How To Cut Wood Without A Saw

There are a huge variety of saws that you can select on the market to cut wood. In fact, saws are among the most popular tool for a woodworking project thanks to their efficiency and versatile.

However, have you ever thought about using other tools for cutting wood? Imagine that you are in the middle of nowhere, probably when you go camping and need some wood sticks to start a fire. However, what if there is no saw around you? Or in case you are in the middle of a woodworking project, your saw refuses to work and your neighbor is not around for you to lend. What are you going to do?

Hence, knowing how to cut wood using several tools proves to be helpful for many unforeseeable event in the futures. Take a look at this article below and I will show you how to cut wood without a saw - using many simple tools, which are readily available in your pocket or your garage.


​1. How To Cut Small Pieces Of Wood Using A Pocket Knife

A great technique that you would use to cut small pieces of wood without using a saw is call batoning. You might know about this technique if you have taken part in a class for camping skills. This is exactly the skill that you would need to use a knife to split wood logs for firing.

The tool that you would need for this task is a knife with fixed blade. It means that the blade as well as the handle of the knife comes in a same piece of metal. With a knife like this, you would be able to prevent unwanted accidents from batoning. In addition, you need to make sure the length of the knife is bigger than the diameter of the wood log you are going to handle. Ideally, its length should be 2 to 3 inches more than the diameter of the log you are going to cut.

Steps on cutting wood:

  • First, you need to hold the log of wood up so that it stands vertically against the ground with the grains of the wood running vertical as well. You should always baton along the grain of the wood.
  • Then you can locate the center of the log and place the blade of the knife along the centre line of the wood log. The whole outer line of the knife’s blade should touch the surface of the wood log.
  • Use another piece of wood to hammer on the blade of the knife (Make sure you hammer on the middle of the blade. Don’t hammer on the tip of the knife as it is usually the weakest point of the blade). This step is batoning. Continue batoning until the wood log is split into different parts. You should not really use other pieces of tough subject such as brick or rock to tap on the blade of the knife to prevent the knife from breaking.
  • If each of the batoned log is not thin enough, you can continue these steps above until you get your preferred result.

You can look at the guide on batoning wood here:

The pros of this technique:

  • Many people say that batoning is easier than chopping. In fact, when you use a knife to baton wood, you don’t need to apply much strength.
  • In addition, it doesn’t require many skills to handle the knife well. On the other hand, if you choose to cut wood using a hatchel or an axe, you need to assert more effort.
  • You don’t need a really expensive or big knife to cut wood into smaller pieces. In this case of batoning, having proper and precise techniques of using the knife is more important.

The cons of this technique:

  • You might find it harder to baton wet or damp wood log.
  • It is effective only when you cut small pieces of wood. If the wood logs are bigger, you need to use other methods.

​2. How To Cut Wood Using A Hatchel Or An Axe

​Besides a fixed blade knife, you can use other tools such as hatchel or axe to cut wood into smaller pieces as well. There are many things that a hatchet or axe can do for you besides cutting log for firewood. They are also used to cut limbs off trees or even to prepare small games when you go hunting.

Make sure the lengths of these tools are suitable for you and they should come with sharp razor for the best job of chopping wood. In case of axe, there are 2 main types for you to choose from.

  • A rounding axe is used to cut hardwoods.
  • A wedge axe is used to cut softwoods.

Steps on cutting wood:

  • First, prepare a clear working station. Stand firmly and far from the wood you are going to cut (Not to close but not too far- stand in a spot where your arms can be fully extended to the wood)
  • Use both of your hands to grip onto the hatchel or axe. Your dominant hand should be placed closer to the head of the tool.
  • Bring the axe or hatchel upward toward your head and slam it down onto the centre point of the wood log. When you slam the tool down, apply more pressure. Make sure that you can swing quickly and firmly. Continue to swing until you can cut the wood into smaller pieces.

The pros of this technique:

  • Hatchet and axe are more suitable if you have to handle big piles of wood.
  • Also for wood logs with bigger diameter and thickness, they are more efficient.

The cons of this technique:

  • As you can see, using axe and hatchel require you more steps.
  • In addition, you need to have enough skills and strength to cut wood effectively.
  • You are more vulnerable towards injuries than when you use knife to cut woods.

Extra note on safety:

  • Always check the axe and hatchel before you work with them. The head of these tools need to stay secured. If the handle is quite slippery, you can wrap it with electrical tape.
  • Wear a pair of safety goggles.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and that there is no obstacle along your swing.

3. How To Cut Wood Using A Wood Chisel

These methods above are used to split a big log of wood into various smaller pieces. I now introduce you to a different tool for cutting even smaller pieces of wood. A chisel is a very helpful and versatile tool that you use not only for cutting wood but also for other dedication tasks such as craving. Chisels come in different sizes, shapes and tips. Make sure you choose the one that is made specifically for cutting woods. You can ask an expert in your local hardware store on how to choose the right chisel.

I myself have a set of different chisel since woodworking would require a lot of these tools. I try on different ones when I begin a project and choose the one that I feel most comfortable to work with.

You also need a mallet or a hammer along with some chisels.

Remember to always check the conditions of your tools before working. Does the head of these tools stay secured? Does the chisel have a sharp blade? The answers should be all Yes before you can proceed to cut wood.

​Steps on cutting woods:

  • Put a piece of wood into a flat and clean surface. Use c-clamps to secure it.
  • Grab the chisel with your less dominant hand and press the edge of the tool down.
  • With your dominant hand, slightly slam the hammer onto the top of the chisel. Start to hit harder if you see there is no change in the surface of the piece of wood.
  • Slightly level the chisel to get rid of the small bit of wood which is chipped out.
  • Then continue to press the edge of the chisel on the same area. Keep working until you can cut through the piece of woods.

When should you use this method? Well, as I say, you should use it when you want to cut a small piece of wood. In addition, unlike batoning, with this method, you can cut the wood into the shape you want, not just straight pieces.

One main problem with this method is that it takes quite a long time. You need to be super patient.


Here are some of the most effective and efficient methods that you can try to cut wood into smaller logs. I hope that you can find these guides above easy to follow. With a proper tool and a few times practicing, I am sure that you would nail this woodworking task in no time.

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