Chainsaws are extremely useful to have around your home or ranch. They can level cluttered brush and help clean up your property after a storm, but the power these tools possess to help can also cause serious bodily harm and even death.
The first step to chainsaw safety is using a quality saw. The best saw to use will vary depending on the job you need to complete; for example, the appropriate bar size will depend on the width of the wood you need to cut. Obviously, you shouldn't use a small saw for a giant project. It’s best to use a chainsaw with a bar about the same size as the tree or log you need to cut. Ill-fitted saws increase the chance of kickback.
If you're new to chainsaw use, you also need to consider how much you can hold for a long periods of time. When filled with gas, chainsaws can often weigh up to 20 pounds. The more powerful the engine, the heavier its vibrations and weight will be. This can be strenuous if you aren't used to holding heavy vibrating objects. Prolonged exposure to vibrations like these can also damage the blood vessels, arteries or muscles in your hands.
Before starting any projects with a chainsaw, you need to ensure the chainsaw has been properly maintained. Proper maintenance makes cutting safer and easier, regardless of your skill level. Before starting the chainsaw, make sure the bar is well oiled. Check the manual to make sure you have the correct gas to oil ratio if you're using a gas chainsaw, and if you use an electric saw, survey the machine for frayed cords. Be sure to sharpen the chains after it has been used several times; sharpened chains reduce the chance of kickback or pinching.
A good rule for chainsaw safety is if the pros require it, you should too. Proper protective equipment is extremely important, especially if you're new to using a chainsaw or have a particularly challenging job ahead of you. At minimum, always have a face shield, hardhat, hearing protection and gloves. For optimum coverage, add chainsaw boots and specialty pants or chaps.
Whether you work in an office, a warehouse or out in the field, your work environment is a crucial factor in the results you achieve. Before starting any work, inspect the area in which you are cutting.
If you're bucking logs or felling trees, ensure there is a clear area to work. Cutting logs on the ground requires a stable, sturdy step. When working around your home, be sure pets, children and other people are out of the way, especially when felling trees. Most importantly, avoid distractions and be alert and aware of your surroundings at all times.
If you're still using your old hand saw to complete yard work, a chainsaw can cut your work time in half, both literally and figuratively. However, the power in these tools works just as well on their users as on the trees they're designed to level. Be sure to read and understand your chainsaw's user manual before completing any work, and protective equipment and proper maintenance can save your life. If you need a recommendation for a great chainsaw, check out what we had to say in our Stihl Chainsaw reviews.