How To Handle A Chain Saw: Cutting Tips

A chain saw is an immensely useful tool to have, especially for country homes, but they can also be extremely dangerous. To give you an idea of how dangerous they are, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in 1991 estimated that over 44,000 people had chain saw-related injuries that required hospital treatment, most of which were a result of the user coming into contact with the moving chain. To be able to properly handle a chain saw, it is crucial that you know the dangers of improper use it.

Avoid Kickback Situations

Essentially, kickback is when the saw makes a sudden and violent reverse action, sending the guide bar back toward the user and potentially causing severe injury or death. This is usually caused when guide bar’s upper tip connects to an object or when the tip of the chain becomes pinched while cutting.

Follow through with your cutting arc without twisting, turning or angling the guide bar to avoid kickback, especially when cutting through an object your chain saw cannot reach clear through. Also, for smaller cuts that the chain saw can cut clear through, be sure there isn’t something on the opposite side for the chain to catch on.

Jamming The Saw

When the saw jams, or gets stuck mid-cut, it is usually caused by a thick-cut closing on the chain saw before getting all the way through. To avoid jamming, make sure that you stop and pull the saw out when the cut appears to begin to close. Switch to the other side and cut toward your first cut. If necessary, it is commonplace to use a wedge to keep the cut from closing.

Types Of Saws

Most chain saws operate more or less the same way. For example, the same cutting techniques should be used with an electric chain saw as with a gas chain saw, though electric ones are on the smaller side and are often considered appropriate for indoor use. A pole chain saw (which is exactly what it sounds like; a chain saw on a pole) requires a little extra care during use. It should never be operated from a vertical position, as you have less control over the saw and there is more of a risk for you to be struck by falling debris. Also, due to severely limited leverage, you can’t try to cut through anything too thick. Read the manufacturer’s manual for your pole chain saw to be sure of its limitations before use.

Be Alert

Perhaps the second biggest cause of improper cuts and injury is fatigue while using a chain saw. If you have been using the chain saw or other heavy equipment, be sure to take regular breaks to stay well rested. Even if you still have the energy to keep cutting, you may not have the energy to avoid potential accidents (such as kickback) quickly enough. This also ties into keeping a sharp chain, as the extra force need to cut with a dull chain will cause quicker fatigue.