If you’re pretty handy and your toolshed is well stocked, chances are you already have a chainsaw – because you never know when you might need one. Most keen DIY enthusiasts spend between $100 and $500 – and maybe a little more for something really good. What they don’t tend to spend enough time on is ensuring they’ve learned how to use a chainsaw safely. And perhaps the intention is to be safe, but they’re unknowingly committing one of the 5 Deadly Sins of using a chainsaw:
- Not maintaining it
- Not reading the manual and understanding the components
- Not replacing an ageing chain
- Refuelling incorrectly
- Using it too closely to objects & people.
So don’t ever forget that the very first time you use a chainsaw could well be your last – with devastating consequences. If you count yourself among those beginners who are only just learning how to use a chainsaw, we’ve put together the perfect guide so that those razor teeth moving at blistering speed just a matter of inches from your skin, flesh and bones don’t leap out and give you a bite or leave you motionless under a giant tree.
1. Where’s your gear?
You don’t ride a motorbike without a helmet and gloves, so why on earth would you use another deadly piece of equipment without the right safety gear?
We’ve heard a lot about PPE lately, and there’s a decent list of it for your chainsaw too: personal protection for your eyes, ears, feet, legs, arms and hands, for a start. A hard hat or chainsaw helmet and face shield are also a good idea, especially when buzzing into the big stuff.
2. What’s around you?
Your chainsaw and whatever you’re buzzing into are on the one hand, whilst on the other is everything else around you. It’s crucial that the environment you’re working in is chainsaw-safe, and we’re talking 360 degrees here – to the left, to the right, but also above and below. If something goes wrong, can you quickly get out of the way? Do you know where the branch or tree will fall and which way the wind is blowing when you cut your tree?
Ultimately, the overriding question to ask yourself is ‘Are you 100% sure the chainsaw environment is 100% safe?’ If the answer is no, that’s ok – being cautious may have just saved the day.
3. How’s your chainsaw?
Now it’s time to turn your attention to the chainsaw itself, starting with the question ‘Has it been properly maintained?’ If so, you still need to give everything the once-over, including the controls, the chain tension and the handles and bar. Check the fuel and oil levels, only fill them up with the saw stationary and on the ground, and make sure it’s not red hot when you do so.
4. Let’s crank it up!
The easiest way to introduce a true beginner to starting a chainsaw is with a golden rule – put it on the ground, point the working end away from you, and then use your foot to secure one handle and your hand to secure the other. Now:
- Engage the chain brake
- Ensure the choke is closed
- Press the primer button as required
- Turn the start switch and fire the chainsaw.
- Tap the throttle to find the perfect idle.
5. Let’s handle it right
It’s crucial that your feet are firmly planted and there’s nothing to trip on, and also to relax so that you’re not stiff and anxious. Be aware of how it’s running. Is the chain a bit loose or is the chainsaw cutting crooked? If it really doesn’t feel right, turn the chainsaw off right now – you may have just saved your life.
If you’re proceeding, be aware of the chainsaw handling phenomenon called ‘kickback’ – when something goes wrong and strong raw energy is transferred through the chainsaw and into … you! To avoid potential accidents as a result, always keep a two-handed grip that is firm, a relaxed and balanced footing, have a properly tensioned and sharp chain and be aware when you might hit something that could cause the kickback. As for some cutting tips, here are a few:
- Only ever cut at waist level or below
- Always stand to the left of the chainsaw
- Never look away from the chain when cutting
- Don’t use the chainsaw tip to avoid kickback
- Cut branches near the blade base
- Don’t let the chain touch the ground
- Don’t climb the tree you’re cutting or stand on a ladder.
Know your limits when using a chainsaw
If you do all of that strictly, you can be fairly confident that you know at least roughly how to use a chainsaw safely. You may be comfortable cutting some fallen firewood. On the other hand, is felling a tree really worth the risk? For serious professionals and fully-licensed arborists like the skilled team at JC Tree Services, how to use a chainsaw safely is as intuitive as tying a pair of shoes.
So if you’re in or near the Gold Coast, we can handle your tree removal, stump grinding, tree pruning, full land clearing and so much more – and your safety is always our number 1 priority. Get in touch with JC Tree Services today.