Axe & Chain Saw Safety

Axe & Chain Saw Safety
Chopping wood is becoming more common with wood burning stoves gaining in popularity as well as for camping - but how do you perform this task safely? The simple task of cutting up logs can be potentially deadly if you do not follow a few simple rules when using a hand axe to chop wood.


First, keep the hand axe in a sheath over the blade of the axe when not in use. Covering the axe both protects the axe blade and any person who can become injured by the sharp axe blade. Before using a hand axe inspect the wood handle or haft for nicks or cracks. Also, make sure that the blade is attached securely to the haft and that it does not wiggle on the end of the haft. If the blade is not firmly attached to the haft it is possible for the blade to fly off while you are working with it.
For maximum protection it is important to have the correct personal protective equipment like a set of safety glasses and safety boots while chopping wood. With splinters capable of flying in any direction safety glasses are required. Even the smallest piece of wood coming in contact with your eyes can cause a major injury. With the possibility of large pieces of wood falling or the axe missing the target while chopping safety shoes with steel toes are recommended.

Remember to have a firm and stable surface when chopping wood. Never use an axe by attempting cut a log leaning against an uneven surface. The log may spring off to one side but the axe may continue to fall possibly into your leg or foot. The axe may continue to fall hitting a rock which may dull the blade. To maintain a stable surface it is important to keep your chopping area clean and free of debris. When you are finished chopping one log stack the pieces to the side before beginning again with a new log
It is important that the log you are cutting with a hand axe it less than three inches thick and does not contain material in it such as old nails or spikes. Foreign objects embedded into a wood log can hurl into the air while chopping wood and can injure you or other people in the process. The general rule is that if the wood log has metal in it throw it away it is not worth the trouble the flying metal can cause for a few sticks of wood.

Your cutting stance is very important. When cutting wood with an axe it is important to use both hands to maintain control of the axe. Plant your feet firmly on the ground, a few inches apart to balance your weight. You should be standing right in front of the platform with the log squarely in the center of your line of sight. You need to be balanced in order to deliver the most power with each stroke and be prepared to deal with a situation that may arise while chopping wood.

Now that you have made the important preparations you are ready to chop wood. Lift the hand axe with both hands firmly gripping the haft aim at the center of the log. Your goal is to hit the wood directly in the center. Hitting the wood on the side or to the front can cause a glancing blow may resulting in injury. Put all of your strength behind the axe and deliver the blow. If your axe does not break the wood in half with the first hit, tap the axe now embedded in the log on the platform until it makes its way down the grain and splits the log into two pieces.


Operating a chain saw is inherently hazardous. Potential injuries can be minimized by using proper personal protective equipment and safe operating procedures.

Before Starting a Chain Saw
  • Check controls, chain tension, and all bolts and handles to ensure that they are functioning properly and that they are adjusted according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Make sure that the chain is always sharp and the lubrication reservoir is full.
  • Start the saw on the ground or on another firm support. Drop starting is never allowed.
  • Start the saw at least 10 feet from the fueling area, with the chain's brake engaged.
Fueling a Chain Saw
  • Use approved containers for transporting fuel to the saw.
  • Dispense fuel at least 10 feet away from any sources of ignition when performing construction activities. No smoking during fueling.
  • Use a funnel or a flexible hose when pouring fuel into the saw.
  • Never attempt to fuel a running or HOT saw.
Chain Saw Safety
  • Clear away dirt, debris, small tree limbs and rocks from the saw's chain path. Look for nails, spikes or other metal in the tree before cutting.
  • Shut off the saw or engage its chain brake when carrying the saw on rough or uneven terrain.
  • Keep your hands on the saw's handles, and maintain secure footing while operating the saw.
  • Proper personal protective equipment must be worn when operating the saw, which includes hand, foot, leg, eye, face, hearing and head protection.
  • Do not wear loose-fitting clothing.
  • Be careful that the trunk or tree limbs will not bind aginst the saw.
  • Watch for branches under tension, they may spring out when cut.
  • Gasoline-powered chain saws must be equipped with a protective device that minimizes chain saw kickback.
  • Be cautious of saw kick-back. To avoid kick-back, do not saw with the tip. If equipped, keep tip guard in place.

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2014 Safety Tips

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