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#262534 - 08/16/13 12:36 AM Re: saw or axe [Re: quick_joey_small]
bacpacjac Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 05/05/07
Posts: 3555
Loc: Ontario, Canada
This is how I prep a twig fire:

Step 1 - Tinder

A hat full of wood shavings and feather sticks made with my knife, Uploaded with ImageShack.com

Step 2 - Kindling

Pencil lead thick, pencil thick and thumb thick tinder
Uploaded with ImageShack.com

Step 3 - Fuel
Bigger pieces of wood

Step 4 - Preparing the hearth for lighting

placed on a platform with a brace so that the kindling doesn't crush my tinder
Uploaded with ImageShack.com

Step 5 - Light the tinder and give CPR as required

Uploaded with ImageShack.com

Step 6 - as the fire burns through the tinder, gently start adding kindling, thinnest to thickest. I don't add more until the flames are confidently through the previous level

Uploaded with ImageShack.com
Uploaded with ImageShack.com

Once the kindling is sustaining the fire, I start to add the fuel, but always stick to thinnest to thickest.

This is how I prep a split wood fire:

I use one of my folding saws to cut logs and branches to length. My Bacho Laplander lives in my day hike kit right now and my Sawvivor is in my BOB:

Uploaded with ImageShack.com

Then I use my fixed blade to baton, or my axe, to split those pieces into the thickness that I want and then follow the same procedure as I do for a twig fire - shavings & feather sticks + pencil lead, pencil and thumb thick kindling + bigger pieces for fuel.

I always take an axe or hatchet in the Winter and Spring. Winter can be rough and make it tough to find dry dead wood and frozen wood is a PITA.

Uploaded with ImageShack.com

Personally, I think wood burns better when it's split, especially when it's damp or wet outside.

Mom & Adventurer

You can find me on YouTube here:

#262536 - 08/16/13 01:38 AM Re: saw or axe [Re: quick_joey_small]
UTAlumnus Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 03/08/03
Posts: 966
Loc: East Tennessee near Bristol
I have to second the comments on the wire saws in most cases. I've only seen two that had any chance of working. One that I've had occasion to use was sold by the Boy Scouts back in the late '70s. It was a solid piece of steel (think heavy gauge wire) that had actual teeth formed on it. I recently found one with similar construction. IIRC it's a bit shorter than the BSA model but it might be that my arms are a lot longer now. Other than these two, if size is a factor, get either one of the folding saws or one of the pocket chain saws.

#262537 - 08/16/13 02:30 AM Re: saw or axe [Re: UTAlumnus]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 5867
Loc: southern Cal
As far as wilderness survival goes, you can make a strong case for fire making being the most essential survival skill, and one that is actually rather intricate. Fire making involves a paradox - the more desperately you need it, the harder it is to achieve. The opposite is also true - it is important to recognize the conditions in which a fire is inadvisable.

In my youth, making a fire and cooking with it was a routine procedure -one that has become less and less common over the years, and for good reason. One should maintain proficiency in constructing a wood fire, but there are fewer and fewer opportunities to maintain proficiency.

A good general approach is to carry good ignition sources, and some highly dependable fire starter/fuel combination - a small Esbit stove with a good supply of tablets and a lighter and matches is a typical cheap and light package. I have have long included a Trangia stove in my SAR pack for its simplicity and reliability - in really cold or wet conditions, I would pack a white gas Primus and plenty of fuel. Me and my buddies came to refer to white gas as "Boy Scout fire starter" (Esbit is undoubtedly a great deal safer).

Just be sure that you can prepare a meal, stay warm, and enjoy all the other benefits of an open fire in whatever conditions you will encounter whatever your approach and your choice of tools.
Geezer in Chief

#262540 - 08/16/13 08:31 AM Re: saw or axe [Re: quick_joey_small]
quick_joey_small Offline

Registered: 01/13/09
Posts: 412
Loc: UK
That's brilliant. Between all those posts I should be able to get something going. Thanks folks

#262545 - 08/16/13 11:10 PM Re: saw or axe [Re: Montanero]
Outdoor_Quest Offline

Registered: 08/17/09
Posts: 304
Loc: Central Oregon
Great graphic. Going to check out that web site.

#262553 - 08/17/13 02:42 AM Re: saw or axe [Re: quick_joey_small]
bacpacjac Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 05/05/07
Posts: 3555
Loc: Ontario, Canada
I totally agree with hikermor about carrying good tinder with you. The worse the seasonal weather gets, the more I carry.

The two fixed blade knives I'm carrying right now are my Gerber BG USK (ferro rod in the sheath) and the Mora LMF Fireknife with ferro rod built into the handle. One of them makes a nice combo along with the tin of tinder in my pocket, especially the BG, which I've batoned the heck out of with no adverse effects so far.

I think they're both going to get new jute twine (excellent tinder) lanyards, and the BG has a piece of charred lamp wick, wrapped in tin foil in the back of the sheath:

I don't always carry them on my body though, so my usual wilderness pocket fire kit is a tin with tinder, and my little leather pouch with ferro rod, mini folder and some tinder.

The tinder varies depending on what I've found on my last trip or two but here's a few ideas:

Fatwood and jute twine:

Jute twine, cotton ball, birch and cedar bark, hoof fungus and some pine pitch

A more substantial kit, for winter wilderness or my BOB, including a variety of spark/flame and tinder including: BIC, mag bar with built-in ferro rod, matches (in Tylenol tube), lip balm, small folder, tea light, lamp wick, jute twine, med vial of natural tinder, char cloth, esbit cube, etc... all in a tin secured with elastics or ranger bands

Mom & Adventurer

You can find me on YouTube here:

#262558 - 08/17/13 03:09 AM Re: saw or axe [Re: quick_joey_small]
Phaedrus Offline

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 1957
Loc: Great Plains
Awesome, bacpacjac! You're on a roll with the pics. I carry a lot of the same stuff.
“You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.” Naguib Mahfouz

#262559 - 08/17/13 03:26 AM Re: saw or axe [Re: quick_joey_small]
bacpacjac Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 05/05/07
Posts: 3555
Loc: Ontario, Canada
I learn better with visual aids than just words. I always appreciate it when someone includes pics with their post, so I try to return the favour. Besides, I have a baby so I'm always in paparazzi mode. wink
Mom & Adventurer

You can find me on YouTube here:

#262662 - 08/21/13 03:25 AM Re: saw or axe [Re: quick_joey_small]
Pete Offline

Registered: 02/20/09
Posts: 1263
yeah I agree with the small tomahawk. but I could see that a folding saw might work if I was pressed for weight.


#262680 - 08/21/13 03:21 PM Re: saw or axe [Re: quick_joey_small]
JerryFountain Offline

Registered: 12/06/07
Posts: 418
Loc: St. Petersburg, Florida

If I understand your situation correctly, I would not take any of the above mentioned items. Instead I would take one of the smaller splitting mauls (ie the Estwing Fireside Friend http://www.estwing.com/ao_fireside_friend_splitting_tool.php
). Several other axe makers have the same type of tool. I even have a WWII British one hand fire axe that works well for this task. If you are not walking in, or can leave it there, I might even take a full sized one.

For other situations any of the above (ecept maybe the wire saw) are the correct tools.



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