Woodworking Safety Guide

Safety Manual: Woodworking Chisels

comments (1) April 1st, 2009 in blogs

thumbs up 93 users recommend

Wrong Way, Right Way: Never hold a workpiece with one hand while chiseling with the other. Secure it with a clamp or bench vice.

Bench chisels are an all-purpose tool used for a wide variety of cuts, from paring away slivers of wood from a tenon, to chopping out the corners of a drilled or routed mortise. Additionally, specialty chisels, such as mortising chisels, do one job very well.

For heavy chopping operations, the bench chisel is powered by a mallet. Other operations can be done strictly with hand pressure. Regardless of the task, however, all chisels must have a perfectly flat back and an extremely sharp edge to work properly. So it takes some initial tuneup and ongoing maintenance to keep them that way.

Eventhough chisels aren't powered by motors and belts, they are sharp and can easily cause injury. The following is a list of safety precautions to consider when using a chisel:

See how Fine Woodworking's editors rated Chisels in the Tool Guide. Compare models and post your own ratings too.

1. The number one rule of chisel safety is to keep them sharp. A dull chisel is a dangerous chisel, as it will require more effort to push the chisel through the stock.

2. Always clamp the work securely in a vise or to the benchtop. 

3. Never hold the work with one hand while chiseling with the other.

4. Always cut with the blade pointing away from your body and keep your hands behind the cutting edge.

5. Use sandpaper to break the sharp machined edges on new chisels to prevent cutting yourself while holding the chisel.

Do you have additional safety advice to share about chisels? Post a comment below and help keep your fellow woodworkers safe.

posted in: blogs, safety, chisels

Comments (1)

ericfrank ericfrank writes: You can cut yourself quite easily when you are NOT using the chisel. It may be lying about on your bench or you are fumbling through a drawer to pick up a different tool and end up cutting yourself. When not using your chisel put a plastic cap on its end to protect yourself and to protect it.
Posted: 7:18 am on August 25th

You must be logged in to post comments. Log in.

Save up to 51% on Fine Woodworking


Become a Better Woodworker


Woodworking is a solitary hobby and it requires tools and techniques that are inherently dangerous. These two factors make workshop safety a top concern for any woodworker. When working in the shop it is important to protect your eyes, ears, and lungs, and take great care when using hand and power tools. These safety manuals prepared by the editors of Fine Woodworking provide the foundation of safety knowlege every woodworker should know.