How To Split Wood With An Axe

Have you just moved into a house with a working fireplace? Are you looking to learn how to split wood with an axe to create your own firewood or to learn to live off the land?

Splitting wood with an axe may not be as simple as using a chainsaw, but it’s a lot more liberating. But, you can’t just go walking into the woods with any old axe, choose any old tree, and split it.

While it may not look like it, there’s an art in knowing how to split wood with an axe. In today’s age, it’s also a rare quality, but still necessary, especially if you live in the woods. Keep reading to learn how you can learn to split wood with an axe so that you can be your lumberjack!

How To Split Wood With An Axe

Picking The Right Axe For Splitting Wood

There are over 100 different types of axes, and yes, while all of them split wood, not all of them do it in the same capacity, or even with the same strength. Choose a size and axe type according to the job you plan to do with it.

For example, you would use a forestry axe or a splitting axe to bring down a tree. But for a smaller project like limbing the tree or splitting, you’ll need something smaller like a hatchet. There are a lot of other axes out there, but those are the most commonly used types for splitting wood.

What Is The Best Axe For Splitting Wood?

When you’re splitting wood with an axe, you can’t go wrong with a forestry axe or a splitting axe. These axes are made to fell trees and split through large logs because of the smaller wedge-like axe head.

For splitting firewood or chunks of a tree that has been bucked, then a forestry axe will help you to efficiently break the bigger pieces down, for carrying or for burning in smaller fireplaces.

Lastly, for small pieces of wood, or if you’re camping or hiking out in the wilderness, a hatchet is what you need. It’s small, making it portable, but it’s still strong and sharp enough to ensure your survival, whether that’s fetching firewood or fighting off a wild animal.

INTERTOOL 35-inch Steel Splitting Axe

INTERTOOL 35-inch Steel Splitting Axe


  • Built with a wedged head to deliver excellent striking force and control when splitting or chopping heavy timber
  • Heavy duty blade is sharp and reinforced with heat treated steel
  • Sturdy fiberglass handle absorbs impact shock and has grip-textured rubber for a non-slip performance

GEDORE OX 620 H-1257 H-1257-Multipurpose Forestry Axe

GEDORE OX 620 H-1257 H-1257-Multipurpose Forestry Axe


  • For woodworks, splitting firewood, cutting branches or limbing felled trees
  • ROTBAND-PLUS bonds the handle and hammerhead into one unit to ensure max safety
  • Steel handle sleeve protects the handle from damage when you miss your target

Kaforto Wood Chopping Hatchet

Kaforto Wood Chopping Hatchet


  • This wood chopping axe will provide you Forged Carbon Steel Heat Treated blade on strike splits!
  • The Chopping Axe Has A Shock Absorbing Anti Slip Grip, Ergonomic Shaped Fiberglass Handle which will reduce the strain on your hand and add comfort
  • The axes come with a leather sheath for easy storage and better protection
How To Split Wood With An Axe

The Best Kind Of Wood For Splitting

Many people don’t realize that wood doesn’t just look different from tree to tree, but it is also cut and used very differently. And even more than that, the age of a tree does compensate for toughness and ease of felling. A large, healthy tree will not break as easily as a dried-out dead log.

So, if you’re just starting, it’s highly recommended that you start with the smaller dead logs before attempting to fall a whole tree. Once you’ve successfully chopped through a large dead log, you’re ready to take on a small tree.

The Easiest and Hardest Types OF Wood To Split With An Axe

Pine is a softwood that is very commonly used in a lot of different ways: lumber, furniture, and even stable bedding. It’s easy to get through, work with, and it burns well.

However, an oak tree will give you a bit more trouble. The strong and mighty oak is aptly named for the wood’s impeccable strength and resilience, even after the tree has died. It’s been said that oaks and hickory trees are among the hardest to split with an axe.

How To Split Wood With An Axe

You can split wood with an axe without too much difficulty when you’ve got the right tools. But, what about technique? Believe it or not, there are special methods that are used to cut wood in different ways.

Splitting wood with a splitting axe is probably the easiest way to go. For large logs or fallen trees, you would use a technique called bucking. This involves using a vertical swing but angling the blade slightly diagonally each strike.

To split firewood with an axe, you will, again, use the vertical swing. Always remember that when splitting firewood, you want to cut with the grain. This forces the wood fibers apart, which is much better for burning the wood since the fibers inside burn much quicker than when it’s encased in the bark.

How To Split Wood With An Axe

What To Do If Your Axe Gets Stuck In A Log

Whatever you do, do not try shaking the log off the axe blade. There’s a technique for that too, in the lumber and logging industry. It’s called contact splitting, but in this case, it’s more commonly known as the upright bash.

This helps to remove the axe head from being buried in the wood and helps you work through large knots in the wood that can make splitting wood with an axe difficult for you.

Simply raise your axe and the log it’s stuck in, and bring it down as hard as you can, the light you’re trying to smash the log into the chopping block. Repeat as necessary, taking care not to send the pieces flying when they do split. The force will allow the axe to come through and eventually split the log.

Splitting Firewood With A Hatchet

For small pieces of wood, or if you’re camping, hatchets are great for cutting through heavy brush to cut up firewood or pieces of kindling. You can also use a hatchet for cutting tree limbs, for logging purposes.

Making Kindling With A Hatchet

To split wood with an axe like a hatchet, you’ll need to start small. You can start by making kindling with a smaller log using a lighter form of the upright bash or contact splitting.

Hold the axe head on the top corner and pound them down simultaneously, as if you were hammering the log into the chopping block. The strips of wood will peel off, creating good tinder for starting a fire.

Limbing Trees With A Hatchet

Another use for the hatchet is for cutting limbs off of trees for pruning or brush clearing. You’ll find that limbs, while smaller, is not exactly easier to cut per se. That’s because the wood fibers in smaller limbs are still stringy and can gum up the blade and create a real mess. You may need to clean your axe after doing this.

Take the end of the limb and hold it to create tension. Next, lightly tap the blade of the axe into the tree’s branch and chop it off at the base of the limb. For larger limbs, you will need more power, and quite possibly a larger axe.


No matter what you’re doing with an axe, whether it’s splitting wood, chopping down trees, or carving something, it should always be done with care.

Make sure that before you split wood with an axe that you’re making sure to take all necessary safety precautions and that you don’t get ahead of yourself.

Splitting wood with an axe may be a daunting task, but it’s also very liberating. There’s just something rugged about being able to wield an axe safely and properly.