Ten Chainsaw Operation Basics You Should Know

The safe operation of a chainsaw requires proper maintenance and a few basic precautions. Chainsaws are available with guide bars that range from 8 inches to 20 inches in length, and they can be powered by gas or electricity. A guide bar should neither be much longer or much shorter than the thickness of the log being cut. A general rule of thumb is to only cut logs that are no bigger than the length of the guide bar.

Electric chainsaws require access to an electrical power source and are typically used for cutting small trees and for light duty. Only gas powered saws with less than 3.8 cubic inches of engine displacement are intended for non-professional use.

Basic Instructions for Safe Operation

Remembering a few basic rules while operating a chainsaw greatly reduces the risk of accidents.

  • Remove any obstacles that might interfere with the saw blade while making a cut.
  • To start the saw, place one foot on the rear hand guard and hold it firmly on the ground.
  • Hold the top handle with one hand and use the other hand to pull the cord. Keep both hands on the handles while cutting and do not cut any material directly overhead.
  • Do not begin a cut with the tip of the blade nose, and do not allow the blade to come in contact with any object other than that which is being cut. Either occurrence can result in kickback. Most modern chainsaws are equipped with a safety feature called the 'chain brake' that will instantly bring the chain to a complete stop at the first sign of a kickback.
  • Wearing proper clothing and protective gear is standard practice for professional loggers and is highly recommended for the inexperienced operator. Safety equipment includes a hard hat, safety goggles, work gloves and ear protection.

Safety through Proper Maintenance

A properly maintained chainsaw will result in safe and easy operation and will extend the life of the saw.

  • Check to make sure that the chain is never installed backwards.
  • If you need to apply excessive pressure on the saw while cutting, it could be that the teeth need sharpening.
  • Allow for a little slack in the chain. Consult the owner’s manual and adjust the tension according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Refill the oil tank regularly. The bar and chain must be kept lubricated to function properly. If possible, use lubricants made specifically for chainsaws. You can also use SAE 30 in the summer and SAE 10 in the winter.
  • Check that all handles are securely fastened and all nuts and bolts are tightened. Also, check that safety features like the chain brake are in good operating condition.

Consult the owner’s manual for maintenance instructions and have needed repairs done by a qualified service technician.