How to Use a Chainsaw

Like if this guide is helpful
How to Use a Chainsaw

Chainsaws were first produced to provide loggers and other forestry industry professionals with an easier way to clear land for transportation and commercial development. The chainsaws possessed large engines and even larger bodies that often required two people to operate. Eventually, manufacturers created smaller scale prototypes that homeowners could buy to clear brush and other debris from their properties. While not as powerful as their commercial grade counterparts, the downsized chainsaws still required operators to adhere to principles that ensured efficient cutting, and more importantly, prevented serious injuries.

Contemporary chainsaws utilise technology that enhances safety features. However, chainsaw operators must follow strict guidelines for efficiently and safely handling chainsaws. After learning how to use a chainsaw, operators are ready to search for chainsaws at DIY shops or online at the leading auction site, eBay. Consumers must first learn about the types of chainsaws, the safety features that protect them from flying debris, and the potentially fatal cuts from sharp chain blades, and then operators should learn a few basic operating principles of which most chainsaw owner manuals go further into detail.

Types of Chainsaws

There are three major types of chainsaws and each type possesses advantages and disadvantages. Manufacturers define chainsaw weight for only the power head, since the operator can remove the guide bar and chain during transport. Most chainsaws should be equipped with a guide bar between 35.5 and 51 cm long. Guide bars that are longer than a piece of wood can cause the tip of a chainsaw to hit the ground or another piece of wood. Operators should consider purchasing each of the three types of chainsaws to match the specifications of different cutting jobs.

Electric Chainsaw

Electric chainsaws are the only type of chainsaw that are safe enough for operators to use indoors. They vibrate less than gas chainsaws, but operators cannot use electric chainsaws in humid conditions or more than 45 m from an electrical outlet. Most experts urge first-time, or infrequent, chainsaw users to work with electric chainsaws because they are lighter, cleaner, and easier to use than gas or cordless chainsaws.

Gas Chainsaw

Gas chainsaws cut faster than corded and cordless chainsaws, which means they should be operated by experienced professionals. The noisy two-cycle motors emit harmful fumes that operators mitigate by blending oil with gasoline. This reduces the chances of fume poisoning. This type of chainsaw requires more maintenance, and a place to store gasoline and additives. Operators who must cut through a large amount of debris prefer to use gas chainsaws.

Cordless Chainsaw

Most experts claim cordless chainsaws are perfect for pruning bushes and cutting small branches. The quietest and lightest type of chainsaw is often used by operators to cut firewood. Cordless chainsaws should be used for light work that requires operator mobility.

Chainsaw Safety Features

The majority of chainsaw accidents occur when users come into contact with the chain. Loss of balance and loss of control contribute to most chain-related accidents. The sharp teeth on chainsaws rotate at between 64 and 97 km/h near a user’s main arteries, and research demonstrates that the average chainsaw cut requires 110 stitches. All of the statistics mean chainsaw users must become acclimated to the safety features that prevent them from receiving debilitating injuries. Nonetheless, the fast revolving chain is not the leading cause of chainsaw-related deaths. Most chainsaw deaths are caused by falling debris.

Here are the primary safety features and a brief description of each safety feature.

Safety Feature


On-Off Switch

Must be clearly marked and operational

Switch should be located away from hand that stabilises the chainsaw

The best switches require little exertion to turn on and off

Front Hand Guard

Works with chain brake to stop the chain within seconds of activation

Essential for all chainsaws, even older models

Activates when chainsaw kicks back

Chain Catcher

A small tab located below the guide bar

Catches chain and prevents it from being dislodged from saw

Reduces amount of loose chain that can hit operators

Safety Throttle

Locks saw if hand does not firmly grip rear handle

Prevents twigs from activating throttle as operator carries saw

Anti-Vibration Mounts

Isolates engine from handles

Reduces the amount of vibration transmitted to operator’s hands

Prevents loss of hand circulation


Directs harmful exhaust fumes away from operator

Top-handle chainsaws direct fumes backwards and to the right

Rear-handle chainsaws direct fumes forwards to the right

Chain Cover

Plastic guard

Protects operators from stationary chain cuts


Legal requirement in the United Kingdom

Saw must carry head, ear, and eye defender symbols on a sticker


Required for safety maintenance

Operator manuals describe essential maintenance tools

Protective clothing and understanding safety features prevent most types of chainsaw-related injuries. However, operators should complete chainsaw safety training to buttress safety precautions. The best safety instruction is provided one-on-one by a certified chainsaw-using professional.

Chainsaw Operating Procedures

Regardless of the type of chainsaw, operators must follow standard procedures to ensure optimal safety levels. The procedures start with a daily operation check and conclude with the right way to remove heavy limbs. While wearing protective clothing can prevent most chainsaw-related injuries, operators still risk injury if they cut limbs and branches improperly.

The Daily Check

Get into the routine of checking the chainsaw every day to reduce the potential for an accident. The chain represents the most important and most neglected chainsaw component. Consult the owner’s manual to learn which type of sharpening technique to use on the chainsaw blade. Make sure the chain has the correct amount of tension to ensure efficient cutting and reduce the likelihood of an accident. Proper chainsaw chain tension should result in a space between 0.13 and 0.25 cm from the bottom of the chainsaw bar to the teeth tie straps. The chain must be lubricated daily to keep the chainsaw running smoothly and to prevent the chain from jumping from the guide bar. Brush the air cleaner daily to promote efficient engine operation.

Protective Equipment

The first piece of protective clothing to buy is a hard hat. Many hard hats also come with ear muffs to protect operators against flying debris. While industrial goggles do a good job of protecting the eyes, operators should consider buying hard hats that include screen shields. Goggles can fog during heavy exertion, and thus, place operators in peril by reducing their vision. Operators should also wear steel-toe work boots, leather work gloves, and leg chaps. Make sure the leg chaps are constructed with materials designed to withstand flying debris and loose chains. Kevlar is an excellent material choice to slow, or stop, chains before they cut into the leg.

How to Start

Allow the chainsaw engine to cool before refuelling it. Before refuelling, clear the area around the saw of debris to prevent fires. After the saw receives fuel, move it at least 3 m from the fuelling area and make sure the saw is firmly supported before starting it. Operators should support their legs with objects that can withstand body weight. Some operators have a tendency to immediately begin cutting a tree after starting their chainsaws. Give the chainsaw engine some time to warm up before felling a tree.


Check every tree for leaning direction before deciding on a felling direction. Choose to cut trees that have slight leans. Professionals who know how to split tree bases should work on trees that lean pronouncedly. Check for signs of tree rot and loose bark that can hit operators with immense force. Examine the large limbs, and look for uneven distribution of ice or snow on a tree crown. Wind and terrain also influence a tree’s felling direction. Clear all of the brush around the tree before the first felling cut.

Basic Chainsaw Felling Cuts

Operators utilise two primary types of chainsaw cuts: undercut and backcut. Chainsaw undercuts remove wedge-shaped pieces from the tree trunk on the side of which the tree is expected to fall. The undercut should only remove one-third of the tree’s diameter. After the undercut, operators employ the backcut on the back side of the tree to create the fall. Larger trees may require operators to wedge wood or durable plastic into backcuts to provide additional leverage for the fall. Conventional undercuts saw the lower horizontal face, before operators saw the upper face at a downward angle. Another undercut style is to angle both the top and bottom tree faces at 90 degrees. Once a tree begins to fall, operators should move away in a diagonal direction from the fall. This is not time to admire an operator’s handiwork.

Removal of Limbs

Fallen trees need to be cut into smaller pieces. Operators must remove large limbs first by identifying tree tension and compression sides. Fallen trees, especially larger ones, are under a level of tension that depend upon how the ground and limbs support the trees. Limbs located on the undersides of trees may be under intense duress, which requires operators to proceed with extreme caution. Operators should seek level ground to remove limbs, but some cutting jobs occur on hilly terrain. Any operator who cuts on a hillside should cut from the upper side of the tree to allow the pieces to roll down the hill. Operator manuals typically present cutting manoeuvres in the form of photographs or other graphics.

General Operating Rules

A few operating chainsaw rules apply to every cutting situation. Always look up when approaching a tree to detect the presence of wires, foreign objects, and the dangling limbs from other trees. Run the saw at full throttle and accelerate the engine before starting to cut. Never reach to cut above the shoulders. Maintaining proper balance is the most important chainsaw safety tip. The left hand should firmly grip the handlebar, with the thumb wrapping around the bar. Pay attention to the tip of the bar for potential kickbacks. Inexperienced operators should start cutting smaller trees and using cordless chainsaws to prune bushes. Possibly the most significant operating rule is to work with another person who understands how to operate a chainsaw.

Buying Chainsaws on eBay

Many buyers believe the only place to shop for chainsaws is at a DIY shop. If buyers know exactly which specifications they desire, they can realise substantial savings by shopping for chainsaws on eBay. Simply type keywords into eBay’s search engine, and then navigate through the search result pages until you find a seller who matches your buying criteria. Use specific keywords to narrow the number of search results and reduce the amount of time you spending shopping for a chainsaw. For instance, type "rear handle chainsaws" or "lightweight chainsaw" to find what you are looking for in a chainsaw. After you select a seller, navigate to the seller’s product page to review delivery terms, return policies, and accepted payment methods.

Chainsaws can be expensive, so you want assurance that the seller from whom you choose to buy has established a strong reputation on eBay. Consider eBay’s Top-Rated Sellers, who are recognised by eBay for selling high-quality products and running fair auctions. eBay places a ribbon icon next to seller product photographs. You can also review customer feedback that is located on seller product pages. Look for sellers who have received positive feedback for at least the past year and have some experience selling high-ticket tools, such as chainsaws.


As the most powerful hand tool, chainsaws can cause serious injuries that lead to permanent damage or worse, death. This means operating a chainsaw requires intensive hands-on training that includes bringing down large trees. Some manufacturers organise chainsaw lessons at local hardware shops, but at the very least, aspiring chainsaw operators can learn how to use a chainsaw by watching manufacturer videos and reading owner manuals. After assimilating the operation and safety information, chainsaw operators must continually review manuals and guides to stay abreast of the latest chainsaw safety tips and product innovations.

Learning how to use a chainsaw requires aspiring operators to start at the bottom of the information pile. The three types of chainsaws each have advantages and disadvantages that differ depending on the type of chainsaw job. First-time operators should consider using the lighter and easier option to manage cordless chainsaws for pruning bushes and small branches. Then, aspiring operators should learn how to use the safety features that manufacturers place on most chainsaws. The safety features are just one way to prevent serious injuries. Operators must also adhere to a daily maintenance schedule, wear protective clothing, and most important, know how to cut into a tree and safely bring it down.

Have something to share, create your own guide... Write a guide
Explore more guides