An electric or gas-powered chainsaw is a practical piece of gardening equipment and is invaluable to tree fellers and lumberjacks. Since the 1990’s it has also been used to create fantastic sculptures and wooden pieces of art. In all areas of use, it calls for respect of the machinery, maintenance, and over all a practised skill in woodworking tasks. But to get the most out of the chainsaw the operator needs to keep to set guidelines to ensure the finished work meets their goals, and the machine remains reliable, durable and safe. Here are top 5 chainsaw tips for optimum performance and lifespan:
Chainsaw tips – 1. Look after your Chainsaw
You should always ensure you are regularly checking your chainsaw to make sure it is in good condition. It is a very powerful piece of machinery and constant vibration can cause nuts to work loose within the casing, or jar working parts of the engine and interfere with set measurements. When using your chainsaw for the first time, the chain is likely to “stretch out”. This will lead to the chain becoming too loose so it will need tightening up. After 10 hours use, you will need to consider cleaning the blade and also cleaning the air filtration system. The most important part of the chainsaw – the blade – needs to be regularly checked to make sure it is sharp. However you will know when the blade is becoming blunt as it will be making your work much more difficult. You will have to apply much more pressure to the machine to get optimum results. Many user sharpen the blades themselves, but it is worth considering getting the advice of a professional after some use, as you need to ensure the blades are sharpened to the correct angle. Filing the teeth at an improper angle might mean that the blade will cut more to the left or to the right. The correct oil and fuel recommended by the manufacturer are imperative, and it is also important the machinery is well-oiled, so check lubrication on a regular basis. Having regular checking routines is a good habit to get into with your chainsaw, so check oil levels every time you actually need to re-fuel. As your chainsaw is going to face on with a great deal of garden debris and foliage, it is imperative you keep the working parts clean.
Chainsaw tips – 2. Keep safe
Always read the instruction manual thoroughly before first use, and keep it to hand in the case of repairs or when there is a need for replacements. Safety clothing should always be worn when using your chainsaw whatever the size of the job. This means sturdy boots, chainsaw trousers (or “chaps”), anti-slip gloves, ear protectors, eye protectors (or a visor) and helmet. Familiarise yourself with where and the use of, the lock button, the hand guard, and the kickback lock. Spend some time feeling the weight in of the machine in your hands. Start the chainsaw safely by always placing it on the floor in open and even ground.
Chainsaw tips – 3. The right chainsaw for the Job
The most appropriate chainsaw for you will depend on the type of work you will be doing. Although there are many different versions on the market from various brands, there are fundamentally two types of the chainsaw to choose from – electric or gas-powered. Gas-powered chainsaws are heavier, and more powerful than electric chainsaws. Also because they are more portable (you are not restricted by the lead to the power source) they tend to be used more commercially and for projects that are over a wide area. They also tend to be more flexible when doing more detailed work (wood carving for instance) as the machine is easier to manipulate. On the other hand, the electric model is light, easy to use (it is started simply by pressing a button) and simpler to care for and maintain. It is perhaps a little more affordable as you do not have to keep topping it up with petrol.
Chainsaw tips – 4. Correct handling
Using the chainsaw is a practised skill and all operators need to protect themselves from kickback. Never use the tip of the chainsaw to cut as this is the traditional way that kickback occurs. When this happens, the force of the machine and gravity together force the machine up and towards the face of the operator. Never use the chainsaw above head level as the machine can become unmanageable and dangerous. When starting your chainsaw always makes sure it is situated firmly on open and even ground. When maneuvering the chainsaw to get the best cut, always ensure your hands are behind the hand guard.
Chainsaw tips – 5. Preparation for the task in hand
Preparation is imperative for all tasks, but with tree felling, there are areas you must always check beforehand. The most important factor is to work out is how and where the tree will fall using the gun sights or felling sights on the side of the chainsaw. To help with the process it is also advised to place a marker on the ground where you expect the tree to come down. You need to check that it will be falling on an even open ground where possible and there is nothing of value in the line with fall. You should ask anyone within the vicinity what you are doing and if possible cordon off the area. Children and pets should be indoors. And don’t forget where you will be once the tree begins to fall. You need to decide on your own escape route. This should be behind the tree (not in the direction it is falling) at an angle of about 45 degrees to the stump. The reason for this is if you were directly behind the tree the “cut end” may shoot up and hit the chainsaw operator. When the tree begins to fall you can quickly retire.