Mastering Firecraft: Processing Tinder, Feathering Wood, and the Art of Batonning

fire by Outdoor Element

Fire—the magical element that turns a camping trip into a sizzling adventure! It's fun to make and more importantly, it can prove critical to your survival in an emergency.

In this follow-up article, we're diving into the nitty-gritty of firecraft. Get ready to create your own tinder by feathering and batonning wood. Practice the craft of fire making so you're comfortable and confident on your next adventure.

For a roaring flame, you'll need to start with tinder, then build up with kindling and grow the fire from there. Tinder can come in many forms. Jute is an easy one to pull apart into a little nest ready to catch a spark. Below, I share what that looks like when building a fire.

prep for a fire by Outdoor Element

If you don't have jute handy, no worries. Tinder is all around you in nature. Baton and feather wood into tinder and kindling and you're ready to go.

Feathered Wood: Light 'Em Up!

Feathered wood is like the VIP of fire-starting. Those fine slivers and curls of dry wood catch fire faster than a cheetah chasing prey. Look for dead branches from coniferous trees—those pine, spruce, or fir fellas are resinous, which means they ignite faster than you can say, "Hot stuff coming through!"The idea behind feathering wood is to create fine shavings and increase the surface area for a spark to catch fire. It's best to find a straight piece of wood, without knots to work into a feathering stick. Be sure it is dead, dry and seasoned and not rotten. Below, Bourbon Bill with @sparrow_bushcraft creates curls using the Phoenix Feather and then sparks fire using the Fire Flute.


demo of Phoenix Feather and Fire Flute by Outdoor Element


And check out Tim Swanson of @owleyeswilderness as he creates a featherstick and then sparks fire using Contour Feather.


Contour Feather demo


You can see how in both examples, they hold the knife securely and push down as they shave off shallow curls of wood.It's okay if the curls fall off the featherstick. Simply gather them together to use as tinder for your fire.


Channel Your Inner Lumberjack: Batonning Wood Like a Pro!


Use the baton technique to split wood pieces between 2-4" thick along the grain. So grab that chunk of nature that needs to be made smaller, a knife, and another sturdy piece of wood to use as a baton. (Like your knife? Never use a rock to baton as this could easily damage that beloved knife.) Turn the wood you're splitting up on it's round cut end so you're sure to split the wood along the grain. Now, take any OE knife (cue superhero music) and hold it like you mean business. Center the knife in the middle of the wood for splitting and place the knife blade straight down to prevent damage. Hit the center of the knife's spine until it lodges in the wood. Baton on the blade end that protrudes beyond the log, avoiding the weak tip. Hitting at the tip can damage the tip. Re-adjust the knife if it becomes angled. Tap the handle gently for corrections, avoiding excessive force.  And voila! You're a bonafide wood-splitting champion!


baton with Contour Feather by Outdoor Element


Tinder Nest: Let's Make Fire Babies!


A tinder nest is your secret weapon, your fire-starting powerhouse. Take a small handful of your feathered wood and gather it like you're forming a cozy little bird's nest. Remember, it's all about creating an airy structure that allows oxygen to circulate. Place that nest on a dry surface, far away from any sneaky moisture or dampness. 

Ignition Time: Light It Up, Baby!


Alright, now that you've created your feathered wood and mastered batonning, it's time to ignite the flames of glory! Grab the fire starter of your choice—whatever tickles your fancy—and get ready for the magic. Hold that ignition source close to your tinder nest, spark the fire and then blow gently like a fire-whisperer, and watch those flames dance to life! Once the nest ignites like a fiery supernova, carefully add larger fuel and watch it grow.  We like the setup for this fire by @owleyeswilderness. The tinder is open, airy and accessible with kindling ready to grow the flame. It's also a great example of how to find items in nature to work as tinder for a quick fire. More on that in our next post.


fire started with firebiner

Safety First, Adventurers!

Hey, we love some good firecraft fun, but let's not forget about safety. Pick a suitable outdoor location, far away from anything that could turn your campsite into an impromptu barbecue. Stay alert to wind conditions, keep the area around your fire clear, and have a trusty water source or fire extinguisher nearby. And remember, never leave a fire unattended.   

With your newfound firecraft skills, you're ready to rock the wilderness like a fire-starting superstar! Remember to practice these tricks regularly and refine your technique. In times of an emergency, we all fall back on our training. Be ready by having practiced before the emergency.    

At Outdoor Element, we're all about igniting confidence in outdoor exploration through innovative gear; such as our ever growing line of fire-starting gear including the award winning firebiner, fire escape, kodiak & woolly mammoth survival bracelets, contour feather, phoenix talon, folding feather & fire flute and more to come.  Get out and Explore with Confidence!     


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