How To Cut Wood Without A Saw ( Top 6 Options)

Looking for a way on how to cut wood without a saw?

Awesome. You are in the right place

In this ToolsGaloreHQ.com blog, we will show you:

  • 6 of the best options 
  • Considerations to get the best cut
  • How to protect yourself (Safety)
  • And so much more!
how to cut wood without a saw

Before we continue and show you how to cut wood without a saw. Read the table below.

Quick Summary on the various techniques on how to cut wood without a saw

Here is a quick summary of the top 6 ways to cut wood without a saw:

  • Knife
  • Machete
  • Axe
  • Lathe
  • Laser cutter
  • Drill

What you need to know about how to cut wood without a saw.

Cutting wood without a saw can be a bit of a challenge, however it is possible with a bit of skill and experience.

Before you undertake this task however please be sure to factor in the considerations below.

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Use Personal Protective Equipment (Safety First!)

It is absolutely imperative that you take your safety seriously. A saw is a specialist tool specifically designed to cut wood.

When undertaking a wood cutting exercise that would typically be suited for a saw, without one – the risk of injury skyrockets.

You will not believe how many people get hurt simply because they do not wear the basic safety glasses, dust masks and workman gloves.

The type of wood to be cut

Certain types of wood are more suited for one or more of the above techniques.

In my experience if you are looking to cut unprocessed wood stumps, then you are better off going with an axe as opposed to a knife.

However if you are cutting a sheet of processed thin plywood, then a knife and laser cutter would be better suited than your typical axe blade.

The basic rule of thumb then is this: For processed wood (i.e. wood not in its natural state use options where you have more control.)

For options whereby you are not looking for an accurate cut and just want to create wood splints or raw wood chunks, then your machete or axe can be great tools to use.

Read More:>>> Do you want to know what are the best table saws for beginners? Find out more!

how to cut wood without a saw


Equipment You’ll need to learn how to cut wood without a saw

For ease of reference I have summarized all the equipment per the 10 different wood cutting methods

  • Knife
    • Knife with enough teeth per square inch
  • Machete
    • Typical Machete blade
  • Axe
    • Typical Axe blade
    • Sledge Hammer
    • Steel Wedge
  • Laser cutter
    • Laser cutting machine
  • CNC Router
    • Router
    • Work bench
    • Straight edge
  • Drill
    • Standard drill with wood drill bit
    • Standard chisel fit for size of wood

How to cut wood without a saw (6 alternative methods)

Method 1 – Knife

This method is fairly simple, you can use a standard bread knife/steak knife. This method works when you are cutting a relatively small piece of wood not greater than 3 or 4 inches in width.

You should start off by creating a small incision in the wood , then use your force to go back and forth.

In my experience, the best way to do this is to ensure that instead of trying to cut right through the wood – cut one side and repeat this on the opposite end.

Do this until the wood is soft enough to be broken off.

Use the knife to smooth out the wood chips and there you have it. A simple method to cut wood with a knife.

See the video below for a good explanation.


Method 2 – Machete

A machete is a type of a broad blade used in a similar manner as an axe. This tool is fantastic for cutting through branches and dead round wood with diameter less than 10 inches.

So this is more a chopping than cutting technique. Depending on the wood you seek to chop. You can either chop horizontally or vertically.

Be careful to protect you knees , legs and people around you. The use of a machete generally requires some form of active physical exertion.

In my experience – it is very common to get cut on your legs or knees. So to avoid this, people place a stopper (in the form of wood/ some barrier) to protect their legs.

When chopping, what often can happen is that your angle of attach can be too shallow creating a sort of glancing off the wood. This should be avoided as you can actually miss completely.

Try to enter into the wood at an angle of about 35 degrees. This has been seen especially by professionals as the optimal angle of attach.

The most important thing to note when chopping wood with a machete is that, technique and accuracy are more important than speed and power. Check the video below.


Method 3 – Axe

Cutting wood with an axe is another technique on how to cut wood without a saw.

An axe requires considerable force. This means that you will not be able to chop into wood with much accuracy.

This method of cutting/chopping wood is best for large wood stumps that are typically used as firewood.

A key thing here is make sure to remove the moisture from the wooden stumps. Wet wood is very difficult to chop.

The easiest method to do this is to store wood in a dry shed for a year. This will ensure that moisture is completely removed.

This process is called seasoning the wood and is very common.

When using an axe the blade often gets stuck in the wood. To ensure you get a good cut use your sledge hammer combined with a steel wedge to complete the cut.


Method 4 – Laser cutter

This is another method. Although slightly more on the expensive side.

Using the highly concentrated photon energy from a laser beam to burn an incision through the wood is another way in which you can cut wood without using a saw.

Be careful when implementing this method.

Since you are practically burning the wood, there can be some fumes that are released which can be quite hazardous. Hence the importance of your mask.


Method 5 – CNC Router

This is the most advanced and most equipment intensive method. However it still works as a method of cutting wood without a saw.

The use of a CNC router requires processed wood, usually in thin sheets (i.e. plywood). It does not work very well with wood stumps like your axes or machetes.

This is a very precise cutting method. In which you would program a computer to produce incisions and holes for your at pre-determined locations.

The machine uses many different drilling and cutting tools all of which you can configure to your liking.

View the video below for more details on how to perform a wood cut with a CNC machine.


Method 5 – Drill

The last common method requires the use of a drill and drill bit to punch holes along a determined path.

This method only works with softwood that has been processed (i.e. plywood).

The video below basically explains it best, but you would use your ruler/straight line tool and create a line.

Read More:>>> Find the Best Camping Saw for outdoor needs

Final Thought on how to cut wood without a saw

If you do not have your saw available, no need to worry. There are many ways in which you can still get around cutting your wood.

Feel free to share this with friend and family. Who knows when these different options might come in handy.

Mogale Modisane

Mogale Modisane

Mogale is a qualified B(Eng): Electrical Engineer. With experience working on large-scale Solar, Wind, and Hybrid Projects. He has been exposed to multiple tools throughout his career and has a keen interest in breaking down the often murky world of power tools, machines, and measurement equipment making them more accessible and understandable to everyone.

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Mogale Modisane

Mogale Modisane

Mogale is a qualified B(Eng): Electrical Engineer. With experience working on large-scale Solar, Wind, and Hybrid Projects. He has been exposed to multiple tools throughout his career and has a keen interest in breaking down the often murky world of power tools, machines, and measurement equipment making them more accessible and understandable to everyone.

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