8 Best Wood for Axe Throwing Target Boards + Woods to Avoid

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Axe-throwing enthusiasts often face disappointment due to the target’s poor quality and short lifespan. To avoid this pitfall, it’s crucial to select the best wood for axe-throwing target boards during construction.

In this guide, I will assist you in making a wise decision, ensuring your target meets expectations and serve its purpose effectively.

Why Make Your Own Axe-Throwing Target?

By crafting a personal wood project for your axe-throwing target, you’ll have the advantage of refining your aim at your convenience, without the need to borrow or share. You can maximize the benefits of owning a target rather than borrowing one to hone your axe-throwing skills.

Popular Wood Types for an Axe-Throwing Target

1. Cottonwood

Cottonwood stands out as an exceptional and best wood for axe-throwing targets due to its distinct properties. As a softwood, it possesses numerous desirable qualities that make it well-suited for crafting reliable and high-performing wood for axe-throwing targets.

Self-Healing

Cottonwood’s ability to absorb moisture enables it to exhibit self-healing characteristics. When axes puncture the wood, the resulting holes seal up rapidly upon removal, thanks to their unique properties.

cottonwood for axe throwing target

Axe Sticks Efficiently

I also appreciate Cottonwood’s soft texture and straight grain. It’s fantastic for beginners since it doesn’t require you to exert a lot of force to get a satisfying stick. The straight grain ensures that your axe doesn’t take a sudden, unexpected turn as you throw, allowing for a more predictable trajectory.

Highly Durable

Cottonwood boasts greater longevity compared to many other wood types, such as Pine. Crafting a durable axe-throwing target using Cottonwood end grain ensures enhanced durability and resistance to splitting or cracking.

Soundproof

Cottonwood’s capacity to absorb moisture results in trapped water molecules within its fibers. This water content provides natural shock resistance and soundproofing qualities. As a result, when an axe strikes a Cottonwood target, the impact generates less noise.

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Cons

2. Pine Wood

Pine serves as a viable choice and one of the best wood for axe boards due to its balanced characteristics. I’ve found that this wood offers a fantastic balance—strong enough to withstand repetitive throws, yet soft enough to allow for an easy, satisfying stick.

pinewood for axe throwing target

Easy To Work With

I’ve always liked Pinewood for its ease of workability, making it an excellent wood choice even for beginners. Its favorable screwing and nailing properties contribute to its widespread use in various woodworking projects.

Durable

Pinewood axe throwing targets offer lasting durability, capable of withstanding years of use. The thickness of Pine boards ensures resilience against repeated throws, while their resistance to shrinking and swelling in varying weather conditions prevents cracking.

Widely Available

Pinewood’s accessibility is another advantage, as it is commonly found in many hardwood stores. This ease of procurement enables you to readily source high-quality Pinewood for crafting your axe-throwing target, facilitating ample practice opportunities.

pros and cons of pine wood

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3. Douglas Fir

Because of its dense nature, Douglas Fir is a excellent option for building the wooden frame of a target board, as it provides substantial resistance against axe impacts, making it difficult for them to penetrate.

These robust, high-quality planks effectively absorb the impacts from off-target throws, providing a safer environment for repeated throwing.

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4. Poplar Wood

Poplar is a widely favored and best wood for axe targets due to its exceptionally smooth surface and non-resinous nature for throwing axes on your own target.

Easy Healing

Poplar, a soft wood, possesses regenerative properties that make it highly suitable for axe-throwing target materials. Its soft and forgiving nature allows the board to fill hole marks and return to its original state once the axe edge is removed.

Poplar for axe throwing target

Axe Adheres Easily

Boasting a straight vertical grain and uniform texture, Poplar wood readily accommodates axe hits through its fibers. As a result, the axe blade sticks effectively and with minimal effort, offering a satisfying experience for throwers without the need for excessive force.

High Durability

Poplar targets display remarkable durability, lasting 4 to 7 times longer than ordinary dry boards, such as bullseyes. Owing to its inherent strength, a Poplar axe target is versatile and suitable for both outdoor and indoor use.

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5. Willow Wood

If you’re looking to up your axe-throwing game and want a wood that’s both durable and aesthetically pleasing, let me recommend Willow. I’ve used this hardwood for several targets, and it has some features that make it stand out in a crowd of options.

Highly Workable

The first thing you’ll appreciate about Willow is how easy it is to work with. Its straight grain and smooth texture are a dream when it comes to sanding, painting, and gluing. As a result, even woodworking beginners can utilize Willow wood to create their desired axe-throwing targets with ease.

willow wood for axe throwing target

Less Noisy

Willow wood stands out as a quieter option for axe-throwing game targets compared to many other wood types. When an axe strikes the target, the wood absorbs the shock and noise, resulting in minimal disturbance.

Beautiful Build

Willow wood’s pinkish-brown hue and uniform texture contribute to an aesthetically pleasing axe-throwing target. Its straight grain is advantageous for finishing, as it readily accepts wood finishers, further enhancing the target’s visual appeal.

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6. Spruce Wood

Spruce, a widely favored softwood for axe-throwing targets, becomes softer over time, allowing the axe’s sharp edges to penetrate deeply into the wood with minimal effort.

Axe Sticks Easily

Spruce’s softness enables an axe’s sharp edge to easily pierce the wood, allowing for a secure grip even without excessive force. This characteristic ensures deeper cuts and reliable axe adherence upon impact with the target board.

spruce wood for axe throwing target

High Workability

Spruce boasts excellent workability, with easy sawing and favorable nailing properties. Its tendency to dry quickly without warping or splitting makes it an accessible choice for woodworking beginners creating axe-throwing targets.

Self-Healing

Spruce wood’s self-healing properties, unique to softwoods, enable axe-throwing targets to retain a fresh appearance and improved durability, as holes seal up upon axe removal.

Attractive Appearance

As Spruce wood ages, its color transforms from bright to a reddish-white hue, darkening over time. This change imparts a rich, aesthetically pleasing appearance to the axe-throwing target boards.

Affordability

Spruce, an affordable option for axe-throwing targets, offers versatility and great value. Its use extends beyond targets to various indoor and outdoor woodworking projects.

pros and cons of spruce wood

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7. Cedar Wood

Cedar, a softwood, is an ideal choice and one of the best wood for axe-throwing target materials. What really seals the deal for me is its aromatic scent that also serves as a natural insect repellent—talk about a two-for-one benefit!

Durable

Cedarwood boasts high durability, making it ideal for outdoor axe-throwing targets. Resistant to decay, rot, insects, and environmental factors, Cedar is also moisture-resistant and unlikely to warp.

Lightweight

Cedarwood axe-throwing targets can be effortlessly hung in any location, even at higher altitudes, due to their ease of use.

High Workability

Cedar wood is user-friendly and easy to work with, offering good finishing properties and compatibility with various tools. Its soft nature facilitates nailing and screwing, making it an ideal choice for beginners.

cedar wood for axe throwing target

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8. Palm Wood

Palm is an excellent choice for axe-throwing targets, offering a unique tropical aesthetic. Discover the key attributes of Palmwood that make it well-suited for axe-throwing targets:

Rot-Resistant

Palm wood is hard, low-density, and retains a high moisture content without compromising its structure. Its resistance to rot, decay, and excellent weather resistance make it an ideal choice for constructing outdoor axe-throwing targets.

Beautiful Appearance

Palmwood axe-throwing targets boast a distinct and striking appearance. The natural, uniform texture of Palmwood contributes to its unique aesthetic appeal in woodworking.

Lightweight

Palm wood is among the lightest woods available, making it easy to create and handle axe-throwing targets crafted from it.

palm wood for axe throwing target

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Wood Types To Avoid For Your Axe Throwing Target

Maple

In my experience, Maple is a no-go for axe-throwing targets. That high Janka hardness of 1,450 lbf doesn’t play well with axe blades, making penetration a real issue. Plus, Maple doesn’t have self-healing properties, which means your target will wear out quickly.

But if you’re looking for the best wood for bathroom shelves, maple wood is one of the good options. 

Oak

Oak has always been a favorite of mine for furniture and cabinets, but let me tell you, it’s not the wood you want for axe-throwing. The dense grain pattern may look gorgeous, but it’s tough as nails for an axe to penetrate. While great for other woodworking projects, it’s not ideal for targets.

Plywood

Plywood, made from glued laminated sheets, is noisy when struck by axes and prone to axe bouncing back. Its perpendicular wood grain makes it difficult for axes to penetrate deeply, requiring heavy axes for successful throws.

plywood layers

SPF

I used to find SPF as a convenient option for axe boards and targets; it was affordable and pretty easy to get ahold of. But lately, due to global supply chain issues, SPF has become both hard to find and expensive. So, even if you could get it, it might not be worth the hassle anymore.

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Is it Advisable to Use Pressure-Treated Wood for Your Axe Throwing Target?

Pressure-treated wood is a viable option for outdoor targets due to its durability and longevity. While it may be costlier and less accessible than untreated wood, proper maintenance ensures lasting performance.

Why Wood Matters to Get the Most Out Of Your Target

The wood type significantly influences axe sticking and board durability in axe-throwing targets. Each wood has distinct strengths and weaknesses, impacting performance. If there aren’t many options available in your area, you can also use a tree stump for an outdoor target.

Tips for Making Your Axe-Throwing Target With an Artist’s Touch

With your chosen wood for axe throwing, transform it into an attractive target by mounting boards side-by-side on a wall or stand. Soon, you’ll be hitting bullseyes with ease!

Paint Like the Pros

To paint the target, follow WATL (World Axe Throwing League) [1] regulations, which specify a 1.5″ bullseye, elevating the game’s challenge.”

axe throwing target

Freestyling

Customize your home practice target as desired, but consider painting a smaller bullseye to sharpen your aim and enhance your skills.

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Conclusion

Selecting the best wood for axe-throwing target boards is essential for an optimal experience and improved performance. Cottonwood and Poplar stand out as top choices due to their excellent balance of durability and workability, ensuring a long-lasting and reliable target.

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Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.

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