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Wood cutter

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Skill: Wood Cutter
Woodcutter sprite preview.png
Profession Woodworker
Job Title Woodcutter
Labor Wood Cutting
  • Chop down trees
  • None, but needs axe
  • Strength
  • Agility
  • Endurance
  • Willpower
  • Spatial Sense
  • Kinesthetic Sense
This article is about the current version of DF.
Note that some content may still need to be updated.

Wood Cutter is a skill that allows a dwarf to chop down trees with an axe, turning them into wood logs. As wood is an essential resource, this is an important skill. As with other skills, it's developed with practice. Higher levels of the skill make felling trees quicker.

A dwarf must be selected in the Woodcutters work detail in order to chop down trees. It's a subset of "woodworking", together with carpentry and crossbow-making. This labor is also mutually exclusive with mining, because, like mining it requires a tool to be equipped, and thus has a uniform attached to it.

If you embark using the "Play Now!" option, one of the seven settlers will be a Novice Wood Cutter in the appropriate work detail. Graphically, any individual assigned as a woodcutter will be wearing a yellow tunic.

Cutting down trees[edit]

Trees need to be designated to be cut down. Specifically, designating any of the trunk tiles of a tree will do.

  1. Select "Set tree chopping orders" (in the bottom bar, or press Ui l.pngl).
  2. Click on the starting point (one corner of the desired triangle).
  3. Click (again) on the opposite corner of the desired rectangle to be cut. The trunk tiles of the trees that were in the rectangle should be highlighted, indicating that they will be chopped down.
    • Tiles can also be designated by using keyboard cursor if enabled.

After the trees are designated, any idle dwarf with the Wood Cutting work detail enabled and an axe equipped will start chopping them down. As with other tasks, the most recently designated target is processed first.

And you thought that your job was bad.

Trees can be cut from any point, not only from ground level, but in all cases, after the dwarf is done cutting, the tree transforms into a pile of logs that fall to the ground in a direction opposite from where the cutter was standing. The logs are not treated as falling objects--they cannot hurt any creatures they land on--but any objects previously sitting upon the tree (e.g. logs from previously felled trees, bolts, corpses, etc.) will fall with standard Dwarf Fortress lethality.


A dwarf needs to have an equipped edged axe to chop down trees. If a dwarf has the Wood Cutting work detail enabled but doesn't have an axe, they will pick up any available one from a stockpile. Thankfully, any immigrant that arrives with the wood cutting labor enabled will be carrying an axe[Verify].

There are no special axes for woodcutting; dwarves use standard battle axes. Creatures large enough to wield great axes and halberds can use them for woodcutting as well; however, due to Bug 5812, no dwarf can equip either weapon. Unlike axes in combat though, the quality or material of an axe appears to have no effect on any aspect of wood cutting - a no-quality copper axe is the same as a masterwork steel or adamantine axe. However, wood cutters will no longer use axes without edges, such as wooden training axes.

Unfortunately, it is not currently possible to assign woodcutters the same axe to use in the military as to use in civilian laborBug:1451.


  • Any part of the tree's "trunk" can be cut to bring the entire tree down. There is no "pruning" of tree limbs in Dwarf Fortress.
    • If you are unable to designate a tree to be cut down, check the higher levels. If an upper level of the tree is already designated for cutting, the "ground-level" trunk will not also be designated, and the tree will not be cut down unless that higher-level branch can be accessed.
  • Felled trees fall safely, but any objects that were previously supported by the tree will fall downward, with standard Dwarf Fortress lethality. Care must be taken to ensure that the woodcutters do not kill other friendly creatures.
    • Sometimes dwarves or livestock can get stuck in trees. Cutting down the tree in this case is generally a bad idea, since the creature will take a lot of damage on impact with the ground. Build a staircase up to the branches and try to coax the creature out first.
  • If the tile in the z-level under the tree's trunk is mined out first, cutting the tree down will remove the ground (floor) tile, creating a hole.
  • A single fully-grown tree can provide well over ten logs, making a wood-powered metal industry possible in a well-forested biome, if not always infinitely sustainable.
  • Many products can be made with materials other than wood. Wood cutting is a skill you could probably turn off and on as necessary, unless you need a continuous supply of wood for beds, charcoal, ash, or siege weapon parts and ammo.
  • As felling trees is usually done away from your fortress, it is an inherently dangerous activity in hostile areas, and care must be taken to ensure that the woodcutters are not killed by hostile creatures or ambushed. It may be helpful to assign woodcutters a war animal or other work animal.
  • Herbalists can gather fruit and nuts from a lot of trees. Stepladders aid this process. However, clear-cutting a large area will lower your food production if you rely a lot on herbalists. Underground "trees" (being the current in-game model for fungi) do not produce fruit.
  • Wood production can be sped up if the woodcutters are excluded from a wood hauling work detail, so they can focus on cutting more trees instead of hauling the logs from the last one to the nearest wood stockpile.

Woodcutting and the military:[edit]

There are several quirks, tricks and outright bugs found in the area overlapping woodcutters and axedwarves...

  • Due to a bug, the wood cutting labor conflicts with military uniforms. A military dwarf with wood cutting enabled will drop his uniform when transitioning to civilian duty. To avoid problems it is recommended you keep your military and wood cutters separate.
  • If you remove the woodcutting labour of your only woodcutter, his axe may be taken by the military, as well as all axes made subsequently. If you then assign the woodcutting labour to other dwarves, they will do nothing, as they cannot equip axes. To solve this, disband your military temporarily; the woodcutters will pick up axes, and you can then re-make your military squads.
  • There is bug where, if you had an axedwarf in the military, and then remove them from their squad, no other dwarf will pick up that axe for woodcutting. Go to your squads menu and disband that squad - that will free up the axe(s) for woodcutting duty.
  • Again - it's best if you can keep your woodcutters/woodcutting axes separate from your axedwarves/military axes.


D4Dwarf.png This article or section has been rated D for Dwarf. It may include witty humour, not-so-witty humour, bad humour, in-jokes, pop culture references, and references to the Bay12 forums. Don't believe everything you read, and if you miss some of the references, don't worry. It was inevitable.

In order to relieve the brainless monotony (aka: dwarven bliss) experienced by wood cutters, the diminutive log choppers often engage in competitive singing whilst whacking away at their arboreal nemeses, such that raucous renditions of the perpetually popular tune "I am a lumberjack and I'm OK" can be heard echoing throughout the timbered valleys found near their fortresses at ever increasing levels of volume. The overall loudness of the rendition is apparently the most critical value used to determine the winner. Unfortunately, this singing is fairly detrimental to overall harvesting productivity, as by the time most singers lay in to the third verse of the song, they have either convulsed into blithering (and debilitating) laughter, or they have run off to taunt the elves with their massive tooth picks whilst wearing their best cross dressing outfits (see further).

Sadly, wood cutters often fall victim to raiding goblins, as their cacophonous singing leads the goblins straight to them just as they are in a state of vocal euphoria, and are thus easy prey for the grimy gobbos. That said, there have been instances when their singing has soothed the savagery of nearby beasts, but reports of this are scarce as most dwarves are unwilling to admit their feat, for fear that it might be seen as undwarflike (aka cowardly).

Some dwarves have been known to carry on their person very large toothpicks, with which they clean their rather massive molars. These toothpicks are crafted by the woodcutters (in their off hours), sometimes using an entire tree to manufacture a single pick. Wood cutters take significant pride in the size of their toothpicks, which, in a pinch, can often double for poles used in pole vaulting contests (another popular dwarven pastime, an event usually called the 'Pole-Toss'). Thus the origin of the phrases "Go toss your pole" and "Is that a lumberjack's toothpick in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?" are explained.

Despite rumors, no giant has become a lumberjack. Much less one named Paul.

Fishery worker