Important Health & Safety Information Before Buying a Chainsaw
The technical spec of the chainsaw, whilst imperative, is not the sole factor to consider when undertaking a job.
Ability and experience must be factored in before use. I’d never let anyone near a 20” 50cc monster regardless of how big, tough or enthusiastic they were.
These tools are very powerful and exceedingly dangerous, especially in the hands of a novice.
I was intimidated when I handled my first chainsaw many years ago and was well into adulthood before picking it up. These very effective tools are very, very damaging if not handled sensibly.
My advice would be to start of with something smaller, lighter and more controllable if possible. Work your way up. Gain experience and develop an understanding of the tool.
With confidence and practice you will get good results, allowing you to naturally progress to larger, more powerful devices.
Permit yourself to learn & grow.
If you are not in good health or have concerns about your fitness please speak to a physician when embarking on any task involving power tools, especially one as unforgiving as a chainsaw. Regardless of the excellent in-built safety features you need to be able to fully concentrate as well as have sufficient strength and stamina to endure the demands of cutting, often stubborn wood. Its not an easy task, believe me and despite having a good deal of experience using them I still have to be fully aware of what my body is telling me.
If in any doubt, don’t continue working.
For the safest cutting, the guide bar length should be 2″ longer than the wood you want to cut.
The guide bar length is measured from the tip of the chain to where it enters the housing. The bar length is the active cutting area and also the largest size length of wood the chainsaw can cut in one pass.
If you want to cut a 14″ tree in one pass then a 16″ (or bigger) guide bar would be your best option.
Should you need to cut a larger tree with a small chainsaw, this can be achieved usually with two passes.
A chainsaw with a 16” bar length will allow you to cut a 32 inch tree however would recommend you opt for a larger guide bar if this were a regular thing.
Alternatively get a professional or more experienced chainsaw user in to assist.
Generally, most non-professional/consumers I know will use a small guide bar chainsaw. This will allow them to remove branches and cut their firewood. Simple as that. Light-duty work.
I’ve helped friends and family with medium duty cutting on occasion. This meant a 16” to 20” guide bar and more powerful saw but these tasks are few and far between for me so my small chainsaw is what I usually use.
Know your requirement and evaluate accordingly.
Hardwood cutting will likely require a gas powered saw as these are more powerful.
Make sure you have the confidence and experience to tackle the task. Use the appropriate chainsaw and if in doubt seek advice from experienced users or professionals.
I know it can be intimidating but certainly not impossible. Practice and guidance will get you there.
Clothing/personal protection equipment
You MUST always wear protective clothing when undertaking any DIY task and none more so when using a chainsaw. As you may have gathered, I take these tools very seriously. This is not an option – safety is paramount.
Ensure you have access to the following before you use the chainsaw.
- Work gloves
- Steel Toed safety footwear
- Safety glasses or goggles
- Face & head Protection
- Ear Defenders or earplugs
This occurs when the tip of the guide bar hits another object.
The saw chain rotates forward and away from you, goes around the tip of the bar then starts moving back towards you.
The top quarter of the nose, or tip, where the change in direction occurs is called the kickback zone.
As you’re cutting, the wood can narrow then pinch the saw chain inside the cut.
In some cases this contact can cause an immediate jolt that causes a reverse reaction or ‘kicking back’.
The guide bar will fire up and back towards the operator.
It comes down to physics – the relative force applied to the object coupled with speed of the blade will determine the trajectory of the guide bar in a kickback scenario.
Should the chain stop suddenly the greater the force of kickback.
So, to avoid this happening, ensure you abide by the following important rules:
- Do not touch the bar guide tip on the object – this included the ground
- Do not more than one piece of wood at a time.
- Always keep the saw at full power when cutting.
- Ensure your chain sharpened to specification
- Maintain correct chain tension – this should be checked before use.
- Ensure you have checked the chainsaw thoroughly before use and its been cleaned and serviced.
- If possible, use an anti-kickback chain.
- Wear the correct safety clothing including goggles, gloves and ear protection.