How to Use A Chainsaw: Follow These Steps, with video

Approx Reading Time: 9 minutes

Just like when you get any new tool, there’s always a sudden gush of excitement when you finally get to purchase a chainsaw, and you really can’t wait to unbox and start using it. As exciting as it seems, operating a chainsaw can, in reality, be a dangerous and stressful job. Before operating one, you need to be very familiar with its safety requirements, possible hazards, and operating techniques. Failure to take all these proper steps could result in very serious injuries— both to yourself and other people.

How to Use A Chainsaw? Follow These Steps:

  • Step 1: Select a Chainsaw that is right for the job
  • Step 2: Fill the Gas Tank with the Correct Oil Mixture
  • Step 3: Put on your protective gear
  • Step 4: Start the Saw
  • Step 5: Handling the Saw
  • Step 6: Use the Throttle and look out for the kickback
  • Step 7: Release the Chain Brake and Fully Engage the Throttle
  • Step 8: Maintain a Strong, Steady Grip and Keep the Throttle Fully Engaged For the Duration of the Cut
  • Step 9: Dealing with Kickback and Pinching
  • Step 10: Power off the Chainsaw
  • Step 11: Clean your chainsaw and keep the Bar and Chain Covered When Not In Use
How to Use A Chainsaw: Follow These Steps, with video 1

A chainsaw is known to be fast and powerful, and as you know, extreme power often requires extreme care. Before you can operate a chainsaw safely, you need to possess a certain level of skill, and a learning pattern in order to be proficient. When operating a chainsaw, every situation occurs differently and having each of these unique situations can build your skill level. If you need more information on how to safely use a chainsaw, this article will provide them for you to make sure you know exactly what you’re doing.

How to Operate a Chainsaw

Operating a chainsaw is divided into three different tasks: limbing, bucking, and felling.

Limbing is known as the removal of branches from an already felled tree. Bucking involves cutting the trunk of the felled tree to length. While felling is the cutting of an upright tree in a controlled way so that the tree falls in the expected area. Normally,  before you begin this operation, you need to ensure that everything is in order, and this can be done by checking the controls, bar, handles, blade sharpness as well as the tension of the chainsaw. Don’t forget to fill both the gas and bar oil reservoirs every time you want to use the saw, even if you’ll be working for only a few minutes. This will ensure that your saw never runs out of lubricating oil in the middle of an operation. Running out of bar oil in the middle of operations can cause enough friction and heat that can cause serious damage to the saw. Here are the steps on how to operate a chainsaw.

Step 1: Select a Chainsaw that is right for the job

Choose a model you can comfortably operate and is large enough for the job you’re using it for. You can also rent one from a tool rental store, just to have an idea of the size and blade configuration that best suits you.

Step 2: Fill the Gas Tank with the Correct Oil Mixture

If you’re using a gas saw, make sure you check the gas levels and fill up the tank before you begin, and fill up according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Also, fill the chain lube reservoir with chain oil. This should be done while the saw is on the ground, and not on the ungrounded tailgate of a truck.

Step 3: Put on your protective gear

Before you start using the chainsaw you should put on your protective gear:

  • A Helmet: You should protect yourself from flying chips and bits of woods that could hit your head. It would also protect your eyes from debris.
  • Trousers, Gloves, and Boots: There are trousers made specifically for chainsaw activities. It is made of a special fabric that you can wear while you work so that your clothes do not interfere. It is a must-have. The gloves let you have a good grip on your chainsaw. The boots are also specially designed to help you stand firm on your feet. They make sure that you do not slip and also protect your feet in case the chainsaw falls on you.
  • Earmuffs: These are essential products that protect your ears from excessive noise produced by the chainsaw. It is a wise investment in case you do not have ear defenders in your helmet.

Step 4: Starting the Saw

There are two safe methods to start a chainsaw: on the ground and between your legs. For both methods, ensure that the chain brake is engaged, the choke is closed (“on”), and that the start switch is on.

For ground starting, the saw should be placed on the ground. Grip the handle-bar with your left hand, then place your right toe on the throttle trigger, and pull the starter rope. After pulling a couple of times, the saw should pop but not start. Then, disengage the choke, and pull the starter rope again. The saw should start now.

For starting between the legs, position the rear of the saw against your right leg, and tilt it towards the right, squeezing the saw with your left leg. Follow the starting procedure, and your saw should start. Tap the throttle trigger to set the saw to an idle, and you’re good to go.

Step 5: Handling the Saw

When handling a saw, always maintain a good footing, while watching for tripping hazards. Do not overreach with the saw so as to keep a good balance. Keep your left hand firmly around the front handle, including your thumb.  If you are operating a gas-powered saw with a choke, turn it on. If it has a primer button, push the button about four to six times in order to pull gas into the carburetor, then turn on the power switch. If you’re using an electric chainsaw, just depress the safety switch and turn on the power switch. For those using a gas chainsaw, place your right foot through the back handle and apply your weight on the handle to secure the saw. Then use your left hand to hold the front handle firmly in place. Once done, you can now pull the starter rope sharply to its full length. With four or five pulls, you should start the engine. If the engine is “firing” instead of engaging, adjust the choke by pulling it out halfway.

Step 6: Use the Throttle and look out for the kickback

After the engine has started, the chain still won’t be turning. This is where you’ll need to press the trigger or throttle to get the chain to move. Position yourself properly with your feet planted firmly and a strong grip on the saw. Remember to cut with the saw angled away from you to reduce the risk of an injury in case of a kickback.

Step 7: Release the Chain Brake and Fully Engage the Throttle

To start cutting, release the chain brake and fully engage the throttle. Carefully place the saw where you want to cut, and do not apply pressure—the momentum of the chain blade is enough to draw the wood in. So don’t force it.

Step 8: Maintain a Strong, Steady Grip and Keep the Throttle Fully Engaged For the Duration of the Cut

After selecting a practice piece of wood or log, place it in an easy place to cut. Then carefully bring the blade to be in line with the cut you are planning to make.  Disengage the chain brake, fully engage the throttle, and lay the blade against the wood. Do not force the blade as it will draw into the cut with just the momentum of the blade, or with moderate pressure. Throughout the cut, ensure that the throttle is running,  easing it off only when you are about to end the cut on the other side of the log. The throttle should be released only after you have cut through or removed the blade from the cut.

Step 9: Dealing with Kickback and Pinching

There’s a popular law that states that for every action, there’s always an opposite reaction. Saw kickback is a simple demonstration of that law. This occurs when the tip of the bar hits some strong object, or is pinched. When this happens, the pressure on the saw forces the bar up, in your direction, or the direction of the operator with high speed- usually faster than the user’s reflex. To avoid a kickback, the first line of defense is to never engage the saw with the upper corner of the bar. Hence, you should be aware of the position of the tip at all times. You can also practice good operating techniques: a firm, two-handed grip on the handle of the saw, a balanced position, a sharp, tensioned chain, and always being alert in situations when the bar may be pinched by the wood.

One more thing you can do is to take a moment to examine the situation and size it up before cutting. Usually, an operator can detect if a Kerf is slightly opening or closing just as the cut deepens. An opening kerf means full speed ahead, but when it begins to close, it means you have to pull the saw out and probably cut from the other side.

Step 10: Power off the Chainsaw

Simply turn the chainsaw off switching it to “off.” Then allow the saw to cool down before storing it away. If you’re using a gas saw, you should decide on what to do about the fuel left in the tank, if there’s any. For instance, if you plan to use the chainsaw again soon, you can leave leftover fuel in the tank but it must be used within four weeks. If it takes longer than that, the ethanol in the fuel can clog the works (which means that you’ll have to disassemble and thoroughly clean the carburetor before you can use it). You can dispose of leftover fuel at an automotive shop, but never should you pour it into the soil, storm drain, or garbage, as this can be dangerous and illegal.

Step 11: Clean your chainsaw and keep the Bar and Chain Covered When Not In Use

Clean the chainsaw, remove the dust and debris. You can use a case to achieve this, but if you don’t have one, simply buy a “bar cover” to protect both you and your saw.