do their trail clearing at 10 mph (plus the speed of their swinging arm).

With sufficient speed, it really doesn't matter which edge of the machete you use (check the edge on a lawn mower or tree chipper sometime.)

I way over-sharpened splitting mauls a few times. Just because I thought it cool to shave with a maul. It didn't help the splitting and it would get "stuck" in wood when I didn't mean it to.

Ryan Waller
Batoning wood on 09/05/2013 22:29:23 MDT Print View

Many good comments already, but one of the best lessons I've learned is to make a couple of wedges before you attempt to baton anything close the length of the blade your using. You can hit an unseen knot that will stop a knife dead in it's tacks. By wedge I mean a stick that you have sharpened one side to a wedge. Using these you can split wood much larger than your knife blade.

Here in the Southeast if you want or need a fire sometimes you have to get to that inner dry wood. It does not need to be wood that was first cut with a saw however. Using only my Esee Izula I have split many a pieces of wood on my hiking trips. Just get out there and practice, It's a lot of fun. Just be sure to stay safe.

Benjamin Bruton

Locale: Work
Spitting wood/clearing brush on 10/10/2013 21:33:24 MDT Print View

If you're going to baton wood I'd suggest a full tang knife. A Mora will work but I'd imagine would eventually fail ("stick tang" design, buy several anyway). This is stressful for most knives, I did it most recently to make guy-out stakes on a sandy beach from pallet boards. Lightweight backpacking is something I'm just now getting into, but I've always been outdoors & just can't imagine not carrying a sturdy knife. Mine weighs under 3 oz & I'll tote the weight penalty over a razor blade till my experience suggests otherwise.

A khukuri is a versatile tool in the woods but most here would find it ridiculous to hike with, unless it's winter & you're gathering a lot of firewood (or you really just get your kicks from chopping wood). Heavy choppers that can clear a trail almost like a machete but you'd need to generate a lot of velocity with that thick blade. Wrist/forearm technique comes into play for clearing, speeding up the blade & slicing your target across it as you make contact.

As someone mentioned earlier, to break up longer logs find a double-trunked tree or two trees very close together, stick log between and lever till it snaps. If you can't snap it then it's too big/green to be messing with for fire. And yes, most of this pertains to "bushcraft" & not "backpacking"