So, after doing a little market research, you’ve purchased your new chainsaw and you’re happy that your hard earned cash has been well spent. If you bought your saw from a local store you may have received a brief run through of how to use your new tool. On the other hand, you could have ordered it online, in which case, if you have never used a machine of this type before, you will not be familiar with chainsaw safety or how to get the best performance from your new purchase.
In this article we will try to talk you through the basics of using your chainsaw in a safe and efficient manner, ensuring that with a little practice, you become confident and competent at carrying out a range of domestic tasks.
Let’s assume you that you bought your new chainsaw to prepare firewood for the winter months and that logging will be your main occupation when using the saw.
If you have not already done so, it is advisable to purchase a good quality sawhorse to hold timber in place whilst it is being logged. Before you even commence work, think about your working environment and where best to locate yourself and your tools. Ideally, a clear, flat space with at least 5 metres of clearance in all directions will be best, and don’t forget to inform others of where you are or what you will be doing.
Get to know your chainsaw
It is imperative that you read fully the instruction manual that is provided with your chainsaw. Some manufacturers will even provide a chainsaw safety video or DVD; watch this as well. With your new saw on a bench or table in front of you, familiarise yourself with all of the controls, in particular the safety features that are there to prevent accidents from happening. Saws from different manufacturers will vary but most will have the following safety features, whether the chainsaw is electric or petrol:
At the bottom of the saw there is a small metal bar running under the chain, this is the chain catcher. It is there to catch the chain in the event that it either breaks or derails.
The throttle lock and trigger controls are vital in the running of the chainsaw. Both will be located at the rear handle of the chainsaw, the throttle lock preventing accidental depression of the throttle trigger.
A stop control button or lever is placed at the rear of the saw, within reach of your thumb to allow you to quickly stop the engine should the need arise.
Along the bottom of the rear handle you will notice a wide, flat guard. This guard is designed to protect your right hand should the chain break or derail. It is also used when starting the chainsaw, allowing you to place your foot across the guard whilst pulling the recoil rope to turn over the engine.
A vitally important safety feature on your chainsaw is the chain brake. It is the lever located in front of the top handle and is activated either manually by pushing it forwards or by inertial forces that are the result of dangerous kickback, encountered when the top half of the chainsaw bar nose (the kickback zone) makes contact with something unexpectedly, forcing the chainsaw upwards and backwards.
What are you wearing?
This might sound an odd question and something you might not have thought about in relation to using a chainsaw but it’s actually pretty significant. Chainsaw safety clothing is vitally important in protecting you should something go wrong.
In an ideal world you would be wearing the correct safety gear from top to toe, but this is not always practical or within your budget. At the very least, do make sure that you are wearing clothing that is made from heavy, tough materials and a sturdy pair of boots with a heavy-duty toecap. Gloves should be thick but you must be able to move your fingers freely to operate the chainsaw safety controls properly, and quickly if necessary.
If you only buy one piece of chainsaw clothing, make sure it is a built-for-purpose chainsaw safety helmet. Facial injuries from chainsaw accidents are often the most severe and a chainsaw helmet will go a long way to preventing anything serious. They are fitted with a face guard and ear defenders and are not always as expensive as people seem to think. Buy one!
Now that you are familiar with your chainsaw and have the correct safety gear, you are nearly ready to get it started!
Before you do, check the chain. On a new saw the chain will be sharp but after a little use it will stretch and slacken. You must become familiar with the chain-tensioning device on your particular saw and learn to how use it. Also of great importance is chain sharpness. You must learn how to use a chainsaw sharpener or file to keep the chain in peak condition, before you use the chainsaw.
A few more safety tips are listed below:
Follow the manufacturers fuel-mixing guide if you are using a petrol machine and be careful not to overfill the saw.
Read the user’s manual and follow the start-up procedure for your particular model of chainsaw.
Remember to check the safety brake is working properly by squeezing the throttle and applying the brake at the same time, it should stop the chain immediately.
Test the chain lubrication by holding the chainsaw bar over a light coloured surface (such as a newspaper) and run the saw, a trail of oil should be evident.
Operating your chainsaw properly
If you’re not familiar with operating a chainsaw, get some practice in. Start off by cutting some small logs before progressing onto the bigger stuff, and remember, it can be tiring work. Don’t try to do everything at once, rather start off in small bursts and gradually increase your working time.
Hold the saw firmly on both handles and don’t be afraid to keep the chainsaw close to your body. This will provide better balance and also put less strain through your back, as will a wide stance with your feet apart and your knees bent.
Once you are familiar with your saw you can move onto other projects around your property such as tree pruning or construction work. Try to learn how to use both sides of the chainsaw guide bar.
You will notice that when you are using the top side of the bar, you encounter what is known as a pushing chain, with the chainsaw literally being pushed towards you. The conventional mode of using the bottom edge of the chainsaw bar pulls the saw away from you, known as a pulling chain.
Mastering these techniques will provide you with much confidence when using your chainsaw and gradually lessen the time it takes you to complete certain tasks.
Please feel free to call us at LawnMowers Direct if you need any help or advice about buying a chainsaw online or about chainsaw safety once you’ve made your purchase. Our sales team are always available on tel. 01603 255825 and will be more than happy to talk to you.