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Chainsaw Usage. Tips From a Professional

A chainsaw is one of the most powerful portable cutting tools. Most are powered by gas, electric, or battery-powered engine. Due to its powerful cutting capabilities, accidents resulting from improper usage can be fatal. Knowing how to use your chainsaw will not only make the job safer but also extend your machine’s lifetime.

Generally, chainsaw usage entails using the chainsaw for the appropriate purpose, understanding how to perform those tasks using the chainsaw, and maintaining the chainsaw properly. Additionally, it includes the safety measures you should implement to ensure your safety when using and handling a chainsaw.

This article will enlighten you on using your chainsaw to meet your cutting goals while maintaining your safety. It will also guide you on how to take care of your chainsaw so that it can serve you for an extended period.

How to Use a Chainsaw

Chainsaws are used for various functions such as felling trees, trimming branches, hollowing wood, removing stumps, splitting wood into firewood, and many other things. Even with the multiple functions, the steps to follow while using a chainsaw are similar.

First, check your environment to ensure it’s safe. Next, prepare yourself and the chainsaw for the job. Start the chainsaw and start working. When the job has been done, turn the chainsaw off, clean it, oil it, and store it in a clean, dry place for later use.

● Step 1: Check your environment

Environmental assessment is always the first step in performing any chainsaw-related tasks. Plan ahead, do a reconnaissance visit of the area around the tree or log you plan to cut and clear your surroundings. For instance, when you plan to cut a tree, you should check to see where the tree will fall. In such a scenario, clear out the area and, if needed, cordon it off with tape to prevent people from walking into the danger zone.

Check the terrain of the site you will be working in. Generally, I do not recommend using your chainsaw on a steep slope. Too many users have toppled down and fallen because of a sudden event. And with a running chainsaw, it is easy to hurt yourself in the process. If possible, always work on level grounds to reduce the risk of accidents.

Additionally, if the ground is wet and slippery, it would be better to wait till it is dryer to minimize the chances of tripping. However, if it is not possible to wait, wear suitable safety boots with treads that will give you proper traction as you cut.

If you work indoors, ensure that the area you will be working in is well ventilated. When a gasoline-powered chainsaw’s engine runs, it produces fumes that diffuse into the air. The fumes can be toxic if inhaled in an enclosed area. Working in an open space with proper ventilation reduces your chances of inhaling the fumes.

● Step 2: Prepare yourself as well as the chainsaw

– Prepare yourself

Before you start using a chainsaw, wear protective gear. Personal protective equipment (PPE) is essential when working with chainsaws. Make it a habit to always wear suitable protective clothing such as gloves, chainsaw trousers, closed boots, a helmet, and goggles.

– Prepare your chainsaw

If you are using a gas-powered chainsaw, make sure you check the oil levels. Always make sure you fill the gas tank before you start your chainsaw. And fill the lubricating oil reservoir with enough chain oil to ensure that the chain will be well lubricated throughout the sawing process.

I also recommend checking the chainsaw chain. If needed, sharpen it. If you have an electric chainsaw, ensure that the extension cord is long enough. And if you use a battery-powered chainsaw, check that the batteries are full.

– How to Start your Chainsaw

To start your chainsaw, deactivate the chain brake by pushing it forward until it locks. This is important because it prevents the chain from moving until you release the brake and are ready to start working. If the chainsaw bar is covered, remove the bar cover.

For a gas chainsaw, turn on the choke. If your chainsaw does not have a choke but has a primer button, press the button about five times to allow gas into the carburetor, then turn on the power switch. When using an electric chainsaw, all you need to do is depress the safety switch and turn on the power switch.

Place the chainsaw flat on the ground, ensuring that the bar does not touch the ground. Place one hand on the handle and use your foot to stabilize the chainsaw. Pull the starter rope to maximum length with your other hand and repeat the same pull until the engine fires up.

If the engine fires up for a short while then dies, adjust the choke by pulling it out half-length, then pull the starter rope again until the engine fires up.

Now press the throttle trigger briefly then now you can lift the chainsaw off the ground. Next, release the chain by pulling the chain brake towards you until you hear a clicking sound. The chain will be released at this point, and it will start to rotate.

Starting an electric or battery-powered chainsaw is a lot easier, as you only have to connect the mains or batteries. For battery-powered chainsaws, I recommend always checking that the battery connection is clean.

● Step 3: Use the chainsaw for the intended job

Once your chainsaw is ready, you can start with your job. Ensure that you have a firm grip on the chainsaw’s handle and that your feet are steady. Angle the chain away from you to reduce injury severity should a kickback occur.

● Step 4: Turn off the chainsaw, clean, and store 

Once you are done using the chainsaw, turn it off by flicking the switch lever to the “off” position. Clean your chainsaw thoroughly, removing any sawdust debris that might have stuck to the saw, bar, and motorhead. When clean, oil your chain and store it in a clean, dry place to avoid rusting of the chain and the bar.

How to Use a Chainsaw Safely and Effectively.

Chainsaws are a great way to quickly and easily cut down trees, branches, and other foliage. However, they can be dangerous if not used properly. To use a chainsaw safely and effectively, you need to know the proper safety precautions to take and how to use the saw correctly and efficiently.

You can protect yourself from accidents by wearing suitable protective gear (PPE) while using the chainsaw and following some basic instructions. It is also crucial that you service, maintain, and properly store your chainsaw to keep your machine working well.

● User safety measures

As the user, you can ensure that you use your chainsaw safely by always wearing protective gear.

  • Gloves: To ensure you have a firm grip on the chainsaw even when you sweat or cut in wet or rainy conditions.
  • Helmet: To protect your head from falling objects such as debris when trimming branches.
  • Goggles: To protect your eyes from flying debris such as sawdust when cutting dry wood.
  • Long-sleeved shirt: To protect your arms from injury due to any sharp objects and debris flying around
  • Chainsaw trousers: To protect your legs from injury in case of a chainsaw slippage or kickback.
  • Safety boots: To protect you from injury if you step on sharp debris.

In addition to wearing protective gear, you can ensure your safety by following some basic safety rules. I recommend checking your chainsaw’s manual for ones that apply to your particular type and model. For instance, an electric chainsaw user’s manual will warn you against using the chainsaw in wet or rainy conditions due to the risk of electrocution.

Additionally, it is essential to work with at least one other person. Working in isolation can be very dangerous, especially in the case of a problem. And in case of an accident, the other person can help or contact first responders if needed. Having another person close can also come in handy when you need an extra set of hands while doing your cutting job.

● Chainsaw maintenance

Like all other machines, a chainsaw needs to be correctly maintained and serviced to give it a long life. Use the following guidelines to keep your chainsaw in good condition:

– Use the Correct Chainsaw Parts

Part of ensuring that your chainsaw serves you for an extended period is using the right tool for the job. Using the wrong chain, bar, or chainsaw altogether to perform a certain job could make the job less efficient and ultimately damage the chainsaw.

For instance, there are many different types of chains. Using the wrong chain for the job can make the cutting take much longer and add more strain to the chainsaw engine. This will increase the wear and tear on the engine and lead to a shorter lifetime.

Another example is when you want to cut logs that are underwater. You can cut logs that are in very shallow water using a regular gas chainsaw. But this is not recommended. A hydraulic chainsaw would be a better-suited option in such a case.

Suppose you are unsure what type of chainsaw is best for your types of usage, like what bar length and type of chain. Ask a professional or your local dealer for help.

– Lubricating your chainsaw

When cutting, the chain must be properly lubricated. This ensures that the chain rotates well around the bar without friction and overheating. Too much friction will wear out the chain and bar, and you may need to keep replacing it more often than needed.

– Sharpening the chainsaw chain

After prolonged use, the chainsaw chain becomes dull, requiring sharpening. You will know that your chainsaw needs sharpening if you see the amount of sawdust instead of sharp chips increasing. Also, when you have to apply too much energy and time to cut, it is time to sharpen the chain.

There are different ways of sharpening the chain, such as using an electric sharpener or a hand file. Whatever method you choose, make sure to sharpen the chain evenly. A sharp chain takes less force and energy, performs the job faster, and gives you a clean cut. 

I recommend checking the chain each time before you start a new job, together with checking and topping up the chain oil.

– Tensioning the chainsaw chain

The tension of your chain is as important as the sharpness. The chain should not be too tight or loose, as both scenarios can cause damage. A chain that is too tight will damage the drive sprocket and the bar due to the excess pressure applied to it. If the chain is too loose, it can be extremely dangerous, since it can easily detach itself from the bar and charge toward you or somebody else.

To adjust the chain tension, remove the metal casing to expose the sprocket, bar, and chain. Loosen the nuts holding the bar and push the bar up as you adjust the tensioning screw. Once you have adjusted the tension, tighten the screw holding the bar and return the metal casing.

– Cleaning the chainsaw after use

After some use, your chainsaw will accumulate dirt, primarily due to sawdust and other debris. It is important to clean all the chainsaw parts before storage. Use a brush to remove as much dirt and sawdust from the chain, bar, and engine compartment.

If you have difficulty cleaning the chain, you can remove it from the bar and soak it in a solution of ammonia and water. After about half an hour, use a soft-bristled brush to remove all the debris, rinse with water, and properly dry the chain with a soft dry towel.

For a gas chainsaw, ensure that the area where the air enters the engine is clean, and check the air filter. If the air filter is dirty, clean it. A foam air filter can be carefully washed. When damaged, it needs to be replaced. A paper air filter needs to be replaced when dirty.

How old should you be to use a chainsaw?

The minimum age for using a chainsaw is 16 in the United States, but different states and countries have different rules. A chainsaw is a dangerous tool, and it’s essential to use it safely. In some cases, the minimum age is even higher. It’s important to check the laws in your area before you use a chainsaw.

Chainsaws can be dangerous tools, and as such, there are age restrictions on their use. There are a few reasons for this age restriction. First, younger people may not have the strength to operate a chainsaw properly. Second, younger people may not have the experience to use a chainsaw safely.

I do see younger people using chainsaws. I advise against this, the age limit is there for a reason. But if you decide to do it anyway, please ensure that it is done as safely as possible. Use a light saw, and always wear personal protective equipment and closely supervise.