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Interesting take on batoning

Discussion in 'Wilderness & Survival Skills' started by Gaston444, Sep 22, 2017.

Do you believe full-length splitting batoning (with a knife) has a role in a Survival situation?

  1. 1-Often

    23 vote(s)
  2. 2-Sometimes

    51 vote(s)
  3. 3-Rarely

    28 vote(s)
  4. 4-Never

    13 vote(s)
  1. saxon

    saxon Basic Member Basic Member

    Mar 28, 2005
    I still don't get the contention between baton and non-baton thinking. People used to split shingles for a living using a froe and a baton like object called a mallet. It is a perfectly sound technique when the situation demands it and your knife meets the specs necessary to be safe. Even if your knife is less than ideal, you can proceed with due caution and turn a less than optimal tool to your advantage. If you break it, get another one.
    Lapedog, Plainsman, Yonose and 2 others like this.
  2. upnorth

    upnorth Basic Member Basic Member

    Nov 25, 2006
    I don't have high end knives ( mainly Condor, ESEE, Cold Steel, Victorinox, Mora etc) practical stuff, so I don't sweat bullets about batoning and damaging a fancy knife. I do however have some really nice axes and hatchets. I either use common sense moderation with the batoning and or split with the hatchets/smaller axes. I would split all day long with a Condor Hudson Bay if need be. And if on the remote chance that I buggered it up I would use my back up/ups. I have learned through this site, the web, and my own experience that I don't need to split a forest to get a nice fire going. Actually most of my splitting is with kindling and maybe some wrist sized chunks to establish a fire. The only time I keep splitting is due to weather or material conditions. And a small splitting axe usually takes over if needed and brought in. But of course an axe or hatchet isn't always brought in by choice or chance. On average my fires never really seem to take a lot of hard core splitting (normal weather/material conditions). I've used an ESEE Izula 2 for some fires. This was all a progression with me though over time. You can bust apart old dried out self splitting wood by bashing it over a rock if need be. Or just feed dead fall into a fire in a star pattern, no need to split. So many things I have learned from you folks and just doing this stuff. I like batoning and find it useful because it is handy and quick. Your mileage may vary due to many factors of circumstance and choice. The colder and crappier the conditions the more serious and picky I am about what tools I bring along. Trying to practice skills is fun and informative but freezing to death is not.
    Lapedog and Standard78 like this.
  3. Cypress


    Jun 22, 2009
    Some potentially-good information in those videos was completely masked by an abrasive attitude and a lot of chest beating. He comes off as a total knob that forces his opinions on people, rather than presenting good information and letting them to decide for themselves.

    Something I learned in college: When someone's predominant point is "I get paid to teach this" rather than supporting their position with facts, I tend to look the other way. Especially in this case, where the alternative they present is poorly executed with fumbling hands and badly-shaped tools.
    Standard78 likes this.
  4. gadgetgeek


    May 19, 2007
    Since this is still up near the top.
    Batoning: yes use a wedge, yes be cautious, no, using a wedge does not preclude the use of the knife, or vice-versa.

    The guy is just right enough to be dangerous. He's got a lot of things right, but he's got some stuff right for the wrong reason (in my opinion)
    He's also a complete blowhard and loves false dichotomies. His line of thinking, as far as I can tell is simply "just don't have problems." He also has this tendency to go to the absolute that is indefensible, and has to backtrack on almost every statement he makes. Watched the first two vids at 2x speed, it that's how he presents info to students, I would not do well in his class.
  5. JJ_Colt45

    JJ_Colt45 Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 11, 2014
    I don't like the words "always" or "never" in cases like this.

    For me anytime I am intentionally out in the woods or mountains or even the small patches of timber around close to home ... I have tools that I feel are better to cut and split wood if that is even necessary.

    But I recognize that unexpected situations can happen and no matter the amount of planning and preperation is a guarantee that I would never find myself in a situation where batoning may become the best option ... so I went with "rarely" ...

    Because I feel for me it is kind of a last resort ... but I have it in my skill set for that one in a million situation that hopefully will never come ... but could at anytime.

    But I think there are many better tools and even better options to save your knife edge in most cases.
  6. Lapedog


    Dec 7, 2016
    He sounds like a professional hustler to me.
    Standard78 likes this.
  7. gadgetgeek


    May 19, 2007
    His comment about spending four days and five nights on the mountain was kinda telling, he half tells that and half says they hiked down the mountain... Rang some alarm bells. But maybe he's just not a good story teller.
    Cypress and Standard78 like this.
  8. Phoynix

    Phoynix Basic Member Basic Member

    Dec 21, 2013
    Personally feel one shouldn't batton simply due to work hardening.

    Imagine a situation with 2 people using two knives battoning through the same number of wood cords.
    They have the same number of knots, they hit the blades with the same force and everything between them is identical except for one small thing.
    One blade is flexed in the exact same spot by every knot while the other blade has the flexing from knots spread out over its edge.

    One blade is obviously at a far higher risk of failing then the other, this is I believe the reason some people can batton for years with a knife while another person can have it fail very quickly. Battoning does not just come down to your skill and your actions, it comes down to random variance in the wood itself which you have neither control over or way of actually predicting accurately combined with random variance in steels and HT. Knife makers themselves never give an exact heat treat HRC, instead they give range often 1-2hrc which can have a very large impact on the steels toughness depending on if you get one at the high or low end.

    Now add in more random variance... frozen water in the wood if you live in a sub zero climate, if the blade gets stuck in just the right spot of a frozen area in the wood and is cooled down lower then the steel around it, not only is it itself more fragile but the difference in cooling adds in shearing stresses due to difference in expansion.

    To me thinking you can batton without chance of incident is like having a friend put on a bullet proof vest and shooting him.
    99.9% of the time your friend will be fine, yet only morons do it because the consequences if it fails is so great that its simply not worth chancing.

    Battoning with a knife seems like something you do in your backyard where the consequences if the knife fails are of no importance(yet you don't take the knife out into the wilderness with you as its untrustworthy)
    You do it out in the wilderness because the consequences of not battoning are greater. Say you fell in a river in subzero temps and need to get a fire going and lost your axe and saw with your pack when you went in and only have the knife/fire starting gear on your belt when you come out.
    BBW and Gaston444 like this.
  9. Hazmatt fabrication

    Hazmatt fabrication

    Oct 18, 2017
    Is it necessary? Almost never. Could it be usefull, sure. No one can deny that is very trendy right now. Doesn't hurt to know how.
  10. stabman

    stabman Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 17, 2007
    Batonning reasonable sized wood is just fine, and is taught by knowledgeable people.

    Trying to split logs with your knife is almost always a stupid idea, and is often done by idiots on YouTube.

    Don't be a YouTube idiot, and don't learn from them.
    BBW, LG&M, Pàdruig and 1 other person like this.
  11. gadgetgeek


    May 19, 2007
    Phoynix, so you live your life without risk? Its all a game of percentages, so yes, you don't know, but then again, I don't know how well the asbestos is sealed into the cement in the building I live in. You either prove your knife as best you can, then stay inside that envelope, or you develop the skill and learn when something is too far, or you never try anything because you might fail. It goes without saying that battoning got a little over-done as a fad, but just like everything else, in context it has its place. Sure I'm going to be careful, but that's because where I live the wood is so tough spyderco is going to use some in a sprint run before too long! But in easy wood, or the right conditions, why not?

    I've also never been lost next to a pile of bucked cord-wood, so I suppose its a bit of a silly point anyway, but whenever there is a right and wrong way to do something, even if the right way is risky, I'd still rather know all the details, than just have "don't do it" be an answer.
    Standard78 likes this.
  12. Phoynix

    Phoynix Basic Member Basic Member

    Dec 21, 2013
    Survival(life) is about consequences, as I previously stated you could find yourself in a situation where the risk to life of not doing it is greater.

    ps-I don't consider splitting kindling and the like battoning, the force required to split small bits of wood or slivers off larger pieces is rather small, you can also normally just pull your knife free if it doesn't go to plan. Trying to go through 8" log only to get the knife wedged in a knot doesn't leave you many options then brute force through.

  13. Lapedog


    Dec 7, 2016
    I find alot of the "don't baton!" arguments come down eventually to this point.

    "Well in a survival scenario you are liable to break your knife, or irreparably damage the edge"

    Fine, I can accept that. Now here's the thing though, I'm not in a survival situation. If I break a knife (which so far I never have) it will be a learning experience but I will survive.

    I would likely be sad though. So that is the real arguement against batonning? We are generally not in survival scenarios for 99.99% of our life. WARNING: if you baton you risk damaging the knife and becoming sad.

    I'll live with that risk
    Hard Knocks and upnorth like this.
  14. gadgetgeek


    May 19, 2007
    Fair enough. But the fact of the matter is that its the same technique, so its important to be clear as to what you are meaning. Otherwise it seems like the goalposts are moving. I know that wasn't your intent, but its the way it seems. For me, that little sliver of kindling can often be as hard on the knife as the 8 inch round, (Ironbark is not fun). And the ongoing practice means I remember to not aim for the tip of the knife while there is pressure on the handle, or other things that have been shown to be quite harmful to the knife.
  15. Phoynix

    Phoynix Basic Member Basic Member

    Dec 21, 2013
    We are talking youtube battoning... its a pretty clear trend and it most often involves wood thats only slightly thinner then the knife being used to try to split it and a whole load of grunting whacking and hollering for not much practical purpose yet implying that its a good test of a knifes usefulness with comments such as "Good study knife you can rely on in the wilderness".
    No goal posts are moving, the OP referenced videos that refer to youtube battoning, and due to stabmans comment I was clarifying to ensure they didn't move.

    Also if splitting slivers is causing as much stress as battoning through a log... then maybe you should be using wedges and/or axes. :p
  16. gadgetgeek


    May 19, 2007
    I think we mostly agree. It's also good to make sure that assumtions are not left on the table, especially when the topic is as wide, and controversial. I did say seems like, not that you had move any goal posts. All good man.
  17. abz


    Feb 12, 2018
    if it's not a combat sort of a deal, why would you not just have a hatchet, and not risk batoning your knife? The need to be able to run, drop prone when taking hostile fire, jump up and run some more, with 20+ lbs of rifle, armor, ammo, night vision, is why you have to leave behind the saw and axe. When it's just this "fun" stuff, and no rifle is taken, the difference in weight and bulk of having a folding saw and hatchet means little or nothing. I prefer camo cause it marks my stuff as not being normal clothing, which makes things simpler around the house. You can split wood with a saw, by the way. Either by sawing it halfway thru and then striking the wood, or by starting a saw kerf at the end of the hunk of wood and then using a wooden wedge to finish the job, perhaps also using a stone with a sharp edge to get things going.
  18. Rick Marchand

    Rick Marchand Donkey on the Edge Moderator

    Jan 6, 2005
    My name is Rick and I baton wood with a knife.

    - Right out of the gate... batoning does NOT instantly roll a sharp edge... that is flat out wrong.
    - The whole vibration in pinched wood theory is nonsense.
    - Using wood as a baton does WAY less damage to the spine. Crumbling? Really?
    - If you can afford the time to make wedges and can do it safely, go for it.
    - Holding a wedge while hammering with a baton puts you at much more immediate risk than the possibility of breaking your knife.

    I won't get into it too much about the videos because the gentleman isn't here to defend himself. I will only say that I did not agree with many things he claimed as absolute or no-brainers. Folks will inevitably not agree with things I say, too. Spending all that time in the woods teaching and guiding can give you a lot of great experience... it can also give you the time to solidify bad habits and formulate biased opinions. Do what you do and share with others(as he is doing so generously.) but be ready for opposition to your opinions. I usually don't disagree as much with one person as I did with these videos. I don't think it was the techniques he was presenting as much as it was the close mindedness. I think you need a healthy amount of confidence to be a leader and take responsibility for peoples lives. I don't want to say he is arrogant... but man, he has a LOT of confidence in his way of going about things.

    My vote is for smart batoning.
  19. gadgetgeek


    May 19, 2007
    I think you are right Rick, as soon as someone is in "no-brainer" territory, they are not looking at the whole picture anymore. 99% still leaves an edge case that might be worth knowing about. And "no-brainer" is also often a shorthand for "please just accept what I say, and don't make me explain or prove it"
  20. Roguer


    Jan 5, 2015
    I Baton wood especially in the winter on excursions as its safer and faster when there is snow about and not having time to whittle down a wood wedge or clear snow for safe chopping and such as COLD is a big factor at times. A glanced blow on a hard piece of wood can have a big not so nice consequence I prefer to eliminate from the equation. Also if your tired and exhausted it can be done more safely and with more control. I still carry the axe/hatchet type if I can but the most important thing also is a SAW of some sort.
    I use knives that are mostly designed for it unless it a case of its all I got with me to do the job.
    As seen above the SMART Batoning does seem the wisest way to go.
    At places where firewood has to be split and its not on an excursion, I NEVER use an axe. I use a MAUL and wedge if needed.

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