Green woodworking - the craft of making everyday items from recently felled timber - is having a revival in the Lost Woods project area.

For centuries, specialist craftspeople made everyday products such as fencing, homeware and furniture from local woodlands. To help keep these traditional skills alive, we're running a range of green woodworking courses. Our lead trainer Chris Keeler has put together this quick guide to the most commonly used tools in green woodworking. If you attend one of our courses this year, then you can expect to get to know these pretty well!

As a fourth-generation forester and coppice worker, Chris grew up in the sweet chestnut coppice woods of Kent and has worked in the coppice, woodland, and arboriculture industry for over 20 years. He also teaches woodland management and heritage skills for the Small Woods Association.


A Froe is an ‘L’ shaped tool used to split, cleave or rive green wood. It consists of a wooden handle that forms the tall part of the ‘L’ and a metal blade that forms the short part, with an edge on the very bottom of the blade. A froe is placed on the end grain of the wood and is driven in with a wooden mallet. The handle is then manipulated by the worker to control the split and prevent it ‘running off’ as it is worked down, using gentle pressure.

A froe. Copyright Emma Goldsmith/ Small Woods


A drawknife is used with a device called a shave horse (a green woodworker’s clamp). This is a sharp blade with a handle on each end that is drawn towards you along the wood to remove bark, or shavings of wood. A very precise tool!

A draw knife. Copyright Emma Goldsmith/ Small Woods


You are probably familiar with an axe, but a side-axe is a little different. The profile on a normal axe is symmetrical, meaning the bevel is equal on both sides. On a side-axe, the bevel is profiled flat on one side so that a smooth finish can be achieved on the wood. They come in both right and left-handed, a range of sizes. The side-axe was traditionally used to hew out beams and planks for buildings.

A side-axe


The quintessential coppice working tool, the billhook has multiple uses and can be found in many different styles, depending on the geographical region it was made in. It usually has one curved edge, although there are styles that are double edged. A billhook is used in coppicing to cut thin poles, remove the branches, and then cut rods to length. It is also used in hedge laying to cut pleachers and shape the hedge, in hurdle making to split hazel rods in half, and to chop and split kindling and small pieces of firewood. It is truly the multi purpose tool for the green wood worker!

A billhook

So now that you know a bit about green woodworking tools, come and learn how to use them! Take a look at our upcoming subsidised green woodworking courses and either book your place or register your interest. We have a few spaces left on gate hurdle making courses this Summer, you can book here.

The Lost Woods project is made possible thanks to players of the National Lottery.