June 19, 2013
3 Knife Skills To Know When Camping
A good sharp knife is undoubtedly necessary when entering any type of wilderness setting but even more so when you plan to camp overnight. Whether you’re preparing food or a fire, a knife is the essential tool for maintaining a camp site and getting the most out of your experience. IF you’ve read our post Basic Knife Safety then you should be familiar with how to hand a knife and ready to start practicing some of these essential camping knife skills. **( I suggest using a full tang fixed blade for these projects, preferably a carbon steel blade with a Flat or Scandi grind)
1. Make Expedient Tent Stakes
Sometimes you forget them, but more often than not, you don’t want to carry the extra weight. Tent stakes are really great practice work for learning the absolute basics of carving. I suggest using green wood to make your tent pegs but make sure to follow local and state laws concerning the harvesting of wood. First off, find a straight green branch (preferably a hard wood) that’s about ½” in diameter and a 3-4 ft long. Depending on how many stakes you need you may want to grab a couple of branches. Then proceed to cut your branch into several 6”-8” pieces.
Start cutting a notch for the anchor point that will channel and hold the cord. Place this notch about one inch below one end of the peg. Easy way to do this is to cut an ‘X’ into the branch and using push and stop cuts to whittle out the notch.
Now whittle the opposite end to a point.
If you plan on keeping your tent stakes or you’re camping on very hard ground you can harden the points of your stakes by sticking the points in the coals of the fire. Wait until the tip of the points starts to glow red and then take them out, cool them down and re work the tip to a nice sharp point.
Batoning is the technique of splitting and cutting wood by using a baton (a wrist thick stick) to strike a fixed blade knives spine repeatedly to drive the knife through the wood until it is split or cut. Batoning can be used to split wood for kindling, felling small saplings and making wood implements. Batoning is very useful in fire making and especially when your wood is wet. You can baton a wet log to reach the inside of the log, which should be dry.
To baton correctly simply find a good log that you’d like to split, a baton and a good sturdy fixed blade knife.
Hold the knife parallel to the top of the log and strike the spine with your baton.
It’s important to hold the knife at a right angle to the ground, batoning can be dangerous and you run the risk of breaking your blade if you’re not careful.
3. Carving a Willow Whistle
Carving a willow whistle is not only fun and easy but it can be a great skill to have for survival situations. Also, don’t let the name fool you, an expedient whistle can be made from a variety of green wood’s like beech, hazel and many others. You’re just looking for a green wood that has a soft and easily removable bark.
First things first, find a willow branch that’s at least a pinkie finger thick. Make sure to look for a straight piece that doesn’t have many knots or branches for at least 2 or three inches of the length.
Now that you found your branch section, cut one end off at an angle for the mouth piece.
Make a small ‘V’ shaped notch about ½” away from the end of the mouth piece.
Make a quick judgement of how long you'd like your whistle to be. Then make a circular cut around the bark so that the bark can be removed.
Loosen up the bark on your whistle by tapping it with the handle of your knife (or your baton) and working it with your hands.
Using a twisting motion, very, very carefully remove the bark covering your whistle.
Now, extend and deepen the notch. Stop cut the notch and then slice from the back to the front (up to the notch) your goal is to make a notch that’s about an ½” long and goes down about half of the thickness of the branch.
The last step is to flatten out the top of your mouth piece to allow air to flow through and then replace your bark without ripping it.
Now that your whistle is fully constructed, cut of any extra and test it out!
Take your time learning these skills is a great start to learning knife craft and some light bushcraft. As always, saftey comes first whenever you are handling a blade and especially when your doing fine work like this. Be Smart, Be Safe and Stay an Edge Above the Rest!
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