Using a Chainsaw? These Tips Could Save Your Life

There’s a reason why movies like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre have become cult horror hits; it’s because chainsaws are bloody scary! These powerful machines are also very useful, but only when used correctly.

STIHL MS170If you have got a heavy-duty wood cutting job that needs doing, a chainsaw is your go-to tool, but you must approach the job with care. We’re not going to bore you with tips about “reading the manual” or “wearing protective equipment” – this stuff should be obvious! Instead, here are a few tips you might not have thought of. Follow them; they might just save your life!

Inspect the Surface

Your chainsaw should be used to cut wood and wood alone. This means that you should inspect the cutting surface carefully before getting underway. Any nails, screws, pieces of plastic or other bits and bobs that might be stuck in the wood could damage the saw at the very least, or could fly off and strike you.

Getting hit by a chunk of metal flying through the air at high speed is something that you do not want!

If you’re limbing a felled tree, you need to inspect this too. You don’t want a branch you missed striking the nose of the chainsaw and causing potentially lethal kickback. Make sure the area you’re cutting is clear of any stray branches or other rogue items.

Use a Chain Brake and a Low Kickback Bar/Chain

The term ‘kickback’ may sound playful, but in reality it’s anything but! Kickback occurs when the nose of the chainsaw comes into contact with a resistive surface, causing the saw to buck wildly. If that buzzing chain touches you while it’s still moving at 20 metres per second, then it’s a very bad situation indeed!

To combat this, always use a chain brake and a low kickback bar or chain. Both of these features are pretty straightforward; a chain brake brings the chain to an emergency stop in the event of an accident, while low kickback bars and chains are specifically designed to reduce the risk of kickback.

Remember that these safety features can only reduce the risk of death or serious injury from kickback. It’s up to you to make sure the nose of your chainsaw doesn’t come into contact with anything that might make it buck.

Only Cut when Your Chain is at Full Speed

If you are an inexperienced chainsaw user, it can be tempting to ease into the job when your chain is not yet at full speed. Never do this. If your chainsaw is not at full throttle, the chain can get caught in the wood resulting in ‘pull-in’ or ‘pushback’.

As you might have guessed, pull-in occurs when the chain at the bottom of the bar gets jammed, violently lurching thesaw – and possibly you – forwards. Pushback occurs when the chain at the top of the bar gets stuck, pushing the saw back towards you. We’ll leave it up to you to decide which of these things sounds worst. In the meantime, make sure your chain is always at full speed before you begin a cut.

Clear Your Escape Route

You might have operated your chainsaw successfully, but you’re not out of the woods yet! If you’re felling a tree you need a clear escape route for when that thing starts falling. Clear two paths on either side of you, allowing you to move away at around a 135 degree angle from the direction of the falling tree.

The last thing you want is to trip and land on your saw, have the tree land on you, or both! So make sure your exit is clear of cables, branches and other trip hazards.

Follow these lifesaving tips for a safe and incident-free cutting session, and don’t forget to share them with your friends on Facebook and Twitter! If you’re not sure what’s the right chainsaw for the job, then make sure to check out our chainsaw buying guide here.