There is skill involved in deftly and safely operating a chainsaw, and a learning curve to become proficient. I don’t think any experienced saw operators would say that the learning curve ever plateaus. When using a chainsaw, every situation is different, and grasping each of these unique situations builds onto your skill level, as would taking a practical chainsaw operator’s course.
We’ll cover the basics of how to operate a chainsaw safely.
Keep in mind that volumes have been written on chainsaw use, so we’re just scratching the surface here. Plus, it’s somewhat analogous to learning to drive: the written motor vehicle operator’s manual is valuable and necessary, but having hands-on training and the explanations of the driving instructor (or yelling parent) in the passenger seat is far superior. The same holds for using a chainsaw. This column may be informative, but the way to learn is by doing, preferably with an experienced sawyer showing you the ropes.
With that said, let’s talk about how to use a chainsaw without buzzing off your leg.
Rule Number 1: Stand properly using the boxer stance. For right-handed people, that means putting the left foot slightly in front and at a 45-degree angle, with the right foot somewhat in back. Keep your feet approximately shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees.
Rule Number 2: Keep both hands on the saw, and never take your eyes off the bar as you cut.
Rule Number 3: Plan your cut, so you know exactly where the saw’s bar (note: it’s called the bar, not the blade will exit the log. As the old-timers used to say: It’s not where you start the cut that counts, it’s where you finish. That is, you don’t want to sweep right through the log, out the other side, and into your leg or foot.
Rule Number 4: Don’t be caught by surprise when you feel the saw’s pull. Cutting on the bottom of the bar pulls you toward the log, cutting on the top of the bar pushes you away.
Rule Number 5: Beware the kickback zone. Don’t dig the bar into that zone.
Rule Number 6: Unless they’re formally trained in chainsaw use, homeowners should always use a reduced kickback saw chain. Yes, it cuts more slowly than what the pros use, but it’s much safer.
Rule Number 7: Wear appropriate safety gear: chaps, boots, gloves, and eye and hearing protection.
Chainsaw injuries and prevention tips
The most popular chain saw injuries to the thigh and left arm can be virtually eliminated with just a few simple precautions. First, always wrap the thumb of your left hand around the front handle while you’re cutting. This encircling grip keeps the saw under control in the event of a kickback.
Second, when you move from place to place with the saw running, even if it’s only to the next branch, always remove your right hand from the back handle and carry the saw at your side with your left hand holding the front handle. Then if you trip or stumble, there’s no way the saw’s engine can accelerate and start the chain spinning.
Hopefully, this article has helped you understand a lot about the subject.