When starting any DIY activity, in-doors or outside, you are mostly likely going to be using tools and equipment that can potentially cause you pain and serious injury. A hammer has the ability to break bones, a sander can cause serious skin abrasion and using an electric drill can cause serious harm if you mistakenly drill into an electrical wire, for example. A chainsaw however, is slightly more extreme. With a long blade that rotates at an extremely fast speed per second, and the power to saw through trees of any size; knowing how to properly use a chainsaw is essential for your and others healthy and safety.
When you think about chainsaws, you probably think, ‘horror movie’, and that is what these machines are largely associated with today, along with lumberjacks. However, don’t let films or horror stories put you off using them. If you use them safely and correctly, then nothing can go wrong. Accidents or incidents only occur when safety is neglected.
Before you start using your chainsaw, it is important to wear the correct apparel to minimise the risk of injury to yourself and to others. Ideally, you should wear a pair of site chainsaw trousers that come with braces and anti-clog protection.
You should also choose appropriate footwear too; ideally, shoes or boots that have plenty of grip and tread. If you are dealing with lots of heavy timber, then it might be worthwhile investing in a pair of steel toe-cap boots.
Make sure you are wearing suitable gloves and your eyes are protected from any debris by wearing glasses, goggles or a face guard. Also, don’t forget about your ears; chainsaws emit a lot of sound, so be sure to wear some ear muffs or ear buds.
Before you start sawing, it is important to clear your work area, so brush away any leaves, branches, twigs and other mess that may prevent you from working safely and efficiently. As well as making sure your work area is relatively clear and tidy, and make sure that small children, pets and other animals are as far away as possible.
To begin, you want to have your left foot slightly forward than your right, but making sure that you are in a balanced position. Using your left hand, grab the front-handle which also controls the brake. Your right hand will be on the rear handle controlling the throttle or trigger.
Before you let ‘rip’, activate the chain brake. As mentioned previously, you should have cleared the ground of any leaves and debris before placing the chainsaw on the ground. Next, make sure you’re safety equipment is on (ear muffs, face guard or goggles); once you are ready, place your right or rear foot in the rear handle, left hand on the front handle and then using your free hand, pull the chainsaw chord in an upwards motion which should hopefully start the engine. The idea is to really ‘rip’ the chord as hard and as quickly as possible to start the engine. If you aren’t successful at first, keep trying.
Starting Your First Cut
Once the chainsaw engine has started and you are ready, pick the machine up from the ground and lightly press the saw on the wood, applying solid pressure. Don’t cut all the way to the bottom as the tip could hit the ground, which can blunt the blade. During your cut, it is important to keep a solid hand. Don’t rush, as this could cause the chainsaw to jump and jitter, which is potentially a safety hazard.
How to Stop Your Chainsaw
When you are happy with your cut, push the chain brake forward to deactivate the movement of the chain and take your hand off the throttle and safely place it on the ground. ‘Safely’ being the keyword here. Do not chuck or drop the chainsaw as it could both damage yourself and the machine itself. Also, remember to place it upwards.
Always use the bottom edge of the chainsaw blade when cutting through wood and never the tip. If the tip or end of the chainsaw blade comes in contact with a solid object, such as a log; it will cause the chainsaw to kickback that will result in a loss of control and could also potentially injure someone as well as blunting the blade.
If you are having difficulty cutting, it might be due to two factors:
You aren’t pressing enough force
The blade is blunt
Don’t be afraid to press hard into what you are cutting, as without some amount of force, you will struggle to make a clean and decent cut. If you have both hands on the chainsaw and the object you are cutting is in a stable position, then don’t be afraid to add a little force when cutting.
If you think the blade is blunt however, you can sharpen it using a sharpening stone. This handy gizmo sits on the head and sharpens the blade whilst the blade is rotating.
Now, you should know how to properly use a chainsaw. It isn’t rocket science, but it does require patience, as well you being totally obedient in regards to health and safety. Using a chainsaw doesn’t have to be a dangerous task; just think of it as something that can dramatically reduce manual labour time; so have fun, wear suitable clothing and go cut some wood!