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Bushcraft & Primitive Wilderness Skills The Bushcraft & Primitive Wilderness Skills forum is for discussion (on-site content) that directly relates to ancient and/or primitive style bushcraft/wilderness skills (e.g. firecraft, foraging, natural material construction, modern/primitive tools, long-term wilderness survival,...).


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  #1  
Old 05-29-2013, 10:40 PM
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Reality Reality is offline
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Firewood Processing Tool Picks

Which two of the following firewood processing tools would you pick to be used for an indefinite period in the forest?[Note: There examples are just that (examples). It's the type of tool, not the actual brand/model that is the object of the selections herein.]

Obviously, there's no right or wrong selection. This is just for the sake of discussion regarding some prevailing choices.

Thank you in advance for your participation.

Reality
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  #2  
Old 05-30-2013, 12:49 PM
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Ralph Ralph is offline
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Frame Saw (SawVivor) with extra blade(s) and hatchet.

The "H" pattern frame saw holds the blade tight so it can't bend or kink in use (one problem with a jack-saw). The "V" pattern (e.g. Sven) has limited stroke because of the frame pinch.

Hatchets or small axes have a wedge-shaped head better suited for splitting IMO and specifically designed to chop.

If I knew I would be out in the winter with more firewood needs I would have a 24-30" frame saw and at least a Boy's axe (2.25 lb head, 28" handle), and a good mill file, 6-8".

I have a couple of big knives (Condor Hudson Bay and Cold Steel Recon Scout) that work okay for chopping and splitting, and I would want at least one of these, too, but the saw/axe are really the tools for the purpose.
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  #3  
Old 05-30-2013, 07:54 PM
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dsuursoo dsuursoo is offline
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a bow saw and a proper long hatchet.

i'd prefer something with a classic wood handle over metal/composite in the hatchet. if it breaks another handle is a cinch to make.

the hatchet brings it down, the saw takes it to a workable length, and if you're feeling saucy you can split it.
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  #4  
Old 05-31-2013, 12:24 AM
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Reality Reality is offline
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If I were expecting to be transient, I'd take my Laplander and my RTAK II. Otherwise, I'd likely want my Sawvivor and a long handled hatchet (as dsuursoo suggests).

Quote:
Originally Posted by dsuursoo
i'd prefer something with a classic wood handle over metal/composite in the hatchet. if it breaks another handle is a cinch to make.

That's a good point.

Reality
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  #5  
Old 05-31-2013, 06:29 AM
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Bushwalker Bushwalker is offline
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An Axe: If I had a base camp, I would prefer an axe around 3lb (+handle) or less, with a middling sized handle, over a hatchet. I have my eye on a nice Fiskars brand axe in the local hardware store here, that I reckon would go nicely kept in the back of my SUV. If I needed something lighter they also had a nice little survival hatchet, under 12" long, just over 2 lb.

And a Saw: A fixed saw like a Bowsaw for a basecamp; while a lighter folding saw would be the go if moving around..

My backpacking knives aren't heavy enough to chop wood.
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  #6  
Old 05-31-2013, 06:53 PM
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dsuursoo dsuursoo is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bushwalker


An Axe: If I had a base camp, I would prefer an axe around 3lb (+handle) or less, with a middling sized handle, over a hatchet. I have my eye on a nice Fiskars brand axe in the local hardware store here, that I reckon would go nicely kept in the back of my SUV. If I needed something lighter they also had a nice little survival hatchet, under 12" long, just over 2 lb.

were i working a permanent camp in old timber, it'd definitely want an axe and a proper saw. wood handle is fine though there are some strong composites out there, single or double bitted is entirely user preference. i've a lovely 3-pounder single with a composite handle that's proven indestructible. i'd take that axe into the apocalypse.

but for a mobile camp, a tomahawk or something similar will do a killer job bringing firewood, even appreciable logs, with relatively little work.

when you hear 'hatchet' you may be thinking of what i would term a 'handaxe', a wee little thing best for trimming up shrubs, or giving to a youth. too small to properly do much work at all, but makes a dandy wedge(with handle!) for splitting, or maybe a hammer for driving stakes.

no good. you need something thinner, with almost double the handle. a flat poll on the back for beating on things is appealing but not 100% necessary. say on the order of a bit over a pound, pound and a half, with a handle in the 16'' range, maybe even 18''. enough to get a good swing on, but short enough to be easy to handle. you could go a little heavier on the head maybe but not much. too much and it feels awkward to swing, too light and it won't carry into the wood with any power.

oh, on saws... there's a lot of options out there. something easily handled by one is appealing, though a nice h-frame saw would really tear through stuff, even if it could be a little bulky.


knives, to me, are really NOT for firewood. they can make the fuel for a small survival fire, or a fire for cooking lunch, but they're ill suited to any kind of significant processing of fuel. they ARE invaluable for making tinder and firred sticks for lighting your fire, however. they can't be ignored.


one of the most important skills is picking the right wood. if you're harvesting trees for fire you need to start ignoring the big trees. too much work. smaller trees, no more than 6-10'' thick, at most, and the high end of that is pushing the limits of reason but it's doable. hardwood is best as it burns long, clean, and hot. you'll use less fuel overall. it's also usable right away, whereas most of the softwoods take seasoning before they burn well at all. fresh pine is a punky, smoky mess. fresh ash burns nicely.

kephart's 'camping and woodcraft' has a nice section devoted to wood and their characteristics as fuels. it's worth a browse.
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  #7  
Old 06-01-2013, 11:06 AM
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Reality Reality is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bushwalker

My backpacking knives aren't heavy enough to chop wood.

That's for sure. I'm confident most would post differently if this were about backpacking.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dsuursoo
knives, to me, are really NOT for firewood. they can make the fuel for a small survival fire, or a fire for cooking lunch, but they're ill suited to any kind of significant processing of fuel. they ARE invaluable for making tinder and firred sticks for lighting your fire, however. they can't be ignored.
I understand where you're coming from. Each person will approach this subject from her or his own intentions and circumstances. Some do not live among the hard woods, and others live in rainforest or jungle situations.

That in mind, I've gone for many years without ever needing a hatchet/axe for a fire in the wild. Though one has come in handy for traditional firewood processing (at home) - but so has a chain saw.

A large knife (e.g. RTAK II) can split wood and do the finer processing (that you mentioned). It doesn't do the job of a hatchet, but that's the point. It can clear brush to get to fallen wood.

If building a structure is not my intention, I can actually get by without the knife, saw, or hatchet where I live. But the large knife and saw would be the most helpful for my intentions. And I completely understand how this wouldn't work for others.

What's funny, is that in all the years that I've had wilderness fires, I've done so without a saw, hatchet/axe, or a knife. This was accomplished in various regions. Another person may not be as fortunate.

Every one is making great points. There is no wrong way, as long as we consider our (potential) intentions, needs, and circumstances.

Reality
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  #8  
Old 06-03-2013, 01:21 PM
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richwads richwads is offline
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For an indefinite period in the forest, I would want something in the bow saw category and in the hatchet category, at a minimum. I'm assuming firewood should be used efficiently in order to minimize gathering efforts and to extend sustainability, so the ability of proper tools to use wood that would otherwise be unusable would be very important, especially during the winter.

That doesn't mean a large batoning-worthy knife wouldn't be desirable, though one a bit more portable and maneuverable than the two examples would find a lot of use. I'm thinking a 7-8 inch blade on a knife in the 8-10 oz weight range would be handy as a light chopper or butcher knife that could be kept on the belt more of the time without getting in the way. This is the type of large knife the Sammi of Northern Norway called a "leuku" that was carried all the time for general bushcrafting and butchering duties. These things I learned from various writings but have little personal experience of, tho I can state that bushcraft shelter building is MUCH easier with a leuku size blade than a little 4" Mora. It seems like the RTAK and BK9 would be overkill for that, but would overlap the capabilities of a small hand ax and could do significant firewood processing. I thing Reality makes a good point about using the RTAK to clear brush to get to firewood, and having it to do that makes a hatchet a bit redundant, since that knife does a fair job of splitting also.

Actually, now that I think about it, I would be happy with either the hatchet or the RTAK/BK9. They each have their good "points" .

FWIW

Last edited by richwads : 06-03-2013 at 01:28 PM.
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  #9  
Old 06-03-2013, 03:08 PM
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Reality Reality is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by richwads
That doesn't mean a large batoning-worthy knife wouldn't be desirable, though one a bit more portable and maneuverable than the two examples would find a lot of use. I'm thinking a 7-8 inch blade on a knife in the 8-10 oz weight range would be handy as a light chopper or butcher knife that could be kept on the belt more of the time without getting in the way.
I can get by without any knife, but I also don't have any problem using the RTAK II or even a machete. Again, this will all depend on where one will be.

In most of the places that I see people, in online videos, gathering and processing firewood, I could manage without any blade, hatchet, or saw. [I have a huge amount to say on this subject, but it's best done at another time in another thread.]

Moreover, a hatchet typically has more steel and weight than an RTAK II and many other knives. Also, it can be carried just like a hatchet can be - i.e. in a pack instead of strapped to one's belt.

In the jungle or areas with lots of brush,..., a hatchet would be a joke. Similarly, an RTAK II (or other knife) might not be the best choice for some people in an open hardwood forest.

An individual's personal size (hand, body) and her/his level of comfort have a lot to do with knife choice.

Quote:
Originally Posted by richwads
I thing Reality makes a good point about using the RTAK to clear brush to get to firewood, and having it to do that makes a hatchet a bit redundant, since that knife does a fair job of splitting also.
For some, it has its place. For others, it would be a poor choice.

If I had a choice of any tools on earth, my selection could be entirely different. However, I'm making my choice from what I currently own.

Quote:
Originally Posted by richwads
Actually, now that I think about it, I would be happy with either the hatchet or the RTAK/BK9. They each have their good "points" .
They are quite useful. But, as you know, we all have to arrive at what suits us best.

There are many people who are not aware of the usefulness of such a tool as a large knife - and what it can replace.









There are so many choices and variables. I completely understand that what I use will not work for others. I am much more impressed with those who find what works for them rather than just casually opt for what someone else carries and uses.

Reality

P.S. I've posted another thread " Saw vs Hatchet."
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  #10  
Old 06-27-2013, 09:40 PM
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Benwaller Benwaller is offline
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A Ka-bar Cutlass machete is a pretty useful tool to have in the bag. I've had good results using it for processing smallish wood for both fire and shelter-making and for primary knife duties as well. It's a pretty good skinner believe it or not.

I rarely pack a saw these days as I no longer meander around country that requires it. Once in while I'll toss my drywall saw in the bag but that's only good for small stuff and I find the Ka-bar handles that kind of work well enough anyway.

And the chainsaw is always in the truck.

HYOH,

Ben
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