Making a ‘one stick fire’ is a classic way to practice both your knife and firelighting skills.
Rather than gathering different types and sizes of material for your fire (such as twigs, dried grass, paper, etc), start with a single, suitably sized piece of wood, and break it down into smaller pieces with your knife.
- For best results when learning, use a piece of dry, seasoned softwood. Pieces of thin plank or board can be easiest to split and shave.
- Use a flat, dry wooden board or stump to cut unto and to organise your shavings and scrapings (cutting onto a stone or metal surface is great way to damage the edge of your knife).
- Working on a table or big tree stump will save your knees.
- When using a firesteel, it is usually easiest to place the tip of the firesteel directly on the tinder, rather than holding it in the air and hoping the sparks you produce will land in the right place.
Once you’ve mastered this process with optimum materials and in optimum conditions, practice with less optimal materials (e.g. a branch of standing dead wood, or in damp conditions).
Thanks to my good friend Ben Lister for taking these photos.