Axe safety is paramount when we’re using an axe in the field, potentially far away from medical help.
The axe is a fantastic tool and one that needs to be mastered if you’re serious about your bushcraft as being able to use an axe safely, effectively and efficiently will speed up many common bushcraft tasks and also save you energy.
But it’s a tool that demands respect, getting it wrong with an axe can have serious consequences, so it’s imperative that you’re aware of both general axe safety guidelines as well as correct technique and usage.
A few tips 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’re 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 of axe safety hints and tips.