Do you need to cut a tree? Do you have an old-growth, knotty oak that is too big for your chainsaw? You might be tempted to try and cut it with the tip of your chainsaw. But there are some things you should know before trying this risky technique.
Can You Cut with the Tip of a Chainsaw? Cutting with a chainsaw tip is one thing that you should always try to avoid when operating a chainsaw. The reason for this is because the risk of kickback is at its highest when cutting with the tip.
If you’re going to be looking at cutting any number of tree limbs, then there’s no doubt about it, chainsaws are the fastest and most efficient way to do this.
Chainsaws however can be extremely dangerous tools and should only be used by people who have a good understanding of the safety measures needed before using them.
Figures for chainsaw injuries show that on average just across the United States alone there are 40,000 injuries or deaths every year. There can be many reasons for this including users lacking understanding or training as well as defects with the chainsaw or users not conducting good maintenance of their equipment or following the manufacturer’s instructions on the use of their chainsaw.
The most common type of injury is caused by a kickback this is when the chainsaw makes contact with an object and it forces the guide bar to kick back which can be extremely fast and violent and often comes upwards towards the operator’s face or chest. It can happen within split seconds meaning the operator potentially has no opportunity to prepare or avoid this happening.
With this in mind, it’s really important when using the chainsaw to ensure firstly that you understand best practices in using your chainsaw and secondly, follow recommended techniques for safe use to reduce the chances of any injury occurring in the first place. Prevention is better than cure.
When using a chainsaw, the most common way to cut is by using the bottom of the bar. This method leads to a more natural feeling and you will feel the chainsaw slightly pulling forwards but will still have a feeling of full control while allowing you to firmly grip and keep holding the chainsaw.
If you happen to be cutting a branch from below, this is going to require you to cut with the topside of the chainsaw. For anybody new to operating a chainsaw, this might feel a little bit uncomfortable to start with.
It usually results in the chainsaw pushing back towards you but as we’ve discussed earlier, providing you’ve been able to get yourself into a well-braced position with a firm hold on the chainsaw then this is a safe way to operate and make cuts.
Cutting with the tip of a chainsaw?
The risk when doing this is that the top quarter of the tip of a chainsaw is highly likely if it comes into contact with a branch to kick back towards you which places you at a really high risk of operator injury.
To try and help negate this risk most modern chainsaws come equipped with an item called a chain break. The idea of a chain brake is it’s designed in a way that results in the chain stopping if it detects a kickback occurring. Despite this safety measure it’s still highly recommended that you never use the front tip of a chainsaw to cut into a branch.
Safety is absolutely paramount when operating a chainsaw and some of the most common types of injuries are to thighs and upper arms and these can be quite easily eliminated just by taking a couple of precautions.
The first one is to always wrap your thumb around the front handle anytime that you’re actually cutting. By wrapping the thumb around, you create a solid grip and gain full control in the event of a kickback preventing the chainsaw from coming back towards your face or body.
A second recommendation is in between actually cutting, so say for example moving between branches that you remove your right hand away from the handle and trigger and carry the chainsaw at your side just using your left hand to hold the handle.
By doing this, if you were to lose your balance or fall, the chainsaw’s engine has no way to be able to accelerate and start the chain spinning again which ultimately can result in injury.
Maintaining your Chainsaw:
Another important factor when operating your chainsaw is to make sure it’s well maintained. One thing we would fully recommend doing before starting is always to check the tension in the chain. As well as making this initial check before you start cutting, it’s also recommended to do this once an hour or so as you continue to use it and if required make any adjustments.
This is particularly important with new chains as they have the potential to stretch as they start to bed in. A new chain that becomes loose is at risk of coming free from the bar while spinning which could cause serious injury.
Another method that you can adopt to reduce the chances of suffering a kickback is to make sure that during your maintenance the chainsaw blade is kept sharp and well tensioned. By doing this and always making sure that you’re keeping your cuts at your shoulder height or below should help to reduce any chances of kickback.
It’s also really important to make sure that your chainsaw is the right size for the job.
A good rule of thumb is that the blades on the chainsaw should be approximately 2 inches longer than the item you’re trying to cut. You also need to remember that the bigger the blade gets the harder it is to control so again if you’re new to using a chainsaw, you should make sure it is a smaller size but still suitable for the job you are trying to achieve.
There are two final tips that we would highly recommend, particularly if you’re new to using a chainsaw and not feeling 100% confident.
The first is to ensure that you have a friend or someone watching you while you are operating it. So if something goes wrong then you’ll have the benefit of someone quickly coming to your aid and assist you should you get any problems.
Lastly, stand in a solid position with both feet firmly planted on the floor before you begin cutting.
You should do this until you gain enough confidence to make cuts in more difficult positions and even then, make sure that you are prepared and thought through what you need to do.