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Chainsaws, what you should know to use a chain saw safely

Updated on February 12, 2015

Chainsaw safety

Selecting and using a chainsaw safely

For many homeowners and handyman types, cleaning up after a severe storm, cutting firewood for the fireplace or wood burner, and trimming trees, is why we want or should I say, need a chain saw.

The thing that gets many like-minded people into trouble is we procrastinate, and put off buying the proper chain saw before we absolutely must have one.

Why do we do this to ourselves, the answer to that question is simple. We have more questions, than we have answers. In this article we will discuss what is important, what questions we should have answers to, and where is the best place to buy a chain saw.

Which chain saw should you buy?

What kind to buy generally tops the list, gas chain saw, electric chain saw, or a cordless chain saw?

Size matters when it comes time to buy a chain saw, we need ask what size chain saw blade you will really need to get your job done.

Then there is the truly confusing question, how much should a chain saw cost, and why are certain models so expensive?

As you continue reading this article, you will soon learn what you should know about a power saw that will make your next firewood tree trimming saw buying decision, unbelievably easy.

Gas powered chainsaw advantages & disadvantages

What chainsaw you should buy

Gas chainsaws, provide a good power to weight ratio, easy to operate, and most importantly, are available in the widest range of handle configurations, 2-cycle engine, and blade sizes. Gas chain saws do require 94 octane, ethanol free gasoline with a 2-cycle fuel mixture to perform at there peek efficiency.


Electric chainsaw has limits

Electric chainsaws, do not require a fuel mixture to operate, however they do require a specially designed heavy-duty extension cord that will hold up to, abrasion, the damp soil conditions of the landscape garden, and let us not forget, the voltage and amperage draw of the electric chain saws motor.


Cordless chainsaws have limited battery life

Cordless electric chainsaws, just like your other cordless tools, a cordless chain saw uses a rechargeable battery and its limited amount of power. While a cordless chain saw is a good choice for a Gardner wanting to cut small limbs and prune their ornamental trees in the landscape, they are not a good firewood saw.

Using the proper size Chainsaw

What length chainsaw blade do I need?

It should come as no surprise; trimming a huge maple tree in the front yard requires a completely different size chain saw than let us say, pruning an apple, or peach tree in the garden.



Large tree trimming saw

Trimming a huge maple tree, first thing you should take into consideration. Tree trimming of this nature is extremely dangerous, call a professional tree trimmer.

With the need for a bucket truck, safety harnesses, and ropes needed to ascend to the uppermost branches.

Discretion is absolutely the better part of valor, please remember safety first, and call a professional tree trimmer.

Firewood chain saw

Cutting firewood is a big job that requires making a lot of cuts using a chainsaw.

Often described by the length of the bar and chain assembly. Bar lengths and their accompanying cutting chain. Range in size from the smallest 12, 14, 16-inch blade length.

Up to the heavy-duty professional 20-inchs + chainsaws required for the largest hardwoods, and big limbs and tree trunks that require splitting.

The smaller consumer model saws bar lengths such as the 12-inch size bar and chain have smaller lighter weight less powerful 2-cycle engines.

These small saws cost less up front, making them attractive to occasional users AKA homeowners, and handyman looking to save a few bucks.

The down sides to buying inexpensive chainsaws, these saws come with less durable reduced kickback bars, cutting chains and sprockets.

These low cost safety features will need replacing after a few hours work cutting firewood.

Designed obsolescent, in other words, 18 – 20 hours, or a cord of firewood or so, plan on replacing the consumer bar and cutting chain as a pair.

Chainsaws, what you should know to use a chain saw safely

Pruning an Apple, Peach or ornamental trees

Pruning Apple, Peach, other fruit trees, or ornamental trees in the landscape should not require a large chain saw. Actually, any branches small enough a good sharp set of bypass loppers will work, prune them using a clean sharp set of loppers. You see branches smaller than an inch (25mm) in diameter are hard for a chain saw chain to cut, resulting in damage to the saw or the tree. Small limbs and branches cause the chain to stretch and bounce around, or even worse, jump off the bar.

Pruning larger branches, over 1.5 inches (38mm) using a chain saw with a 12-inch blade is safer and easier to control. Please remember dragging an electric chain saw and extension cord up a ladder is never a good idea, for that matter leaving the ground with any chain saw gas or electric, is not a good idea for anyone, unless they are propertly trained for the task. The best chain saw for pruning a tree where you need to reach off the ground, use a power pruner.

The Power Pruner has a 12-inch chain saw blade attached to a telescoping pole, powered by either an electric motor or a gas engine like the ones found on your string trimmer.

Power pruners set-up with a telescoping pole, and 12-inch bar and chain; eliminate the need for you to leave the safety of the ground. This in turn, makes pruning trees as high as 15 feet much safer and easier.

Bigger bar & cutter chain isn’t always better

The best firewood chainsaws

Can you guess what the most common mistake we make is when buying a chain saw to cut firewood? If you guess buying a chain saw that is too small, you are partially correct, but there is more to it than meets the eye.

The length of a chain saw blade, does not tell us everything we should, or need to know about a chain saw we want to use to cut firewood.

Cutting firewood is the most under estimated job a chain saw is used to perform.

After all, we only want to cut some firewood. We are not professional loggers that cut down huge trees all day. Let us think about that for a moment, when a professional logger cuts a tree. It takes a pro three different cuts to fall a tree.

The first two cuts create a notch, which directs the tree in the best direction for a tree to fall. The third cut is the falling cut, starting on the opposite side of the tree from the notch; the falling cut creates a hinge that directs where the tree will fall. Are you with me so far?

Ok, a logger makes three cuts and the tree is on the ground. Next, the loggers cut the fallen tree into three logs, leaving the treetop where it fell. That is six cuts, three to fall it and three to cut the tree into three logs. The logger moves on to the next tree and the process repeats its self ten or so times a day that adds up to sixty or so cuts a day for the pro.

Not wanting the precious resource to go to waste, a firewood cutter makes use of the treetop left by the logger. With the dangerous job of getting the tree on the ground done for us, we simply cut the treetop into wood we can use in our fireplaces and wood burners.

For most of us, we need our woodcut in pieces between 12 and 24 inches long and no smaller than our wrist in diameter, personally I cut mine as close to 16 inches in length as I can get it. That is why I use a 16-inch bar on my Husqvarna gas chain saw. I use the 16-inch bar to measure the length of the wood before I make a cut, and I make a lot of cuts. That is why I spare no expense and use the best chain saw I can put my hands on.


20+ years’ experience buying, selling and repairing chainsaw

After buying more than a few cheap gas chain saws, and electric chain saws, I have learned a few things. The most important thing is, with a cheap chain saw (occasional user), regardless the brand, Homelite, McCulloch, Poulan, or Remington, they are all the same, they have bars, sprockets, chains and other parts that wear out quickly.

After about 20 hours of use, you had better plan on replacing the bar, chain and sprocket. Depending on the size bar and chain you can expect to spend at least $50 on a bar chain and sprocket, plus the labor to install them.

Oh yeah, while I am thinking about it, that 20 hours thing is in my experience anyway, a bit generous. Let me put it another way if I may. By the time you cut ten full size pick-up trucks full of firewood using a cheap chain saw, you will spend as much on maintaining the thing as you would have buying a professional duty chain saw to start with.

Remember this if nothing else before you buy your next chain saw, a professional logger makes 60-100 cuts a day. While the firewood cutter easily makes two or three times that, many cuts to fill a single pick-up truck with firewood and that is a lot of work for an occasional use chain saw.

Be safe, have fun cutting your firewood safely. teddletonmr

The author of this publication, Mike Teddleton owns the copyright to Chainsaws, what you should know to use a chain saw safely. The rights to publish this article in print or online can only be granted by contacting me the author in writing. You may use the intro and link back to the article directing the reader back to my post here at HubPages where they may find the story in its entirety


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