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How-to

How to: producing kindling

You can split smaller pieces of wood to produce kindling. You need dead and dry wood for this purpose because it will burn a lot better than fresh wood. The following techniques are also mostly used during hikes or when spending time on the campsite. As you are traveling you don't need large pieces of fresh wood. You need smaller pieces of dry wood. Check out the following infotopic if you want to learn more about splitting larger pieces of wood.

Type of axe: to split smaller pieces of wood to build a fire a trekking or forestry axe will come in handy. You could also use a hand axe, but this type of axe is a little less efficient. The handle is not as long which means you can create less momentum.

There are a couple of ways to safely split wood. 

1: On a large chopping block.

The first is the most obvious way of safely splitting wood. You use the same block of wood with which you split the larger pieces of wood. However, for the smaller pieces of wood you need to sit on your knees. You need to sit on your knees to make sure you won't hit your legs if you miss. This is the case if you split wood while standing and using a trekking, forestry or hand axe. 

Place the piece of wood on the far back end of the block to make sure the axe ends up in the block if you miss. Kneel before the block. Hold the axe in one hand and stretch your arm to make sure the edge of the axe only slightly touches the block of wood. This is the right distance you need to split wood. Never hold the piece of wood you want to split in your hand. Many fingers have been lost this way!

Determining the distance

If the axe gets caught:

If the axe gets caught you can turn over the axe and the piece of wood. Hit the back of the axe on the chopping block and the piece of wood will split over the head of the axe. Place your hand on the block you want to split to make sure it cannot move and hit the palm of your hand on the far end of the handle. As you do this you immediately take hold of the handle. Afterwards you slowly wedge the axe from the wood. Because of the shape of the head it will come out easily. 

If the pieces of wood have gotten too small you have two options left. 

2: Leave out the chopping block

It is also possible to leave out the chopping block. You can place the piece of wood on the grass and split the wood as such. The problem here is that an axe will quickly become blunt if the edge repeatedly touches the ground. There is a better way: place a piece of wood horizontally in front of you and place the piece of wood you wish to split on top of it at an angle. Let it protrude slightly in relation to the block on the ground. You are standing with your heels past the wood to make sure you don't hit your leg when you miss. Hit your axe in the wood to split it.

Splitting wood without chopping block

3: Splitting

Splitting wood is the most practical and the safest way when you are traveling and want to build a fire. Cut down a 'dead standing' tree, with a thickness of approx. 15 cm. You always cut a piece of wood just in front of the knot to make sure every piece of wood contains one knot. As such the wood will split easier.

A safe sawing technique

The next step is looking for a stump on which you can split the wood. Do not use a rock as a base because it will quickly damage the edge of your axe. Place the cut piece of wood in the length, the knot facing in the other direction. Always remove the protruding branches with the butt of your axe. The knots are hard and can damage your edge. Place the axe on the part with the knot, the edge needs to protrude a couple of millimetres. As such the axe does not get stuck in the wood.

Splitting wood

Place the knob of the handle on the block and slightly lift the axe and the piece of wood. Softly hit the axe and the piece of wood on the base to make sure the axe gets stuck in the piece of wood you want to split. Hit a couple of times to make sure the axe splits through the wood. As soon as the edge of the axe cuts through the wood you stop hitting.

Afterwards turn the wood to the left or right to split it further. Never turn the handle! It could namely cause the handle to break. Once you have split the wood in half you make sure the round part is facing down. This is easier to hold and it will split easier as well. Repeat this process until the wood has the right size!


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