Chainsaws for Beginners – Complete Newbie to Advanced Guide

Are you new to chainsaws and have no idea where to start?

Are you looking for tips for beginners?

Do you want to know the ins and outs of a chainsaw but want a simple guide?

Well, you’ve come to the right place because this is a post on chainsaws for beginners.

What is a chainsaw and what’s it used for?

A chainsaw is a portable machine that is able to cut because of its mechanical teeth that rotate rapidly whilst strapped to a bar.

It’s mainly used to:

  • Cut down trees (Tree felling)
  • Remove branches from a tree (Limbing)
  • Cutting fallen trees into logs (Bucking)
  • Cutting branches, buds, or roots (Pruning)
  • Cutting vegetation to barrier and slow or stop the progress of a bushfire (Firebreak)
  • Harvesting firewood

What’s on a chainsaw?

In this section, we’ll be going over the parts that make a chainsaw in simple terms…

Chainsaw parts labelled explained

Engine

A chainsaw is powered by either gasoline (petrol) or an electric engine with a battery or plug.

The typical gas chainsaw holds 0.5 liters in order to keep it light and comfortable for the user. It will use a clutch and is more powerful than an electric chainsaw.

Gas chainsaw vs electric

Advantages of a gas chainsaw

  • Used for heavy-duty work like thick trees
  • More bar length options available
  • Work longer than electric powered battery saw
  • Cordless

Disadvantages of a gas chainsaw

  • Needs to be refueled with gas
  • Heavy
  • Loud
  • Costs more than electric

Advantages of an electric chainsaw

  • Lighter and compact
  • Quieter than gas
  • Doesn’t leave the smell of gas
  • Start with just the touch of a button
  • More cost-effective
  • Can be plugged in for unlimited use

Disadvantages of an electric chainsaw

  • Lack of power if you plan on cutting thick trees
  • Lacks stamina if it’s powering up from a charge

Gas chainsaws are great if you live on a ranch or go out in the forest a lot to cut down trees. There’s plenty of power to keep you going. It’s the typical type of saw I recommend.

Electric chainsaws are great if you’re trying to prune and need something lighter. I often find it more user friendly because you can turn it on at the touch of a button. [1]

Related:

What Size Chainsaw Do I Need?
How not to cut down a tree
What not to do with a chainsaw

Clutch

The chain will not turn as soon as the engine is started. That would be dangerous.

You don’t have to engage the clutch or put it in gear. When you rev it up to a certain speed, the chain will start turning automatically.

The clutch allows the engine to turn freely at low rpm (turns per minute) without moving the chain. They’re both separate.

So the clutch of a chainsaw isn’t a big deal in terms of it being dangerous or difficult.

Bar

The chainsaw bar is what the chain attaches to. It’s the long piece. It’s often referred to as a chainsaw blade.

Oil holes

Oil holes allow the oil to be distributed throughout the bar. Greasing the bar to prevent friction and damage. Ultimately, it allows your chainsaw to work optimally. These are located at the end of the saw.

Chainsaw Grease holes at the bar nose

There are holes at the end of the bar, referred to as the “nose”.Grease is pumped through it to keep the sprocket lubricated.

What is the sprocket?

The sprocket is like a little wheel that enables the chain to spin.

Chainsaw sprocket

Bar types

There are different bars for your chainsaw…

Laminated bars

Laminated bars are made by joining two steel rails with a steel core and a sprocket between them. They reduce the weight of the bar and are flexible.

Solid bars

These bars are used for hard timber and thick wood. If you have a really thick tree to cut down, you’re going to want a solid bar.

Safety bars

These bars are laminated bars with a small sprocket at the nose. This helps reduce the kickback you get if you hit to nose on something. It’s safer to use and mostly used in consumer saws.

Chain

The chain or “cutting” chain as it’s often referred to as the teeth for cutting. It looks similar to a bike chain but has blades instead of rollers. Each blade is referred to as a “tooth”.

Tensioning mechanism

The purpose of the tension mechanism is to make sure the chain does not come loose or tangle.

You can adjust the tension by turning a screw or a manual wheel. Allowing the chain to tighten or loosen.

Safety Features

There are safety features for the chainsaw you can apply to help prevent yourself from being injured…

Chain brake

The chain brake is the piece that is located above the grip.

Chainsaw parts labelled explained

A chain brake is a band in the chainsaw. When the chain brake is activated, it stops the chain from spinning.

Why would I want the chain brake to activate?

You’ll want a chain brake to activate when you get a kickback. This is when the tip of the bar touches something and the chain is forced back to your face.

The chain brake will activate because your hand is on the front grip of the saw. And because the intense force of the kickback will force it to activate automatically.

Here’s a great video explaining the chain brake:

Chain catcher

The chain catcher looks like a hook. It activates if the chain comes off the bar and catches it. Preventing you from getting hit which could be lethal.

Designers have placed the chain catcher close to the bar.

Chainsaw CHAIN CATCHER

Rear handle guard

The rear handle guard simply allows you to grip the chainsaw from the back. Allowing for more control, longer use without fatigue, and prevents the chain from hitting you in case it comes off.

Throttle lock

The throttle allows you to operate the engine.

And the throttle lock is there if you accidentally press the throttle, the chain won’t start running.

Unless the throttle lock switch above the rear handle is also pressed, the throttle cannot move from the idle position.

It’s conveniently positioned so you won’t be stretching your hand.
Stop button

The stop button is conveniently placed so you can quickly stop the engine.

Anti-vibration system

Back when chainsaws were first coming out, people would get white finger. White finger is an industrial injury to your hand and arm after your hand and arm are constantly vibrating.

To prevent this, designers have implemented springs inside of the saw to absorb lots of vibration. The hands are also made of rubber to not only help with grip but absorb vibration.

Clothing

Helmet – You’re going to want a helmet to prevent any unexpected injuries to the head.

Safety glasses – If you value your eyes, you’re going to want safety goggles. After all, there’s lots of dust going all over the place. You never know what could get in your eyes.

Gloves – Gloves help you prevent vibration, increase your grip, and keep your hands clean. I’d recommend a thin pair of gloves to keep the grip.

Chaps – Chairs are fairly thick pairs of pants. They’re specially designed to catch the chain before the cut gets too deep.

Pruning sleeves – If you intend on pruning, these are a must. They will help prevent those annoying nicks and cuts.

Safety practices for you

Clear your working area – Make sure you can see exactly where your feet are going to go. The last thing you want is to trip over and see your life flash before your eyes. Make sure it’s clear of logs, bricks, and things that could tangle your feet.

Thumb grip – Make sure your hands are wrapped around the handles, including your thumb. This will help you maintain more control.

Stand with your feet apart – This is going to help maintain balance and prevent you from getting knocked over.

Bend your knees – Don’t work with a curved spine, bending over. I already have a bad back so I make sure to bend my knees.

Don’t use the tip – She probably likes the tip but your chainsaw won’t. Ok.. that sounded weird, let me start again. If you use the tip of the saw, you’ll get a kickback which will spring the saw straight into you.

Let the chain do the work – Don’t force your chain through. Let the blade do the work. This will maintain the saw’s sharpness.

Never start your chainsaw if the bar is stuck in a tree – This could result in kickback.

Make sure the chain brake is engaged – Simply push it forward until you hear a “click”.

Starting your chainsaw

Starting a petrol chainsaw

  1. Make sure you lay it on the ground and there are no obstructions
  2. Step 2 Make sure the chain brake is turned on by pushing it forward and you’ll hear a click.
  3. If your chainsaw is fitted with a decompression valve, press it.
  4. If your chain saw has a primer bulb, press it several times. This will help reduce the number of times you have to pull the rope.
  5. Press the throttle trigger lockout and the throttle trigger. After, press the master control lever all the way down.
  6. Put your foot inside of the rear guard. Making sure your foot is away from the bar and the bar isn’t touching the ground.
  7. Begin with pulling the rope slowly until you feel some resistance and then pull harder.
  8. Once running, depress the throttle briefly to keep the engine running.

(Make sure to read the manual in case there’s specific instruction)

Starting an electric chainsaw

Starting an electric chainsaw is easier.

First of all, make sure the battery is full or plugged in. Put it on the ground and make sure there are no obstructions.

A lot of electric chainsaws require you to push and hold a safety lock button before the on/off trigger becomes operational.

Once the safety lock is engaged, press the trigger button to activate the chain.

Maintenance

If you’re like me, you sometimes find it really difficult to spend your hard earned money. And you’ve probably spent or going to spend a decent chunk of change on your new toy. I mean chainsaw.

So make sure you look after it by following the simple steps below..

  • Apply oil to the bar and chain
  • Tighten all the bolts
  • If there’s an air filter, remove any sawdust
  • If you don’t regularly use your chainsaw, empty the gas and pour in some new gas

Kickback

Never underestimate the kickback of a chainsaw.

A kickback is when the nose/tip of the chain touches something hard. There’s a solid chance that the chain could hit the user.

So here are some basic tips to prevent kickback…

  • Never cut with the nose
  • Test the chain brake
  • Hold the saw with a strong grip
  • Be careful when re-entering cuts
  • Never cut through wood that’s been used as a building material since it could have things like nails in there

Felling Trees (cutting down trees)

  • Make sure you’re following local state laws
  • Avoid cutting in bad weather conditions such as strong winds, rain, and snow.
  • Make a plan for which direction you want the tree to fall
  • Don’t cut at a height above your shoulders
  • After you’ve finished, make sure to maintain it using the tips in this guide

Final words

I hope I gave you everything you needed to know about chainsaws as a beginner.

I tried to simplify this guide and make it easy to understand.

Hope it helped!