What NOT to do With a Chainsaw [13 Simple Tips]

Have you been researching how to use a chainsaw? Searching for guides and tutorials on how to do it?

And now you’re trying to figure out what not to do with a chainsaw.

You’re in luck because, in this post, that’s exactly what we’ll be going over. Simple things to avoid when using your chainsaw.

By the end of this post, you’ll know how to use your saw a lot better and be safer for it.

Don’t cut with the nose

Chainsaw parts labelled explained

Never cut with the nose of the saw. If you do, you’re going to get a kickback.

What is kickback?

Simply put, kickback is a sudden and forceful spring back where the saw is being forced in the direction of the operator.

It’s obviously very dangerous because if it hits you, your face will be torn to shreds. Yup, scary stuff, so make sure you’re not cutting with the nose.

If you get hit by it, you won’t scar very well. I’ve seen guys with these horrible pink scars down their faces. Simply because they weren’t cutting safely.

You can also wear headgear as another layer of protection. Because if the worst does happen, your face will be protected. The little cost of face protection is well worth it, without a doubt.

Don’t run whilst carrying the chainsaw

I always cringe when people run when carrying a chainsaw. They have this insanely strong machine in their hands. Something that can easily kill but they’re running with it. Blows my mind.

One misstep and that could be fatal. Sure, you may get your work done a little fast but the risk and reward ratio isn’t worth it.

So make sure you wear safe footgear like hard cap boots with a strong grip. And don’t be one of those flip flop people. It’s not cool and you don’t look good. These people just look like idiots.

Sorry if that sounds a little harsh. But you’ll be surprised by the number of people that don’t take chainsaw safety seriously.

The last thing you want is a missing toe. So make sure you walk sensibly and not run.

Related:

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Never cut until you have a clear working area

It doesn’t matter what you’re doing when using your chainsaw. Whether it’s felling, bucking, limbing, or pruning. You need to make sure your work area is clear.

If you’re in the yard, it’s easier to have a clear workstation. Make sure the yard area you’re working in is clear of any toys, bricks, twigs, etc. You need to see exactly where you’re stepping.

If you’re going out into the forest to fell, that’s a bit more difficult…

…there are a lot of things that can tangle your feet. So make sure to figure out where you think you’ll be stepping.

Then clear the area of any bricks and branches. As much as you can. I would go a step further and cut some vines if they’re in your way.

The goal here is to make your work area as safe as possible.

Never fell without a plan

The number one tip I always give to newbies is to plan ahead. And this applies especially when you’re felling.

When felling, you need to figure out which way the tree is going to fall and then you begin the cut. If you don’t, then it could be fatal.

You could cut in a way where the tree falls on you. 

You need to plan your footing, where exactly are you going to step? If something’s going to be in your way, just remove it. If you can’t then you’re going to have to find a workaround.

Make sure you plan to the end, this way you’ve increased the chances of an efficient cut.

Also, in your plan, have a way out. Plan for the worst case scenario. If the tree didn’t fall in the direction you wanted, where exactly would you go?

It’s a question well worth asking yourself before making the cut.

Don’t cut into the dirt

One of the quickest ways to dull your chain is to cut into the dirt.

Cutting into the dirt is kinda like cutting into sandpaper, it’s gritty. So your chain will quickly dull.

I’m sure you would never cut into the dirt on purpose. But you can easily hit it when cutting into a log.

To help prevent this, try and cut logs on an elevated level. This can be done by laying the log you want to cut on another log.

Or you could get a table. But if you have to cut the log on the ground, just be careful. You can easily hit the dirt. 

Never cut without proper tensioning

You should never cut without proper tensioning of the chain. If the chain is too loose, it could fly off. If the chain is too tight, it could snap and damage the entire saw.

So make sure it’s not too tight or loose. There should be a little bit of a gap between the bar and chain.

You should check your user manual to see what the designers behind your saw recommend.

When you pull the saw, the chain should have a little gap. If it doesn’t it’s too tight. And if you see the chain sagging, it’s too loose.

The tensioner is typically located on the side of the chainsaw.

You either need a tool to adjust it or your tensioner may be used without a tool.

Don’t Cut With a Dull Blade

Cutting with a dull blade can damage your overall chainsaw.

WHY?

Because you’re going to have to force your saw into the wood in order for it to cut. This can put too much pressure on the bar and overall chainsaw. Reducing its lifespan.

If your saw is producing powder-like bits then it has a dull blade. A sharp chainsaw should be producing splinters.

If you want to sharpen the blades, you’ll need a proper filing kit. 

Never cut in harsh weather conditions

If it’s heavily raining, snowing or there’s lots of thick fog, you should leave the saw for another day.

With heavy rain, your vision is going to be heavily impacted. You could end-up cutting something that you didn’t mean to. And this can be extremely dangerous.

If there’s lots of snow, you could easily slip. And with a high powered machine in your hand, you don’t need me to tell you that the slip will be fatal.

With lots of thick fog, you could end up cutting down a tree and someone may be standing there. You never know.

Sometimes, a fatal accident in undesirable weather conditions may sound unlikely to you. However, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Those trees aren’t going anywhere. You have plenty of time to deal with them. Save it for another day.

Never use old gas

Gas can go bad. So if you haven’t used your chainsaw for a while, it’s best to get rid of the old gas and pour in some new gas.

How often should I replace my old gas?

A good rule to follow is to replace the gas within your chainsaw every 90 days.

Sure, there are cases where a chainsaw will run without an issue even after 6 months of no use. But that’s not always the case.

If you know you won’t be using your chainsaw for a long time. It’s best just to get rid of the gas and leave it like that. 

Don’t allow the gas to go bad whilst it’s inside of the chainsaw.

What do I do with old gas?

Pour it into an empty milk cartan and recycle it according to your local state law.

Don’t start the saw whilst standing

Unless you’re very experienced with a chainsaw, don’t start it whilst standing.

This can easily lead to injury. It may look cool to you but it’s not worth the risk.

Follow the correct procedure and start the saw whilst it’s on the ground. Put your foot inside of the handle and start it like that.

It may not look as cool but so what? As long as you’re staying safe, that’s all that matters. (No, I’m not trying to sound like your mother)

Don’t Refuel Your Chain Saw When It’s Hot

This is a big no, no…

If you refuel whilst it’s still hot, the gas could ignite, destroying the saw and burning you.

Stop being so impatient and give it 10 – 15 minutes to cool down. 

Better to wait a few minutes than burn yourself and your money.

Don’t use the chainsaw with a dirty air filter

The air filter was designed to prevent any dirt from going into the engine. The air filter would catch any debris. 

But if the air filter is full, some of that debris will enter the engine and damage it.

So make sure to clean out the air filter.

Don’t cut with others around you

A simple and obvious thing but I wanted to put this in here anyway just to make sure.

If you’ve got someone around you, you could end up hitting them. So if you have a person with you, make sure he or she is a few meters away from you.

If you’re felling a tree, of course you’re going to want them well away. The operator should be the only one next to the tree and no one else.

If you have younger children, make sure they’re aware that you’ll be using your chainsaw before you begin.

And if they’re a naughty bunch, it might be best to keep them inside whilst you do your job in the yard.

If you’re using a corded chainsaw, make sure everyone can clearly see it to avoid anyone tripping over it.

Because if they do, it won’t just hurt them but could be fatal to you.

Conclusion

So those were the things on what not to do with a chainsaw.

These simple tips were meant to serve as an educational resource on how to use your saw better and more safely.

Hope you got some good tips from this guide.

Safe sawing!

–  Adam