View Full Version : Cutting wood for stoves

01-21-2005, 09:43 AM
What saws, hatchets, methods etc. do you guys use to gather and prepare the wood for the stove? What saw blades and quality of cutting tools are being used? How packable are the tools?How much time do you spend after a days hunting to prepare enough wood for the night or morning? What are maximum diameters, lengths etc? How much cut ahead of time?

Obviously this is somewhat different than "full blown" wood stoves, I am just trying to get a handle on the scope of effort and productivity surrounding this wonderful convenience? I haven't noticed much attention to this subject and it seems like a significant chore to take for granted. Thoughts and comments appreciated in advance.

01-21-2005, 09:57 AM
rooster- I use one of these to cut wood for my Large stove.


I picked mine up at the local Walmart for $20 or so. I can fit fist size wood through the door. Usually a couple of pieces this size with some 1" wood on top makes for a full stove.

01-21-2005, 10:00 AM
Rooster, I have the paratipi and small stove. 99% of what I use, in Colorado, I can break with hands and feet. For everything else, the Gerber( or the $10 single blade that slides out), is the hot ticket.

01-21-2005, 10:06 AM
Sorry I forgot to address the quantity. It's hard to say how much wood you will need exactly, but the colder it is outside, the more you will burn. If you can find some nice hardwood, it will burn longer with less sparks. I would say an hour would be plenty for gathering wood, maybe only 15 minutes if your are camped next to some blowdowns. Keep plenty of birch bark available for starting the fire up in the AM. A stove load of that will turn the stove cherry red quick like, cutting down on the warm up time.

Kevin B
01-21-2005, 10:43 AM
Wood amts and size is going to be completely dependant on your location and weather. On dry east slopes, meaning rain shadowed, not east slopes of every ridge or range, you can find (for a large stove) some almost 3 inch diameter stuff that you can cut to length and burn for a fairly long time if you keep it hot with smaller pieces. Where it's wet, you'll have to stick to smaller stuff when it's harder to keep a stove hot enough to burn through high diameter damp wood. You'll go through more total wood in this situation too.

As for durration, I don't know that you burn a bunch more wood when it's cold per se, but when it's coldest is when the days are shortest and you are in the tipi for more of each day, burning longer. I have that exchange a blade gerber as well and love it. If you are just using it for wood, you can get away with the one blade and leave the fine blade and carry pouch home.

I had to burn some pretty wet stuff last year and took some 2 and 3 inch diamter stuff and cut it in rings of about 1 inch. Lots more surface area so it burnt a lot hoter and easier, but made for some work.

Dale Lindsley
01-21-2005, 12:52 PM
I use the retractable Gerber Sport saw that Patrick discovered. I think this is this "single blade" Kevin refers to. It weighs and costs almost nothing.(3Oz.)&($10)
It is good for cutting bone also. I wish I had bought two or three. Like Kevin, I've had experience feeding a small stove in the Paratipi. I like to cut a bunch of wrist-sized stuff, maybe 20 pieces, one hand-span in length. Then I collect a pile of smaller stuff which I break up as I use it. I pile the little stuff in one half of the tipi and I live in the other half. The wrist-sized stuff I stack right by the stove. I probably spend 15-20 minutes actually cutting wood. Time to collect wood depends on how far I have to go to find it. Maybe another 15 minutes. I've not had to burn wet wood so far. A hatchet to split wet wood would be well worth its weight.

01-21-2005, 01:24 PM
If you've got enough dry wood to burn for a while, you just pile the wet wood under the stove. It gets hot down there, and you'll see the steam rising.

01-21-2005, 01:28 PM
Here's the link (http://www.gerberblades.com/products/view.php?model=6048) to the Gerber saw at their home page. Looks good.

bill s
01-21-2005, 04:28 PM
The Gerber does look very good - I have been using a "Sawviver" folding saw, pretty lightweight, you can cut up some pretty big logs if you need to - it is probably overkill for the Kifaru stoves, if you cut something that big, you would need to split it!! One more thing to carry. For splitting kindling, etc., a fairly stout sheath knife, (not folding) works well, just whack the tip with another piece of firewood, club fashion. Anyhow, I'd been using the Sawviver for fairly large outdoor fires, think for the stove will leave it home, get one of those Gerbers. Bill

01-21-2005, 05:18 PM
There are two different gerber saws similar to the one that Vernon linked. The difference is in the size of the teeth. The blade with smaller teeth will work on both bone and wood. The larger toothed blade works well only on wood in my experiences.


01-22-2005, 08:05 PM
COLD FIRE: I was camping a couple of weeks ago and found something out about my large stove the hard way. You can have a nice fire in it without getting any heat. I split a pile of wood at home, all at least wrist sized, most larger. While I did get a nice working fire going it would not glow for me. It was not even a hand warmer. Even after I dampered down. Thinking I had a leaker or bad wood I tightened all the seams when I returned home. Then next week I went back to mostly small stuff. The smaller wood is like throwing paper in the door. It gives off a lot of heat. It seems like you have to work your way up to some larger items. Anyway, all the times I brought wood I was amazed at how much perfect dry stock was near. In the winter it is easier to harvest (more motivation too).

01-23-2005, 02:00 PM
When using the Gerber Exchange-a-blade saw, do not twist the saw in your hand or the plastic handle will break from the torque. I use a ratcheting pruner to cut a pile of finger size wood very quickly. It seems to burn better than the thick stuff. I use the thick stuff after getting a good bed of coals from the finger size wood.

01-23-2005, 04:41 PM
and when using the sportsmans extend a blade saw, make sure the locknut is in the recess before you tighten it or you will bust your knuckles when the blade retracts mid-cut.

Woods Walker
01-23-2005, 06:36 PM
I used one of those silly little saws to cut wood for about a week before I tossed it. To cut real good hard wood that is too hard to break with the old foot method (often the best way to go) you need to use a hatchet. I now use my hatchets for most of the things I used to use my K bar for. Cut rope No problem! Clean fish No problem. Cut wood 10 times faster than one of those silly little camp saws. No problem. I know what some people are thinking, Axes are too heavy to carry into the back woods. Well the real issue for me is the energy saved with a better tool compared to the energy used to carry it. Much like some people on this board think that making shelter poles out of wood is better than carrying the extra weight of the poles that comes with the shelters they own. Well let me tell you. Try looking for a perfect stick to use for a poll in the middle of a Nor Easter storm. Or one of those blizzards you guys get out west. Lots of luck! I have tried it! Or maybe try finding that magic wooden pole on the logging roads of Maine during summer. You may find that pole but at a cost of about 1 pint of blood from the bugs! You get the point. Let us not forget how easy those nails get driven into frozen ground for tie offs with the hammer side of a good hatchet. Maybe you all like trying to dig out a rock from the frozen ground or pray for a stonewall to find natureís hammer only to smash your fingers with it. Ouch! I use two types of hatches. One from Fiskars and the other from Wetterlings.

The Fiskars weights in at 1 lb 5.6 oz (including plastic sheath) and is mostly a composite construct. See link from company web site. Price in most stores is about 20-25 bucks. The Fiskars handle is longer than the Wetterlings and appears unbreakable.


The Wetterling weights in at 1 lb 9 oz (including leather sheath) has a wood handle however the head it better. The Wetterling head is Hand forged. The Fishars appears to be drop forged or something like that. Whatever the case I can tell you that the Hand forged head keeps itís sting much longer. The hammer end of the Wetterling is a much better (yes with the hatchet you get two tools for the price of one). But both will drive anything into any ground less it be solid rock and even then with the Wetterling some how it would still get it in! See the below link from the company web site. Price is around 28-30 dollars and seems cheap for such high craftsmanship.


Whatever one you pick will be a winner. But do not get the tinny little POS ones. The ones like the Gerber Gater Axe has a too short handle and you risk getting hurt to save 3 oz. Bad trade off if you ask me.

Well there you have it. Good luck!

01-24-2005, 05:36 AM
The Wyoming Saw is an invaluable tool for obtaining a wood supply in wet/cold weather.

This weekend, I was finally able to cut into an old stump that wasn't rotten. After sawing Small stove sized chunks and splitting with the Gerber, that wood was almost completely crystalized with sap/resin and burned so freakin hot in the stove. One 2" diameter peice would put off the same amount of heat as an entire stove full of "regular wood".

All of my future firewood gathering efforts for the Kifaru small stove will focus on finding old stumps to cut up.

01-24-2005, 07:29 AM
Look for stumps with jagged tops. These most likely had the tree die on the stump, causing the sap to run to the lowest point. I think they call this "fatwood" in the south. Straight tops mean the tree was felled, not the same effect. In an old forest you can sometimes find lumpy knots laying around with the remains of the tree scattered about. The knots and branch knobs burn well, too for the same reason, sap collects there and will deteriorate a lot slower than the wood.

If you have any choice, dodge hemlock, though. Problem is that hemlock has small, very hard sap pockets throughout the wood. Splits poorly and makes a very noisy, spitting fire as the sap pockets boil and explode from the heat. Not much of a problem in a stove, except for the noise, but an open fire spits sparks all over the place.

The Gerber Gator and Backpaxe are designed mostly for splitting, pounding and for a field dressing tool. The tiny additional weight of the longer synthetic handle seems to be worth the hauling for the greater leverage and utility.

The Gator with the knife in the handle might be a nice addition to a survival kit where bulk is a factor. The knife blade is a good utility design.

I like the Sawvivor saw for wood cutting over the knife styles. The frame stiffens the blade and gives a longer, bidirectional stroke.

If you need a bone saw I think Gerber makes one, a stubby blade with orange grips at each end that doesn't weigh much and is very compact. This is a specialized design that usually works best for the purpose.

01-24-2005, 09:31 AM
I have the Sawvivor too and love it. One could build a cabin with the thing.
I've always wondered how it would do on bone. Any thoughts?


01-24-2005, 10:15 AM
You can get a bone blade for the Sawviver.

You should carry a second blade sice the blade weight is negligble compared to the frame.

and carry a metal-cutting blade as well, especially if you use it as part of your vehicle emerg kit. Of all the emerg tools in my truck, the hacksaw is used a surprising amount.

01-24-2005, 02:14 PM
I think specialized cutting needs specialized blades. I have 2 types with the Sawvivor, one with pointy teeth would probably be so-so on fresh bone, the other the Bushman style with rakers and gullets best for wood but likely wouldn't do for bone. I've toyed with the idea of scrounging around for 14" hacksaw/bone blades or making a small adaptor for the standard 12" ones but haven't gotten around to it.

A frame saw holds the blade firmly making it a lot easier to use.

01-25-2005, 05:23 AM
Everyone might want to check out the articles at the Outdoors-Magazine website (http://outdoors-magazine.com/s_topic.php?id_rubrique=2) , especially the edged tools section. They have articles, reviews, tests and user feedback on axes, saws, fixed blades, folders and long blades. They also have other sections with interesting articles on stuff like fire starting, Kelly Kettles, etc.

01-25-2005, 08:26 AM
Anybody tried one of these?

http://www.campmor.com/webapp/wcs/stores...productId=13834 (http://www.campmor.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?memberId=12500226&productId=13834)

IIRC, I've noticed smaller models (15" and 18" maybe??) that looked ideal for backpacking as the handle is the protective sheath while disassembled, which is a major consideration while carying a $1000 tipi in a $500 backpack... /images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/laugh.gif

01-25-2005, 08:48 AM

I've owned a Sven saw just like the one pictured for perhaps 40 years. Fine piece of equipment. Just a bit too heavy for packing.

01-25-2005, 09:30 AM
The Sven weighs 14 oz. and is not as well suited for two hand use as the Sawvivor which weighs 9.6 oz. Of course, the Gerber Sportsman's Wood Saw only weighs 3.5 oz.

01-26-2005, 07:12 AM
I too have had a Sven Saw for years. It works great for wrist sized stuff. The triangular shape of the frame limits the stroke on bigger stuff. Go for the bigger size, replacement blades are more common and you get much more stroke length for very little increase in weight.

One word of warning on the Sven though....The blade is secured with a wingnut. I'd suggest putting a spare in your "possibles" bag. If you lose that nut your saw is now a nice snow peg or paperweight /images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/laugh.gif