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Hand Tools - Wood Chisels

What are some safety tips to know when using a wood chisel?

Wood chisels are made in various shapes and sizes and for many uses. Use the correct chisel for the job.

  • Wear safety glasses, or goggles, or a face shield (with safety glasses or goggles).
  • Use the right size of chisel for the job.
  • Choose smooth, rectangular handles that have no sharp edges and are attached firmly to the chisel.
wood chisel
  • Ensure that the cutting edge is sharp. Dull chisels can be difficult to control and require more effort to do the job.
  • Check stock thoroughly for knots, staples, nails, screws or other foreign objects before chiseling.
  • Clamp stock so it cannot move.
  • Adjust your stance so that you do not lose your balance if the tool slips.
  • Chip or cut away from yourself.
  • Keep your hands and body behind the cutting edge.
  • Use a wooden or plastic mallet with a large striking face on all chisels. Only heavy-duty or framing chisels are made of a solid or molded handle that can be struck with a steel hammer.
  • Make finishing or paring cuts with hand pressure alone.
  • Place chisels safely within the plastic protective caps to cover cutting edges when not in use.
  • Replace any chisel that is bent or shows dents, cracks, chips, or excessive wear.
  • Store chisels in a "storage roll," a cloth or plastic bag with slots for each chisel, and keep them in a drawer or tray.
  • Replace broken or splintered handles.
  • Sharpen cutting edges as often as necessary.

What should I avoid doing?

  • Do not use a wood chisel as a pry or a wedge.
  • Do not use a wood chisel on metal.
  • Do not use an all-steel chisel with a mushroomed face or a chipped edge. Redress with a file or whetstone.
  • Do not use a grinder to redress heat-treated tools. Use a whetstone.
  • Do not use a dull chisel.

Refer to OSH Answers General Hand Tool Operation for more tips.

Document last updated on August 28, 2013

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