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How To Chop Wood Safely

Updated on July 9, 2014

What Is Chopping Wood?

Wood chopping or splitting is a common activity for outdoors people. Those who enjoy camping, picnicking, hiking, hunting, ect. all have the need at times to chop wood for fire building. Though the concept of swinging an axe seems elementary enough there are necessary acquisitions involved in developing a safe technique to avoid injury to your body. Lean about those skills before you begin to swing the axe and harm yourself.

Chopping Wood Safely

The Stance

The stance is extremely important when swinging an axe.
The stance is extremely important when swinging an axe.

Avoiding Strain

Raise the axe up past your head and shoulder.
Raise the axe up past your head and shoulder.

Step One

You should always ware gloves to alleviate possible blisters on your hands and safety glasses to stop flying splinters from entering your eyes when splitting wood. Your stance is vital before you begin swinging the axe. You will want to stand directly in front of the wood block being split with your legs separated comfortably. Having your legs separated protects them if your are not able to stop the axe in motion before its sharp blade returns to your body. Such an occurrence quite frequently happens when you swing the axe and miss your target or hit only the edge of the block and the axe glances off of it. So keep your legs out of harms way to avoid serious injury. Like in many sports where the player uses a stick or a club or a bat your back, shoulder, arm, and wrist are at risk of suffering strain when swinging an axe if precautions are not taken.

After you have your legs positioned correctly it is a good idea to warm up the muscles in your body that will be active during the swinging of the axe. Begin gripping the axe tightly and slowly moving it back and forth with short swings like the way a pendulum swings from a clock. Slowly increase the length of the axe stroke until the head of the axe is rising up past your head and shoulder and returning between your separated legs. Once your body is comfortably limbered up you will be ready to split the wood block.

Chopping Wood

Always set the wood block to be split on a firm foundation. A second block of wood or a tree stump will work just fine. Without a solid chopping block the force of the axe blow will be absorbed into the ground beneath the block being split.
Always set the wood block to be split on a firm foundation. A second block of wood or a tree stump will work just fine. Without a solid chopping block the force of the axe blow will be absorbed into the ground beneath the block being split.

Set The Block On A Solid Surface

Use a chopping block for a firm surface.
Use a chopping block for a firm surface.

Guide The Axe To The Center Of The Block

Add force with your furthest most arm to increase the total impact as you guide the axe head to the center of the block.
Add force with your furthest most arm to increase the total impact as you guide the axe head to the center of the block.

Step Two

Get the block of wood that you wish to split and be sure to set it on a solid and level foundation. Another larger block of wood will be sufficient but you could use the remnants of an old tree stump as I have here. A solid surface under the block to be split is important because the force of your axe impact will be absorbed through the block and into the ground minimising the shock to the "to be split" block if it is not on solid ground. After you have positioned your block securely on the foundation assume your proper stance. Grip your axe firmly in both hands and place its head gently in the center of the block to be split. Now raise the axe up above your head keeping the axe head blade pointed straight down at your block. Let the axe fall using your hand closest to the axe head to apply added force while you guide the axe head to the center of the block. When the axe contacts the block the block may split completely in two. If the block does not split in two but your axe is wedged into it, you have two a choices about your next move.

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You can raise your axe lifting the block off the foundation if the combined weight is not too heavy for you and forcefully bring down axe and block onto the foundation again, thus, wedging the axe further into the block or perhaps splitting the block entirely. If the weight of the axe and the block are too heavy for you to lift safely secure the block with your one hand and force the ax handle up and down with the other until the axe head comes free of the block. Once the axe is freed assume your stance and take another swing. repeat this procedure until the block splits.

Be Cautious Of Flying Wood

Wood pieces exploding off the block from the force of the axe can fly around the immediate area. It is a good idea to keep others away from the chopping vicinity while your are splitting wood.
Wood pieces exploding off the block from the force of the axe can fly around the immediate area. It is a good idea to keep others away from the chopping vicinity while your are splitting wood.

Step Three

After you have managed to split your block in two you can set a half block on the cutting surface and attempt to split it in two. If the half block will not stand stable on the foundation, DO NOT try to stabilize it with one hand and swing the axe with your other hand. That procedure is extremely DANGEROUS and should not be practiced at anytime. The safe procedure is to lay the half block flat face down on the cutting surface and assume your correct stance swinging the axe down in the center of the rounded face of the half block. If the axe gets wedged into the half block use one of the two procedures described in the preceding section. When needing smaller pieces of wood for kindling to start your fire use the half block laid face down procedure - it is the SAFE way to do this without harming yourself.

Chopping Wood Is A Workout

This activity can be a good source of exercise to stimulate all your muscles and organs. But do it safely.
This activity can be a good source of exercise to stimulate all your muscles and organs. But do it safely.

Benefits Of Splitting Wood Safely

Splitting wood safely can save you an unnecessary trip to the hospital emergency ward which is a tremendous inconvenience at any time. It can also save you a painful recovery from injury of stitches or the lose of one of your digits. More positively splitting wood safely can expand your skill set as an avid woods person or professional camper or hunting guide, but it is also a healthy form of exorcise that can provide you with a good workout - just do it safely please.

Good Luck

Gather your cut wood and go light the fire.
Gather your cut wood and go light the fire.

Questions or Comments?

I welcome all your questions and comments as well as any suggestions or ideas of your own. Please contact me through any of my links with any input that you desire to contribute. I enjoy hearing from everyone.

Thank you

How To Pam

Comments

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    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 

      3 years ago from london

      Yes. I think I saw this and commend you again. You are a 'sensitive' Soul, and as such are relating to the inner dictates of your being. May you be filled with Light. Sorry about the pay (Smile). Hugs.

    • Pamela Bush profile imageAUTHOR

      howtopam 

      3 years ago from Alberta, Canada

      Hi manatita44;

      Thank you for your kind words. Yes the "rat race" of living primarily to get gain, for me, I discovered was not living at all. I made the decision to "step back" where I can now actually see the forest beyond the trees. It is a very different lifestyle, plotting one's own destiny, when one is no longer dictated to on how they plot their next move. The pay is not as good though, but the price of peace and serenity is invaluable.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 

      3 years ago from london

      Great adventurous spirit, and great know how in a lot of your Hubs. I commend you for your courage and resourcefulness.

      I suspect that you are a little tired of modern life with all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams. If you can, re-visit it from time to time as I respect the knocks for pushing us that much faster towards the Divine. Still, you are most likely walking with your inner star. My soulful bows to you, Pam.

      Very necessary and invaluable info for those intending to use a chain saw and much more. Peace.

    working

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