Are Chainsaws Hard to Use? – How to Use it Safely

So you’ve been considering using a chainsaw have you?

Or maybe you haven’t used a chainsaw in a while and need a refresh?

Well, you’ve come to the right place because I’ll be going over exactly that!

Are chainsaws hard to use? No, chainsaws aren’t hard to use. After you’ve grasped a few basic concepts about a chainsaw, you’ll become confident in knowing how to use one properly. And be able to split logs, limb trees, and cut them down safely.

Safety gear comes first

Before tackling any jobs, you need to make sure you’re in the correct gear which are:

  • Safety goggles
  • Face and head protection
  • Chainsaw chaps
  • Gloves

When your chainsaw is digging into wood at high speed, there’s going to be lots of chips of wood flying around. That’s why it’s important to protect your entire face.

A basic pair of safety goggles will do the trick. And for your head and face, you can use a helmet with a built-in shield.

If the chain ends up flying off the bar or you lose control, chainsaw chaps can save your legs.

Chaps won’t stop the chainsaw from running but they’ll catch the chain. This could be a lifesaver.

Gloves are important since you’ll be feeling the vibration from the saw which will reduce some of your control on the saw.

A thin pair of gloves will help with grip and protect your hands.

Related:

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Chainsaw brake

The chainsaw brake is located just after the front handle. When it’s activated, the chain will stop running.

Let’s say for example, you hit the nose of the bar on something hard, this will cause kickback. Causing the chain to be flung towards the operator.

Of course, a running blade being flung towards the operator is lethal. But with a chain brake, the force of that kickback will activate the brake and stop it from spinning.

Also, your hand will be there to automatically activate the chain brake.

Here’s a simple video explaining the chain brake:

Firing up that bad boy

First, make sure you’ve topped it up with bar oil and gas. Trying to start it and realizing there’s no gas is a little embarrassing.

Place it on the ground and make sure there are no obstructions, then put your foot in the handle.

Put your chain brake on by pushing it forward, you’ll hear a ‘click’ sound.

Push the decompression valve if you have one.

Push the primer bulb a few times.

Pull the starter handle and keep doing this until the engine fires. Push the choke (half-throttle) and pull until the saw starts.

That’s it!

Cutting with it

When using a chainsaw, there are different techniques you use which will make your life a lot easier.

Overbucking – Overbucking is where you cut by putting the saw on top and then working your way downwards.

Underbucking – Underbucking is the exact opposite. It’s where your saw is beneath what you want to cut so you cut upwards. This is typically done after overbucking, saving you time.

Cutting logs without hitting the ground

If you hit your chain on the ground, the blades can easily become dull and it can even cause kickback.

Cutting on the ground is easier than you think…

First, start cutting the log by overbucking. When you’ve gone as deep as you can without hitting to ground, roll the log over. Then start overbucking and re-entering the initial cut.

When cutting anything, make sure the chain is doing the work and not the bar. If you’re having to force the bar in, it means the chain is not sharp enough.

Also, forcing in the bar can damage the entire chainsaw.

What if my chainsaw gets stuck in the wood?

If your chainsaw gets stuck in the wood, the first thing you need to do is turn off the chainsaw.

Then you need to use something as a wedge (anything you can find that will work) and place it in the cut you made.

After that, you need to hammer down on that wedge to create space in the cut. And then you’ll be able to release your chainsaw.

I would recommend having a wedge with you just in case this happens.

Whatever you do, please do NOT try to yank the chainsaw out. You can easily damage it.

If you’re yanking on it, you can very easily damage the bar. So again, make sure you have a wedge in case it gets stuck.

Always keep your eye on the bar – You need to know exactly where it is and where it’s going.

If you’re cutting through a really wide log and go from the nose to the bottom of the bar deep, you could get it stuck. So leave an inch gap at the bottom of the bar.

Make sure to keep a firm grip – Use the thumb grip. wrapping your thumbs around the bar and squeezing it. This will recruit the most amount of muscle fibers available so you can maintain control.

Stop using the machine like a knife and let the chain do the cutting.

Cutting limbs

When cutting the limbs or branches of a tree, make sure to cut off ONLY the limbs that are not supporting the tree. Because if you limb a branch that’s supporting the tree, it could roll on your foot.

Which is obviously dangerous. After you’ve limbed the branches that aren’t supporting the tree, start limbing the branches that are supporting the tree.

But make sure you can get out of the way if it does roll in your direction.

Felling

When felling/cutting down trees, make sure to figure out which way the tree is leaning.

That’s probably (almost always) the best direction to cut. Make sure to start cutting behind where the tree is leaning.

This way you know exactly where the tree will fall and you’re out of the way…

…HOWEVER…

…you’re not always out of the way because the bottom part of the tree could hit you. So make sure you quickly get out of the way.

Have a plan

Before you start doing any type of cutting, have a plan. You need to know exactly what your goal is, the best way to accomplish it, and an exit plan.

If something goes wrong, you need to be able to quickly get out of danger. 

When cutting, never cut above shoulder height. You will end up losing control and could drop it on your head.

Basic stuff to do after cutting

Check the tension – After cutting, your chain could loosen. If it’s too loose, the chain could come flying off and hit you. So make sure there’s just a small gap when you pull on the chain.

Also, if the chain is too tight, this could snap your chain.

Inspect the bar – If your chain isn’t cutting as well as it should and you’ve sharpened it, this is a sign that the bar has been damaged.

To know if your bar has been damaged, look at the bar and make sure it’s completely straight. If it’s not straight, it needs to be replaced.

Also, if the bar has dents then it needs to be replaced.

If you’re cutting in the rain, make sure to dry the entire chainsaw to help prevent it from rusting.

Here’s a guide on everything you need to know about bars.

Final words

So by following this simple guide, a chainsaw will be pretty easy to operate.

You’ll be able to operate your chainsaw in a safe manner and be confident in using it.

Happy sawing!

– Adam