If you've ever used a hand saw to fell a tree or to take care of downed branches, you know it can be tough work, but a chainsaw can make cutting up trees easy. While using a chainsaw can make quick work of a chop job, safety is always the number one priority. To properly and safely use a chainsaw, you'll need some time to familiarize yourself with your chain saw and some basic safety gear.
As with all power tools, especially those with fast moving blades, safety should be a top priority. First, you'll need to protect your body. Always wear long pants, like jeans, that are not too loose-fitting. Next you will need ear, eye, and depending on the job, head and face protection. For small jobs, some ear muffs and safety glasses will work. For larger jobs or when cutting above you, you should use a hard hat equipped with a mesh screen to protect your face from flying chips. If you plan on doing a fair amount of chainsaw work, you can buy a hard hat with ear muffs, glasses and a mesh screen all built on.
Select the Proper Saw
You will need to know what kind of work you will be doing. There are three main sizes of chainsaws. Lightweight saws have an 8-12 inch saw bar and are best for light work, like small branches and felling small trees (6-10 inch diameter). Midweight saws have a 14-20 inch saw bar and are perfect for frequent log cutting and felling small trees (12-18 inch diameter). Heavyweight saws are longer than 2o inches and are used mainly for professional and commercial use.
Once you have selected the proper saw, you need to familiarize yourself with your chainsaw. Read the owner's manual fully to know the safety features. It is very important to become familiar with the recommended safe operation standards before you start to work with a chain saw. Particularly pay attention to the chain saw brake, which should be the guard near your top hand close to the blade. If the saw kicks back and this plate is pushed, the saw automatically cuts off. Read the manual and practice starting and stopping the saw. After you have reviewed the safety features and proper use practices of your saw, you are ready to begin.
Making your Cuts
Make sure you have a good footing. Always keep the upper tip of the saw bar in solid wood. Hold the chainsaw with both hands, gripping the handles with your thumbs around the grips. Without locking your elbow, apply steady even pressure as you make your first cut from above. Always start your cuts with the saw at full throttle. Then make another cut from below to meet the first. On smaller branches you can cut all the way through. With log cutting, use the 2 cut method if possible. Keep the butt of the saw close to your body for control, and keep your eyes on the saw.
Be careful of what you are cutting and how you are cutting. Never cut directly down into stumps, as the compressed wood and spring up and kick the saw back at you. Watch your cuts, as the saw chain can suddenly catch and kick the saw back at you. By using the proper stance and keeping mindful of your cuts, you can safely operate a chainsaw.