Forest School Practitioners or Bushcraft enthusiasts, have you ever planted your knife or axe into some soft ground as safe storage?
Well, I will admit I have. I did it once with an axe I had just been given to chop up some fire wood. I didn’t know anything about axes, chopping or even fire wood, I was in my early twenties and didn’t know very much about anything – let alone axes. It was probably the first time I had ever held an axe in my hands.
Luckily there was someone there who knew something. It was a person far smarter than me, with much greater life experience. He was half my age though - at about 10 years of age. Ironically, I was looking after him, we will call him Brett though that’s not his real name.
I stuck my axe in the ground as I had a break from chopping fire wood and Brett told me straight away I shouldn’t do that, I asked him why and Brett explained. At the time I spent far too much time talking and not enough time listening. But at the risk of looking stupid in front of a ten year old I did listen this time. I’m really glad I did, and in retrospect Brett was one of the first bushcraft instructors I learnt from.
He let me know if I swung my axe into the ground to store it then it might chip against a rock or stone in the ground. Sounded sensible and I haven’t done it since.
Other things have occurred to me since then about putting an axe or knife blade in the ground that back up Brett’s advice. We really don’t know what is in the ground, your axe or knife could hit anything. Tree roots for instance – you may know the ground in woodlands is full of them! Needlessly damaging them is no good at all. Rubble, too, is often found in the ground and could result in your chopping or cutting device coming to an unexpected and jerked stop. This could cause you to lose your grip on your knife or axe with perilous consequences.
This is pretty obvious but I have found when I leave things on the ground I sometimes fall over them. This took me a stupidly long time to learn admittedly, but it is now lodged in between my ears. I count this as another reason not to stick a knife, an axe or a bill hook in the ground. Tripping over them would not be fun.
If you are outside in the great outdoors in the UK you may have noticed the ground here is often wet. Wet rusts metal. My knife and axe are metal. You may know where I am going here all ready, but, just in case, here is my next reason for not sticking my knife or axe in the ground. I don’t want it to rust.
Like many people who love bushcraft and spending time in woodland my knife and my axe are among my favourite pieces of kit. I do my best to look after them and keep them clean and sharp. I’m not crazy – I’m not taking them out on dates or buying them presents, but, I don’t want to treat them badly. They are definitely tools far above being stuck in the ground.
I suppose you don’t know until you know. Hopefully now you’ve read this you know too, although chances are you probably all ready did. A big thanks to Brett all those years ago making sure that I knew.