Decaying dead wood density measurements are a useful indicator for multiple purposes, such as for estimating the amount of carbon in dead wood and making predictions of potential diversity of dead wood inhabiting fungi and insects. Currently, qualitative decay phases are used as wood density estimates in many applications, since measuring the density is laborious. A quantitative measure of density would, however, be preferred over the qualitative one. Penetrometers, which are commonly used for measuring the density of standing trees, might also be applicable to dead wood density measurements. We tested the device for making quick, quantitative measurements of decaying logs. The penetrometer measures the depth into which a pre-loaded spring forces a pin in the wood. We tested pins of 5 and 10 mm diameter together with an original 2.5 mm pin and compared the results with gravimetric density measurements of the sample logs. Our results suggest that the standard pin works for less decayed wood, but for more decomposed wood, the thicker 5 mm pin gave more reliable estimates when the penetration measures were converted to densities with a linear regression function (R2 = 0.62, F = 82.9, p = 0.000). The range of wood densities successfully measured with the 5 mm pin was from 180 to 510 kg m–3. With the 10 mm pin, the measuring resolution of denser wood was compromised, while the improvement at the other end of density scale was not large. As a conclusion, the penetrometer seems to be a promising tool for quick density testing of decaying logs in field, but it needs to be modified to use a thicker measuring pin than the standard 2.5 mm pin.