ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Safe Cutting: How to safely cut up a log with a chainsaw

Updated on February 21, 2011
In a situation like this you need to know exactly what you are doing - and what will happen when you make the first cut.
In a situation like this you need to know exactly what you are doing - and what will happen when you make the first cut.

Have a plan before you start cutting. What are you going to do first?

If you're planning to start using a chainsaw to cut firewood or just for some maintenance work, you might find the following tips and tricks useful. Before you start using your chainsaw, make sure that you have some basic chainsaw safety gear: Chainsaw trousers, ear and eye protection, and some sturdy work boots.

When it comes to cutting up a log, which is the most likely thing you'll be doing to cut firewood, it's important to have a plan. What this means is that you can't just start cutting the log anywhere, randomly cutting off bits. Most likely this would result not only in unevenly sized timber, but you'll probably end up getting your saw stuck as well!

Let's say you have found a tree to cut up. The tree is already on the ground, so you don't need to fell it. It still has a lot of branches attached, and is almost lying flat on the soil. Where do you start?

The first thing to do is to remove all branches. If the branches are big, you want to use your chainsaw to cut them off. If there are a lot of small branches, you might find it easier to use an axe to just chop them off or break them. Either way, it is fairly simple to remove those branches that are on top of the log and on the sides. The ones that are underneath are going to require a bit of extra work. If the log is not too big and heavy, you can cut off the branches on the top and sides, then roll the log over so the bottom branches are off the ground. However, the log might be too heavy for this. Then what?

If this is the case, you need to think ahead. If you cut the branches, the log will sink the rest of the way onto the ground, meaning your saw may get stuck as the log collapses on the cut stump of the branch that was holding it up underneath. It is best to cut a few pieces of wood (maybe some thick branches or piece of another log) and position these underneath the log you are about to cut. This way when you cut the underneath branches, it will come to rest on these pieces of wood. This means that it will not lean on your saw, and that it will still be raised up off the ground. When you do cut the branches beneath a log, consider which way to cut them. You need to cut them from such an angle that thick branches will not close in, and trap your saw as they sink.

Once you have managed to remove all branches from a log, you're ready to start cutting firewood. Hopefully, the log is already up off the ground. If not there are two things you can do.

The preferable thing to do is to raise the log up off the ground. If the log is no bigger than about 12 or 14 inches in diameter, it is usually possible to use a crowbar or another heavy piece of timber to lever it up, and jam a piece of wood underneath. This is preferable because it is easier to cut entire rounds of the log, if you can cut straight through in one go. Of course, it is very important not to ever let your chainsaw chain contact the soil while it is spinning. Soil has a very abrasive action on the chain, and will blunt it instantly.

If possible, always try to lift log off the ground.

If it is not possible to lift the log, you will have to perform partial cutting. This means that you will cut the log most of the way through (three quarters or a bit more) in your desired size increments. You can cut the whole length of the log this way, or do it in half lengths - whatever you think is more appropriate in your case. Once you have moved along the entire length, partially cutting, you need to roll the log over, perhaps with the help of a crowbar. Once you've rolled the log 180°, you'll still be able to see where your partial cuts are, but will now be presented with the remaining uncut portion at each interval. You can now move along the log using the underside of the tip of your chainsaw to quickly sliced through the remaining wood, to sever your firewood rounds.

Of the two practices, it is by far preferable to lift the log physically off the ground and be able to cut the rounds all the way through on the first go. Partial cutting is an advanced technique, because it requires extra control when using only the tip of the saw to cut the wood.

If you are not familiar with chainsaw use, it is highly recommended that you enrol in a basic training course, where you can learn one-on-one from an instructor who will teach you these techniques and much more. Remember that it doesn't matter whether you are using a large petrol chainsaw, or a small electric chainsaw, they are all potentially very dangerous.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Steve Tonkin 

      6 years ago

      Id be really interested in your thoughts on a new invention that cuts multiple logs very safely. http://www.truncator.co.uk it's designed to hold the logs and keep them held as you cut them you then simply "tip the logs into your barrow or bucket.

      Cheers

    • everythingbakugan profile image

      everythingbakugan 

      7 years ago

      Nice article, especially about lifting the logs off the ground, safer and also better for your saw blade.

    • purpletiger profile imageAUTHOR

      purpletiger 

      8 years ago

      Absolutely, I remember the first few..or quite a few times I tried to sharpen by hand. It's easy to get the angle wrong and end up with a chain that FEELS sharp but just won't cut wood!

    • profile image

      Chris 

      8 years ago

      Nice article.

      The task of cutting up a load of firewood can be made easier and faster by frequently sharpening the chain saw blade. People are sometimes surprised by how quickly a blade can begin to dull. It's very easy to take an occasional quick break to 'field-sharpen' the saw chain with a hand file.

      Just be sure you understand the proper technique for sharpening a saw blade.

    • wordsmith1956 profile image

      Linda Batey 

      8 years ago from Maine

      Well done!

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)