How to Cut Wood Without a Saw and Which Tools to Use

If you’re wondering how to cut wood without a saw, this guide is for you. Here we will guide you through all the steps and tools you will need to cut wood in many different ways.

Everywhere we look around us, there’s something made of wood. From doors and windows to spatulas and chopping boards, it’s everywhere.

Its use started some 400 million years ago. It began with crude tools and weapons. Back then, there were no sharp saws or advanced equipment to cut wood.

In the past few decades, many new devices have hit the market to help people who work with wood. From axes to chainsaws, the list is enormous.

But the question is, is there a way to cut wood without a saw? The answer is yes!

In fact, wood has so many applications that a saw may not even be helpful in all cases!

So, let’s find out how to cut wood without a saw.

How to Cut Wood without a Saw

how to cut wood without a saw

We all know that there are innumerable uses of wood. Be it the structure of the house or the antique stacking dolls sitting in your showcase: wood is a part of our lives.

It is such a versatile material! It’s only natural that cutting wood demands different types of tools, depending on the use of wood.

One of the most popular tools for cutting wood is the saw. If you know anything about woodworking, you probably know that there are צשמט different types of saws.

Simple hand saws and hacksaws are still as popular as advanced table saws or miter saws. But more on power saws and hand saws, later! 

First steps to cutting wood

The first thing to do is to mark the wood. This will act as a guide for cutting when you start the actual work.

This is essential at every step. Markings help you when you want to chop out the piece for your work. They also act as guidelines that you can follow to cut wood with precision without eyeballing it.

Tools for Cutting Wood – Other than Saw

There are plenty of tools that you can use to cut, chop, or shape wood. Some tools are traditional and basic, while others are state-of-the-art devices.

These give sharp edges and precision. They come in handy in different situations, depending on the volume and purpose of the final work.

Let’s look at the different tools for cutting wood:

a) Knife

A simple knife is a versatile tool that comes in handy at home. You can say that its versatility makes it the perfect tool for wood.

how to cut wood without a saw
Cutting wood without a saw using a sharp knife

It is primitive, but it’s effective in cutting everything from fruits to timber. Besides, knives are readily available. 

If you know how to use a knife properly, you will be able to cut a piece of wood into a particular size or to shape lumber into a perfect square.

Indeed, you may not be able to get the same performance from every single knife lying around in the house. 

Surprisingly enough, a small pocket knife can work wonders if it is sharp enough. You can also use knives for hunting and whittling to cut wood.

To sharpen your knife and get a sharp blade, use a high-quality file. Only then can you use your house knife to get good results. 

The best way of cutting wood with a knife is by using the slanting technique.

All you have to do is maintain a slanted position when you hold the wood. Achieving angle is vital for cutting the wood before you trim off the edges of the wood. 

To avoid cutting large chunks away while using a knife, you need to start by cutting small pieces only from the wood before snapping off the wood in the thinner part.

After that, you can continue to work on smoothening the edges of the wooden piece.

b) Axe

An axe is a traditional tool for cutting down trees and chopping and splitting wood. Even now, axing a tree is kind of a tradition or sport in which men indulge for some holiday fun, especially when power tools are not available to do the job.

The best way to go about this is by drawing a line and marking the points clearly on the wood.

This will guide you when you start cutting or chopping. To begin the process, you have to cut the wood into small pieces. Don’t forget to maintain a gap of 2-3 inches from the line you draw. 

It’s ideal to hold the wood down firmly and strike it with the axe at an angle of 45 degrees to chop it.

Do this on both sides with a smooth, swift swing to form a V-shape. That way, the process of chopping wood with an ax will become much more manageable. 

c) Chisel

Another tool for cutting wood is a chisel. It has a sharp blade for shaping wood, which needs to be sharpened with a file.

how to cut wood without a saw

You need to place the flat side of the blade firmly on the surface of the wood with both your hands and start carving it at an angle of about 20 degrees.  

To hit it with your hammer, hold the chisel with your non-dominant hand while operating the hammer with the other hand.

Once you have hit the chisel a couple of times, check wood to see how the wood shapes up. Repeat the process if you are not satisfied with the shape.  

Chisels are standard tools of carpentry and wood art, used for chipping and shaping wood. Besides, using this tool does not need a lot of labor.

From scraping and cutting to chopping and paring, a chisel can do a lot. Quite naturally, it is a popular wood-cutting tool.  

d) Drilling Machine

Drilling machines can be used for making holes in wood. But if used correctly, a drilling machine might also come in handy for cutting lumber.

With the help of a drilling machine, you can perforate the wood along a certain line drawn on a section of it.  

Once all the perforations are created, you have to repeat the process. Eventually, this will make the wood weak, and it will break along the perforations.

You may need to put a little pressure to break the wood. You can always use a sharp knife to trim the edges.  

Power drills use a tool called a bit to make little holes in the wood, while a “force” is used to push the “bit” through the wood.

The bits you will use usually range in diameter from 1/16th of an inch to half an inch, depending on the project. These are available in sets or individually.

e) Machete

Another popular way of cutting wood is by using a machete. Most people would not conceive of using a machete for intricate wood-cutting.

It seems more useful for hacking away branches and twigs while making your way through heavy woods. 

But if you use a heavy machete with a solid blade of steel and good swing power, it can be useful in cutting wood.

Needless to say, the blade needs to be sharp to be able to cut through raw lumber and give you clean cuts along the line drawn on the wood. 

Having a distinct sawing line on the wood makes things easy for you. Along this line, create small cuts while holding the machete in a slanted position.

Repeat this on all sides till you break the wood into two pieces. You can use the machete to smoothen the edges.  

f) Router

An electric router is also a helpful tool for cutting wood. Like a drill, this one, too, needs a bit, though the bit is a little different from that of the drill.

To cut wood with a router, you need to use a pattern. At the time of working on the edges, the router’s bit will use a guide bearing. 

Once you install the bit, you will need to adjust the gauge of the tool on the basis of the depth of cutting wood. By pulling the router’s trigger, you can engage the wood before moving the device to make the cut.

You have to continue to put pressure on the handle until you’re done. 

You can cut wood in different ways with the help of a router, thanks to the bits. There are various types of router bits that can be used for cutting the edges of the wood.

However, you have to ensure that the gauge is properly set first before you start the process of trimming. 

g) Lathe

Another excellent tool for cutting wood is the lathe. It is a machine that uses a rotational motion, moving on its axis to cut a piece of wood. It also helps with other woodworks like sanding, drilling, turning, and more.

It has two strong supports or “centers”, which are used for holding a piece of wood.    

You have to mark the wood’s center before placing it between the centers of the lathe. By turning it on the lowest setting, you can begin cutting the wood.

Then, the edges have to be moved to make them parallel to wood’s rotation. The lathe can help to cut cylindrical and angular shapes out of wood. 

h) Hand Plane

A hand plane is the perfect tool that can give wood an even cut. Get ready to put your muscles to use if you manage to lay your hands on a manual hand plane.

Now there are motorized planers available, too. These are rotary planers that make bigger jobs much easier, giving you a smooth wooden surface. 

To get the best result, you will have to ensure that the tool is properly aligned. You can adjust the depth of the plane and move from one side of the wood to the other.

This is more of a shaving device and not exactly for cutting purposes. But you need to equip it with a sharp blade, like other wood-cutting tools.  

i) Hookaroon

If you’re not exactly looking for a tool to give you refined woodwork, a hookaroon might work for you.

Granted, it will not give you sharp, clean edges or intricate work, but it is good enough to cut logs for storage purposes, though it is mostly used for dragging wood. 

The tool has a sharp hook or spike at the end of a wooden handle. This blade hook can firmly bite into a piece of wood or log so you can lug it around.

So, basically, it is more of a wood-handling tool, and it can also help maintain a firm grip on the wood while working.  

So you can see a saw is not your only option to cut wood. There are various tools that can be used instead of a saw to cut wood. 

Types of Saws to Cut Wood 

When it comes to cutting wood, the saw is an easy tool to use. Even with all the tools available, power saws and hand saws are still popular. Let’s take a quick look at the different types of saws commonly used for wood-cutting.

  • Hand Saw: The hand saw, or panel saw, is the most basic of all saws. It is a panel of a sharp metallic blade that needs your effort to cut wood.
  • Japanese Saw: This pull saw has a thin blade with crosscut teeth and rip teeth on either side. They help create a guiding line first and then cut along it.
  • Coping Saw: This bow saw has a blade held by a C-frame. Carpenters and artists use it to cut internal profiles, external shapes, moldings, etc.  
  • Jigsaw: A jigsaw or reciprocating saw is perfect for cutting shapes in plywood. It drifts easily, and you can maneuver it to cut custom shapes.
  • Band Saw: A saw with some serious power levels, the band saw can work its magic in silence. But it needs a pro hand as it tends to drift away from lines.
  • Miter Saw: It is a motorized saw that’s capable of making crosscuts with accuracy. The original and compound varieties are for wood-cutting.
  • Table Saw: This woodworking tool is fit for pro use. It’s a motorized device with a circular blade. It’s not portable, but its versatility makes it popular.

With such a wide range of saws, it’s no wonder that these are common choices for cutting wood. But these tools may not be perfect for all purposes.

That’s where the other wood-cutting equipment comes into the scene. The different types of tools increase the versatility of wood.


The saw has been a traditional favorite for people who work with wood. There are different types of saws available for cutting wood. However, it is not possible to use a saw in every kind of wood-cutting.

Other tools have to be used. Such wood-cutting tools can perform cutting, shaving, shaping, drilling, and other jobs. Clearly, you can easily do lots of things with wood with tools other than a saw.