Felling Axes and Other Wood Axes: Part 2 – Safe Handling
Proper axe safety begins before your first swing. Always inspect your hand axe, splitting axe, or felling axe prior to use. Verify that the head is firmly attached to the haft, and that the haft is free of splits or cracks which can compromise the tool’s integrity. Never use an axe if there is noticeable damage to the haft! Damaged hafts should e replaced immediately, to prevent the possibility of breakage or loosening of the axe head during use. A flying axe head can cause serious injury to both you and nearby persons.
To reduce the chances of the axe becoming snared in clothing, avoid wearing ties, scarves, and other loose clothing during chopping. Steel-toed or strong leather boots afford good protection to your toes and feet in the event of a miss swing. Trainers and other soft shoes offer little protection. Accidental miss swings can also cause serious injury to your eyes, hands, and face. Use safety goggles and properly fitting gloves.
It should go without saying, but never use an axe if you are tired, on medication, under the influence of alcohol, or otherwise impaired. Working in such a state increases the chance of a miss swing which can lead to serious injury not only to yourself, but to others around you as well.
Blunt axes can slip or bounce off of the chopping surface. Keep your wood axe sharp by using a carborundum stone. Also be sure to chop directly over the chopping block when wood splitting. The wood being cut should be resting on the block. Never chop against the ground, as the axe can bounce or become damaged by coming into contact with rocks, concrete, and other hard or uneven surfaces.
It is good practice to carry the axe cradled upside down, with your arms at your side. With your fingers out of the way, ensure that the bit faces forward. In this fashion, you would not be hurt in a fall and you are unlikely to swing the axe blade into a nearby person on accident. Following these tips will help to keep you and others safe from accidental injury.
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