Getting to Grips with your Chainsaw


If you have ever called out the tree-felling company and thought to yourself, “Wow, I could do that, looks like fun. And I can save myself some money at the same time!” then this article is for you. Chainsaws can turn many days of work into a tough afternoon or easily turn whole trees into firewood, but if not handled and operated correctly they can take a limb off of you just as easily as they do to a tree. They are not a toy and need to be handled with care and properly maintained at all times to ensure they are working correctly and won’t cause any malfunctions.


All tools can be dangerous as you will well know if you’ve ever missed the nail with a hammer and hit your finger instead, but not many of them are made to tear through bark and have sharp rotating teeth. Besides the tool itself, the thing you’re working on can be extremely dangerous, trees are extremely dense and heavy and can cause extreme damage if they don’t fall where you want them to, branches that are under tension can shoot up unexpectedly and cause injury.


Large trees should only be felled by trained and experienced professionals especially when in an urban area to avoid any expensive damage to your own, other peoples or even government property. Learning how to properly use a chainsaw can take a very long time and shouldn’t be rushed or attempted without proper supervision. If you do take the time to properly learn the ins and outs of how to use a chainsaw it can be extremely rewarding and save you time and money moving forward.




When You Need a Chainsaw


Like any tool there are certain situations where it is a necessity, others where it would cause more harm than good and then there are some where you wouldn’t expect it to be that useful but then you end up surprising yourself. Chainsaws are an extremely loud and aggressive sounding tool but when used by someone with lots of experience they can be used for some smaller, more delicate tasks to be much more efficient. The most obvious use for a chainsaw would be its ability to bring down entire trees.


If a tree falls into the operating diameter of your chainsaw and you know what you’re doing then you can bring that tree down to use the wood for building, firewood or simply change your view from your house or clear away shade from your pool. As mentioned before this can be extremely dangerous if the tree comes down somewhere you didn’t intend it to, and precautions must be followed every step of the way. If you do not have experience you need to get the proper supervision or professional team to work on it, this could be a deadly mistake if you just plow ahead by yourself.


Chainsaws should not be used indoors without proper ventilation as they can cause carbon monoxide poisoning as well as more severe ear damage with the loud noises and echoes. Woodwork indoors should rather be done with circular saws or by hand with an axe if you are chopping firewood. There is also a higher chance for accidents happening indoors where there is less space to maneuver.




Chainsaws can also be used for pruning branches off of trees to let more light through, cutting up trees that have fallen naturally to be moved away easier and cutting up branches into small pieces for composting or disposal. Some incredibly artistic people have taken it to the extreme and used chainsaws to create beautiful sculptures out of ice, this would obviously take years and years of practice that one article can’t give you. As you use a chainsaw more and more and become more accustomed to its movements and weights, you will find yourself using it for more and more delicate operations to save yourself some time.


Protective Equipment When Using a Chainsaw


Before you even start your chainsaw, you will need to get some protective gear to go along with it to keep you and everyone around you safe while it is in use. Some of the equipment is needed for multiple large machinery so if you have multiple tools or a construction site you should have most of it at hand anyway. The first thing you need to think about protecting is your ears and your overall hearing ability.


Chainsaws are extremely loud and used in very close proximity to your face so a must have for any would-be lumberjack is a good pair of sound-cancelling earplugs or earmuffs. This will protect your ears somewhat, but you should still take breaks if using a chainsaw for long periods of time to give your ears time to recuperate. Next on your list are a pair of protective eyewear.


Protective glasses or goggles will save you from going blind from the pieces of bark and wood that will be flying all around your face. If you see yourself using a chainsaw often it may be worth investing in a specific set of face gear that has a face-mesh and earmuffs together. This will ensure that you have most of your gear together and won’t be tempted to use your chainsaw with just the goggles and risk the ear damage one day.




Besides these you should also have good boots with steel toes to protect your feet from branches on the floor or falling from the sky. To complete your attire, you should get some gloves, a long sleeve shirt and some proper chainsaw chaps. The chaps are extremely important, and some brands are even made out of kevlar, the same stuff that they make bulletproof vests out of.


Try not to think about it too much but in the event that something goes horribly wrong and a slip occurs, the chaps will be the last thing keeping your limbs attached to you unlike the tree you’re working on. Let’s walk through this situation mentally so we never have to actually experience it first-hand, immediately the chainsaw would cut through the outer layering on the chaps as this will be nylon or another similar material. When the rotating teeth meet the kevlar they will actually bring the fibres into the saw’s sprocket and cause it to lock up and stop spinning in a few seconds, this is still extremely dangerous, but you’ll have a much better chance of getting out untouched than if you were just wearing jeans.


If you are working with a tree or there are many people around you are working on trees, be it felling or pruning you should always wear a hard hat. This may seem excessive if you’re not on a construction site but a branch falling from the top of a tree can be even more damaging than a brick from the same height. If you work in or operate a gardening business, you should always have hard hats handy in case you need to work on trees and branches.


How to Turn on a Chainsaw and Other Tips


Before you turn your chainsaw on you should prepare your work area with anything you will be cutting as you will be unable to do some once the chainsaw is running. You should also ensure that the chain is properly tensioned on the guide bar and isn’t loose as this could break free during use or suck materials up into it causing damage to you, your work area or your chainsaw, all things that we would like to avoid damaging in any way. Be careful you don’t tighten the chain too much as this might not go anywhere at all and cause internal damage to the chainsaw.




There are two ways to safely start a chainsaw, one is on the ground and the other is, and I’m not joking, by putting it in between your legs, but please let me finish explaining before you go and try that. For both methods you need to make sure that the choke is closed and that the starting switch is on, some saws may have a primer button, but this will all be included in the manual of your specific model. For the ground method you need to place the saw directly onto some flat ground, place your left hand on the handlebar and place your right toe in the handle where the throttle is.


Make sure you are steady and won’t fall over and while holding tight onto the handlebar and down with your toe, you now need to pull the starter rope with your right hand. After a few pulls the saw should make a popping sound but not actually start spinning. Now you need to disengage the choke and pull the starter rope again, this should start the saw spinning and you should be good to go.


Now for the in the legs method and before you start thinking like that no, you don’t put the blade in between your legs to get the chainsaw going. First the need to stand upright and again ensure you are steady and won’t fall, place the rear of the chainsaw against your right leg a bit tilted towards the right and then squeeze with your left leg. This should allow you to control the choke and throttle as well as pull the starter rope.




Some general tips for handling a chainsaw while it is in use are to have good footing and avoid standing on any dirt that may crumble away. You should also keep an eye out for any tripping hazards while you are walking or working with a chainsaw, tree roots can come back to fell you if you’re not careful. Never try to reach out with the chainsaw or bend your arms into uncomfortable positions as this can easily throw off your balance and cause injuries.


Chainsaw kickback can be extremely dangerous and should be avoided at all times, a chainsaw with a smaller guider will have a reduced chance of getting kickback but it can never be fully negated. Kickback is when wood or the material you are working on closes in on and starts to stop the chain from spinning. To prevent this, you should never cut into a tree that has a diameter that is larger than the length of the guide bar as this will stop the end of the chainsaw from contacting anything.


When working with a chainsaw for a long time make sure to not become complacent and remember that you can always be one slip away from hurting yourself or others. Keep your left hand on the handlebar at all times to ensure you have full control and keep a strong grip. Do not begin to rest your hand on the handlebars and always keep your thumb fully wrapped around.