What's the best target wood?

Choosing the best wood to use for your  axe throwing target will depend on your needs and what is most important to you. Is it more important to save every dollar possible at the expense of customer experience? Reduce clean up and maintenance time? Or deal with a little bit of odor  and wet the boards down regularly?

There are many different wood species out there that people are trying and below  is our experience. We have found that the best target boards consist of the following:

  • Wet, non kiln dried
  • Softer wood
  • 2in thick
  • kept wet


Lumber Yard Boards

Most lumber yard boards are of a pine variety and all are kiln dried dimensional lumber intended for the construction industry. These boards are mass produced by large mills making them cheap in comparison to a small sawmill. 

Pros: Easy to find and cheap to get

Cons: Splits easily, hard for beginners to stick an axe into them, messy. Generally you have to cut them down to 4ft. 


Cottonwood trees have very limited lumber quality to them because they don't tend to hold nails very well. It's mainly considered a trash tree but it can be used for pallets and food baskets. 

Cottonwood is an excellent choice because of its straight porous grain. It's much softer than kiln dried lumber when wet and will "heal" itself when penetrated with an axe allowing the board to be used much longer. 

Pros: Long lasting, easy to stick an axe, easier to find then basswood.

Cons: Has a foul odor (good ventilation helps a lot) Keeping it wet is the key to getting a longer life out of the board. Will chip out easier on the sides than basswood. Tendency to mold.


Basswood is widely used in wood carving, venetian blinds, and saunas. Like cottonwood it doesn't hold nails well and isn't generally found in large quantity.  

Basswood has become the favorite of a few of my customers because they tend to hold up the best and require the least maintenance. 

Pros: Long lasting, easy to stick an axe, doesn't require as much wetting down. Seems to last the longest. My customers have had more success flipping our 2in thick boards over to extend the life without them splitting.

Cons: Availability can be a problem in the winter. Produces more fine dust. Can not be soaked to extend it's life due to its water-repellant qualities. May be more expensive than cottonwood. 

Why McStash Mills? Why 2 Inch Thick?

  • Board ft price is $1.49 vs. $1.67 Elm City
  • More options for target boards
  • Lower shipping cost in the region. Shipping generally does not exceed $175 per pallet for: ND,SD, MN, IL, WI, MI
  • Personal delivery available for large orders in the region. Ask for details
  • Free boards included in every order
  • We can custom cut to your specific size

We have found that by using a select 2in board your board life is longer, labor cost go down and your customer experience goes up because more throws stick. Our customers have reported that the 1.5 inch boards blow out the back and split more then the 2inch thick boards allowing them to be flipped over and reused. In the end, you pay a little more for the board but you use it longer thus saving you time and money. 

2 x 8.25 x4ft  &  2 x 9.25 x 4ft

Pricing and Availability

Bass wood

$10 Each - (Sold out) Expected stock in October

Cotton wood

$10 Each - In Stock

Contact us
Please use the contact form to specify the size, type of wood, quantity and delivery location. We will respond within 24 hours. If faster service is needed please call or text the number below. 

Telephone: (701)430-9004

E-mail: aaron@mcwilliamsnd.com

16148 1st St. SE, Hillsboro ND, 58045

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