Survival Basic: Feather Stick

feather-stick-by-a.pasquierNo matter if you’re a survivalist, a minimalist camper, or just someone who likes to play with fire, you should learn how to make a feather stick. There’s even more motivation if you’ve recently bought a survival knife and are looking to learn some basic survival skills. Feather sticks are made by shaving a stick to create a large head of thin curls.

If you’re out camping in wet weather, in an area where dry, dead wood is hard to come by, or even just if there isn’t a lot of tinder where you’re trying to make a fire, feather sticks can come in handy. Also called fuzz sticks, they can easily be made with some practice and patience.

First, select a stick that’s a decent size. You can even use smaller cuts of a large log prepared with an axe or by batoning with your survival knife. Peel off the bark as best you can by using your knife to cutting or peeling the thin layer off to reveal the more tender and more flammable inside of the wood. Trees, smart as they are, evolved to use bark to protect them from fire so removing it makes it easier to light.

After preparing your stick, gently make small, shallow cuts in the wood while holding the stick away from you. Do it gently until you’ve got the hang of it so you don’t accidentally cut through your work. As you get to the end of the stick, stop before you cut through. If you’re cutting shallow enough, the wood will curl up on itself at the end of the stick. Continue making small cuts until there’s a big head of curls and your stick is about tinder size elsewhere.

Do this to about five or six sticks and you’ll have a nice amount to start a fire. You can use them by nesting them together like tinder inside of your preferred fire starting formation, like an a-frame, teepee, or log cabin. If the wood is very wet or green, you’ll want to make quite a few feather sticks to have sufficient supplies to light your kindling.

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