STAFF: How to… start a fire with 1 match!  (Chalet style) – Catherine (UK)


Using this technique, you can start a roaring campfire using just a piece of wood, a knife and a single match. At Our Chalet we use the Swiss Scout method to make kindling by carving feathering (very thin curls of wood)  and smaller strips of wood.

You will need:

A section of wood (¼ of a log usually works well)

Knife (preferably sharp)

Tree stump/ other suitable cutting surface

Extra piece of wood  (preferably fairly thick but still easy to hold)

1 match

Campfire circle

Plenty of sticks/logs for burning

Bucket of water/snow (because as great as fire is, it’s good to be safe)

First thing’s first, you need to make some feathering

With the blade facing downwards, glide the knife along the corner of the wood (try not to use too much pressure)

slide knife down wood

It should start to look something like this:

beginnings of shavings

Which after bit more feathering (and practice!) should look like this:

lots of shavings

Then, dig the knife in a little to cut off the feathering (you might want to use the extra piece of wood to hit back of the knife)

cut off shavings with help of stick

You should then have a nice piece of feathering

piece of fethering

You will need lots of these pieces, as they are the most helpful in starting the fire.

Next, you will need some thin strips of wood

Place knife at a slight angle on top of the wood. (ensure you use the section of the blade that’s nearest to the handle, as this area is the  easiest to control)

position knife

With the thicker piece of wood, tap the back of the knife several times (you may need some force), to slide the knife through the wood so that the wood splits.

use bigger stick to hit knife

wood will split

You should now have a thinner section of wood.

Use the same technique repeatedly to make many wood strips of different thicknesses.

make sure you have a range of wood sizes

Arranging the kindling

Place many pieces of feathering in the middle of your campfire circle

lots of shavings

Arrange 3 medium sized pieces of wood over the feathering

arraning wood on shavings

Place the thinnest wood strips against the 3 main pieces.

Add the slightly thicker pieces of wood, so that you build a small tepee-like structure

what it should look like

Keep the rest of your wood close to hand so you can add it as the fire grows (it’s helpful if it’s in size order)

Now it’s time to strike your 1 match! (once lit, shelter from the wind)

1 match!

Light the feathering by holding the match underneath the curls of wood, (if you can, light more than one area of the feathering)

With any luck, the feathering should smoulder and the thin pieces of wood should start to catch alight

As the first bits of kindling burn, add thicker pieces to build up the fire

should catch on fairly quickly


Start to add thicker sticks to continue to grow the fire, until it’s large enough for cooking, warmth and of course roasting marshmallows


Putting out the fire

Spread out pieces of wood

Pour water (or snow) over the fire until all flames and embers are extinguished 


Happy campfire making!

Catherine Rose, Spring Volunteer 2014

Our Chalet


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