Cross cutting is an incredibly useful technique and one we use regularly when we’re in the woods, from making a simple tent peg to pot hangers. Here I want to look at two methods of cross cutting small rounds of greenwood, hazel in the photos below, using a knife – the rosette cut and batoning.
I know there’s a lot of debate around batoning with a knife, but I’ve never had any issues with it. This might be because I’m careful when I use the technique. I only baton through greenwood and only on a stick up to 3cm or so in diameter. Anything else and I’ll saw through. Not only is it kinder on your knife, but it’s also more energy efficient.
Of course to baton through a hazel stem you need an anvil to baton on to; here I’m using a stump.
Place the stick so that it’s pointing away from you with the knife parallel to your body; this means that the knife can’t swing towards you when the cut is finished. This is important because if you have the stick parallel to your body, then the knife can move towards you when the cut is finished (I use this same thinking when batoning with an axe).
Make sure that your hand is positioned so that you don’t drive your knuckles into the stump. as in this photo.
Rather, position your hand so that it’s off the stump. Use the part of the knife closest to the handle.
Now strike the spine of the knife with a mallet or a log.
And straight through.
The rosette cut is a fantastic cut for getting through small rounds of greenwood with your knife when you don’t have a stump to hand. I do this cut stood up. Make sure that you’re relaxed; if your shoulders are up, you cut off the blood supply; if your arms are out stretched, you’ll get tired quickly. Just put your arms by your sides with your elbows tucked in.
Hold the stick in your non-dominant hand and the knife in a forehand grip in your dominant hand. Use the part of the knife closest to the handle. Push the knife into the stick with the thumb of your non-dominant hand. At the same time twist the knife slightly with your dominant hand (a bit like revving a motorbike). Repeat this all the way around the stick, hopefully they all join up! You might have to go around a second time.
Wiggle one end of the stick and the two halves should come apart leaving a distinct rosette shape on one end.
We teach how to cross cut on our 2 Day & 5 Day Bushcraft Courses, the IOL Bushcraft Competency Course and also our 2 Day & 5 Day Survival Courses. You can see photos from these courses, as well as all of our other courses, on our Facebook page and here on our own website.