18 Essential Knife and Bushcraft Skills: The Try Stick

everybody this is Joshua the great Brady Greenbury I got a new knife from northern knives and like I do with every new knife I get I like to see how it works kind of getting used to it see how it's gonna perform in a field and you know even if I don't have a new knife sometimes I don't have time to get out in the field like probably a lot of you have that same issue you know we want to be in the field all the time but we can't always make that happen so there is a good way to practice knife skills as well as practice knife skills that are directly applicable to bushcraft and survival in your backyard by the campfire wherever you are you know if you can't make it out to the field that doesn't mean you can't practice your skills so this is called a tri stic and I first learned about this by reading an article from Morris Cohan ski and I think that it's a really valuable way to practice and also if you get a new knife this is always every time I get a new knife this is the first thing that I do to kind of get used to it kind of get used to the feel how it handles how it performs and see if it's something that I'm going to like using in the field when I'm starting I like to select a willow or a tulip poplar or something that's that's reasonably soft it's going to be fairly easy to carve this time I selected willow and I've gone quite a bit longer than I expect to actually need I've left probably an additional six to eight inches on that to act as a handle I leave that extra length on there because when I'm carving the knotch closest to the top what I want to be able to do is carve here flip it and still have a handle and be able to carve the notch if I start my notch way up here what happens is I'll be able to carve this way and when I need to flip it over I don't have anything to hold on to a lot of times what you'll end up doing is carving towards yourself rather than being able to hold it up here and carve away from yourself so I like to start with a little bit extra length now one of the inherent risks of using a knife for anything is that you could possibly cut yourself so whenever you're carving make sure you're observing all the rules of knife safety main thing is watch your triangle of death make sure that you're not carving inside your thighs make sure that you're not using yourself as part of the backstop make sure there's nobody in your follow-through including yourself so check that blood circle and safe when you're carving it doesn't do any good to practice knife skills if you're not practicing them safely right so I've selected my piece of will that I'm going to use leaving that extra length on there so I have a handle and what I've done is just kind of scored the top here the first thing that I want to do is get this bark peeled off and I want to try to keep the integrity of that bark to get as long of a strip as I can each time I'm peeling it off what that allows me to do is have longer strips to use whenever I start making my natural cordage and every once while you're going to hit a knot and it's going to rip and that's okay you just want to maintain as long as strip as possible that piece ran off on me after I hit a couple of knots but I've still got a twelve inch strip that I can use for my cordage after I've got the bar dripping off of this I'm gonna take those strips of bark I'm gonna set them to the side because I'm not going to be able to strip that down to make cordage until I finish with the root gripper I'm going to use that root stripper to further process this to get it ready to making the cordage so I'm just going to set that to the side while it still has length on it is what I want to start doing my reductions and practicing my feathers I'm going to do on this end I'm going to do a square reduction and I'm going to create coarse feathers on this end sort of towards this side I'm going to be doing a round reduction and on that I'm going to be trying to create medium and fine curls to add to that tinder bundle so that I can line it with a Ferro rod at the end whenever you're doing it it's best to have some sort of an amble to put it up against and you're using different parts of the knife so for the coarse feathers on the square reduction you want to keep your wrist sort of locked and when I'm making the coarse feathers I'm using the first inch or two of the belly of the knife here keep my wrist lock that decide where I want to start those curls and it's a gentle and control of the night now not pushing the knife so much as I am slicing the knife down through as I'm creating that flat plane I've started to make some what I would consider course curls and I'm going to come to the other side and trim those off staying on that same flat plate I've created a flat plane on one side I'm going to continue that all the way around so what I'll do is normally go 180 degrees over and continue that same process once I've got my curls come to the other side and just trim those off now rotate it 90 degrees in another direction and do the same thing rotate it again so now what I've created is a square reduction I've got four 90-degree edges and I'm left with some nice coarse curls for my tinder bundle now because I want to create these feathers with my arm locked out when I go to do the round reduction I'm actually going to flip it over to where it's upside down and when I'm doing a round reduction I'm using a different part of the knife when I'm doing my coarse feathers I'm kind of using the first 1 or 2 inches here when I go for the round reduction and I'm trying to create more medium and fine feathers I'm going to go up towards the front of this curve and that's when we're going to use primarily to create those but not slightly change the angle of the knife as I create these curls I'm going to rotate I'm gonna rotate this as I'm creating the curls once I start getting these fine curls just to get them out of the way I'll come to the other side and I'll trim those off and I'll take those fine curls and put them in my tinder bundle I'm just going to continue that all the way around until I've reduced this to the diameter that I want it the pot hanger notch with a bale knotch so to do that what I want to do is first create an X and it's helpful to have some sort of anvil for that I'm gonna leave myself enough of a handle then essentially I'm making a stop cut in the shape of an X and if I were using a fixed blade knife I could easily take a billet or a baton whatever you want to call it and I could make those stop cuts deeper and it would make this notch go a lot quicker but because this is this particular knife that I'm using this boker kwaiken is a folder I'm not going to put on that that's just not something that I'm that I'm interested in doing once I've got that X I'm gonna start carving that out towards the X I'll take small shavings towards that that point and I want to preserve that point so usually you know three to five shavings and then what I'll do is I'll leave it in place using that point as an anvil and I'll turn the knife until it connects with the upper portion of that X and the same thing on the other side using that point as an anvil I'll rotate the knife around to the other point of that X and my pot hanger notch is starting to take shape so I'll continue carving on that take a few slices in using it as an amble turn one way turn the other way then I can flip it over and trim those off so this is why I like to leave a little bit of a handle on there as you can see if I didn't have that if I'd started this notch way up here I wouldn't have anything to hold on to what I'm actually trimming and it just makes it that much more challenging so I do it in this order because I can come back later and actually trim that off and practice my rows cut slash B virtue as well as my pommel and that you would use for your tent stakes and for your bow drill spindle at the bottom portion where it meets the hearth board so for the depth of the notches I want to go until I can see the center pith or the center heartwood depending on what I'm using and that's about as far as I want to go if you go any further than that it tends to have a it has a tendency to break so I'm from actually practicing these skills to apply them later to bushcraft and survival tasks that I want to practice them correctly so I'm going to continue trimming this down and then I'll come back in and we'll undercut this now incidentally when you get good and proficient with a knife and this is a new knife which is why I'm doing this as well as I'm teaching this to you on camera so it takes a little longer but but your notches and each notch and skill of the tri stic a good goal to shoot for is one minute per notch so this tri stick would take you know 15 to 20 minutes at the most once you get proficient with the knife that you're using and your knife skills develop now I haven't said that if this is your first one don't push yourself past the point of safety to meet some arbitrary goal that doesn't really mean much it just gives you a gauge of how well your knife skills are doing so good goal to shoot for but don't put that kind of pressure on yourself in the beginning and do something unsafe and cut yourself the whole point of this is to be able to practice your knife skills and have that practice apply directly to bushcraft and survival skills in the field once I've got the basic shape of that including the hook I'm gonna use the very end of my knife and I'm going to do some fine carving and shaping skills and I'm gonna undercut sort of a scooping motion like this and like this so I can get an undercut on that Bale notch that pot hanger notch so that when I set a bail inside there it'll stay and won't fall off the hook so I'm just going to come in and just shape that being careful not to split it and being careful not to knock off that point now you can see I've got a nice undercut that a bail whatsit in the wind could blow it and it still wouldn't come off so the pot hanger knotch also known as the bail notch is for setting on a bail so that you can set your your bush pot over the campfire you want that undercut so that it doesn't fall off and dump everything that you're cooking down into your fire this is also handy for the front portion the front part of your bow for a bow drill if you watch my videos on bow drill I do this on the front to kind of capture that bowline and keep it from slipping kind along the same lines of using a fork stick to capture that bowline towards the front so it works really well for that I can also take this platform that I created here and I could extend that out to leave myself more room and this is the same notch that I would use for a quickie atlatl in the field of all the notches that we're going to do this is probably one of the most difficult to get proficient with so it's definitely worth practicing any chance you get when I'm carving the notches I'm trying to stay at least the width of my knife because I need to get the knife inside that notch to maneuver so you don't want to make it too skinny and you don't want to make it too long because then you're going to run out of real estate to actually practice your other notches on so a good rule of thumb is about the width of your knife then when I start another notch I'm going to start it at least that far away because I don't want these to break as I'm carving it I'm going to rotate it between each notch 180 degrees so that the notches are actually on opposing sides of the stick as they're going down this is another thing really dude just gives you more room to work with and keeps you from it keeps your tri stic from breaking so from the edge of that rotate it 180 degrees and that's about the width I want between them I'll score a light mark there I want it to be about as wide as my blade so I've got room to create the knotch or mark there at the next notch that I'm gonna carve is a square notch now the square notch as you might suspect has a 90-degree at the top drops down 90 degree comes across 90 degree comes up 90 degree goes over and it's really good for improvised pack frame construction as well as trap triggers like the figure-four deadfall so when I'm creating this I'm gonna start with stop cuts where I scored those marks where I want the notches to end I remember whenever you're making stop cuts or your carving watch your follow-through don't use your body as a backstop use an animal anytime you can so I've created those stop cuts now what I'm going to do is I'm going to carve towards those stop cuts and reduce that material in the center after I've done a couple I'll trim that off flip it over and go towards the other stop cut trim that off and it's starting to take shape but just to make the point again you know you can use a billet or a baton if you're using a fixed blade knife and that would speed up this process quite a bit so I'm gonna make my stop cuts a little bit deeper on both sides and I'm maintaining that 90 degree there I'm just kind of trim towards those and this is why I say it's important to have your knotch at least as wide as your knife is because once you get past this 90 degrees I need to create another 90 degree plane perpendicular to that it's difficult for me to create that if I can't get the knife flat on the inside of that notch and just like the other notch I'm going to reduce this material down until I can see the heartwood or the pith in the center which I can just now see on this side so that tells me I need to trim more this way to keep it square I'll come back in and I'll make sure my edges are square make sure I've got a nice flat plane in the middle now I've created my square notch the next notch that I'm going to create is a saddle notch and a saddle notch is basically looks like a log-cabin notch kind of how you would stack the ends of two logs together in a log cabin and that kind of has a a little bit of a scooping shape on both sides so I'll start on one side and I'll begin creating that usually two or three passes then we'll move to the other side of the notch and do that same thing towards those flip it over again and I'll just continue that until I create my saddle notch and once I can see the pith or the Center I know that I'm done and I'll move on to the next notch the next notch that I'm going to create is the v-notch and the V notch is useful for a hearth board for either a bow drill or the hand drill or the bamboo fire saw even though the bamboo fire saw is a little more exaggerated but I want that to come down to a point in the very center so I'm actually going to put my stop cut in the center between those two marks that I just scored and I'm gonna trim towards that stop cut on one side flip it over and connect the two I'll continue to do that until I get to the center there's my v-notch the next notch that I'm going to show you is the latch notch also sometimes referred to as a number seven notch or a stake notch I've heard it called recess that you'd put in a tenth state that you push crafted so that you can actually tie quarters around it so it goes by many names the latch notch is what I know it has or 90 degree D latch notch because this corresponds with a square notch on a figure four deadfall so whenever you're creating this you want the stop cut to be at the top you're gonna carve towards that at an angle you started creating that number seven that latch notch so this I want to stay at 90 degrees I just keep coming back up using my anvil and trimming that off then I'll continue carving towards that at an angle until I get where I can see the center pit or the heartwood about right there this by itself is is the actual stake notch or the number seven knotch this would be where you tie your cordage around when you're staking something out if you're using this for a tent stake and this is also something that you would use for some of your trap triggers so in order to use this as a 90-degree latch notch which corresponds with this square notch up here on a on track triggers like the figure four I actually need at least that far of a flat plane in there before I start angling down towards it I'm going to elongate that out so that I have that at least that much of a flat surface before I start tapering it out now I've got a nice flat surface right here that would correspond with a square notch that I'm tapering down into that that is a 90-degree latch knotch the next skill that I want to practice is the hole through what I'm doing is creating a hole that passes from this side all the way through to the other side sort of like a sort of like a mortise that you would use a through ten and four this is also what I do on the back side of my bow from a bow drill to help keep the cordage in place so I don't have to spend a lot of time retying it and it's also useful as a trap trigger like the Ojibwa Burpo uses this style so it's a good skill to have using the anvil instead of your body as a backstop if you look at your blade your blade tapers is wider at the top and it tapers down so we're going to use that to our advantage and find a spot and I'm just gonna score a spot that I want to put this hole through now I'm going to flip the knife over the opposite direction taking advantage of the shape of the actual grind of the knife and mark the other side do that on four corners and across now I've got sort of my whole throw scored out I'll use the tip of my knife and just pop that out and I'm going to transfer those marks around to the backside by lightly scoring with my blade and do the same thing on the backside this time I'm going towards the hole that I've already created on the other side once it's all scored use the tip of my knife to pop that out and continue that process on each side until I push through once I'm through I want to put a little sliver in there of something in this case I'm just gonna use a shaving off of the actual tri stick itself now push that through and that is your hole through right through the middle of your square reduction now once we get down to the end there are two tasks that I actually want to complete with the end the two tasks that I want to practice one of them is just creating a point which is what I would do for the end of a tenth state that I was driving into a ground some other sort of tool or weapon or the top portion of my bow drill spindle that goes up into my bearing block so I'm just going to create a point really quick remember it's not pushing the knife it's slicing the knife as I'm removing material I'm rotating this around I've created my point the other thing that I need to practice down here once I've created that is a route stripper you can use it to strip off bark off of roots whenever I'm making natural cordage so to do that I need to flatten this into a taper on both sides so I'll just slice one direction flip it over 180 degrees and taper the other side once I get to the point to where I can see that Center pit I'm going to use the tip of my knife and carve that Center out and create a groove for much like you would much like the claw of a hammer now that I've gotten a groove created I can pull routes through that slot that I created that'll actually strip the bark off of the roots and I can use the after cordage that is the root stripper another task that I want to practice is the Rose cut or the beaver chew so for the Rose cut or the beaver chew this is a cutting technique to where you can reduce the size of a limb or a branch that you're using all I'm going to do is slice as I'm rotating the branch around once I get all the way around I'm going to slice a little bit deeper in the same area go around a third time and I'll continue that until it breaks clean you can tell by looking at it what I'm left with looks like a rose then I'll come back to the top of the try stick and I'll actually do what's called a pommel end which is useful for the top of a tent stake it's useful for the bottom portion of your spindle for your bow drill where it meets the hearth board and essentially you're putting a pommel and we're in crown on the end of the stick that's another skill that we use after we do the Rose cut be virtue technique once you've got your tri stick created all the way up to that point the last two skills to do are to make natural cordage using the reverse wrap you know 2 to 3 feet of cordage is about the most useful length that you can get out of one tri stick so if you haven't seen that video I'll put a link up in the one of these sides I'll put a link up to that so that you can see how to take that and make natural cordage with it the final task that you want to practice is using a Ferro rod to lighten the feathers that you created the only way to really know if those feathers are adequate enough or if you still need a lot of practice which you know we all do if the feathers you created while creating your reductions won't take a spark very readily then your feathers are too coarse and you need more practice creating those fine feathers most likely so the particular knife that I'm using for this tri stick video is a folder it's kind of a gentlemen's folder it's not really made for bushcraft at all but I'm gonna be carrying it in my pocket and that's what I'm typically doing so I wanted to know how it would perform creating a tri stick I wanted to get used to how the knife handled kind of the dexterity of it how it how well it retained an edge so having said that it doesn't have a 90 degree spine that I can test this particular knife for its ability to strike a Ferro rod it does have a 90 degree up here towards the very end but when you're using a Fair cerium rod you know if you're if you're using the very end of your knife you don't really have a really you don't really have very good leverage I like to use closer to the pivot point closer to where I'm gripping to get better leverage and this just doesn't that 90 degrees fine there so I'm actually going to test my feathers that I created with this knife with a different knife I'm going to use the Mac to do that but to prove the concept of whether or not the feathers that dis created were adequate enough and granted if you have a Pharisee ramrod you can use the striker that comes with it but when I'm testing a knife for myself I like to use the spine of the knife to make sure that it will throw sparks so that's different than what I normally do but this time I'm gonna have to do that because this particular knifes not designed for that right the knife that I was using for this video is the boker kwaiken and quakin is from what I understand a traditional Japanese dagger and while this one isn't technically a dagger it's a folder it's a really cool take on that it's got a really nice unique Japanese inspired profile with this flat back and that's really swooping blade right here it's osteo coming on down we've got a pocket clip a lanyard hole and the scales on this or a rough micarta they're not polished they're not smooth they actually have some grip to them and I like that because a lot of times when you get micarta and it's polished it gets slick when you're using it in the field in the rain so I like that this has a rough micarta on it and of course OD green doesn't hurt my feelings at all either it's got a really good positive liner lock on the inside and that comes over a lot farther than a lot of liner locks that I've used in the past and that just kind of gives you that feeling of security that it does have that blade locked in position so really good liner lock it has a thumb stud so you could do one-handed opening and it actually opens extremely well really smooth to the point that you can actually just momentum open it overall the craftsmanship on this knife is actually pretty good and it performed well I actually had several technical difficulties with camera equipment microphones wind weather you name it in making this video so this actually went through probably about four or five different try sticks trying to capture all that footage for this video and it didn't take anything more than a strop and the edge retention on it has been great so it's still ready to go for the field I don't really consider this a bushcraft blade but you know from my pocketknife it's kind of more of a gentlemen's folder and actually it's a really really good Carver which is what I use my pocket knife for most of the time anyway so that is the boker kwaiken now I would set this knife from northern knives to field test it for a while and I'm gonna keep rotating it in with my tracker and my a couple of case-knives that I have my Trapper and my hunter northern Ives loves this channel so they're giving you a special deal and keep in mind again I don't make anything off of these sales that's not what this is about this is about them extending an offer to you you can go to northern Ives I'll put the link down in the description the code the coupon code that you'll use is GB GB underscore bokor that code will get you free shipping plus it'll get you a GB squared logo dog tag that they're making plus you'll be able to pick out your own personalized dog tag that they'll send you with your order so again I don't make anything off of those they're just extending that offer to you guys and I'll put those links down in the description as well as that code and if you want to get one for yourself you can get it there northern knives alright thanks for watching guys we appreciate your views we appreciate your likes we appreciate your shares we appreciate your comments and your questions if you have any questions put those down below I will get to them and we'll answer them and until next time hope see you in the woods

44 thoughts on “18 Essential Knife and Bushcraft Skills: The Try Stick”

  1. Thank you very much for taking the time to make these videos, they are very well put together and full of useful information. Keep up the great work.

  2. πŸ˜‘πŸ‘‡ to the 32 thumbs down πŸ˜‘πŸ‘‰ dont watch his videos….. Bearded Yoda is showing people that want to learn things….. Sorry sir Please proceed πŸ‘πŸ˜ŽπŸ₯ƒ

  3. I have watched this video several times been working on a try stick at home. Unfortunately all I have is oak. Not too hard wet…no way if it’s fully cured.

  4. Great video. Thank you. And take all the time you need. Rome was not build in 5 minutes like some people want everything this days.

  5. What amazing wood. We dont have wood like that in south Africa. We only have 2 kinds: Hard and hard as rock.

  6. I have to say sir…. I thought the video was well informed but thought to myself… "this is stupid. Why would you practice this?" So sitting and grilling dinner which should have been my lunch I did a try stick for fun and burn some time. I'm a bushcrafter and love it because it forces you to practice skills, hence me trying the "try stick". I see why you say to practice this now. Humble is who I am and you nailed it by saying practice. Some cuts I've never done just because I don't use them. I felt stupid after screwing them up lol. Like you said…..practice. Even though it may not be something you specifically use it doesn't hurt to learn. Stay safe buddy and keep the videos rolling. We all appreciate what you do. Thank you sir for your service. People like you are why civilians have freedom. I am a grateful one.

  7. By tapping the bark all around with another stick or branch will loosen and free up all the bark, an ol'ndn skill. Vary well developed and informative video.

  8. Great video but if possible get some closeups of each notch. Would be great if you could show the completed notch after you make it but prior to moving to the next task.

  9. Great concept! Thank you 😊. I dont get out to the mountains more than a couple times a year. Bladework skills definitely atrophy pretty quickly, atleast for me. This is a great way for me to stay on top of individual skills, prior to the culmination events that are my biannual trips to the mountains.

    I have been focusing more on firecraft, now that the weather has improved. . . I know, I am slacking. I should probably push myself to make fire under more adverse conditions.

    Thanks again for a great way to work that skill set πŸ‘

  10. I love this stuff but honestly would really love to see up close what your doing as you actually carve for more than a few seconds. That X for that pot hanger..I had no idea how you were working it. Unless this video is advanced and viewers should already know these cuts maybe? Anyway..I'm a new sub..recommended by Lonnie at far north.

  11. Living here in Australia,we have to adapt northern bushcraft to suit our environment.Most if not all of our trees are hardwood.We do not have the range of exotic trees you have.The Eucalypt and Acasia are our only trees hundreds of varieties of the one species.ALL hard.Great video tho and i did learn something

  12. This is a great video. I have done this same thing before but didn't know it was an actual thing. I just did it while sitting on my deck. Thanks
    and thanks for your service. I served in Vietnam long ago.

  13. I need to start making one of those every time I get a new knife. Good way to see how the edge geometry will preform with each job you have to do.

  14. My peepaw use to make us do this when were 5 years old he called it whittle sticks then he’d use it to start a fire in the mornings

  15. You got to bring the camera in closer brother grey beard! We cannot see what you are doing and you are so far away. The few close ups are how it should be filmed. Thank you and I always appreciate your work. God bless

  16. IMO you are going too deep in primitive survival skills… NOONE will ever ever peel bark to make cordage… & once again noone going make notches… you defnately know ur stuff though… God Bless

  17. I really appreciate this. I learned of Kochanski’s Try Stick a year or two ago. I enjoyed your explanations and tips.

  18. Please accept some constructive feedback. It seemed at first that this was going to be a great video. But then you stopped letting us see up close what you were doing while you talked 5 ft away from the camera while you fiddled with the stick. Another note, you didn't say why one would make a try stick — you might've implied it by saying you had a new knife, but from the get-go there was no stated reason for what you're doing. Also, just a technical note, green wood will make terrible tinder. Had to stop 11 minutes into the 35 minute video due to lack of close ups of the fine x-carving work.

  19. Camera is too far away to really see what you’re doing but, I appreciate the knowledge and love your channel πŸ˜ŽπŸ‘

  20. You should do a video on exactly what to wear when one is on a 3 day hike/ when SHTF, and what is the best clothing to pack.

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