The safe way to cut wood with a chainsaw

Make the job of cutting wood easier by using a chainsaw. Be careful, though: it's a dangerous piece of equipment that must be handled with care and, even then, only if you've received adequate training in how to use it.

The safe way to cut wood with a chainsaw

Safety first

Safety equipment used when operating a chainsaw should include a hard hat, sturdy, steel-toed boots with non-slip tread, a face shield, close-fitting clothes and either earmuffs or earplugs. Safe practices to remember include:

  • Keep your chainsaw in good repair
  • Start your chainsaw on the ground, away from the place of refuelling
  • Keep the chain away from dirt and rocks
  • Keep the chain at the correct tension and never cutting with a loose chain
  • Cut wood only from logs that rest firmly and securely on the ground
  • Do not fell standing trees unless trained to do so
  • Do not lift your chainsaw above shoulder height to make a cut
  • Stand on the other side of the log to the branch or limb being cut
  • Do not smoke when refuelling
  • Do not use the chainsaw on total fire ban days
  • Do not work alone
  • Always keep a first aid kit handy

Fire risks

Chainsaws produce sparks and hot gases and can be a fire hazard in the bush. To avoid the possibility of starting a brush fire:

  • Do not put a hot chainsaw down on dry litter
  • Do not refuel with the motor running
  • Avoid spilling fuel
  • Move well away from the fuel container before starting the chainsaw
  • Keep a water container handy in dry conditions to put out any small fire that might start

Sharp teeth

Chainsaw teeth, like the working edges of any cutting instrument, must be kept sharp. Dull edges make work more difficult and add to the hazards of cutting lumber.

A dull chainsaw shows some obvious signs:

  • The woodchips become smaller
  • Greater force is required to make the saw bite into the wood
  • Smoke is given off because of greater friction
  • The saw will not cut straight

Your chainsaw will stay sharp longer if you do not use it to cut through dirt-encrusted logs and you take care to avoid cutting into ground beneath a log. You can sharpen cutters on a chainsaw using the proper file and file guide in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions. As an alternative, you could take the chainsaw to a dealer, who may provide a sharpening service.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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