Resources for Forest School -
Here you will find a selection of our favourite kit that we recommend to Forest School Leaders...
plus clips of best practice using some of the tools and equipment.
Forest School Tools & Equipment
Axes & Hatchets - The very best axes that we have found are those made by Gränsfors Bruks, for balance, durability and ability to hold an edge. We also use Husqvarna (Small Splitting Axe, Carpenters Axe, Hatchet) which are still hand-forged steel but more of a mid-priced tool. Hultafors (also good). It's no coincidence that these are all Swedish maufacturers!
Bow-Saws - we wouldn't use anything other than Bahco - available everywhere - get raker-tooth (green wood) and peg-tooth (seasoned/ dry wood) blades. We use 24" to allow for two-handed sawing and 21" for coppicing and small-bore cutting. We can supply spare blade guards.
Folding Pruning Saw - Bahco again for this - the 396 Laplander is the one to go for - green rubberised handle and black teflon-coated blade. Crucially the blade locks in the closed as well as the open position. An indispensible piece of kit, but watch out for overenthusiastic sawing pulling the blade out of the kerf you are sawing - slow and steady!
Folding Knives - We no longer use the orange 'Lambsfoot' penknives as they are quite difficult to open and close. The strong spring action can catch you out and close the blade on the fingers if you are not holding the knive in a particular way. We also do not use Opinel knives at Forest School, as the collar holding the blade open often becomes loose and can get lost. Further more the blade does not have a flat section close to the hinge (known as a 'choil') and therefore does not provide an extra layer of protection when closing the blade
Fixed-blade Knives - fWe use the Mora Clipper knives.ey and 'feel' we Mora (formerly Frost) 840 with hard sheath, available in high carbon or stainless steel blade (the carbon blade holds a better edge). Makes a perfect accompaniment to the Laplander & Firesteel. For use with children the Mora Scout is ideal (see photo below).
Secateurs - Wilkinson Sword (Fiskars) again. This time the 'Chunky' Bypass Pruner. These are also available in three sizes.
Fire-Lighting - Our preferred method is the ubiquitous Swedish Fire-steel (not the 'scout' model as this is a bit thin) onto a cotton-wool (make-up) pad with optional petroleum jelly. Also works well direct onto birch bark if you scrape up the outer surface of the bark first.
Storm Kettle - These are a great way of boiling water in the outdoors - quick, low impact and suitable for all weather. However there are a couple of potential safety issues which mean you have to use a bit of common sense in using them - lift kettle on and off the fire base with the handle horizontal (so you don't burn your fingers on the 'volcano effect' at the top of the kettle; and NEVER boil it with the cork in! Newer models have a loose-fitting cork which means they no longer seal (and therefore explode...), but still not a good idea.
Storage - Secateurs and pruning saws fit snugly in webbing pouches, but knives should be carried in more secure ammunition boxes or similar - these can be sourced from govt. surplus suppliers or camping/survival online stores. We like the fact that ammo tins are not easy to open and make quite a noise, thereby announcing any 'unofficial access'.
Ropes - lGreen polyprop braided cord is our starting point. The ubiquitous blue polypropylene builders rope is cheap but very limited in it's usability and application. Climbing rope is great (both static and dynamic) but expensive unless you can blag some from a climbing centre or outdoor pursuits centre - they have to replace their climbing ropes on a regular basis and often throw the old ones out.
Cord & Twine - The twine we use for square-lashing is sisal baler-twine usually available from farmers' merchants (worth checking with them as is sometimes only stocked seasonally).
P.P.E. - Hard hats from numerous suppliers and online tools/workwear stores. Gloves, from D.I.Y. stores and garden centres. Choose 'welders gauntlets' for use around the campfire or heavy clearing work - should only cost around £5 a pair.
Husqvarna (hand-forged) Axe
video clips of our favourite Forest School Tips & Techniques...