1. Always wear safety glasses.
2. Before you start swinging, check for a loose axe head.
3. Inspect your work area to see all is clear before using the axe.
4. Make sure that the axe you’re using suits your size and strength.
5. Don’t work until you’re fatigued. That’s when accidents will happen.
6. Check to see that wedges have not “mushroomed.” When struck with a sledge or maul, the resulting shards can come off the wedge like a bullet.
7. Have three wedges when afield, as wedges can get stuck.
8. Set your first wedge near the edge of the round. This will aid in the split and will be easier to retrieve if stuck.
9. Use a chopping block so that the force of the axe strike is not absorbed by the ground.
10. If the round is tough, begin by slabbing around the edges of the log and then split across it.
11. Beware of round handles on mauls. They will roll in the hand. Use oval-shaped handles.
12. Know your woods. Not all hardwoods are created equal. Some woods are just too much trouble to split.
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This article was originally published in the AMERICAN FRONTIERSMAN™ Winter 2016 issue #205. Subscription is available in print and digital editions here.