There are unreasonable fears, and then there are perfectly reasonable fears. And two of the things you should fear like bloody self-induced amputation are chainsaws and axes. Your first clue that something may have gone slightly wrong is likely to be a fountain of blood.
No, I didn’t whack off any new body parts.
Mind you, unlike my lingering (but fading) issues with chimney fires, I’m not particularly afraid of chainsaws or axes. I’ve got one good one of each, keep them in good repair, and am fully aware of how and why a sharp blade is safer than a dull one. As long as I’ve got the blade in my own hands, I’m not afraid of it – even if it’s whizzing around at umpty-thousand RPM.
But I wasn’t raised splitting firewood, and I confess it’s not something I’m extremely good at. To split wood creditably, the axe blade has to go exactly where you plan for it to go. And when the blade is at the end of a three-foot handle, that’s not as easy as it sounds. And hit or miss, you’re imparting a lot of energy on a small area and the result is likely to be sudden.
Late last week before our extended cold wave, I dropped a dead juniper that had grown on the bank of the wash. This one was unusual in that it’s completely dead, so I sawed through the whole trunk and let it crash down to the sand. But that took the last bit of good out of my saw chain, so I left the much-shattered tree lying there until I could service the saw and come back. Then it got really cold and I didn’t feel like playing Paul Bunyan until I could feel my fingers. Things have warmed up somewhat, and today I went back with the trailer and chopped that whole tree into stove lengths right there.
Then I brought it back to the lair for splitting, and that’s where I damn near broke my only leg at the shin. No, not with the axe. Er – not directly. I took careful aim, swung, missed my aim by half a foot. The axe took a chunk off the very edge of the log, but somehow sent the log itself rocketing back toward me like a cannon ball.
That honestly never happened to me before. I’m still limping, and I think I’m likely to for a couple of days. No real damage, just a really impressive bruise – coupled with quite a blow to my pride.