How to Split Wood with an Axe or hatchet at home, camping, hiking & backpacking


Are you looking for how to split wood with an axe or hatchet? An axe is an indispensable tool relevant to every camper, backpacker, hiker, homeowner and gardener for splitting, shaping, and felling wood.  If you intend to season woods more quickly, it can help to get the job done easily.  However, you need to learn the right skills and techniques necessary to split woods more efficiently. This is to prevent you from just swinging the axe uncontrollably with little or no result and then causing more pain and sprain to your body system.

Part of using an axe or hatchet is using the right best for the job. If you are buying one I suggest that you read this review of the best axes and hatchets for camping, hiking and backpacking first.

Essential Tips on Splitting Wood with an Axe

You need to know the essential tips that will guide you on the right steps that can help you split wood easily with an axe. These guidelines include:

  • If the cutting slab or chopping block is too low or very high, it can make the swinging axe to reverberate whenever you strike it.
  •  Always use a cutting slab to make the project easier for you.
  • Choose a good location to set up the chopping block.
  • Assess the wood thoroughly before embarking on the project.
  • Ensure that the wood is dry and properly aged to enhance a quicker splitting exercise.
  • Always split wood in the company of a friend or other persons for a possible assistance if an emergency occurs.
  • Put on your protective gear before handling the axe.
  • Do not split woods through the knots, as this can pose a tough challenge for you.
  • Swinging the axe wildly and uncontrollably will leave you tired and exhausted with no much result.
  • A wedge is handy and helpful to split woods with knots.

The Effective Methods of Splitting Wood with an Axe

Splitting wood with an axe requires great techniques in order be efficient and reduce much stress. Therefore, here are some of the effective methods that can help you handle the project easily.

Choose a Safer Area for Splitting the Wood

If the wood is old and very dry, splitting it becomes easy and that depends on the technique you are applying.    Moreover, ensure that you are standing on a solid base or strong ground. Clear overhanging branches and limbs in order to have a large room to operate and ensure nothing will hold back your axe as you swing it into the air.

Create a Cutting Slab

A cutting slab is also known as chopping block and is usually a portion of the wood, cut out of the tree trunk measuring about six inches above the ground surface. This piece of wood is needed for placing single logs and splitting with your axe.  This is ideal for saving your strength but never split woods on concrete settings or bare ground, you should always use a block to make it easier and faster.

Assess the Wood before Ripping it Open

Examine the wood for cracks and aim your axe towards such points in order to tear the log easily. In addition, locate some knotty points on the wood that is, places where limbs and branches were removed to guide you from spending  all the day trying to rip open a log of wood. Do not aim your axe at large knots because it will be very difficult to tear.

Put the Log on the Cutting Slab and Split

Ensure that the log is balanced and stable on the cutting slab before you land the first blow on it. This is necessary to prevent the log from shifting away and causing the axe to hit your leg instead. You can split different woods using various patterns depending on the type of wood. Some woods can be split through the center while others are better ripped following the edges of the grain accordingly.

Release a Lateral Blow on the Wood

Place your feet in a square position as you aim the axe at the log on the block. Direct and hit your axe at the grain on the wood in order to make a notch before releasing harder strikes of axe onto the log.

Continue Chopping on the Wood with your Axe

Splitting wood needs a continuous swinging of the axe onto the log on the chopping block in order to rip it into pieces at the end. Place your active and domineering hand towards the edge of the handle while the other less active hand should be holding the head of the axe firmly. At this point, bend your knees slightly as you lift up the axe, even above your head, stretch out your hands with the tool and lower it forcefully on the log. The pressure exerted combined with the force of gravity will cause the log to be ripped as you continue swinging

However, remember to maintain a proper cutting technique because as you lift the axe, your strength will make a great impact on the wood causing it to break into pieces. Chopping wood with an axe successfully depends on the way you stand and how you handle the axe.

Improve your Job with a Wedge

A wedge is ideal to aid your skills and make the job faster for you, especially for knotty logs. You can also apply a wedge for logs of wood with larger dimensions. Moreover, a wedge can be driven into a piece of wood using a sledgehammer by tapping it in gradually, until it is fastened deeper into the log.  Just like the way you handle a nail and hit it with a hammer, you can hold the wedge like a big nail while you drive it into the wood by continuously hitting on it with the hammer.

Additionally, you should have other wedges that could be used as a backup because only one wedge may not completely split the wood. When you drive in the first one, there will be a crack on the wood, you should take a bigger wedge and insert into the already made crack and continue tapping it until the wood splits into two.

Put on a Proper Protective Clothing Material

Are you prepared to handle the axe? If you want to split wood using an axe, it is advisable that you should always put on protective gear, as this will enhance your comfort and safety. Some of the relevant items to put on are steel-toe work boots to protect your toes and legs from injuries, safety glasses for your eyes, and hand gloves to avoid cracks on your hands.

Arrange split Woods Properly

Your job is not completed, if you are not able to arrange the split woods carefully. Stacking woods helps to make them season completely as air is allowed to circulate properly in them.  Do not forget to use a tarpaulin or any other material to cover them in order to prevent them from getting rotten by rainfall or humidity.  However, the covering should be done in a pattern that will permit air to circulate well.

Wrapping it Up

As a lumberjack, one of the greatest skills that will help you to be successful is your ability to split wood easily using an axe. There are various techniques to apply in order to get the wood ripped into pieces with little effort. Furthermore, you need to put on protective clothes like steel-toe work boots, hand gloves, and safety glasses in order to prevent unpredicted injuries; also, do not go the woods without a companion, who will be handy and help out in case of an emergency.