How to cut wood without a saw?

The saw is definitely the main tool for woodworking in today’s world. But it can also break at the most inopportune moment. The unsurpassed masters of their craft always have enough tools at hand to create masterpieces and cherish their favorite saw. Amateurs can go to the nearest hardware store.

How to cut wood without a saw

Well, if neither the tool nor the opportunity to go to the store, then you have to use tools. And knowledge is the best tool, which I will share with you now.

Wood cutting tools


How to cut wood without a saw

A tool for chopping down wood, but can sometimes be used for rough but quick woodworking as well.

Sharp machete or hatchet

How to cut wood without a saw

Both the working principle and the result are similar to an axe, except for a larger working area and less efficiency.

Wood chisel

How to cut wood without a saw

A tool used by many for precision work. The average person is unlikely to have it, but if you have it, you can use it.


How to cut wood without a saw

A type of hiking saw not known for its convenience, but can save the day in time of need.

Improvised means

How to cut wood without a saw

Almost everything around us, if properly wished, can help cut wood without a saw. Rocks? Trees around?


How to cut wood without a saw

A tool in the inventory of every self-respecting man. Even an ordinary kitchen or utility knife that everyone has at home could be applied.

Method 1: An axe as a wood cutting tool

Do you need a rought cut for large amounts of wood or you want to divide it into small pieces or prepare materials for your other future jobs? If your task is not the smoothest and most precise work, but just rip cut, a good old fashioned axe is perfect for you. It will cope with its task with flying colors.

The special thing about the axe blade is that it’s designed specifically to cut large amounts of wood in half, and therefore doesn’t dull as quickly as any other woodworking tool.

If you need to split firewood, prepare a sample for further work, or simply reduce a large amount of wood, this is your choice. Splitting wood, in fact, is the main function of this tool.

In order to cut down a tree with an axe, a slanted angle method is used, when the trunk of the tree is cut at a 45 degree angle, due to which the efficiency of cutting increases, the weight of the tree presses on itself. Both, dominant hand and non dominant hand at this time are on the handle of the axe, for safety.

You’ll get pretty much the same results with a machete or hatchet, but their blade will dull faster, and due to the larger blade area, efficiency may be lower in certain situations.

Method 2: Chisel for cutting wood

A chisel is a precise and simple tool for cutting wood without a saw. The biggest problem for most people will be simple: “sawing through” when using a chisel means losing a significant portion of the workpiece.

For best results, desired shape and clean cut, you should use several different chisels of different sizes. In addition, sharpness is an important aspect, because a blunt chisel is difficult to use and can ruin a product. A chisel can be used with a mallet, but a hammer can also be used as a last resort. The important thing is that this solution can ruin the tool.

To create several cuts, it is advisable to prepare the product and draw a marking on it. Single pass could be created hand-drawn.

You can make marks on the workpiece with a sharp knife to mark the working area. Marked line provides a boundary and helps to make precise cuts. The direction of movement is also important: some wood pieces can easily go to one side, making it easy to remove more material than necessary. The other direction will make cutting more difficult.

Remove material gradually. Remember that if you are holding a chisel for the first time and are unfamiliar with it, it is best to continually remove thin pieces until you are almost all the way through. Then you can place the chisel vertically with the flat side against the wood to pierce the bottom of the piece. A smaller scale tool can be used for more precise work.

If you are in a hurry and know how to use a chisel, the material can be removed in just multiple strikes, but there will be consequences in the form of overhanging material and rough cuts. Sandpaper is a great way to make a sharp edge of wood piece without much loss.

A chisel is a great tool to cut wood without a saw, but they are much slower than a saw and require removing a significant amount of material. However, they are often the best option for the beginner if a proper saw is not on hand.

Method 3: Wire saw for cutting wood without ordinary one

Rope saw differs from all analogues with its compactness, due to which it has gained popularity among travelers. Wire cut wood process is a pleasure, because it feels like cutting with your hands. With its help you can cut off branches, make a campfire. This wood cutting instrument, however, can also be applied to such problematic moments when the right instrument was not on hand.

Nowadays different wires can be purchased with different lengths and different widths of saw teeth, nevertheless, it is not difficult to make an accurate cut with it. Any hand saw will be handy and suitable for this purpose.

To make a cut straight, it is necessary to keep the saw blade taut. The direction of the cut line depends on the movement of the owner’s hands, so it is worth making sure that the cut is as a straight line. Use a file or sandpaper for a smooth finish.

If you find yourself in a situation where this is the only option, then be careful and avoid injury, because this tool has a very sharp blade. Close the saw blade when the job is done.

Method 4: Planes as a wood cutting instrument

The most common uses for planes are to round off the wood surface by removing thin wood pieces or to finish off huge slabs of wood. Unless you spend hours trying to wear a groove into the board, they won’t be much help when you’re trying to cut wood without a saw.

How to cut wood without a saw

The ideal strategy, if you must use a planer to make the cut, is to strip the board from all sides, prepare a flat work surface, and gradually reduce the depth adjustment until you can break it with your hands.

On the other hand, planers are ideal for removing the sloppiness that is caused by various cutting techniques. A sharp planer makes it very simple to level off a hardwood surface using the tool’s blade.

For the greatest results, simply scrape the blade along the length of the wood while following the grain. If you don’t slide the planer all the way over the board, the curl will break when you lift the tool, leaving you with a chip rather than a smoother surface.

Although they are trickier to use, electric planers ought to come with a manual. Although they are more difficult to use, electric planers should come with instructions. Based on this, you can understand exactly how to use the tool for your purposes. Read it carefully.

They are only suitable for sanding along the wood’s grain in both situations. End grain planning is not something a beginner should attempt. In both situations, they are only suitable for sanding along the grain of the wood.

End grain planning is not something a beginner should try to do. It is not only difficult, but also dangerous, because it requires much more force, which can cause the planer to jump out, ruining the product or possibly resulting in injury, because the planer blade is very sharp.

Despite the low effectiveness of this device for wood cutting purposes, if it is the only option, the planer blade can be used. Remember to observe safety precautions and avoid injury, because the planer blade is quite sharp. 

Method 5: Drill as a tool for wood cutting

Of course, when asking the question “How to cut wood without a saw“, many tools could be used, but the last thing that comes to mind is a drill. After all, either speed or accuracy is important, and at first glance it seems that the drill can do neither.


Step 1

Before you start, you need to make a marking, so take this process seriously: it’s very easy to ruin the material with a drill.

Step 2

Mark a straight line along the place where you want to make the cut. Positioning the drill with the center of the drill bit and drill holes along the line is the best solution.

Step 3

Drill holes repeatedly along the line, preferably closer together.

Step 4

When the wood is ready, snap it along the line.

Step 5

Deburr the rough edges of the wood with a rasp or sandpaper.

Periodically check the strength after the first “line” of holes. It is best if there is less material between the holes, as it will then be easier to separate the pieces.

In most cases, it is better to use a smaller drill bit, because it is hard to imagine how much wood is being wasted. This is one of the main disadvantages of using a drill, in addition to the time involved. However, precise depth adjustment is a major plus for using the drill.

If you have a drill stuck in wood, read how to easily and safely remove it.

It is also easy to make square holes in wood with a drill.

It is better for your safety to wear glasses while the drilling machine works.

Method 6: Router as another tool for cutting wood

As long as you have the proper equipment or molds, cutting wood using a circular saw is a simple process. Making the templates you need for your project can distract you the most, and if you use the router to cut wood carelessly, like a jigsaw, you won’t be able to reach great precision.

How to cut wood without a saw

Although there are many other jigsaw patterns where straight and circular saw with serrated knives are the most popular. Simply reducing the tool’s depth setting will allow you to cut all the way through.

Special nozzles are available for router machines that have a bearing at the top, allowing them to rotate freely along the entire length of the workpiece. With these nozzles there is less chance of incorrect cutting and getting a sharp edge. You may need a different wood router bit for a particular application.

It is far simpler to shape a workpiece with external cuts than it is to cut through a piece of wood. Although the idea is the same, most people choose creating cutting templates. Cutting a circle or a straight line is relatively doable for a beginner even though it takes experience.

Circular saw is great at cutting intricate shapes, but if they are used carelessly, the cut will be wrong. Depending on the additions, your experience may vary, but for curved designs they often outperform band saws and jigsaws in speed and accuracy.

It is very difficult and extremely dangerous to remove a thin wood pieces with a router, especially if you are inexperienced with the operation of the machine.

Method 7: What about knife?

The knife is by far the most common tool in everyone’s inventory, and therefore the methods of cutting wood with a knife are probably among the most important in this post. You can do all sorts of woodworking with a knife, but you have to use different cutting methods to use the tool as effectively, safely as possible.

How to cut wood without a saw

Сan you cut wood with a utility knife?

Notching on wood is one of the easiest ways to cut. It is one of the best ways to cut wood without a saw or even cutting wood without experience.

This method involves making incisions on both sides to reduce the force required to break the block. In this way, working on both sides evenly increases the efficiency of the cut wood process and is less likely to ruin the product.

As you work, it is important not to bury the utility knife, but to gradually push it inward, doing this work evenly on both sides. You need to hold on to the workpiece to avoid danger and do the job neatly

Select a line on the wood to start cutting. You will be cutting from both sides, so determine the width you are ready to cut before you begin. It is best to choose the narrowest part.

Go in from the opposite side, continue doing the same thing. Repeat with each corner, deepening and widening slightly until you reach the edges along which you want to make the cut.

Continue making the V-shaped pattern until the you cut wood through or easy enough to break with your hands. Be careful, because if you break the bar before you get to the end, there is a chance of chipping or uneven ends.

If necessary, trim the rough cut or edges of the wood surface with a file. Remove the uneven cut line with sandpaper.

This method is a bit slow, but it is fairly accurate compared to most improvised wood cutting methods. This method does not require a knife that is too heavy, but it may not be suitable for thin pocket knives.

How do you saw wood with a knife? – Knife and baton method

Batoning is a basic bushcraft skill that is not suitable for all situations. A special bushcraft knife is mainly used for this. You will be able to make a rough cut in thin wood if necessary, but it is mostly used for splitting wood.

Keep in mind that the knife is under a lot of stress when cutting wood, which can lead to unexpected breakages. Nevertheless, the basic requirements are a hard edge and a thicker blade than usual. Bushcraft knives or sharp hunting knife are often graded on this basis.

Often utility knives and survival knives do not meet these standards. In addition, the knife must be longer in cross-section than the billet. Therefore, a machete may be used for this method of cutting wood.

The process itself requires only a knife and a mallet. Take the sharp knife and place it with the point down on the wood to be split. Push the knife in as hard as you can without using a mallet. Then hit the back of the blade with the mallet. Rubber is preferable, but expediency in the field usually wins out, so you can use a branch. Using a rock instead of a mallet is not recommended-use a branch instead.

The pressure of the blow will cause the knife to sink deeper into the bar. Continue stabbing until the knife rests against the wood, preferably with the spine of the knife under the top of the tree. Once the knife sinks in, move over and strike at the protruding tip of the knife. Continue until the wood splits.

Batoning is mostly used for cutting wood for a fire. On the other hand, with a large enough blade, you can even make rough boards to use.

Ringing Wood method

You can reduce size of a round of oddly shaped piece of wood just by ringing it. This is a typical bushcraft method that is often used to make poles. It takes some time, but it can be modified to work with most long pieces of wood.

Start by drawing a line around the edge of the piece where you will cut wood; however, keep in mind that you will lose some material on either side of the line. With a sharp knife, make incisions along the drawn line. If you have trouble just scraping it off, lightly tap it with a mallet or stick.

Continue by cutting in at an angle and notching the mark on one side. From the other side, repeat the procedure.

Continue to approach from every aspect, cutting a deep notch. As soon as you can, snap the wood. This will produce jagged edges, but this is quickly corrected with sandpaper or a wood file. And also level with wood filler.

How do you cut wood by hand? – The method of cutting wood, without any tools

No possible precision woodworking without tools, and therefore this method will not help you in crafting, but may save a life.

How to cut wood without a saw

Thin branches for the fire can be extracted by hand. In order to break a large branch you can use a knee or any large stone nearby. Nevertheless, small twigs are enough on the ground, so all that is left is to gather old dry branches, ready to make a fire.

Levers, known since ancient times, helped people to build houses, and now can be used to break a branch. For example, clamping a long branch between two closely spaced tree trunks and then pulling the branch to the side will break it with a minimum of effort.

With a simple rope, you can climb a tree to retrieve branches. This will help, for example, in coniferous forests where the branches are not so close to the ground.

Don’t forget about safety and take care of your health and life. Even if you find yourself in a life-threatening situation, do not let your guard down and take courageous and risky actions.

How do you precisely cut wood without a saw?

Evenness can depend on many factors, such as the skills of the owner or the quality of the tool. It’s almost impossible to do it accurately if you don’t know how to use the tool, to which is added poor tool quality. A well-sharpened axe blade in the right hands can cut evenly. It takes a tremendous amount of time to master this skill.

Some of advices, that could be used:

  • Take your time. When using tools where you can control the whole process-do it. Plan your actions before you begin cutting. Sawing motion should be smooth. Remain vigilant throughout the process.
  • Prepare the tool. The blade of the tool can be sharpened to achieve your goal. Make sure you don’t find another method that suits you better, or maybe you have other tools.
  • Use different tools. Different wood cutting tools can be used for the same item. Even without saw, you can use two or three different wood cutting tools, making the task easier. Different wood cutting methods could also be applied.
  • Listen to the opinion of an expert. Maybe there is a more experienced person next to you who knows how to cut wood without a saw, so don’t hesitate to ask your family and friends for help. Maybe your neighbor will have a saw that you need, or maybe he will be able to cut wood accurately and evenly with the help of improvised means.


How to cut wood without a saw is not such a difficult question. Knowing and applying the knowledge I wrote earlier, you will be able to cope with this task without much difficulty. Cutting with a chisel or a drill is up to you.

Nevertheless, I hope that I have provided enough information that you can do without a saw, so I hope for your feedback in the form of comments and likes. I recommend reading my other posts, which will be helpful to anyone involved in woodworking.

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