How to Safely Use a Chainsaw


Chainsaws are for many of us, a Godsend. Without a tool to help us cut firewood and clear our land, we would slave away with old technology (handsaws!) and hope for the best. That said, I’ll review the safety features that all chainsaws should have, proper cutting methods, and preventative maintenance steps to keep the saw in good condition. 

Safety Features 

Chain Brake and Kickback Guard – The chain brake trips if your hand or wrist lunges forward into the kickback guard, stopping chain movement. 

Chain Catcher – If the chain flies off or breaks, the catcher gathers the chain quickly and prevents serious whiplash injury from a broken or derailed chain during operation. 

Hand Guard – Provides additional protection for the hands from a fly-away chain. 

Throttle Lock – A common sense safety device that prevents acceleration unless the lock is pressed and engaged while gripping the handle. 

Emergency Stop – Another common sense feature that allows the user to shut down the saw in the case of an emergency. 

Various Cutting Methods 

Notch and Fold – If you try to cut up a felled tree for firewood, the top presents a problem bogging down the saw due to the compression from the tree. Make a diagonal cut about one-third the depth of the log. Make another identical but opposite cut to create a wedge. Remove the wedge and cut once more from underneath to where the point of the wedge meets. 

Offset Cut and Snap – The last thing you want to happen while limbing a tree is brush clutter all over and in your way. Removing branches first makes the job easier. You can do this by making an offset cut on each side of the branch, making them easy to snap off and throw into a pile away from your work area. 

Spring-Pole Release – The safe way to deal with a fallen tree that bends but doesn’t break, is make parallel cuts on the inside or compression side to release some of the energy that could cause the tree to snap back and hurt you. After the initial cuts, make a vertical cut on top without cutting through and you’ll see the energy release on its own without whipping back. 

Preventative Maintenance 

Don’t allow yourself to forgo the basic maintenance tasks your saw needs. Proper maintenance helps the saw perform better and safer. As always, consult the schedule included with your saw. If you don’t have it, go online to the manufacturer’s website and download what you need. 

  • For safety’s sake, the chain oil level and bar need your attention after every use. 
  • Always keep the chainsaw clean. A clean saw performs better, and you lower the risk of an accident by making sure all the parts stay aligned and work as designed. 
  • Sharpen the chain when necessary because it makes your work easier, and puts less stress on the chain, lowering the risk of it breaking or causing kickbacks.

Safety when using your chainsaw comes first. There’s a certain amount of pride when using properly maintained and clean power tools. The choices and features of saws continue to increase, and to find the best one for you, click HERE for help!