Cross cutting 2


There are plenty of reasons why cross cutting a tree or large branch is needed.  What is important to remember is safety, you really don’t want to have an accident with an axe.  Ordinarily I carry the Gransfor Bruks small hunters axe and whilst this is perfectly sufficient to cross cut a tree or limb, I do find that it means that I have to bend over more that I like to cross cut.  So, if I’m able, I use a large forest axe instead, saving my back a lot of strain it doesn’t need.

Cross cutting is what it says, cutting across a tree trunk or branch.  To do this, make sure that no part of the branch or trunk is under any tension or pressure and likely to spring up or towards you as the wood is severed.  I like to make sure that the branch is off the ground a couple of inches by putting some branches under it.  This provides a little extra safety as it is less likely that the axe can miss the target, and it also stops you from putting your axe into the ground; this is important where we are because of all the flint in the ground.

  • Stand with your legs apart and your feet firmly planted on the opposite side of the branch to where you intend to cut.
  • Hold the axe in both hands near the end of the handle.
  • Make a 45 degree cut with the axe from the right into a centre line between your legs.  You need both power and control to make this cut, so don’t start swinging the axe above your head.  Try to get the swing from your elbows; it is a little tiring on the arms but much safer than swinging from the shoulders.
  • Make another cut at 45 degrees from the left into the centre line.
  • Make a cut straight into the centre line; this cut should remove the wood.
  • The cuts should be perpendicular.
  • Repeat until you are about half way through and then change to the other side of the branch and repeat.

Stefano cross cutting with a large forest axe

cross cutting | Axe skills | Kent

We’ve got another post here showing you how to split a log along its length.

You can see plenty of photos of us in action, plus from all of our courses on our Facebook page.


About Gary

Lead Instructor at Jack Raven Bushcraft, teaching bushcraft, wilderness and survival skills to groups and individuals.


Leave a Reply

2 thoughts on “Cross cutting