It's a satisfying feeling to chop and stack your own firewood, but that feeling becomes even better when you receive your hydro bill and see that it's lower than usual because you're heating your home with wood. Whether you favor chopping your own trees or buying rough-cut firewood from places like Precision Tree Care & Landscape Corp and splitting it into manageable chunks, it's important to always take the proper safety precautions while you're working. Splitting wood isn't to be taken lightly--you're dealing with a sharp ax, heavy splitting wedges, a sledgehammer and hefty pieces of wood that can harm you. With the right approach, however, you'll get through the job safely and enjoy sitting in front of a roaring fire once weather turns cold.
The Right Gear
It's important to assemble the right safety gear before you begin the job. Although it's easy to get preoccupied with the sharpness of your ax and the weight of your sledgehammer, don't overlook the gear that keeps you free from injury. Steel-toed boots or shoes are an absolute must--it's too easy to inadvertently hit your toe with the ax or sledge. Many people wear athletic shin guards to add further protection; if you don't have access to these devices, always wear heavy denim or canvas pants. Leather gloves protect your hands from splinters and blisters, while safety goggles block airborne wood shards.
Stance And Positioning
When you stand a log on its end to prepare it for splitting, never place it directly on the ground. Doing so not only can cause back pain because of your bent-forward posture, but also requires you to carry the ax's trajectory lower, which can cause you to become off-balanced and hit yourself. Always place the log on an elevated support; typically, a thick, sturdy log is ideal as a support base because it's robust enough to handle the pressure of each blow. Your lower-body stance should be comfortable with your feet positioned at least shoulder-width apart and you should be square to the log. This stance means that if you miss the log, which can happen when you're tired, your ax will pass safely between your legs, rather than into your shin.
Splitting firewood might seem like a macho activity to demonstrate to your children or simply a way to get your children outside and involved in a yard chore, but it's best for them to keep their distance. Wood chunks and even sparks, if there's a hidden nail buried inside a log, can travel several feet and cause injury. You should always split wood in a dedicated part of your yard well away from obstacles that could interfere with your swing path and cause you to swing the ax or sledgehammer in an uncontrolled manner.