Are you new to using an axe and need some help to do a project? Do you want to learn how to cut down a tree using an axe?
Axes are heavy-duty tools that can be used for all sorts of jobs where cutting wood is needed. From creative wood carvings to logging, axes are a woodsman’s best tool. And to be able to cut and chop efficiently, you have to know how to use an axe properly.
If you’re just learning how to wield an ax, you’re in the right place. Keep reading to learn how to use an axe and some of the different ways to do it.
Precautions Before Using An Axe
Axes are dangerous tools that need to be used with care. Let's talk about some precautions to take when using an ax, the first being handling an axe properly.
Unless you’re using a hatchet, you should always be handling an axe with two hands. You should have your lead hand (the side your swing is coming from) halfway up the handle and the other a few inches above the end. When carrying an ax, have the blade down at your side and facing backward.
Focus On Accuracy Before Strength
Don’t worry about being quick or having a powerful swing. The secret to successfully using an axe is accuracy. Rather than hacking at a log or tree in random spots, focus on hitting the same spot every time.
After that, you can add more pressure and power to your swings. And after you’ve mastered that, you will eventually be able to speed up. Don’t get ahead of yourself because that’s when accidents happen. Start slow and build up from that for the best results.
Swinging An Axe
There are different kinds of ways to properly use an ax, depending on what you’re doing. There is the vertical swing for splitting firewood or cutting up logs, there is the lateral swing that is used to cut down a tree, and there is contact splitting that uses the pressure of the axe and wood being brought down together and hitting the chopping block.
For using an axe for felling trees, you would use a lateral swing, where you swing the axe around your body, slightly past it, and into the tree. Of course, it’s not purely lateral because it’s done on a downwards diagonal swing, rather than straight across.
Touch your ax’s blade to the tree and get into position by putting the target past your body. This means that if you’re right-handed, your left foot would be slightly ahead of your right. Then, for the swing, you would put the axe over your right shoulder and chop on a slight diagonal downstroke.
A vertical swing is used when you use an axe for cutting limbs and splitting wood. Start by holding your arms straight out and calculate the reach you will need by taking a “practice swing” by touching the axe to what you’re cutting or splitting. That way, you can make sure that your axe goes into the wood and not past it, coming back towards you.
Then, get into position by placing one foot slightly ahead of the other and holding the axe with one hand on the lower end of the handle, and the other halfway up. When you swing, cut on a downwards 45-degree angle. Like the lateral swing, your top hand should come down the handle to meet the other.
How To Use An Axe To Cut Down A Tree
To use an axe to cut down a tree, otherwise known as felling a tree, you would use lateral swings, using an axe like a forest axe or a chopping ax. You may also need a wedge or rope to guide the tree in falling in the right place.
Cut a notch 3-4 feet from the base of the tree. Then, move to the other side of the tree and cut a notch a foot above your original notch. Now, move back down and deepen the first notch until the tree cracks and falls.
How To Use An Axe To Split Small Firewood
Using an axe like a hatchet, you can easily split firewood into kindling. Often, this requires the contact splitting technique. Hold the log or stand it upright on top of a chopping block or old tree stump. If it’s a lower chopping block, kneel down on one knee to get yourself in a stable and more level position.
Keep holding the log and carefully split the wood into smaller pieces by firmly, yet carefully cutting vertically. Keep cutting into the same split by taking the wood piece and hatchet and simultaneously banging them down onto the chopping block.
TABOR TOOLS Chopping Axe
- Ideal for chopping kindling and small- to medium-sized logs
- Chops deeper with each swing to get more done faster
- Perfected balance and power-to-weight ratio increases swing speed to multiply power
Using An Axe To Chop Larger Logs
When you're cutting up firewood from larger trees, a hatchet will not be able to manage the task. For this, you’ll need to use a splitting axe or forestry ax. Positron yourself in front, but slightly aside from where you’re cutting. Remember to use the touch technique, so that you don’t overshoot your reach.
Using a vertical swing, you cut a deep V shape into a log, splitting it into smaller pieces. This is usually done in a downward angle and alternative from cutting to the left and the right.
Husqvarna 28 in. Steel Splitting Axe
- Axe is designed for splitting larger firewood
- Premium 5 lbs. steel axe head is coated to improve cutting
- Perfect balance and weight distribution
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
How to Use An Axe To Break Out Of Your House In An Emergency
In the case of an emergency, like a fire, a fireman’s axe can be used to cut through doors, windows, and walls to get out of danger. Most of the time, you can cut the door handles of a door to push your way through, which is often quicker than busting it down.
For firemen, there is a standard of using the lateral swing, but in most emergencies, there’s no rhyme or reason. You simply bust your way through as needed, so you can get to safety.
Nupla - 31687 APC6E-36 Fire Pick Head Axe
- Non slip grip assures usein slippery conditions
- Handle has a molded slug of tough engineering material allowing quick assembly
- Used in a number of fighting applications
How To Use An Axe For Woodworking
Using an axe for woodworking is a very meticulous task. Woodcarving, carpentry, and other kinds of woodworking aren’t like chopping firewood, where it doesn’t matter where you cut. Using an axe like a carpenter’s axe or hatchet is best for this because of the smaller blade.
Depending on what you’re doing there can be a few different ways around using an axe for woodworking. If you’re looking to shave off a layer of wood you would angle the axe blade slightly downward and push it away from you, almost like a vegetable peeler.
Gransfors Bruks Carpenter's Axe
- Drake Off Road Tools Functions like a good heavy knife
- The axe poll is ground and can be used as a hamme
- 3-1/2" face, 18" handle
Husqvarna 13 in. Wooden Handle Hatchet
- Hatchet is designed for one-handed use on light wood cutting
- Premium 1.32 lbs. hand-forged axe head
- Made with hickory and Swedish steel
Axes can be used in many different ways to perform multiple jobs. But always remember to practice every safety measure you can when using an ax, and take it slow at first.
Whether you’re chopping firewood or woodworking, remember to select the right axe and to use the appropriate swing for the job to keep yourself safe and to do the most effective job that you can.