6 Bushcraft Axe Skills Any Survivalist Should Know

Bushcraft axes are a great multi tool to take with you in the wild. Almost important as remembering to take your trusty axe is knowing how to use it. With the right knowledge at bushcraft axe can be a great time and energy saver. For helping you start a fire, to cleaning game, and even making an ice shelter.. Here’s some great bushcraft axe skills that every survivalist should know.

bushcraft axe skills

Chopping Wood

You probably expected this one. One of the primary purposes of an axe is to chop wood. There’s a right way to chop wood, though. It’s a skill every survivalist should master. Chopping wood is a pillar of success for survival. If you know how to chop wood, you can harvest a valuable natural resource that will benefit your survival. Here’s the right way to chop wood with a bushcraft axe.

  1. Grab your hatchet by the end of its handle.
  2. Pick your mark on the piece of wood you want to chop.
  3. Angle your axe head approximately 30° from the piece of wood.
  4. Swing your arm through a 2 foot range of motion along the angle of attack.
  5. Alternate sides of the axe, ensuring you keep a 30° angle from the other side.
  6. Keep chopping away and chips of wood should chop out.
  7. Keep chopping in while alternating sides every few strokes until you’ve cut through your piece of wood.

Chopping wood is easy with this technique because of the alternating swings that bite away more wood than chopping head-on. This method works for chopping down trees too. Just make sure you get out the way before they fall!

After you’ve chopped through your wood, you’ll have shorter pieces that are easier to use. You can use your chopped wood for making fires, or use it to make a splint. Tough woods that are cut with an axe will be great for making splints. This is a great survival skill that every bushcraft enthusiast should know.

Splitting Wood

Splitting wood is essential to setting up your fire right. Split wood will burn easier than larger logs and make your fire easier to start. The extra time spent putting your wood will be well worth it when your fire burns nice and hot. You won’t be able to split large rounds with your bushcraft axe. Small and medium size logs should be relatively easy to split though.

  1. Find a nice flat stump or large log to act as a chopping block.
  2. Place the log you want to split on The chopping block so that it stands up lengthwise.
  3. Take your mark on the top of the log near the middle. Keep your eye on it.
  4. Raise your hatchet above your head and get ready to swing downwards.
  5. Swing your arm downwards while keeping your eye on your mark. Focus on swinging through the log to bury the hatchet deep.
  6. With the hatchet and log attached, hammer them down onto your chopping block.
  7. Keep hammer the log and axe down onto the chopping block until the log splits.

After splitting a pile of wood, you should have some nice fuel for the fire. Don’t ignore the first step and use the ground as your chopping block instead. Chopping blocks are important to protecting both you and your axe from damage. A chopping block will catch a glancing blow and prevent it from hurting you. A chopping block will also keep the axe from swinging into the dirt. Swing into the dirt will dull the blade and damage the steel with plenty of knicks.

Splitting what is a great skill to know. You can turn larger logs into smaller firewood that is better suited for burning and making fire structures. This is a great bushcraft axe skill to have for one you need to kick-start your campfire.

Snow/Ice Cutting

Using a bushcraft axe to cut through snow and ice will save yourself time and energy. Instead of chipping away at snow with a knife, you can use your axe as a powerful chisel and easily cut through ice and snow. If you’re in a winter environment this is an invaluable use of your bushcraft hatchet. You’ll likely use this for making an ice shelter in a snowy environment.

Ice shelters a surprisingly warm and similar to igloos. They’ll maintain up to around a 32 degrees C temperature inside with one person. If you add more people or heat sources such as candles you can easily have a toasty ice structure that will keep you warm all night long. While the duo from Dual Survival uses a snowshoe as a shovel, you can substitute this for your bushcraft axe.

Defensive Weapon

While it should only be used as a last resort, a bushcraft axe is still a great weapon. If you’re ever in a pinch and need to defend yourself, a bushcraft hatchet will work great,. The sharp axe head and heavy hits can slice to bone and even break bones with concussive force. It’s not the ideal survival weapon, but it’s certainly better than nothing. A few well-placed swings on a predator, enemy, or even a zombie in a worst-case scenario, could save your life.

Dressing Animals

My bushcraft hatchet is sometimes a necessity for dressing animals. In the case of squirrels, a sharp hatchet is needed to hack off feet and move forward with skinning the animal. Bushcraft axes and tomahawks can also be used to skin larger game. if you encounter a tough bone in a piece of meat, a good hack with an axe should separate it easily.

Gransfors Bruks even makes a hunter’s Hatchet to the specially designed for skinning. The hatchet has a polished skinning palm on the back that’s great for separating fur from meat. You can process a deer in a short while with the right technique using your bushcraft axe.

Signaling for Survival

A bushcraft hatchet can also be used to signal for survival. While you may be thinking of the reliable method of starting a fire and using that to signal for survival, there’s an additional method. if your bushcraft hatchet has a great polish on it, you can use it as an improvised signaling mirror.

By reflecting the Sun’s light off your hatchet’s polish you can send bright flashes of light directed towards any potential rescuer in your line of sight. if you ever used to signal mirror before, the process is exactly the same, just with a hatchet face instead of a mirror.

  1. Bring the polished axe face near your face and point it into the sun.
  2. Keeping the face in the sun, point the flat hatchet face towards your potential rescuer.
  3. Rotate the axe face roughly 15 degrees in multiple directions quickly to create flashes of light.
  4. Repeat until you get an acknowledgement back that they have seen your signals.
  5. Help is on the way. Stay put and wait for rescue. Be attentive of any rescuers calling for you.


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