Bushcraft and survival experts have spent considerable time telling me about product and less time about skill. I’m still having a hard time sharpening my blades. And along came feathersticks. Most of the time knife demos include:
- jam the knife into a tree and stand on the blade
- striking a firesteel
- cutting paper
- ease of sharpening
- and my favorite the featherstick
The problem with featherstick examples is that most bushcrafters make feather sticks in their sleep. Recently I reviewed a number of different knives and I did the featherstick challenge only to fail. Just a few minutes ago I tried to use mu HK folder with serrated blade and failed. Then tried my Ganso folder with a straight edge and after 3 attempts I finally reasonably good for the amount of time.
There are a number of factors that play into a novice featherstick:
- blade shape and thickness
- blade edge
Feathersticks seem to come in many varieties.
- 90, 180, 360 degree
- thin and tight, thick and loose, or a combination
- type hardness of the wood
- sharp knives are better
- care for your knife before and after use
Here is what I’ve learned about technique so far
- Always push the knife away from your body and avoid the triangle of death
- the material needs to be straight with a straight grain (it’s just easier)
- while you do not have to start in the edges it can be easier with a light touch there is less friction
- the draw of the knife can be 90 degrees to the material or at an an angle with the pommel leading the way. The angle increases the surface area of the cut and increases the friction although the initial cut is set by the entry point of the blade
- when drawing the blade do not simple push the same edge down the wood. Use a cutting like action so that you’re using more of the blade on not just one localized area
- each successive draw should either be just short of the previous draw or just under the previous draw.
- and repeat; rotating each draw as you create flat spots and edges
Folders are not any better than fixed blade they are just a little safer. Locking folders are likely to be more safe than non-locking folders. Just remember that a sharp knife is the safest because you’re not likely to put too much energy into the cut that might backfire.