Operating a chainsaw can be dangerous and strenuous work. Never attempt to use a chainsaw until you are familiar with it's hazards, special safety requirements, and techniques. Steps
- Read all safety precautions and instructions in the user's manual.
- Select a model you can operate comfortably, that is large enough for the application you are using it for. A small person doing a light trimming job may find an electric chainsaw is better suited for their task, but for purposes of brevity, this article will focus on gasoline saws.
- Look at the area where you are going to work, before fueling your saw. It is critical to have room to do your job safely. This means watching for overhead power lines and obstructions, nearby cars and buildings, and escape room from falling trees or limbs for the saw operator.
- Recognize the four normal cuts that you may make with a chainsaw. Each of these type cuts have considerations and cautions which need to be addressed. Felling a tree on a power line will always be disastrous. Felling on a friend or neighbor's car or house will at least lead to hard feelings. Again, for brevity, it is not practical to describe all these situations in detail.
- Felling: This is the act of cutting down a tree.
- Limbing: This is removing limbs from the tree after it is felled.
- Trimming: This is using your saw to trim bushes and limbs off of a standing tree.
- Cross cutting: This is cutting the "log" or trunk of the tree in usable pieces, for instance, fireplace lengths.
- Look at your chainsaw. If you are preparing to start the saw, you have already selected a saw that is suitable for your project. If you have not bought or borrowed a saw, think about renting one from a tool rental store, just to get an idea of the size and blade configuration you are comfortable using. For a novice, a bar type blade is more practical than a bow blade, so this article will discuss the bar blade. The bar needs to be at least one third longer than the diameter of the tree or log you are cutting. Usually, the horsepower or displacement of the engine is relative to the length of your bar, and is matched at the factory. A well-tuned engine and sharp blade will allow you to cut more quickly and easily, and this results in safer conditions.
- Fill the gas tank with the correct fuel/oil mixture, which is typically one gallon of gasoline with 4 to 6 ounces of two cycle engine oil. Because chainsaws are two cycle engines, they do not have a lubricating oil supply, and they will burn up quickly if the correct fuel is not used.
- Note that there are two filler caps on your saw, near the throttle handle. The larger cap will be for fuel, and the smaller for bar lubricant. Fill the bar lube tank,check both caps to ensure that they are tightly installed, and place the saw on a flat surface. This is especially important for cranking very large saws, since the blade will commence turning as soon as the saw starts and revs up.
- Many newer model saws have a primer bulb on the carburetor, if yours does, pump the bulb 3 or 4 times. If your saw is equipped with a choke lever, place it in the choke position. This causes the carburetor to suck fuel into the combustion chamber more quickly. Switch the saw to "on", this will either be a toggle, rocker, or plunger type switch, depending on model. Pull the throttle trigger on the handle at the back of the saw, usually it will have a throttle lock out lever on top that doesn't allow the throttle to move until it is depressed. There should be a mechanism to engage or hold the throttle open while cranking the saw, sometimes this is a "button" device on the side of the throttle handle. When the saw engine starts, squeezing the throttle kicks this out so the saw will idle. Pull the starter rope sharply, until the engine "fires". If the engine fires but does not start, push the choke in half way and try again. Usually in a well tuned saw, it will take no more than 4 or 5 pulls to get the saw running.
- When your saw is running at idle, the blade should not engage and turn. Hopefully, you have selected a practice piece of wood or chosen a limb or log in an easyplace to cut. Bring the blade in line with the cut you are going to make, squeeze the throttle fully open, and lay the blade against the wood. Do not force the blade, it will draw into the cut with just the weight of the blade, or moderate pressure. Keep the saw running full throttle throughout the cut, easing the throttle off only as you are about to exit the cut on the other side of the log.
- Prepare for a binding situation. Have a sledge hammer and wedge, a spitting maul, or at least an axe and wood wedge in case the limb you are cutting wedges your bar and you cannot free it.
- When you have completed your cutting operation, allow the saw to cool down before storing. Often it is a good idea to drain out the fuel and oil before storing since these may leak out and are flammable materials. The engine can be ran one last time to empty the carburetor after you drain the fuel tank, this will keep the remaining fuel from gumming up the fuel system over long term storage.
- Keep the chainsaw bar and chain covered when not in use. A case is the best bet, but if you don't have one, buy a "bar cover" to protect both you and your saw.
TIPS AND CAUTION
- Keep the blade of the saw sharp and well oiled, and never let it come in contact with metal or the ground, the blade simply is not designed to cut these materials, and will become dull and useless immediately.
- Bring tools to the worksite for adjusting the blade. A new saw chain will usually become loose after just a few minutes of use as it "breaks in" to the bar. Keeping the chain tight, but not too tight, will provide a cleaner, faster cut, with less chance of chain throw off.
- Do not operate a chainsaw without all recommended safety items. Gloves, eye protection, hearing protection, and long sleeve shirts and long pants are minimum. New saws often come with a hard hat, also, to protect from falling debris or limbs.
- Store fuel and lubricants in approved containers, away from the cutting area.
- If you are unable to have someone watch for safety while you cut, consider waiting until someone is available, or at least let someone know what you are doing, where you are at, and when you are finished. One slip with a running saw can be fatal.
- Never operate a saw that isn't in good working condition. The kick-back brake, chain guard, and other safety features are for your protection.
- Use a saw big enough for the job. Cutting half the diameter of a log doubles the chances of kickback.