Monday, 28 May 2012

Knife Battoning! NOT!


Frontier Carpenter said...

Good info on splitting wood. I have seen many a tang knife broken even the so called higher quality knife. For a field knife I prefer a sold handle not a tang. In extremely cold weather (sub zero)I have seen people break the tang off by hitting it with a stick. A knife is to important to misuse in the wilderness.

Gorges Smythe said...

I've always been appalled by people beating on knives. Thank you.

Le Loup said...

Your comments are much appreciated Frontier & Gorges.
Regards, Keith.

Blackthorn said...

100% agree with everything you said fwiw

Bob Mc said...

I’m on the same page Keith. I read and see video clips of people spending hundreds of dollars on custom made knives, then beating the #### out of them. Nonsense. There are tools designed for splitting wood; namely axes, hatchets, and to some extent tomahawks. A good knife should last a lifetime with a little care and common sense; something that seems to be lacking these days.

Le Loup said...

No idea where the idea came from or when, but it makes me cringe every time I see it or read about. I decided it was time I put my views out there!
Thanks Blackthorn & Bob.

Vieuxbois said...

Hello Leloup,

Impossible to see this video...


Le Loup said...

Sorry about that Vieuxbois. I have been recieving so much abuse on youtube that I decided to remove it. Try this link, it is a private one. Let me know if it works or not.
Regards, keith.


Vieuxbois said...

Hello Keith and thank you, hello everybody,

I do baton wood since 30 years. And I do fear of damaging my knives since I’ve broken or chipped half or full tangs of industrial or forged knives.
Custom forged, Swampratknifworks (Ratweiler or Chopweiler), Scrapyardknives, Bussecombat... I have thick blades (more than 1/4‘’), some are differentially heat treated : I can chop and baton with them with no damage. If I want a thin edge on them to cut food, meat, vegetables, fruits… there, I can damage the razor edge with rough tasks like batoning or chopping. And the big thickness of these campknives is a problem if I compare with the efficiency of a butcher knife with a thin full flat grind made for slicing.

I also have some shortened machetes : they looks like knives, the blades are thin, the temper is soft : I can chop and baton, but the edges can roll and I have to sharpen more often than ‘’classic knives’’ tempered between 55 and 60 Rockwell.

I have some Asian bolos, parangs, golocks : they are perfect chopping cutting machines. Mine are long and heavy. Preparing food is not impossible but acrobatic. I’ve broken a parang handle while batoning.

I have some axes, hatchets and tomahawks. These are definitively strong cutting tools. I trust their specificity, even if I tend to prefer a more versatile big campknife (versatile for me of course).

Here in Canada, sometime you need to split frozen wood to find dry material for a fire. I will not splitting this wood with my little boxcutter or my large Victorinox butcher's knife. But I will take the risk with an axe or with a larger and stronger knife if I don’t want to carry an axe.
But I know that batoning is a lot of stress for a knife, and I never know, NEVER, IF and HOW my blade is going to endure and accumulate this stress.

In my opinion there is no universal good ‘’one tool option’’, only personal choices, compromise and personal abilities. So I make my choices, I develop my abilities, I cross my fingers, and I pay the prices.


Le Loup said...

Vieuxbois my friend, you are the only person to date that has mentioned splitting frozen wood. All the people that have been sending abusive messages to me have not been able to give me a reason for battoning. Some did say to get at the dry wood inside, but in all my years in the woods I have never needed to split wood to get dry wood.
Many thanks for your feedback Vieuxbois, much obliged.
Regards, Keith.

Vieuxbois said...

Frozen wood is ``brittle`` and easy to split. But it’s also very hard. Furthermore, steel is also more brittle when it’s very cold (it’s better to keep the protected blade warm by holding it close your body). So if I need to split frozen wood (which is rare and exceptional) there is more risk to damage a knife than an axe : an axe edge is generally thicker than a knife, there is more material to support the stress.

In my opinion, there are no reason for batoning with a knife unless if :

1. It’s not your choice, you need to do it : you are in a survival situation (or a survival training) with only a knife to work with, so you do with what you have, and you do it carefully because you want/need to preserve what you have like a treasure because your life depends on it. If you are in a true survival situation why would you risk breaking your knife? Break your knife and your chance of survival goes down.

2. You are playing like a kid, so you pay the game price.

3. It`s your choice, you want to do it : so you will use a very strong knife with an appropriate design/materials and heat treatment if you want to keep this tool in good condition. But does this very strong knife will do the same job than a thin blade? Of course I can carry both.

Vieuxbois said...

From Thin, Sharp, Knives - Posted: 9 September, 2011 in http://bfelabs.com/2011/09/09/thin-sharp-knives/ : `` If you look around the working world, at the knives that are regularly used to do work, you might notice some startling differences between those knives and what is prominent in the popular knife industry. Particularly the “survival”, “tactical”, and “hard use” arenas of popular knife-making (both custom and production).
In these arenas we typically see heavy knives, from thick stock, with study handles and generally robust construction. We are told that this robustness is desirable, even absolutely necessary, for these tools to withstand the rigors of hard use. And the market sucks them up about as fast as they can be made, with companies like TOPS Knives producing ever-new variants of these beefy blades for battle and conquering barren-wastes. But what is being bought, and what is actually being used, are far different. What people actually work with is often something very different. The prominent working knife is not a robust, stout, knife but rather a thin, sharp, knife.
I was at a branding recently, out here in cattle country, and took note of the knives being used. For those unfamiliar, when branding calves it is also common practice to ear-mark with a notch in an ear and castrate. These tasks require a deft hand with a sharp knife, particularly when the calf is not forced into an immobilizing squeeze chute, but is rather roped out and held down. I’ve taken part in and observed this process numerous times in my life, and there is a great commonality to the knives being used: They are thin, sharp, knives. The same knives most of the cowboys and ranch hands carry in their pockets daily, and use for everything.

Vieuxbois said...

The thin, sharp, knife is not unique to this environment, but rather common to every other. Moving out from the traditional slipjoint folder common to the ranching west, a survey of other traditional folding knife designs would turn up a variety of styles, locks, and construction methods, but one commonality: Thin, sharp, blades. Moving from folders, to fixed blade knives, we see the same variety in design and construction in traditional designs, but a great many have the same commonality of thin blades. The traditional Scandinavian knives, as typified by the Mora so common to woodscraft, are an easily accessible example of the type.
Thin blades are not limited to small knives, either. Many old-time woodsmen, frontiersmen, mountainmen, etc. who used big knives carried ones that, rather than resembling the Iron Mistress of Hollywood, more resembled a butcher knife, being thin although long. Now, some may use the argument that we know more than they did, and thus make more appropriate choices, but that is simply nonsense. Anyone who makes a living with a tool, or depends on it for his own life, on a day-to-day basis, knows far more about selecting the right type of that tool than anyone who does not do the same, no matter the other mans “knowledge”.

Vieuxbois said...

If so many who’s lives depended on their knives choosing thinner blades historically holds little sway, then the fact that the trend is a modern one too should tell us something. Today, if we take a survey of the knives being used routinely, we would find many of them to be far thinner than what we’ve come to expect (or been told to expect). And not just small knives: While so many Americans and others influenced by the major knife market are of the opinion that a heavy, thick-spined, knife is required for chopping or “serious” woods work, much of the rest of the world relies on something far different; The machete, or some variant thereof.
Different tools are appropriate for different tasks. There is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, a place for robust knives. One of the most valuable characteristics of contemporary knifemaking is the rise of robust locking systems for folding knives. The matching rise of the robust blade, however, may not be the best thing. But it is important to recognize that place, and use the right tool for the right job. For the majority of tasks for which a knife is used, a thick bladed knife is not the right tool. This includes many “hard” tasks, from woodscraft to cowboying to “tactical” environments (whatever those are). You aren’t necessarily wrong is you carry a robust knife for these, or even more mundane, daily uses, but you should ask yourself if that is truly what you need. Give some thought to whether cutting performance is a greater need than brute strength, and take a thinner knife better suited for cutting out for a spin sometime.``