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Underwater Chainsaw. Tips from Professionals

Under normal circumstances, people use chainsaws to cut dry wood, preferable during favorable weather. However, the weather is sometimes unpredictable. For instance, it may suddenly rain, and the cutting work needs to go on. Or, sometimes, logs or trees could be submerged in water and still need to be cut.

A hydraulic or pneumatic chainsaw can be used for cutting underwater. A regular chainsaw can only be used in very shallow water, but this is not recommended. In that case, the gas engine should always stay well above water. An electric or battery-powered chainsaw should never be used to cut near or underwater.

This article will further explain what types of chainsaws can be used near or underwater. I will also explain if rain can hurt your chainsaw and take care of wet or moist conditions.

Can You Cut Wood Underwater?

Generally, when the wood is submerged in water, it would be the norm to remove the wood from the water, dry it, and cut it when ready. However, wood may sometimes be too large and require cutting into smaller pieces to allow extraction from the water. Also, it could be that the tree you want to cut grew in a swampy or flooded area; hence the only way to cut it is under the water.

It is possible to cut wood underwater. However, the method used to cut depend on how deep underwater the log is. You can use a gasoline-powered chainsaw to cut wood in shallow water, as long as the engine is kept above the water. If the wood is fully submerged in water, then a hydraulic chainsaw or a pneumatic chainsaw will be the best choice, as they will work fine underwater.

Generally, I do not recommend using a gas-powered chainsaw to cut wood that is submerged. They are not built for it. When the chain is moving, a lot of water will spray up. This can reach part of the engine and can result in an engine malfunction. If you do not have any choice, try to keep the work as short as possible. And ensure that you clean and dry the chainsaw after finishing.

Another option to cut wood underwater would be to use a pole chainsaw, where the gas engine is on one end, and the bar is on the other part of the pole. But keep in mind that these chainsaws are not designed to work underwater, and parts could be damaged or rust because of the water.

An electric or battery-powered chainsaw can never be used to cut underwater. It is no different from other electronic devices because water or moist conditions could easily damage it. The user can easily be electrocuted when water gets into the casing. Also, the water will cause a short circuit which will wreck the chainsaw. An electric chainsaw should therefore be kept dry and away from any moisture.

How Do You Cut a Tree Underwater?

Cutting a tree underwater requires the right tools and technique. It is not just about having the right chainsaw but also exercising the needed precision.

You can use a gasoline chainsaw with a long blade when a tree is in very shallow water. Cut through the stem in water, ensuring that the engine is not immersed. Ensure that the water spray does not enter the engine compartment. A better option is to use a hydraulic chainsaw, which can also be used when the tree is in deeper water.

When using a hydraulic chainsaw, the cutting part of the bar and chain goes underwater, while the hydraulic pump and other engine parts are further away above the water. Or even on a boat if needed.

● Cutting a Tree Under Shallow Water

You can use a gas chainsaw to cut wood that is in shallow water. Part of the bar will be underwater, the engine will need to be above. The first step to cutting under shallow water is ensuring your safety. Ensure that you have the proper attire to protect yourself from any accidents. The operator must have shoes with good grip to ensure they do not slide in the mud. Additionally, the operator should have chainsaw trousers to protect himself from any cuts in case of slippage.

Ensure that the length of the bar is longer than the depth you are cutting under the water. Once you ascertain that your chainsaw bar does not get fully immersed, now ensure that you have a clear vision of the tree surface you are cutting. As long as your chain is sharp, the cut should be smooth. However, while cutting, there will be a lot of water splashing. Ensure that no water will find its way to the air inlet. Also, ensure no water gets into the fuel tank by confirming that the lid is closed well.

Try not to cut through mud, especially when the water is too shallow, since the dirt would dull the chain in no time and deter you from making the desired cut.

● Cutting a Tree in Deep Water

When cutting a tree underwater, you need a hydraulic or pneumatic chainsaw. Both are chainsaws that can be immersed underwater.

– Hydraulic chainsaw

A hydraulic chainsaw is a chainsaw that uses hydraulic fluid to rotate the chain. A hydraulic chainsaw does not have an engine or a motor near the bar and chain. Instead, it is connected to an external pump using a flexible hose that circulates the hydraulic fluid around the chainsaw head. The hydraulic fluid enables the movement of the chain around the bar, thus enabling the operator to perform the cutting job.

A hydraulic chainsaw uses a gas or electric engine to pressurize the hydraulic fluid. This engine can be at a different and dry location.

– Pneumatic chainsaw

A pneumatic chainsaw is quite similar to a hydraulic chainsaw, and it also does not have an engine near the cutting head. In the case of a pneumatic chainsaw, the chain is powered by compressed air. The compressed air goes via a flexible hose to the chainsaw head. This air then enables the chain to rotate around the bar, making it possible to cut the wood.

A pneumatic chainsaw uses a gas or electric engine to pressurize the air. This engine can be at a different and dry location, similar to when using an air compressor.

– The advantages of a pneumatic or hydraulic chainsaw

Hydraulic and pneumatic chainsaws are well suited for cutting underwater because of three main reasons:

  • Reason 1. Chain direction: The chain rotates in the opposite direction, unlike standard chainsaws. This is helpful because the debris moves away from the chainsaw during cutting, thus preventing the chain from jamming.
  • Reason 2. No engine near the chain: The hydraulic chainsaw has no engine near the bar and chain, making it waterproof. Instead, the chainsaw is connected to a hydraulic or pneumatic pump that pumps the hydraulic fluid or air to the chainsaw using a flexable hose. This allows the pump to remain inside a boat above the water surface as the chainsaw is used underwater.
  • Reason 3. Low weight: Because the chainsaw has no attached engine or motor to the cutting head, it is lighter and easier to handle than a regular chainsaw.

When there is a need to cut a tree located offshore, diver-operated hydraulic chainsaws are used. In this case, the diver gears up with swimming attire and protective cutting attire and dives to where the tree is.

– Preparation is vital when cutting underwater

While cutting the tree underwater, clear vision and precision are vital. The user must ensure that they can clearly see the surface they are cutting to prevent accidents. They should also be aware of the direction the tree will fall after cutting so that it does not fall on them. Things underwater will fall slower, but getting out of the way also takes more time.

It is essential to properly plan the work before going in and coordinate with the boat crew to get the job done without casualties.

What are Hydraulic Chainsaws Used For?

A hydraulic chainsaw uses hydraulic fluid pumped by a hydraulic pump to the chainsaw using a flexible hose. This allows the chainsaw to cut surfaces that are at some distance from the pump and the gas engine or electric motor that drive the pump.

Hydraulic chainsaws are used for underwater cutting or locations that are dangerous for electric or gas engines. Tree-clearing crews also use them to cut large trees and branches, as they can easily be attached to a long pole. Or used by an operator on a crane, enabling the user to easily cut relatively high branches as a hydraulic chainsaw is relatively light.

The unique features of a hydraulic chainsaw make it convenient for cutting surfaces very high above the ground and deep underwater. And for use in environments where a spark from a gas engine or the use of an electric engine could be dangerous.

Is It Okay to Cut Wet Wood With a Chainsaw?

Cutting wet wood is not any harder compared to cutting dry wood. On the contrary, it could even be easier and take less effort as the moisture in the wood works as a lubricant. However, one would wonder if cutting wet wood affects the chainsaw in any way.

Generally, it is fine to cut wet wood using a chainsaw. Wet wood does not damage the chainsaw blade, but moist sawdust tends to get stuck on the chain and near the engine. Instead of being blasted away. This means that you will need to check and clean the bar, chain, and sprocket from time to time if you intend to use the chainsaw for an extended period.

When you notice the sawdust sticks, I recommend checking and removing the sawdust stuck on the chain, bar, and sprocket after every few cuts.

Will Rain Hurt a Chainsaw?

Even as you plan your cutting jobs, you cannot predict the weather. It may start raining in the middle of your job.

Generally, rain does not have to interrupt your cutting job if you use a gas chainsaw. You can continue cutting in the rain without posing any risk to the chainsaw’s engine as long as it does not really poor. Standard chainsaws come with metal or plastic casing that protects the engine. Rainwater will have difficulty reaching the engine. If you are using an electric or battery-powered chainsaw, I always recommend stopping. You do not want to risk getting an electric shock or damaging your chainsaw.

Aside from potentially damaging your chainsaw when the rain is heavy, there is always a safety risk when working in the rain. The ground can get much slippery, and also, holding the chainsaw can be harder. That is why I recommend not working in the rain, and pausing your cutting job until the skies are clear again for your safety.

How To Care For Your Chainsaw After Using It In Wet Conditions

Like other metals, the chainsaw chain and bar are prone to rust if exposed to moisture for extended periods. This is why you should always clean the chainsaw well after using it in wet or moist conditions.

  • Step 1. Remove debris: First, clear any debris off the chain using a soft-bristled brush.
  • Step 2. Drying: Once the chain is clear, now dry the chainsaw using a piece of cloth.
  • Step 3. Lubrication: When dry, ensure that the chain and bar are well lubricated to prevent rust. You can add lubricating oil to the reservoir and then run the chain to ensure the chain and bar is oiled and ready for storage for future use.
  • Step 4. Storing: Finally, store the chainsaw in a dry clean place, away from moisture and water.