The Self-feeding V Fire Fallacy

You’ve probably seen this type of fire at least a few times on social media. If you know how it’s supposed to be a great all-night fire, skip to the next paragraph. If you don’t, I’m going to quickly explain what it’s all about. This is simply a type of fire that is supposedly self-feeding and, if done properly, is said to keep you warm all night by allowing the logs to slowly catch fire from one another as they burn out and slide down.

I’m not going to bore you with technicalities. If you want to see and hear more, just watch the video below. I guess we could say there are three main elements that determine whether or not a particular type of fire lay makes sense.



1. Is it safe?
2. Is it going to keep me warm on a cold night?
3. Is it easy to build and maintain?

Unfortunately, in this case the answer is no, no and no.

1. The way it is set up makes it very easy to set the frame as well as the entire firewood supply aflame within minutes. I don’t have to tell you what a giant flame torch like that means in the woods among trees. Yes, you can use green wood but even green wood will eventually dry out and catch on fire. It actually doesn’t take that long.

2. Another problem with green wood is smoke and rather low heat output. The V shape that is supposed to make the fire maintenance-free, inherently forces you to sit or lay in the coldest and smokiest spot possible. When preparing an all-night fire, we usually want it to be a bit longer than our bodies in order to keep us warm from head to toe. It’s easy to imagine what’s going to happen when all we have is just a tiny bit of a fire pointing toward our belly button, with most of the heat being reflected upward and wasted. If possible, a fire should be oriented parallel to the wind allowing it to pass freely between our bed and the fire and reflector if we have one. If we block the air flow to the right and left, we’re inevitably always sitting in the way of the smoke.

3. I personally don’t believe in maintenance-free fires and this one is no exception. There is simply too many factors that we have no control over, that can affect the way a fire burns. Wind strength and direction (which BTW can and often does change throughout the day or night), wood and air humidity, wood type and availability… Because we can’t forget that more often than not, we work with what we have, rather than what we’d like to have. But this V-shaped fire is especially tricky because it requires a special frame to support the wood supply. Building it takes extra time and effort, which doesn’t really pay off when it comes to the fire efficiency. Not to mention, the danger associated with the firewood supply being positioned almost directly above the flames. All it takes is a little stronger wind to blow the flames out of control while we’re asleep, which calls for extra vigilance at all times.

Warm and safe long fire

My opinion? If you really want to save yourself some time and trouble, stay away from such contraptions created to generate Facebook likes and YouTube views.


Knives That Are Impossible to Sharpen

Work Sharp

I read a lot of knife reviews. Pretty much every time I buy a knife I’ll read a few just for fun. Many of those mention difficulties with sharpening new knives that people just got from the store. At first I thought those comments were ridiculous. I mean, surely you can sharpen a knife. Any knife… Right?


And it’s true. It’s possible to sharpen any knife, or a properly heat treated steel object for that matter, at home or in the field. But as my collection of knives grew bigger and bigger and I kept getting more and more of those ‘DIY’ projects, I started getting a little impatient with certain knife companies. Let me explain what those folks meant by complaining they could not sharpen a knife and why I’m losing my patience with certain knife brands.

Some knife companies generally don’t seem to bother sharpening some of their knife models. Some say it allows them to sell those models cheaper. Fair point, except there are much cheaper knives out there, which are incredibly sharp right out of the box. But let’s not confuse two different things here. If a knife is properly ground and just not razor sharp, that’s still ok. Most of those complaining in their reviews would still be able to sharpen a knife like that without a problem. That’s not what they’re complaining about.

The true problem, or problems, lie elsewhere.

  1. Knives with unusable edge angle. It’s quickly becoming my nightmare. Pretty much every single knife I get, except the cheapest Mora and Hultafors knives (and maybe a few others), come with an edge of about 30-35 degrees on each side! A knife like that will not cut anything properly. I don’t even put such angles on most of my axes and machetes. This may be good for a shovel but not a knife you’re intending to use for carving or food preparation. Regular sharpening will not solve the problem. You need to regrind the thing to a shallower angle between 17 and 25 degrees which can take hours, unless you use a dedicated grinder. I say dedicated because taking a knife to just any grinder may overheat the blade and ruin the heat treat. Don’t do it!
  2. Knives with no edge or no grind whatsoever. This may seem ridiculous but I have got a lot of those as well. These are the DIY projects I mentioned before. It seems as if you payed for a knife but were in stead sent a flat piece of steel to shape in your spare time. Like it’s your hobby or something. Too bad nobody specified this in the product description. Needless to say, you can sharpen those all you want. They will never cut anything, unless you grind them down with a file, a grinding wheel or something of that sort.

The more of those DIYs I get, the more I understand those angry reviews. It’s not about being able to fix it. Of course I can fix it. But why should I waste my time on something I’ve already payed for? Besides, not everyone will have the tools, skills or simply the time and patience to deal with something like that.

In the video below I show one such example. I also explain and demonstrate how to solve the problem. Hope that helps.