Just like everything else, there's a right way and a wrong way to baton wood. Or to put it differently, there's a more efficient way and a less efficient way. Even something as simple as this can still be optimized and done better. Wood splits far more easily along its growth rings, because your blade is driving in between the layers of wood. This is called "going with the grain" if you're not familiar with the terminology, and is illustrated in the first photo. In the second photo, the blade is going "against the grain," that is, across the growth rings. Instead of driving the layers of wood apart, you're trying to cut several of them at a time. The wood fibers have a harder time separating, and it takes more hits with a baton to get the piece to split.
Why does this matter? Reading the grain correctly and working accordingly will save a lot of wear and tear on your arms and wrists, (especially with harder woods - you'll want every advantage you can take) and also keep your blade sharp longer. A good piece of straight-grained wood will pop apart beautifully with one whack of a baton if you’re splitting it with the grain. Doing this will help you process wood a lot FASTER as well. If it’s really, bitterly cold (or if you’re taking part in a fire challenge!), you’ll appreciate the ability to move through wood faster.
Additionally… check for knots in the piece of wood you’re trying to work through. If you can work around them or avoid them entirely, definitely do so. A hard enough knot can actually damage your knife, to the point of chipping the blade on harder steels. Rare, but it definitely happens. If you keep these two tips in mind, you’ll be able to process wood faster, more effectively, more safely, and with less wear and tear on yourself and your blade. If you're in a situation where it truly matters, you need every edge you can get!
If you want more wood processing tips like this, join us for Firecraft Essentials this Saturday, May 11th from 9am-7pm! Register now at https://www.sarcraft.com/course-registration/firecraft-essentials-1!