Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Knife Skills - Batoning / Defender Fixed Blade

A knife is one of the most valuable tools to have in almost any situation. It is the fundamental tool for so many different tasks, that I recommend having a knife with you at all times. The knife doesn't have to be huge, or expensive, but it does have to work for the required tasks. For the skill that I will be explaining next, choosing the right knife for the job has to be taken into account.

The Gerber Big Rock is a great, medium sized, full tang knife.
Batoning, is a technique that allows you to use a knife to cut or split wood into smaller pieces. When I first learned that you could use a knife to split wood, I was really wondering how that was possible. Well, with batoning, it is possible. This technique is very hard on a knife, so if you are going to use a knife to baton, it should be a full tang design. This means that the same piece of metal that is used to make the knife blade also extends to the end of the knife handle. A full tang knife is very strong and will withstand a lot of abuse before breaking. You generally do not want to baton with a knife that isn't a full tang design, especially if you are in a survival or long-term camping situation where you really depend on your knife and cannot afford to have it break. You probably wouldn't want to use a folding knife to baton with either, although some folding knives can perform adequately (Cold Steel Rajah II).

Batoning works on the principal of using the blade of the knife to cut or split wood by taking another piece of wood (baton) and hitting it on the top of the blade. The energy transferred to the blade from the baton splits wood in the same way that an axe would. You can baton to split wood lengthwise or use it to cut wood across its diameter (cutting a branch off of a tree); basically using the technique for any job that you would use an axe for.

When you baton, you are limited to the diameter of the wood that you are cutting/splitting. The maximum diameter of the wood that you are processing has to be less than the length of the blade that you are using. Since you will be splitting wood all the way through, if you do not at least have a portion of the tip of the blade sticking out of the wood one the blade has started to go through, you will not be able to drive the blade all the way through the wood.

When you baton you want to have a fair amount of pressure on the knife handle, pushing down. This will compensate for the impacts on the tip of the blade from the baton, allowing the knife to travel through the wood horizontally. You also want to use a baton with a fair amount of weight, so that you are able to transfer enough energy to the blade to quickly cut/split the wood.

Now I've mentioned that you should use a full tang, fixed blade knife. Many of you reading may not know what kind of knife to get. Full tang, fixed blade knives tend to be expensive. I'm not here to make you go out and buy an expensive knife, just so that you can baton with it. Although I don't consider batoning to be real abuse of a blade, it can be difficult to gather up the nerve to just go whack on the new expensive knife that you just purchased.

The Defender Fixed Blade comes in three blade shapes:
Kukri, Spear Point and Bowie.
My recommendation to those who do not have a heavy-duty full tang knife already, and would like to get one for camping, would be to check out the Defender Fixed Blade. I personally own one and have split with it on many many occasions. I have yet to break it. There are three models, with three different blade shapes, however, they are all just as strong. This blade shapes that this knife comes in are: Kukri, Spear Point and Bowie. I own the Bowie and have to say that it is a very functional blade shape.

What's best about this knife is the price. At around $10, it's hard to beat this knife in terms of quality for the money ($10 you kidding me?). I was thoroughly impressed by this knife's ability to handle abuse. I pounded on the blade, I pounded on the handle, all with no breakage. The knife comes with a polymer contoured handle, which is very comfortable and a functional nylon sheath.

After whacking on the knife for a while, the one thing that I did notice, which doesn't detract from the performance at all, is that the polymer handle started to wiggle a little bit of movement after heavy batoning. The handle sits on the tang of the knife, and due to vibrations and wear on the handle, the  polymer sleeve of the handle now wiggles a bit. The metal tang underneath, which is where the strength of the design lies, is solid as can be, and I have yet to even bend it.

So, I hope that helped you guys a bit. Try to baton during your next wilderness or camping adventure. If you like this technique, you might not even need to bring an axe next time you go. I hope that you also learned that having a full tang heavy duty knife doesn't need to be expensive. There are some great deals out there that are just waiting to be found.


  1. Thats my video of this knife

  2. The Kukri looks the meanest out of all those options. --

  3. Interesting points of view about batoning.
    I also find out an interesting article about this here:

  4. Thank you Sir, I am also a big fan in collection of knives and having a website of my own. Link is:-

  5. When handling knives, I believe dexterity plays an important role as well. You can have the best knives in the world, but you really have to know how to use them properly. I was actually looking for camping knife options in relation to this article, and I stumbled upon this article too: