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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
  • 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 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 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 molded handle that can be struck with a steel hammer.
  • Make finishing or paring cuts with hand pressure alone.
  • When keeping the chisels on the work bench, 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 if there is a risk of eye injury from particles released from the workpiece or when sharpening.

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 hold the work with one hand while chiseling 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.

Document last updated on January 9, 2017

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Although every effort is made to ensure the accuracy, currency and completeness of the information, CCOHS does not guarantee, warrant, represent or undertake that the information provided is correct, accurate or current. CCOHS is not liable for any loss, claim, or demand arising directly or indirectly from any use or reliance upon the information.