Making kindling for your Woodstove with a knife

Making good kindling from larger firewood for your woodstove at home or even while camping is easy, you just need some firewood, a knife and a heavy stick.

We use kindling in the early stages of making our fires, first we light some Tinder, then we use Kindling to get the fire going and then we add bigger fuel and then bigger fuel and so on.

Rather than spend hours walking around the woods collecting small branches for kindling, here i’ll show you how to make kindling for the wood stove using the bigger bit of firewood that you already have.

I prefer not to use an axe inside my cabin, I have found that I have more “close calls” or minor injuries when I use an axe inside because I am not able to move around as much to put my body into the optimum position for safe axe usage.  I also do not have a decent backstop inside at the moment, if i did, I probably would.

However, a knife and a baton (a heavy’ish stick) work very, very well and you can have a pile of kindling built up in no time.

All that need be done is for you to find a decent sized, heavy, preferably rounded stick so that it does not hurt your hand and use that to baton (hit) your knife into a piece of firewood that has a diameter no more than 3/4 the length of your blade.

Place the knife inline with the grain of the wood and tap it in with the baton, use the weight of the baton to do the work and the wood will eventually split.  Keep splitting it down until you reach the desired size.

It is, for some reason, incredibly pleasing to split wood this way, I can’t really explain why but it is so satisfying, you will have to experience it for yourself.

Occasionally, you will get a piece of wood that has a knot in it.  These can be very stubborn and your knife may well become stuck in the work piece.  When this happens, simply drive a wedge into the crack at the top, this will force the wood to split and release your knife at the same time.

For the wedge, one of you already split bits of kindling will likely be enough, if not then you will have to carve one or split one.  It does not have to be perfect or neat, just roughly wedge shaped and strong enough to be pounded into the crack.

Sometimes, your knife might pivot downward.  You have to use your body weight on the hand holding the knife to keep it level but if you cant (see above), gently tapping it down with the baton will help but do not pound the handle, this could damage the knife.

This method does not blunt the blade on your knife.

In this video, you can watch me doing it should there be any doubt.

This method is much safer than using an axe and is the preferred option in low light or when a bit tired, working indoors or in some other confined space where axe use is not a sensible idea.

Remember, this is important, keep every part of your body well clear of the knife.  When that wood splits, the knife will very quickly slice downward and there will be no stopping it so always make sure that no part of your body is in the path of that knife as it moves downward.

A kneeling position lends itself to safe splitting as your legs are behind you.

As you are working with a sharp tool, you should have a first aid or trauma kit close by should the unexpected happen.

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