There are days when every last twig in the forest is soaking wet. So, if you want to get a campfire going, you need to split some wood. No axe? No worries. You can split wood with your knife instead. The process is called batoning, and here’s how to do it.
Find a chunk, or billet, of wood eight to 12 inches long—shorter billets are easier to split than longer ones. The width should be at least one inch shorter than the length of your knife blade (I use a heavy nineinch Bowie blade).
If you need to buck, or cut, the billet out of a log first, a heavy knife can work in a pinch. Simply cut deep Vs into opposite sides of the log, eight to 12 inches from the end, then prop up the log and stomp down aggressively on the short section below the Vs to break it off.
Stand the billet on something solid, such as a stump, and centre your knife blade across the end. Allow about one inch of the blade tip to
stick out past the side of the billet.
Using a chunk of wood you can hold in one hand as a baton, firmly strike the spine of the knife, driving the blade down into the billet until it’s fully embedded. If you’re lucky, the wood will split, but most likely it will remain intact—and that’s why you left at least an inch of the blade tip sticking out the side.
Hold the knife firmly by the handle and tap the tip of the blade with the baton. The blade will penetrate farther and the billet should soon split.
Keep splitting the billet to make kindling, then get that fire going.