Results 1 to 8 of 8

Thread: Chainsaw safety

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    The Gorge Area, Oregon
    Posts
    4,699

    Chainsaw safety

    Hu's and Stuarts comments on the recent chainsaw thread: http://familywoodworking.org/forums/...read.php?30874 got me thinking about chainsaw safety and what might not be common knowledge. Please feel free to add your own tips/comments.

    Here are a few of the things I was taught that seemed worth calling out as they are perhaps less obvious than some of the common knowledge. I'm mostly leaving out the obvious bits about protective clothing and how to properly start/carry the saw, etc.. because that seems to be more widely known.

    The worst case for a chainsaw is kickback. The main reason for kickback is if the upper tip of the saw contacts the work it will grab the bar and throw it back at you. This rough diagram shows roughly the danger spots.
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	saw_bar.png 
Views:	15 
Size:	2.9 KB 
ID:	77759
    The red part contacting the wood is where you can get a bad kickback. The orange on the bottom is close to the red zone so it potentially puts you at risk although a lot of pros use that area extensively. The orange section on the top is somewhat dangerous because the chain wants to push the bar so the red ends up in contact.

    There are a number of cuts when you do need to use the top of the bar (especially when bucking up felled logs to do an underside relief cut and less so but some felling cuts) but its best to do it as far back on the bar as possible. Non through cuts are also problematic because you can contact the danger zone when retracting the bar; you should always at least engage the chain brake when removing the bar from the cut and possibly turn the saw off.

    The kickback guard on the saw requires your hand/arm to contact it to work so your forward arm should always be mostly extended/rigid when cutting (this doesn't mean straight armed though). This is also why overhead cutting is extra dangerous because you are usually in a position where that won't happen reliably.

    If you have a tip guard it does dramatically help reduce the probability of kickback (kind of like a riving knife for chainsaws) but isn't a panacea of course. Use it when you can.

    The danger of kickback is also why I don't like too short of a bar because it makes it more likely to have the danger zone contact the wood (because inevitably you try to cut something larger than your saw.. do that as infrequently as you can). Of course to long of a bar also is more likely to get caught up in brush or other stuff and cause a problem so somewhere in there is a nice balance depending on what you cut.

    Always at least engage the chain brake when moving with the saw on. I admit to not turning it off every time I should, but at least religiously engage the chain brake. Also test the brake periodically - your manual should have instructions for doing so.

    Check the chain tension periodically, especially with a new chain. A loose chain coming off is a bad day, and overly tight chain breaking is also a bad time.

    Clear shrubs and brush away from the work area. They can catch in the chain and best case whip the heck out of you and worse case grab the bar and make it go someplace you don't want (this is another common place where kickback happens when the bar grabs a twig and gets pulled into a branch/brush and then bam!). I actually use an axe a lot for limbing and cleanup because I'm more comfortable with it but it has its own dangers. This is another place where a more aggressive chain can be a problem. Basically the larger teeth are more likely to grab small pieces and not cut them but instead pull the saw or piece of wood around.

    You can also often adjust your stanse so that if it does kickback its less likely to hit you in the face. Its worth spending some time prepping the cutting area so you have a nice stable place to stand with proper posture.



    Also .. learn to properly sharpen your saw. Use a filing guide to adjust the rakers every 2-4 sharpenings, if you over file them you make the chain much more grabby which can be a problem as it can pull the saw in further than you wanted; especially dangerous when limbing. If you don't file them eventually the chain won't cut. An overly aggressive filing can also have similar grabby problems.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails saw_bar.png  

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    ABQ NM
    Posts
    30,020
    Good thread, Ryan. I'll add my two favorite pieces of chainsaw safety gear:

    http://www.labonville.com/Regular-Ch...7-08_p_48.html

    http://www.labonville.com/Labonville...70H_p_282.html

    I don't run my chainsaw without wearing my chaps and my face/ear/head protection. I also wear it all when I'm weedwhacking the hillside in our back yard in LA. The chaps keep all the green weed splatters off my jeans, and although the hard hat's not really necessary, the mesh face shield and ear muffs keep the dirt and rocks out of my mouth and ears.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Tokyo Japan
    Posts
    15,807
    Great info, I'm glad that you took some suggestions to heart!

    I learned how to use a chainsaw at a young age, maybe 12 or so, my uncle was very clear with his instructions and if he ever saw one of us boys doing something stupid with a saw he would stop us, tell us what we did wrong and then we would be relegated to stacking the split wood for the rest of the day! You learned very quickly and the lessons stuck.
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    GTA Ontario Canada
    Posts
    12,260

    Re: Chainsaw safety

    From me to you guys....THANkS.....this is one tool that really scares me.

    Have always wanted one and tempted....but when i consider all the other tools we dabble with as woodworkers....this puppy relies heavily being able to manhandle the tool while you doing the work.

    Thats always concerned me. I aint Arnie.

    Great advice. I dont think i would dabble without serious instruction from someone suitably experienced to show me how first hand.

    Ryan excellent advice....what amazes me is how we see these tools handled in all sorts of video. Cant remember but just a week ago someone posted a tree felling video and i was a gasp at how the guy dealt with the saw.

    Sent from my MB860 using Tapatalk 2
    cheers

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    just south of the LA/MS border off of I-55
    Posts
    445

    some things are must have items!

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Keeble View Post
    From me to you guys....THANkS.....this is one tool that really scares me.

    Have always wanted one and tempted....but when i consider all the other tools we dabble with as woodworkers....this puppy relies heavily being able to manhandle the tool while you doing the work.

    Thats always concerned me. I aint Arnie.

    Rob,

    Doubt any of us are Arnie! I'm certainly not. Still managed to cut up a pretty fair sized downed pecan yesterday until I got to the main trunk. The diameter is over twice the length of my bar so time to find a bigger saw. Might burn that and the stump in place.

    Like the wood lathe, cutting a lot of wood fast is much more technique and good tools with the saw than brute strength. I have ran some fair sized saws over the years and sharp chain and plenty of oil makes pretty easy work of some pretty big trees. Something not obvious is how important the dogs are, the large toothlike spikes sticking out the front of the powerhead on the larger saws. Dig those into the log and then they serve as the axis the saw rotates around. What strength that is required is usually from the big muscles in your body and legs. With the dogs sunk into a standing tree you can just lean and take advantage of your weight and leverage too. The chainsaw is a tool that definitely lends itself to working smart instead of hard. Plan things well in advance, have at least some wood or plastic wedges they are often more useful than steel, use good oil and fuel, and let'r rip!

    There are certain instruments of mass destruction that are just must have items. I'm keeping an eye out for a decent sized chainsaw now. Don't really need it to trim bowl blanks, take care of the occasional storm damage and deadfall trees, and clear fence row but it's more along the lines of I need it, if you know whut I mean!

    Tractors, chainsaws, axe, full sized bush hook, a big yaller dog, some things are just needed to maintain balance and harmony in the world.

    Hu

    Edit to add a link to a downunder sawman's thread. Some video a page or two in. Big wood and big saws. Turners may be moved to tears, a lot of fine turning wood headed to the firewood or burn piles! Some is being slabbed or planked but they have so much green wood they are awful picky what they save. http://www.arboristsite.com/chainsaw/191377.htm
    Last edited by hu lowery; 08-19-2013 at 05:02 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    The Gorge Area, Oregon
    Posts
    4,699
    Quote Originally Posted by hu lowery View Post
    Tractors, chainsaws, axe, full sized bush hook, a big yaller dog, some things are just needed to maintain balance and harmony in the world


    I reckon in general if you have to push on the saw much its to dull... not that I never ever have to do that but its a good hint you ought to sharpen anyway. I've found that generally true with most tools - if you're working to hard you're probably doing it wrong

    Good call on seating the dogs though, that definitely has a couple of advantages and is just good practice overall. It also makes sure you have the bar fully seated and provides a point of rotation that makes the brake more likely to engage if you do get a kickback.

    Rob, I don't personally think a chainsaw is much, if any, more dangerous than a lot of other tools like the tablesaw when used properly. The giant sharp spinning chain of death is certainly intimidating and obviously anything with that much exposed cutting surface has a lot of places to damage yourself but it also instills a certain point of respect that I think carries through some. Do get some basic training but there are mostly only a handful of cuts you would need to do for say basic turning or bucking logs and if you didn't try to get overly clever past that you should be able to get by with some basics.

    Getting into falling is a whole nother bucket of monkeys and only a small part of the issues are what tool you're using and the majority of it is that you have a tree that can fall on you, kick back off of the stump and get you, hang up on other trees, break and whip limbs or tree tops back at you, etc...

    On a related note it would be useful to do a thread on axe safety, I've personally seen more axe injuries than chainsaw even though I think I know more people who use chainsaws regularly. However I've internalized so much axe handling I'm not sure I can really describe what to do very effectively...

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Mountain Home, Arkansas
    Posts
    11,833
    IMHO, the two most important rules of chain saw safety, and the two most ignored, are 'quit before you get tired' and 'never work a chainsaw higher than your shoulders'.
    "Folks is funny critters."

    Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too. ~Voltaire

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    GTA Ontario Canada
    Posts
    12,260

    Re: Chainsaw safety

    Very good points Frank one is applicable to many things in life...quit when tired.

    Ryan i would agree with u on the axe. My bet is people think they know and it dont have a noisy engine spinning bladss to "wake u up to the danger"
    Then there is the "blunt axe" aspect and the inability to recognise what knots are about.


    Sent from my MB860 using Tapatalk 2
    cheers

Similar Threads

  1. OK..... Do I Have A Chainsaw Problem....?
    By Stuart Ablett in forum New Tools
    Replies: 12
    Last Post: 07-15-2014, 01:14 AM
  2. Looking for Right Chainsaw
    By Mike Turner in forum Turning Tool Questions and Show & Tell
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: 04-16-2014, 12:12 AM
  3. Chainsaw Sharpeners ??
    By Mike Turner in forum New Tools
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 05-26-2013, 12:42 PM
  4. Chainsaw mishap........
    By John Daugherty in forum Off Topic Discussion
    Replies: 20
    Last Post: 06-22-2012, 11:27 AM
  5. new chainsaw
    By Frank Fusco in forum New Tools
    Replies: 17
    Last Post: 04-09-2009, 02:37 PM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •