Tips for Making Feather Sticks
Feather sticks are bush craft fire starters that can be quickly manufactured on the spot using only a knife. They are most useful in damp conditions when dry tinder is not available. The basic premise is to use a knife to carefully create wood shavings that remain attached to the piece of wood, the result looks like a feather, hence the name. This will give you thin pieces of wood with oxygen between them that will light easily. But, like everything else doing it isn’t enough, if you want to start a fire in damp conditions without dry tinder you are going to have to do it RIGHT. Here are a few tips to get you started.
As with all fire wood, you are going to want to look for standing dead wood. Choose a piece that is about the thickness of your wrist. Make sure that you select a portion that is free of knots. Knots are much more dense that the surrounding wood and will make it nearly impossible to shave.
Even standing dead will soak up some water in heavy rain, but it should only be in the outer layer of wood. Split the wood by batoning it down. Remove the round outer pieces so that you are left with angular center pieces.
Less is More
When making a fire stick you do not want large “feathers”, since larger material will always be more difficult to ignite. To get smaller feathers, shave the side of your stick that has less surface area, and as you shave it, angel your knife instead of laying it flat. This will have your knife come into contact with less of the wood. But as you get deeper the surface area will naturally increase, to adjust for this, alternate sides between each shaving stroke. Make one stroke with the point of the blade angled up on the side that faces you, then make one with the point angled down of the side away from you.
When you are wet and cold getting a fire started is essential, and speed is crucial. Don’t go about it with a “push-button” mentality, thinking that going through the motions will get you the results you need. Take a little time to get it right, and safe yourself a lot of time in the long run.
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