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How to Use a Chainsaw Safely

How to use a chainsaws safely featured image.

How to Use a Chainsaw Safely

Chainsaws are incredibly useful and quite often the only appropriate tool for the job. When used safely, a chainsaw can make your life much easier. Although manufacturers are always striving to make their product safer, there will always be some danger associated with operating one. On top of reading the manual cover to cover, there are some things to do to protect you and others from injury.

Buying the Right Chainsaw

It’s important that your chainsaw has the power to get the job done. That said, it is even more important that you can safely handle your new tool. If you are on the smaller side and have only light trimming to do, an electric chainsaw may be easier for you to use. There are likely places near you where you can rent a chainsaw to see how you can handle it.

Wear Safety Gear

Wearing Safety Gear


A chainsaw is a tool that requires you to wear safety equipment, period. You will need goggles as well as hearing protection of some kind. It is important to wear boots, gloves, and a hard hat as well. Never operate a chainsaw wearing short pants or shirt sleeves.

Start Simple and Small

No matter how prepared you think you are, the power, kickback, and noise may take you by surprise the first time you fire up a chainsaw. Your first time using one should not be to cut down a large tree. Instead, practice cutting firewood from longs or removing some smaller branches from your trees. If you need a large job done immediately, consider hiring a professional.

Be Prepared for Emergencies

You should never operate a chainsaw alone. In the event something goes wrong, you will need someone to call for help as well as administer first aid. Having a first aid kit on hand is important. Although you want someone to be close enough to you to help, make sure they do not stand too close.

Start the Chainsaw Safely

Your tool should have a chain brake safety feature. This should always be on when you fire it up. You will want to give your chainsaw a once-over before starting it to make sure the other safety features are working. Also, make sure the chain is nice and tight on the guide bar. Once you start your chainsaw, keep two hands on it at all times.

Keep Your Feet on the Ground

It is NEVER safe to climb a tree of a ladder with a chainsaw. If you need high branches cut, consider buying a pole saw. When that will not do the trick, it is time to call in a professional. You also should never hold the chainsaw above your head while using it.

Watch Out for Kickback

Kickback is one of the most common causes of injury when it comes to using a chainsaw. It happens when the bar (and moving chain) are thrown back violently towards the operator.

This can happen for a few reasons, but the most common is when someone tries to cut using the tip or “nose” of the chainsaw.

You also need to be aware of what is on the other side and around the wood you are cutting. Accidentally nicking another piece of wood is a good way to have your chainsaw kickback. There are many safety features available to help reduce the risk of kickback so do your research before buying your chainsaw. Ultimately, no safety feature can prevent injury as well as knowing your chainsaw well and using common sense.

Cutting Branches

Cutting Logs


A lot of people purchase chainsaws to remove branches from their property. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Cut from the bottom of the trunk towards the top of the trunk when cutting through branches.
  • Keep your feet on the ground. Do not stand on a ladder or a different branch on the tree.
  • Do not lean over the saw. This can be incredibly dangerous if kickback occurs.
  • If the branch is thick, use two cuts instead of going through in one motion.
  • Be careful when cutting branches that have tension. Make a few shallow cuts to release some of the tension before going all the way through.

Tree Felling

Another very common uses for a chainsaw is to cut down trees on your property. On top of the safety considerations above, keep in mind the following things when felling a tree:

  • Clear any obstructions around the area.
  • Make sure there are no children or pets in the area.
  • Know how to stay out of the way. The tree may not fall the way you are expecting, have a few “escape routes” in mind.
  • Don’t try to cut all the way through at one time. Creating a “hinge” where two cuts meet. This allows you to control the way it falls better.
  • Turn off your chainsaw as soon as the tree starts to fall. You do not want to be running with it still on.
  • Never turn your back on a falling tree.
  • Do not try to fell a try if it is very windy.

Cutting Logs

Log cutting, also known as bucking, is sometimes important for removing large trees or branches from your property. It can also be useful for making furniture as well as getting logs down to a size that can be transformed into firewood.

Here are some safety tips for bucking:

  • If possible, prop the tree up so the chainsaw blade will not come in contact with the ground.
  • Be sure your footing is secured.
  • Keep your feet and legs aware from the blade. Leg injuries while bucking are a very common chainsaw injury.

Final Thoughts

Be sure to always allow your chainsaw to cool down completely before refuelling it. You should also transport it in its scabbard to ensure everyone’s safety. With some preparation and thought, using a chainsaw can be a safe way to get the job done.

About the Author

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