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

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 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 must be very familiar with its safety requirements, possible hazards, and operating techniques. Failure to take all these proper steps could result in severe injuries to yourself and others.

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

A chainsaw is known to be fast and powerful, and as you know, extreme power often requires extreme care. Before operating a chainsaw safely, you must possess a certain skill level and a learning pattern to be proficient. Every situation is different when operating a chainsaw; each unique situation will build your skill level. If you need more information on how to use a chainsaw safely, this article will provide them to ensure you know exactly what you’re doing.

How to Operate a Chainsaw

Using a chainsaw is divided into three 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. 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, and the tension of the chainsaw. Don’t forget to fill 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 to know the size and blade configuration best suits you.

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

If you’re using a gas saw, check the gas levels, 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, not on a truck’s ungrounded tailgate.

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 wood that could hit your head. It would also protect your eyes from debris.
  • Trousers, Gloves, and Boots: Trousers are 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 ensure you do not slip and protect your feet if 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 if 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 the start switch is on.

For ground starting, the saw should be placed on the ground. Grip the handlebar with your left hand, 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.

To start 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 idle, and you’re good to go.

Step 5: Handling the Saw

Always maintain a good footing while watching for tripping hazards when handling a saw. Do not overreach with the saw to keep a good balance. Keep your left hand firmly around the front handle, including your thumb.  If you use a gas-powered saw with a choke, turn it on and use the choke. If it has a primer button, push it about four to six times to pull gas into the carburetor, then turn on the power switch. If you’re using an electric chainsaw, 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 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 firmly planted feet 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 please 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 align with the cut you plan 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 its momentum or 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

A popular law states that there’s always an opposite reaction to every action. Saw kickback is a simple demonstration of that law. This occurs when the bar’s tip 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 wood may pinch the bar.

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 you must pull the saw out and probably cut from the other side when it begins to close.

Step 10: Power off the Chainsaw

Turn the chainsaw off by 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 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, the ethanol in the fuel can clog the works (which means you’ll have to disassemble and thoroughly clean the carburetor before using 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, and remove the dust and debris. You can use a case to achieve this, but if you don’t have one, buy a “bar cover” to protect you and your saw.

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  1. Travis Kennedy says:

    Should I invest in a chainsaw for occasional use?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Using a chainsaw can be exciting but also dangerous. Follow these steps carefully to ensure your safety. Proper training and experience are key. Happy sawing!

  2. Megan Sanders says:

    Is it advisable to watch more videos before trying out a chainsaw?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Operating a chainsaw can be dangerous, so yes, it’s advisable to watch videos and fully understand the safety procedures before using one. Your safety is key!

  3. Jackson Prescott says:

    Can you recommend a good chainsaw for beginners?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Jackson, I recommend starting with a smaller, less powerful chainsaw model for beginners to get a feel for handling one safely. Always prioritize safety and practice using the chainsaw in a controlled environment before tackling more challenging tasks.

  4. Jimmy Harvey says:

    I never knew there were specific trousers for chainsaw use.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thanks for reading! Yes, specialized trousers are important for chainsaw safety. Remember, protecting yourself is key. Stay safe out there!

  5. Camila Nelson says:

    Important reminders about chain oil and proper maintenance.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thanks for reading! Always prioritize safety and proper maintenance with your chainsaw. Stay safe out there!

  6. Antonio Willis says:

    How can I practice using a chainsaw without putting myself in danger?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Antonio, great question! Always prioritize safety when practicing with a chainsaw. Start with small tasks, wear protective gear, and take your time. Focus on learning the basics first to prevent accidents.

  7. Lorraine Reynolds says:

    Very informative and helpful article.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you for your kind words, Lorraine. I’m glad you found the article informative and helpful! Stay safe and take all necessary precautions when operating a chainsaw to avoid accidents.

  8. Katie Robertson says:

    The tips on dealing with kickback are crucial.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Katie! Safety is key when dealing with such powerful tools. Remembering these tips can help prevent accidents and ensure a smooth operation. Happy sawing!

  9. Liam Gilbert says:

    What is the average lifespan of a chainsaw?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      The average lifespan of a chainsaw varies based on maintenance and usage. With proper care and regular maintenance, a chainsaw can last for many years.

  10. Shannon Allen says:

    This article has made me reconsider using a chainsaw without proper training.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Shannon. Safety is always the top priority when using a chainsaw. Please ensure proper training before operating one to prevent injuries and accidents.

  11. Theresa Gibson says:

    The videos really complement the written instructions.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you so much, Theresa! I’m glad you found the videos helpful in addition to the written instructions. Stay safe and enjoy using your chainsaw!

  12. Maureen Hughes says:

    I appreciate the focus on safety measures in this article.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Maureen! Safety is a top priority when operating a chainsaw. I’m glad you appreciate the focus on safety measures in the article. Stay safe!

  13. Micheal Simmons says:

    How often should I replace the chainsaw chain?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      You should replace the chainsaw chain every few hours of use or when it becomes dull or damaged. Regular maintenance will ensure your chainsaw is always ready and safe to use.

  14. Manuel Gilbert says:

    Excellent explanation of how to handle a chainsaw safely.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Manuel! Safety is key when handling a chainsaw, and I’m glad you found the explanation helpful. Always prioritize safety when using any power tool.

  15. Margie Richards says:

    Are there any courses for chainsaw safety available?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Yes, there are various courses available for chainsaw safety. You can look into local community colleges or online platforms for certification programs. Stay safe!

  16. Michael Fields says:

    Great step-by-step guide!

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Michael! Safety first when using a chainsaw. Always be cautious and protect yourself and others by following the correct procedures outlined.

  17. Nevaeh Stewart says:

    Thank you for emphasizing the importance of protective gear.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Nevaeh! Safety is always a top priority when operating a chainsaw. It’s crucial to protect yourself with the right gear to prevent any accidents.

  18. Sophia Jennings says:

    Do you have any tips for storing a chainsaw properly?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you for your question, Sophia! To store a chainsaw properly, always clean it after use, empty the fuel tank if not in use for more than four weeks, and keep it in a protective case.

  19. Lonnie Owens says:

    Is it safe to use a chainsaw without any experience?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      It’s not safe to use a chainsaw without experience. Please follow the steps provided in the blog post to learn how to operate a chainsaw safely and avoid potential injuries.