The axe is a fantastic tool and one that needs to be mastered if you are serious about your bushcraft. Consequently, I’ve written a couple of posts lately around using an axe, such as this one on cross cutting and this one on splitting a log. So I thought I should probably put a few tips together on axe safety.
- Put the mask on your axe when you’re not using it (this means no swinging your axe into a stump when not in use).
- Inspect the handle for nicks or cracks or other damage.
- Make sure that the head is attached securely to the handle and that it doesn’t wiggle about.
- Check that the handle, and your hands, are clean and dry and free from anything slippy.
- Remember that the closer to the head you hold the axe, the more control you have; the closer to the end of the handle, the more power you have. So hold the handle according to the task you are undertaking.
- If you’re swinging the axe, make sure that there are no overhanging branches, ropes or other obstructions that you could catch your axe on.
- Make sure that no one is within 5m.
- If splitting, use a firm and stable surface, such as a level stump. Don’t chop into the ground.
- When splitting on a stump, place the log furthest away on the stump.
- Never cut a log leaning against an uneven surface.
- Keep the chopping area clean and free of debris.
- After chopping one log, stack the pieces to the side before beginning again with a new log.
- Check that the log doesn’t contain material such as old nails or spikes.
- If splitting small logs, consider using a ‘sissy’ stick.
- Always stop when feeling tired.
- Only use an axe after dark in an emergency.
- Carry your axe cradled upside down in your hand with your arm by your side.
Let me know if you have any tips you would like added to this list.