May the feather stick be with you

May the feather stick be with you

May the feather stick be with you

The way of the feather stick is the chosen path of bushcraft lovers. A “feather stick” is simply a stick finely shaved in a cluster of thin curls with a knife or other cutting object. Its primary purpose is to help start a fire; it’s especially beneficial when tinder is not available. Making an adequate feather stick requires skill and practice. It’s only one of the many skills a bushcraft practitioner should learn, and it’s not essential to wilderness survival. However, it’s one of the most rewarding skills to learn, and its practice has far-reaching positive effects on wilderness survival knowledge. Master Yoda would likely agree feathering sticks lead on the path of the force.

"Do or do not. There is no try." Spring into action. Grab a wrist-sized stick about a foot long and start shaving it with a knife. You can’t learn to do this by reading a book or watching a youtube video. You have to do it. Now.

"You must unlearn what you have learned." Did your parents teach you to start a fire with a crumpled newspaper? Did they even show you how to make a fire? You don’t need paper to start a fire. Wood is all you need in a forest. Learn the feather stick method. Learn how to use a knife safely. Grow.

“Patience you must have my young Padawan.” Making a decent feather stick takes time. One stick may take you minutes to shave. And, ideally, you need a few of those sticks to start a fire easily. Take your time. Peel the stick carefully. Slowly.

“Control, control, you must learn control!” Feel the blade against the wood. Vary the pressure and the angles. Use the base of the blade for deep, thick shavings. Use the tip of the blade for paper-thin, curly shavings. You need both to make a useful feather stick. Discipline.

"The greatest teacher, failure is." You will fail at your first feather stick. For sure. And for the second and the third as well. It’s one of those skills that only practice can teach. Chill, because in the end, making a feather stick is one of the most relaxing things you can do. Focus on the task. Sometimes the stick may fail because it did not have the wood quality needed. That’s life: sometimes you fail because of things outside of your control. Patience.

“Feel the force!” Knowing a skill gives you power. Making a decent feather stick implies you are on the path of mastering fire craft and knife craft, which are essential to wilderness survival. It will give you one of the most valued frames of mind: confidence.

"Pass on what you have learned." Once mastered, it’s your duty to pass on the skill. It can be taught to your kid, your friend, your brother, or your neighbor. Anyone you spend time with in the outdoors. Shaving a stick might at first glance seem a useless skill. But what if it’s more than a question of skill? What if it’s a path to an enlightened wilderness survival philosophy?

To Top