A Quick Guide to Using a Hatchet for Splitting Wood

A Qucik Guide to Using a Hatchet for Splitting Wood

In the camping and outdoors realm, there are a number of tools and equipment pieces that reign supreme. One of which is the hatchet. A hatchet is a bushcraft tool that has a number of uses and purposes in the wilderness.

Knowing the uses of a hatchet can greatly play into your strengths as an outdoors person. Today, we will be talking about how to use a hatchet for splitting wood. At the surface level, this is one of the most popular uses for the tool in question. Knowing certain techniques and tips will elevate your wilderness skills to a new level. Here is a quick guide to using a hatchet for splitting wood!

Techniques for splitting wood with a hatchet

1. Stump splitting and bashing

First and foremost, a hatchet can absolutely be used to split wood in the classic stump splitting fashion. This idea is in reference to chopping straight down into upright logs. It does not necessarily mean that you are cutting actual stumps.

This is the normal, traditional way that axes are used to cut wood. Using a hatchet in a similar way can work well. The big factor to consider is the size of the wood being split. If it is super big and thick, use an axe rated for that kind of work. If it is small enough to be handled by a hatchet, go for it.

Now, the chances of your hatchet making it all the way through the log without getting stuck can be fairly slim depending on the size. So, this is when bashing comes into play.

Upright bashing is when the hatchet gets stuck part of the way down and you literally bash both the log and your hatchet straight down. This applies pressure to the bottom of the log and allows the blade to cut through.

2. Wedge/baton splitting

Another way to cut wood is by batoning the hatchet. This is when you turn the hatchet blade into a wedge rather than hitting it straight on. With this technique, put the log upright and position the hatchet on a slight angle. Then, take a stick thick enough not to break and hit down on the hatchet. This wedges the blade into the wood. Once it is in, you can use the bashing method to complete the cut.

The big appeal to this strategy is to make it safer and take some of the risk away. With you not actually swinging the hatchet into the wood, there is a lessened risk of something happening.

3. Parallel splitting

The final technique for splitting wood with a hatchet is the parallel splitting method. This is one of the most effective strategies for cutting wood that isn’t too big to handle. In fact, it is excellent for preparing kindling, but it can handle some slightly bigger wood as well.

The three aspects you need to perform this cut is your hatchet, the piece of wood you are trying to cut, and some sort of backboard. The backboard could be a rock, stump, or anything else that is pretty solid and will not move given some pressure applied to it.

Take your piece of wood and put the hatchet straight on top of it with your hands draped around both the handle and the wood with the blade balancing against the other end of the wood. Once you have a good grip on everything, use the backboard to swing down on. The gravity, force down from you, and the force up from the backboard will cause the hatchet to cut right through. This is a fantastic way to get the job done.

General tips and tricks for splitting wood with a hatchet

Always play it safe

Whenever handling sharp tools, there are inherent dangers that come with it. So, as a general rule, you need to always play it safe. Never perform a technique that you do not feel comfortable doing. When you put your guard down in this way, that is when accidents can happen. Playing it safe and being smart about what you do with a hatchet is key.

Chop down wood into smaller bits first

It may seem obvious, but hatchets can only handle so much before not being able to cut effectively or at all. Using an axe to break up huge pieces of wood is key to break out the hatchet. Thankfully, there will be scenarios where this is not necessary, but breaking out the axe for the giant logs is a good way to set yourself up for success with a hatchet.

Not all logs are created equal

It is important to know that not all logs that you want to cut are created equal. By this, we mean that not every log or piece of wood should be cut with a hatchet. You need to pick your battles and correctly pick the logs that can be handled by a hatchet.

To find the best logs made for hatchet use, you can employ a bit of research and development. Test out what your specific tool can handle and how you can take advantage of what is at your disposal.

Take proper care of your hatchet

Finally, you need to make sure that your hatchet is in good shape and kept that way. The key to cleaning and safely cutting wood is by having a tool that can do the job well. This includes cleaning, sharpening, and proper storage. Just like with a regular knife, a dull hatchet is a dangerous one. If you do not take proper care of your hatchet, a lot of dangerous things could happen.

Closing thoughts

Now, you should have a much better idea about how to split wood with a hatchet. It is not as simple as it may seem, and with just a touch of background knowledge, you can do what you need to do effectively and safely. Take these tips with you so you can properly cut wood with a hatchet!

John Sunder

John Sunder, an outdoors and bushcraft enthusiast, is the founder and operator of Hatchets.net. A collector of axes and hatchets, he enjoys writing and educating people about these amazing and ancient tools while also writing about other outdoor experiences.

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