The information contained in these web pages has not been
verified for correctness. Some of the information contained herein is hearsay and may not
be correct. Use the information from these pages only at your own risk!
Chain saws can be great labor-saving tools. But if not operated properly
and with respect, they can quickly cause severe injury and death. At least two people died
from injuries related to chain saws during the first week of cleanup after Hurricane Hugo.
This leaflet cannot address every potential hazard you may encounter while using a chain
saw. If you are not familiar with techniques of sawing, saw operation, or maintenance,
read your owner's manual, consult a more detailed publication, or ask a dealer for more
Do You Need to Use a Chain Saw?
If you have only small branches (four inches or less), use a hand saw or
axe. Chain saws are not suited for cutting such small branches.
Read the owner's manual before operating a chain saw for the first time.
Note the safety practices. Note how to check and adjust the chain tension. It's important
for safe operation.
Personal Protective Equipment
One of the best safeguards against injury is wearing the proper
protective equipment. This includes: safety glasses or goggles, heavy-duty, non-slip
gloves, sturdy non-slip shoes hearing protection, trim fitting clothes (not loose or
ragged), long-sleeve shirt and pants (chaps if you have them), hardhat,
Transporting the Saw
Put the chain guard on the saw when not in use. Always carry the saw at
your side with the cutting bar and chain to the rear and to the outside. Never carry a
chain saw in the passenger area of a vehicle.
Fueling a Chain Saw
Use the fuel mix recommended by the manufacturer. Never fuel a hot chain
saw; let it cool first. Always fuel in a clear area away from debris. If your fuel can has
no spout, use a funnel. Wipe the saw clean of any spilled fuel after fueling. Never smoke
Starting the Chain Saw
There is only one safe way to start a chain saw:
- Move 10 feet or more away from the fueling area.
- Place the saw in a clear, debris-free area.
- Hold the saw firmly on the ground by putting your foot through the rear
handle (if possible) and by holding it down with one hand on the top handle. Pull the
starter cord with the other hand. The chain should not be moving while the saw is idling.
- Never start the saw while holding it off the ground, or by "drop
Preparing to Cut
Clear away anything that has a chance of interfering with the operation.
Remove debris that could cause you to slip or lose your balance or accidentally contact
the chain. Keep both hands firmly on the saw when cutting.
Kickback occurs when the saw rotates back, or "kicks back" at
the operator, due to the nose of the saw contacting an object or obstruction. To prevent
- Use a saw equipped with chain brake or kickback guard.
- Hold the saw firmly with both hands. Grip the top handle by putting the
thumb around it.
- Watch for twigs that can snag the chain.
- Don't pinch the chain while cutting the log.
- Saw with the lower part of the bar close to the bumper, not on the top
near the nose.
- Maintain high saw speed when entering or leaving a cut.
- Keep the chain sharp.
- Do not reach above your shoulder to cut. The chain is too close to your
face in this position.
- Fatigue Many injuries occur because the operator got tired or withstood
long periods of saw vibration. Take frequent breaks.
- Felling, Limbing, and Bucking
- Cutting down large trees is not simple and should be left to experienced
operators who have felled trees before. Limbing requires proper position and consideration
of kickback potential, the springing back of branches, and the chance the log will roll.
Bucking (cutting a log into lengths) requires knowing how to block the log to prevent
binding, kickback, and rolling. If you are not familiar with these operations, get more
information from your owner's manual, a saw dealer, a book or video, or from an
Perform maintenance BEFORE using the chainsaw, NOT
- Remove the sprocket cover, bar and chain.
- Remove, check and wash the air filter in straight petrol.
- Clean the spark plug and check the gap. Check the manufacturer's
specification for the gap width.
- Clean the grill on the fan housing.
- Clean the sprocket cover.
- Check the brake mechanism.
- Check the chain for wear and uneven use.
- Remove any grit from the bar groove, working from the tip backwards.
- Clear all the oil holes and check the tension on all nuts and bolts.
- Replace the chain and bar.
- The chain should be replaced with the cutters pointing forward and the
depth gauge leading.
- The bar should be replaced upside down, rotating each time the chainsaw
is used to allow even wear and tear on the bar.
- Replace and tighten the sprocket cover nuts finger tight.
- Holding the bar up, tension the chain so that the bottom of the chain
JUST touches the bar. The chain should move freely. Do not touch the chain with
- Tighten the nuts holding the sprocket cover.
After usage, clean the chain saw before storing.
Sharpening the Chain
Sharpen the cutting edges at (normally) 30-35° using three good strokes
(do not sharpen on the return or inward movement). Reduce the height of the depth gauge as
needed. Round off the leading edge retaining the original shape.
If you accidentally allow the chainsaw to touch the ground while it is
still running, stop what you are doing and resharpen the chain. It will be instantly
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- Handy Farm Devices and How to Make Them - by Rolfe Cobleigh -
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Tiller Service Manual - Publication Date: February, 1990 - List: $26.95
Family Farm Antiques (A Wallace-Homestead Price Guide) - by
Terri Clemens - Publication Date: October 1994 - List: $17.95
This definitive guide on collecting authenic rural items covers every aspect of farm life
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This page was last updated on November 16, 2002