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splitting a piece of wood with a knife and a wooden club

Making firewood

In a survival scenario, when stress levels are high and time is against you, even a simple action can lead to serious problems. 

Splitting firewood to make a fire is an easy task if you have an axe, but you may not be lucky enough to have one. If that’s the case, the best thing you can do next is wood-tapping, and here’s what you need to know about this technique.

Nothing comes easy when it comes to survival, especially when you’re stranded in the wilderness. Survival TV shows fail to depict the reality you have to deal with on the field. 

Some skill and practice are required to knock wood. Learning the right technique takes time, and you’ll also have to put your fancy survival knife to the test.

What is wood knocking?

To put it in a few words, wood knocking is the act of splitting a piece of wood with a knife and a wooden club. Wood knocking can also help you carve wood if you don’t have the right tools. The physics behind this technique requires the use of a sharp blade and the weight of an improvised hammer.

Wood smashing works because it gives you more control over the process of splitting and cutting wood. It’s much more precise than using an axe or other tools. 

You can even use your jackknife to split kindling from large logs or branches. The jackknife is also used to cut slats or other shapes into pieces of wood when you want to build traps, weapons, or tools.

Although the size of the knife doesn’t matter when it comes to wood-clapping, the type and shape of the blade are quite important. For this technique to work, I recommend using a full tang, square back, fixed blade knife. 

Most survival knives follow these criteria, so you should have no trouble choosing one. Just make sure your knife is built to withstand the abuse of wood chopping.

Wood knocking step by step instructions

To get started, you should have the following ready:

– Safety goggles (or other types of eye protection)
– Gloves
– A flat work surface (chopping block made from logs or stumps)
– Baton (an average piece of hardwood)
– Survival knife

Step 1 – Security is a must

When you start work, wood chips will fly, and you need to protect your eyes. 

Having splinters of wood in your eyes as you struggle to survive is the last thing you need. Also, I got my hands on splinters more times than I could count, and I don’t recommend it. Make sure you wear gloves to protect your hands, you’ll be glad you did.

Another thing I’ve learned over the years is that you need some sort of flat surface to make the job easier. A tree stump can serve as a chopping block, giving you the stability you need to cut or split the wood.

Step 2 – Get the tools

First of all, finding the right baton can take time if you are not familiar with the types of wood available in your area. You should select an appropriately sized piece of hardwood for the task at hand. 

For large splitting jobs that involve the use of a large knife, you should choose a baton similar to or smaller than a baseball bat. 

For smaller tasks, you can use a 1-pound cudgel without any problems. Be sure to choose dry hardwood for this task. Otherwise, you will score the baton with the back of the knife and it will not be enough to finish the job.

Step 3 – Try it out

Once you have everything you need, it’s time to get to work. 

Take your piece of wood and place it on the chopping block. Place the knife at the top of the piece of wood, in the middle, or in any other position you desire. It depends on whether you want to split it in two or work your way towards the middle. Start by hammering the back of the knife and work your way down through the wood.

This job may seem easy, and it can be if you are using a large-bladed knife. If you use a smaller knife, it will be more difficult to hit the spine of the blade.
In any case, you will need to stop and adjust the blade from time to time. Wood beating is never a straightforward job, and there’s no guarantee you’ll finish the cut or split without making adjustments. 

Be careful when you lift the stuck knife out of the piece of wood. This action is the one that causes the most injuries when knocking wood.

Step 4 – Go ahead

Knocking wood is a skill that can be used again and again for different tasks. She will help you turn logs into splinters or transform them into elaborate carvings. 

Few people know that the early pioneers used wooden beaters to make house clapboards. Since you won’t need this in the wild, stick with what you know and start a fire with the log you made yourself.


Knocking wood is an essential survival skill that can come in handy in all sorts of environments and scenarios. 

This simple technique is easy to master, and there are fewer things to go wrong when splitting wood with a knife and a club. 

Compared to swinging a machete or an axe, this technique is much safer and even children can use it. Even a small pocket knife can help you split wood without breaking a sweat. 

Splitting wood helps you save energy and work smarter. That, after all, is the way any survival situation should be approached.



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