How To Use and Maintain A Chainsaw

A chainsaw is a great tool. But it takes knowledge
and practice to use it confidently and safely. Before operating your saw, read the owner’s
manual and get familiar with all the controls and safety features. Always follow the safety
recommendations. You’ll need protective clothing like a hard
hat, ear and eye protection, long pants – chaps are a good idea – gloves, and steel toe
boots. To start a chainsaw with a cold engine, place
it on flat ground. Push the chain brake forward until it engages.
Pull the start/choke control out to the ON position.
Push the decompression valve – if you have one – and press the primer bulb about 6
times. Always hold the front handle with your left
hand, and put your right foot on the rear handle.
Pull the starting handle with your right hand until the saw “fires”.
Push the choke in and pull again. When the saw starts, squeeze the throttle
quickly to disengage the high idle. To stop the saw, just turn off the ignition
switch. To make a cut, hold the front handle with
your left hand – thumb wrapped underneath – and grab the rear handle with your right
hand. Get in position – legs apart for stability – and pull back the chain brake to disengage
it. Then squeeze the throttle. The saw cuts best when the engine is at full throttle.
Make your cuts away from the bar tip if possible. Cutting with the upper portion of the tip
could cause kickback, which can be dangerous and may engage the chain brake. If it does
engage, just pull back to unlock. It’s also good practice to cut at waist
level – never above shoulder height. And avoid cutting too close to the ground where
the blade could dig in and kick back. Also, try to cut from the side of the saw
and never while hovering over the work area. A kickback while in this position could be
especially dangerous. You can cut downward – called a pulling
chain – or cut upward – called a pushing chain. Remember, your saw must be properly maintained
to operate safely. Your manual will list the maintenance items and when to do them. Every time you use the saw, check the chain
tension and adjust as necessary. Regularly inspect the bar and clean it.
Also, check the air filter – clean and replace when necessary. And inspect the operation
of the throttle lockout, the chain brake and the chain catcher. Sharpen the chain regularly. It’s not hard
to do with a filing kit. Start by holding the bar in a vise, then activate
the brake to lock the chain. Sharpen the cutting teeth by placing the gauge
with the arrows pointing toward the bar nose. File every other tooth at right angles to
the rollers with a pushing stroke. Release the brake to access more teeth then re-engage
it. When you’ve gone around the chain, turn
the saw around and file the other teeth. When the teeth are done, file the depth gauges.
Place the guide over the teeth using the hard or soft wood positions – depending on the
wood you’re cutting. If over time the blade has been sharpened
back to the angled guideline on the tooth, the blade should be replaced. With that your saw is ready to tackle that
next tree. Want more great ideas and how-to’s? Go to or just click to subscribe. Next, learn how to cut down a tree.

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