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How to Operate a Chainsaw

How to Operate a Chainsaw
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Have you ever wondered how exactly you could use a chainsaw without any fear of injuries? Well, we’ve got you covered on that. We are aware that the chainsaw is extremely forceful and fast, so it requires intensive care.

There are certain rules needed in knowing how to operate a chainsaw and we’ll be treating them in this article, from the starting methods to the proper chain usage. So, stick around for our safety guidelines, to understand our tips for using chainsaws and how to remain injury-free.

Understanding the Chainsaw

It is a piece of handy power equipment used in cutting wood with a swift-moving chain rotating around its guide bar. The chainsaw can make for pruning, limbing, bucking trees, and felling.

The chainsaw ranks high amongst all power tools as the most fearsome of them, yet it is available without using a license. It is designed for cutting with two ends of its blade and has the potential to cause terrible injuries when it is not operated rightly.

One of them is the top side of the back tip of its blade (also referred to as Kickback zone). It may change cutting force and make the saw slam back at you.  Most times, kickback injuries are catastrophic therefore, users are required to maintain extra precautions.

Operating the Chainsaw

Safety should never cease to be your No. 1 priority. Just like any other job or workshop, you need the proper gear to operate it.

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What Are The Safety Precautions To Observe In Operating A Chainsaw?

For safety in operating a chainsaw, do the following:

1. It doesn’t matter your level of experience in the use of a chainsaw, never operate a power equipment alone. Usually, when accidents occur, they happen swiftly, and should there be any incident, having someone close by can salvage you.

2. If the nature of your job leads you to the woods, make and set up flags as traffic safety by your vehicle. Ensure another person knows your current location and the time you intend returning. Also, take alongside an equipped first-aid box and at least a bandage.

3. Wear the necessary PPE (protective personal equipment), with chaps inclusive. Take a chainsaw helmet alongside a faceguard, logging, or steel-toed boots and gloves. Do not put on loose coverall, as they can get cut in the saw’s teeth.

4. Take a proper standpoint, and keep your feet locked to the ground while working. Hold your chainsaw firmly with both hands at a slant angle or different position rather than holding it directly and facing the wood, for safety at kickbacks.

5. Under no circumstances should you operate your chainsaw on an elevated platform (like ladders), and do not cut limbs your shoulder is lower than. If you want to cut off something way taller, consider using another tool: A Rope saw (manual type).

6. If you want to remove buttress roots and branches before felling trees, slice downward then use its pulling chain. It is that part of your chain that helps you work uphill when the tree you’re cutting is inclined.

7. Avoid working around power line locations, and do not fell tree near vehicles, buildings, utility lines, and especially humans around a 2½ tree length perimeter.

8. Ensure you’re using the best fitting size of chainsaw for your job. If your chainsaw is rented, make sure you’ve discussed the kind of job you’re embarking on with any staff renting it. You would be better advised on the size motor to use.

9. Finally, always put in full concentration when handling a chainsaw. Be sober!

Note: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) records over 36,000 injuries annually that are Chainsaw-related. So, this clearly means Safety first.

Steps for Properly Operating Chainsaws

As we advance, we would clearly analyze how best to operate chainsaws while felling a tree. First, below is a comprehensive list of materials anyone taking to the woods would need to properly operate a chainsaw.

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What Are The Materials Needed for Chainsaw Operation?

The materials needed for chainsaw operation are:

Chainsaw helmet and face goggles or faceguard

Nonslip gloves for steady grip at work.

Protective chaps

Logging boots or steel-toed boots

Hearing protection such as Earmuff


Chain oil

Engine oil (Two-stroke)

What Are The Steps Involved In Operating A Chainsaw?

The steps involved in operating a chainsaw are:

Step 1: Understand your environment (work area).  Make sure you’re conscious of “escape points” (the route you can run through for safety immediately the tree you cut starts to fall). This is because, when felling trees, the direction in which they could fall is unpredictable.

Step 2: Check to see that your gear is well fitted from top to bottom. Ensure the chain of your chainsaw is of good tension and is ready for use. If you check the chain links for its guide bar with it being loose, you’ll have to tighten its tension to avoid injury. Consult the maintenance guide for the machine for instructions in tightening its chain.

Step 3: Check for gas levels, if your machine is powered by gas, and fill to the brim before you commence any operation. For the two-cycle type of engines, the oil and gas may likely be mixed in the machine tank. Purchase the 2-stroke oil, then apply it to the tank of your machine at its manufacturer’s specified ratio (normally at a ratio around 50:1, better still, around 2.6 ounces to the gallon containing gas). Use the chain oil to fill the lube reservoir.

Step 4: Place your chainsaw on the floor, lying flat with its bottom below. Push the brake of the chain forward till it locks. It is the chain brake that stops the spinning of the chain until you apply your throttle and releases your brake.

Step 5: Just in case the type of chainsaw you’re using is gas-powered, possessing a choke, you can switch it on. Check for its primer button and press it down for about four to five times to allow gas flow into its carburetor, then switch it on from its power button.

Step 6: You need not read through this step if you have an electric chainsaw. But if you’re in possession of a gas chainsaw, place your right leg through its back handle then rest your weight on its handle to protect your saw. Make a firm hold on the saw’s front handle with your left hand and using your right arm, pull its starter cord out to full length sharply. Normally, it can take 4 or 5 pulls to kickstart the engine. Adjust its choke by drawing it halfway out, if you notice the engine isn’t engaging, though firing.

Step 7: Now, though the engine is running, the chain may not be turning. Thus, you will have to punch the throttle or trigger to enable the chain to move. For starters, position yourself rightly with your feet planted to the ground and your hands firmly gripping your saw. Remember to cut at an angle far from you with the chainsaw, to reduce the risk of injury should there be a kickback incident.

Step 8: The moment you’re ready for cutting, let go of your chain’s brake and engage its throttle fully. Place the saw at the point you wish to cut from. Never use pressure- the blade and chain’s momentum will surely draw your wood in. Don’t force it. In case your electric chainsaw is corded, always check that there are no entanglements to avoid trips and falls.

Step 9: During the cutting period, keep your throttle fully in use and maintain a steady grip on your machine. You should let go of your throttle only when you’re done cutting or have removed its blade from your cut (that’s if your cuts are carved-in for felling the tree).

Step 10: Simply switch to the “off” point to turn off the power in the saw. Allow your saw let off some heat before you store it. If it is a gas-driven chainsaw, decide on what to use its left-over fuel in its tank. Except you’re going to use it within four weeks’ time, please empty the tank. The moment it exceeds four weeks, the ethanol resident in the gas can gum or clog up your works.

Finally, to keep the chainsaw work effectively, two routine activities are key. We call them the best practices in chainsaw preservation.

how to operate a chainsaw
photo credit: stephen_23, needpix.com

Confirm the tension of the chain about its guide bar whenever you make use of the saw, because wrong tension has great impact on your machine’s performance. Chains that are too tight can cut while chains that are too loose may leave its bar and result to injury.

Upon purchase, your chainsaw is accompanied with its maintenance guide plus what we call your “scrench”. The “scrench” is a combination of a screwdriver and wrench made for chain tension adjustment.

video showing how to safely use a chainsaw


Most electric driven saws sharpen themselves. But for gas powered saws, it is a lot different. The blade of the chainsaw must be sharpened when it doesn’t draw into the woods when cuts are being made.

If it seems unevenly while cutting at an angle or bounces around during cuts, then it needs to be sharpened. How often you sharpen depends on the type of wood being cut, so be attentive to observe decline in performance and set out to sharpen the blade.

How To Operate A Chainsaw- Related Frequently Asked Questions

How do I cut wet wood with a chainsaw?

To cut wet wood using a chainsaw, do the following:

  1. Check your air filter. If the engine feels like it’s not running correctly or it’s struggling, check the air filter for any debris.
  2. Be wary of slippery conditions. It’s important to make sure you have solid footing when you’re working in the rain or snow and make sure you have a solid grip on the saw at all times.
  3. Use weather appropriate clothing & protective equipment: Wet weather boots and gloves with extra grip will go a long way in avoiding any mishaps. 
  4. Use the correct type of chain for frozen wood: Not all chains serve the same purpose, and for frozen logs you will need one with semi-chisel teeth. 
  5. Be wary of debris frozen to the bark: Make sure the logs you’re cutting don’t have a lot of debris frozen to them, particularly on the bottom of the log where you wouldn’t see it.

Why does my chainsaw dull quickly?

Your chainsaw dulls too fast because:

  1. You have been cutting a lot of dirty wood and using the tip of the bar to slightly touch the ground.
  2. You cut wood using the wrong angles and that dulls your blades.
  3. Your rakers might be too low which can also contribute to a dull chain.
  4. You are making use of the wrong size of file.
  5. Your file is dull.
  6. You do not sharpen your blades properly.
  7. Your rakers or depth gauges are filled down too much or not enough.

Why does my chainsaw bar smoke?

Your chainsaw bar is smoking because there is insufficient lubricant on the engine parts/guide bar. This smoke can also be as a result of a lack of air.

If the air that gets to the engine is not enough, your chainsaw is prone to heating up. To ensure that this does not happen, you need to clean or replace your air filter.

Another cause of overheating is excessive usage of oil. In this case, excess oil has been introduced into the engine of the chainsaw. To avoid this, make sure to mix the gasoline appropriately or according to the manual.

How can I stop my chainsaw from pinching?

You can stop your chainsaw from pinching by cross-cutting logs that are supported at both ends. The following steps below will enable you to prevent your chainsaw from pinching:

  1. Lift up the log to a support so as to expose the underside of the wood.
  2. Cut through the log from the top by ¼.
  3. Make another cut through the underside to the upper part of the log, intersecting the first cut you made.
  4. When cutting a log that is supported on both sides, the first cut should be made at the top, also known as the pressure side. It should go a quarter way into the log.

How do you clean a chainsaw with water?

To clean a chainsaw with water, do the following:

1. Separate the chain from the powerhead and the guide bar. 

2. In a well-ventilated area, take a bucket and mix one cup of ammonia with one gallon of water. Place the chainsaw’s chain in this solution and let it soak for 15 minutes. 

3. Put on a pair of thick rubber gloves for protection. 

4. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to scrub each section of the chain until it is free of debris.

5. Once the chain is clean, rinse it under running water to remove the ammonia solution. Dry the chain after rinsing to remove all the moisture. 

How do you drain gas from a chainsaw?

To drain gas from a chainsaw, do the following:

  1. Start by wiping off any dust from the lid of the gas tank before unscrewing it. 
  2. After that, you insert a drainage hose into the gas can. 
  3. Make sure to compress the siphon bulb to commence suctioning from the gas tank.
  4. If it is a siphon pump, press the pump to begin the process.
  5. Disconnect the fuel line connected to the gas tank and pour all remaining gas into the gas can. 
  6. Ensure you use a gas tank cleaner to clean before replacing the lid of the gas tank.

What should you not do with a chainsaw?

You should not do the following with a chainsaw:

  1. Do not try standing on a log with the chainsaw between your feet. Instead, stand away from the log and always ensure the chainsaw to be to the side and outside your legs.
  2. Avoid leaving your chainsaw on after you are done making use of it.
  3. Never move recklessly while holding a chainsaw.
  4. Never begin felling a tree till there is a safe working area and secure footpaths.
  5. Do not attempt to force the jigsaw through hard, stubborn material. If the blade won’t cut, reverse it and try again.

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