- Home Improvement
Every man needs a chainsaw: What you should wear when using power tools
Stihl chainsaws are regarded as an industry standard in quality and safety
Every working man needs a chainsaw
Few Power Tools are as iconic as the chainsaw. Love it or hate it, the chainsaw has changed the face of the forestry industry, and many other primary industries besides. It would be rare to find a farmer, or a working man on the land who does not own a saw - it's one of the things you just can't do without.
Although the first chainsaws were developed as early as the 1800s, it was not until 1929 and the first usable chainsaw was built. Even so, these machines were not very reliable, and was not until the post World War II years that chainsaws really took off. Mainly this was due to the fact that the post-war era brought with it advanced engineering, and the ability to use lightweight and strong material such as aluminium alloys and forged steel parts. From this time on, chainsaws began to replace traditional crosscut saws, and became the standard way to fell trees, cut firewood, and dismember large pieces of timber.
There are three main types of chainsaws.
The most common type of saw you will find is the gasoline or petrol powered chainsaw. This is what everybody thinks of as the quintessential chainsaw, they are noisy, smoky, but incredibly effective. Small petrol engines (almost exclusively the two-stroke variety) provide excellent power to weight ratios, and are the engine of choice in most situations.
The second type of chainsaw you will find commonly in hardware depots, is the electrically powered one. Electric chainsaws are not as powerful as gasoline ones, but do have certain advantages - they are quieter, more compact, and make no emissions. This means they are excellent for indoor use, and are often favoured by builders and carpenters were docking large pieces of timber. Some people use these saws around the home to cut small amounts of firewood, for which they are generally adequate.
Fairly uncommon, but interesting to look at are hydraulically powered or air powered chainsaws. It's pretty rare to see one of these, and the main applications are in cutting stonework, and emergency use. Services like the Fire Brigade, and other emergency services sometimes use specially modified chainsaws to cut through steel, and stone to gain entry into buildings. Rather than power these with combustion engines or electric motors (which can potentially start fires in explosive atmospheres) they are often powered with compressed air. However, this is not something that is commercially available. Stonemasons sometimes use specially modified chainsaws that are driven by hydraulic pumps to cut large slabs of stone. Again, this is not the sort of thing that you are going to be able to buy at a local hardware shop.
watch your fingers!
Safety and accident prevention
Safety is one of the big things that you need to be aware of if you are using a chainsaw. It doesn't matter whether the saw is electrical or gasoline powered, they are all very dangerous. If you've never used a chainsaw before, do yourself a favour and enrol in a training course or at least allow somebody who knows what they are doing to show you the ropes. Although using a chainsaw can look easy, there are a few things that you really need to watch out for. Because of the way the chain spins around the bar, it is possible for the entire saw to get stuck, or kickback violently, potentially striking you and causing terrible injuries. For this reason numerous types of protective clothing have been developed, the best of which are listed below.
Chainsaw pants, sometimes called chaps, are design to buy you a few seconds in case you accidentally cut down into your legs. These pants are composed of many layers of smooth fibrous fabric, which the chainsaw chain slides over. I have seen these pants cut into numerous times, and although it makes a terrible mess (there will be fibres and scraps of cloth going everywhere) they do work very well. Chainsaw pants come in several different styles, including full pullover pants, or a apron type garments which are faster and easier to put on.
Another bit of safety gear you really need is good ear and head protection. Although some people simply wear earmuffs and goggles, this is really not sufficient. The best thing to wear is a full chainsaw safety helmet, which will include a face visor, helmet, and ear protection. Some people think the main reason for wearing one of these is to stop sawdust getting your eyes, or from the chainsaw noise damaging your hearing - in fact, the main reason for wearing a helmet is in case the saw kicks back, and hits you in the head. A helmet is there to prevent the chain from cutting your face, and again, I've seen it happen and can tell you that they are very effective.
The final things you want to consider are some good leather gloves, and leather work boots. Many people like to wear steel capped boots, which offer additional protection against falling bits of wood as well is the saw blade should you accidentally cut through something and into your foot. Leather gloves are an excellent way to reduce vibration, as well is preventing cuts from the chain, whether it is spinning or stationary.