Why Baton I Carry An Axe!!!
Written by William Myers
This is a subject that comes up a lot especially in the comment section on YouTube videos. I’ve seen comments that range from (batoning should not be done, there’s no reason to ever baton, its unsafe your going to get hurt, and if you have an axe why are you batoning with your knife.)
The simple fact is that they both have their place in the woods. When I need a controlled cut out of a log say for a bow drill hearth board or if I want to cut a block of wood out to carve a spoon ect ect… I will baton the wood with my knife so I know I am getting the cut I desire. I can process small pieces of wood down faster and more efficient with my knife if I need to make kindling for my fire. I can do the same job with my axe but IMHO I can do the job with a good knife faster and more efficient. I also believe that an axe is one of my best tools in the woods and hardly ever am I in the woods without one. I am just addressing the fact that batoning with you knife is something that has its place in the woods.
This all being said the knife that you choose to bring with you may not be the one you want to baton with. I tell all my students that im not here to badger them about their gear but there are few that do come to my classes that have knives that WILL NOT last long doing heavy-duty chores. First off for a main knife (the one that’s going to be on my body if something bad happens) should be a full tang knife. what this means is the blade continues all the way to the bottom of the handle. Next I would look at the thickness of the blade. I would suggest a blade at least 3/16 thick at a minimum I also suggest that the spine have no notches in it there are some knife makers that do this for good reason but for me it’s just a weak point in the blade.
Something some people need to realize is that when you see a YouTube video and that person is batoning through a huge hard wood that person is testing the blade and he or she is doing that for your benefit. Testing the blade in this way will reveal any weak spots in the blade IMHO that video is not showing you a real world task it is an abuse test to see what that blade can take I.E. if it can stand up to this it can stand up to years of normal use.
Using a baton is better than using an axe in certain situations like crafting in the woods. When I need to make a controlled cut on a log I will baton with my knife that way I can see what way the split is running and if I need to make adjustments. Its easier to torque my knife one way or the other to control the way a log is splitting than a one time high-speed whack with an axe. When I am looking to get very small sticks for fire kindling it is far easier to baton with my knife than work with an axe at that moment.
I hope this article may help answer any questions that you may have and help some to understand the reasons that some grab a knife not an axe to process or craft wood…..
Thank you and hopefully we will see you in the woods.William Myers