Hand Tools - Wood Chisels

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

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

  • Use the right size of chisel for the job.
  • Choose smooth, rectangular handles with no sharp edges attached firmly to the chisel.
wood chisel
  • Make sure that the cutting edge is sharp. Dull chisels can be difficult to control and require more effort to do the job.
  • Check the stock (wood) thoroughly for knots, staples, nails, screws, or other foreign objects before chiselling.
  • Clamp the stock so it cannot move.
  • Adjust your stance so that you do not lose your balance if the tool slips.
  • Chip or cut with the blade pointing 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 moulded handle that can be struck with a steel hammer.
  • Make finishing or paring cuts with hand pressure alone.
  • When keeping the chisels on the workbench, always place them with the bevel side up.
  • 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.
  • Wear eye protection (safety glasses, goggles, or face shield with safety glasses or goggles) if there is a risk of eye injury from particles released from the workpiece or when sharpening.

What should I avoid doing?

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  • Do not use a wood chisel as a pry or a wedge.
  • Do not use a wood chisel on metal.
  • Do not hold the work with one hand while chiselling with the other hand.
  • 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.

  • Fact sheet last revised: 2017-01-09