TOOLS OF THE BUSH: Tree/Wood Processing

Note: This article may contain commentary or the author's opinion.

If you’ve been reading our past pieces you’ll know that it’s pretty important when you’re out in the woods in a survival situation to be able to have an ongoing source of wood. Whether that’s tiny sticks for kindling, medium sized branches for burning, turning into a makeshift shelter, or making traps, or big logs to keep you warm all night or cook your dinner, you need to be able to get wood processed quickly and efficiently. Today I’ll lay out the three most popular choices for wood processing out in the bush and tell you which of these I prefer.


While it is true that we’ve already said the best survival knife is one that is much smaller than a large chopper, that’s for a minimalist EDC survival scenario where weight is and mobility are considerations. In the situation of throwing stuff in a pickup truck or stocking a cabin with tools that you’ll need to get work done we can make some exceptions. While big knives might not be the best choice if it’s one of the only tools you’ll have, they’re excellent for clearing brush, taking down smaller trees, and pounding through logs. There’s plenty of designs out there to choose from but I generally prefer a Bolo shape as the weight on the front of the blade help with chopping and splitting.


An axe or a hatchet is such a useful tool but often gets left behind due to the weight and the size it takes up. Again, this wouldn’t be the tool you’d want if it was the only thing you had (Sorry to all you Hatchet fans out there) but in a cabin or truck these are excellent and extremely useful tools to have around. The obvious use with be splitting logs and kindly much more quickly than with a large knife, but you can also use the butt of the axe to pound stakes into the ground or pegs into beams for your shelter. Axes are also an excellent tool to rid larger logs or beams of branches to use in shelter construction. While a lot of people think that chopping down trees with their axe, that’s actually very tiring and less efficient than our next tool.


Camp saws are one of the most invaluable tools you can have for processing wood. They make taking large trees down much, much easier and they’re very light compared to a full size axe. They’re also extremely useful for cutting precise notches into beams to construct a shelter and to cut precise notches into medium sized branches to make all sorts of different traps to catch food. While the motion of sawing can be draining on your forearms and shoulders, it’s nowhere near the exertion of swinging an axe all day. You’ll be very happy to have a saw in any camping or survival situation that requires processing wood. This is absolutely my preferred method of processing wood and if you try all of these out for yourself I’m confident that it’ll be yours as well.

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