How to use a chainsaw?

Normally, people only tell about how to use a “gas” chainsaw because gas saws are a little bit complicated, dangerous ( if you are new ) & require experience, while others are easy to operate but still, it is a little bit difficult or sometimes dangerous for those people who are new to all the types of chain saws. So, in this article, I will discuss all the types like how to use gasoline/petrol chain saws, corded electric & cordless chain saws. So first, let’s discuss how to use a gas chainsaw.

1. Safety Precautions

Many people ignore the manual instruction which comes with the chainsaw. If you are a beginner then must read their instructions because some of the models differ a little bit from each other. Also, beginners usually avoid protection while doing small trimming works but it is very dangerous in the case of gasoline chain saw. You may avoid it in the case of cordless chain saw, but don’t do it if you are operating gasoline one. These are some protective equipment you must use while trimming, felling, limbing or bucking tree or logs:

  • Chainsaw Chaps
  • Helmet
  • Faceguard
  • Gloves
  • Goggles & ear protector
  • Safety boots ( prefer steel-toed )
  • Jacket ( Avoid loose-fitting shirt )

2. Choose an appropriate chainsaw model

First of all, you must decide what type of work will you do with a chainsaw. If you do normal trimming logs then an electric or cordless chainsaw is right for you but if you do heavy-duty work like felling big trees then always use gas chain saws. I have discussed the chainsaw reviews & buyer’s guide in detail ( in about 9000 words ) in my another article. You will get all the knowledge there like how to choose an appropriate model for different purposes.

After deciding the chainsaw type, you must now think of its size, whether it is comfortable to use or not. Also, check its bar size because it depends on the thickness of the tree or log which you will cut. To know about weight & bar size of the best 15 chainsaws, you can check my article by clicking HERE.

 RECOMMENDED: Always use bar size 2-inch greater than the thickness of the tree. For example, use a 14-inch bar for 12-inch thick wood. 

3. Decide the type of cut

Before starting the chainsaw, decide which type of cut will you be going to do. It is necessary for both safety purpose and selecting the bar. Mainly, there are 4 types of cuts:

  • Trimming
  • Limbing
  • Bucking
  • Felling

Limbing means removing all the limbs before felling the trees. After felling, trimming is done, i.e. cutting of branches the limbs. Bucking is used to make pieces of logs. So, make sure where are you performing these cuttings because felling can damage your neighbor’s property or your own. For trimming, limbing or bucking, you can use a cordless or corded chain saw but for felling big trees always use a gasoline chain saw. Well, some companies have manufactured the corded or cordless chainsaws which are costly but they can fell down the big trees.

4. Filling of oil & gas

You will have to mix oil & gas to prepare the fuel for your chain saw. This could be a headache if you are using a gas chain saw for the first time. Generally, fuel is prepared by mixing unleaded gasoline and 2 cycles of oil at 50:1 or 40:1 ratio, depending on the type. Check the manual of your product to know about its mixing ratio. Most of the chain saw comes with a 2-cycle engine but they do not have any supply of oil lubrication, so it becomes very important to use the correct oil in an appropriate ratio. Don’t use any other oil or wrong oil mixture ratio, otherwise, your chain saw will burn up quickly.

Before oil filling, do these safety checks:

  • Chain tension should be properly adjusted,
  • Make sure chain should not rotate whenever the chain brake gets engaged,
  • Check whether the bar nuts & faceplate are properly on or not,
  • The air filter should be properly installed.

You will see 2 filler caps near the throttle handle in which you can add fuel & chain/bar oil respectively. Generally, in most gas chain saws, the larger cap is for fuel & smaller one for bar oil filling.

5. Press primer bulb

After filling fuel, bar oil & closing the caps properly, place your saw on the ground and engage the chain brake by pushing it in the forward direction. Some gas saws come with a choke lever which helps to start combustion more quickly. This feature helps to start the cold engine quickly.

If your gas saw has this feature then switch it to on and press the primer bulb 4~6 times.

6. Pull the starter rope

The proper way to pull the starter rope is to put your right foot on the rear handle and hold its front handle tightly with your left hand. After that, you can pull the starter rope sharply with your right hand until the engine fires.

Sometimes the engine doesn’t start even after some pulls. In that case, push the choke in & pull again, then your gas saw will start.

7. Select a demo log/limb

Before cutting the original wood, take a demo log for practice or to check whether the gas saw is capable of cutting or not. So, now your gas saw is started, disengage the chain brake & squeeze the throttle quickly. After that, lay down the blade to the cutting line of the log/limb.

NOTE: Don’t apply any external force to the blade to cut the log. Only the weight of the blade is enough to make a cut or you can apply a normal push.

The main purpose for practicing your gas saw on a demo log is to:

  • check whether the saw is running at idle or not,
  • the blade must not engage & turn.

After checking all these things you are ready for cutting logs/limbs or felling trees.

I have given a few safety tips for starting the gas saws but here, I am going to give some safety tips that you should keep in mind while using cutting:

  •  Don’t use your saw bar tip for cutting to avoid kickback. So, always use the upper portion of the bar tip.
  • Don’t cut close to the ground otherwise, you will face kickback.
  • Always try to cut wood logs by keeping your gas saw below your shoulder height.
  • Use the bottom of the saw bar if you are cutting in the downward direction and use its top position while upward cutting.
  • If you are felling down the big trees then keep away other people at a distance of twice the height of that tree to avoid serious injuries.

8. Cooldown the saw before next cutting

Unlike cordless & corded chain saw, the gas saw get very hot after a few cuts, so don’t cut trees continuously. You may give it rest to cool down or you can drain out the fuel & bar oil so that it cools down quickly. To properly empty the carburetor, you can run the gas saw for a few seconds after draining its fuel.

9. Cleaning of bar & chain

For longer life of bar & chain, always clean the wood chips or debris which are stuck in the blade after every 2~3 cuts. It does not only helps to increase its life but also helps to cut the trees easily and also prevents kickback injuries by avoiding chain brake engagement.

10. Last safety tips

The 2 last but not least safety tips which I want to give especially to beginners are:

  • Cover your bar and chain with the cover ( comes with most of the saws ) to avoid any kind of injuries.
  • In many cases, it has been seen that people forget to turn off the saw before performing any maintenance. So, disconnect the spark plug of your gas saw to avoid any accidental start injuries.

Now, it will be a lot easier for you to use a corded and cordless chain saw if you know how to use or operate a gasoline chainsaw. So, let’s discuss how to start a corded electric chain saw in short.

How To Use An Electric Chainsaw?

  1. Reading instruction manual is really important because instructions or do’s & don’t vary for every electric saw model.
  2. Fill the bar oil ( as mentioned in the manual ) for bar/chain lubrication.
  3. All the electric chainsaw come with a short, 1~2 feet cord which is not sufficient, so buy an extension. I will recommend 100 Feet 12 Gauge US Wire 74100 Extension. Always use 12 gauge for 100 feet extension cord, 16 gauge for 50 feet & 18 gauge for 25 feet cord.
  4. Plug the cord into the power outlet.
  5. Well, there is less need for protection in comparison to gas saw but don’t avoid it, there is no harm in using it. Use at least goggles & safety gloves. You can avoid helmet if you are doing normal wood trimming tasks.
  6.  You will find a safety switch in your electric chain saw ( used to prevent accidental start ). Depress that & pull its trigger.
  7. Some electric chain saws come with an automatic oiler for bar/chain lubrication but some do not come with this feature, so you will have to lubricate the bar/chain manually by pushing its “push-button oiler”.
  8. Now, here also, use a demo wood log for practice purpose, to check whether it is working or not.
  9. In the case of an electric saw, hold the safety bar handle with your left hand & use/operate the trigger with your right hand.
  10. Like gas saw, here also use the bottom of the saw bar if you are cutting in the downward direction and use its top position while upward cutting. This way is not only for easy cutting but also prevent from flying debris or wood chips.
 NOTE: Always check the bar/chain oil reservoir while cutting. Don’t let it get dry, otherwise, your chainsaw motor may get burn. 

I was searching for some more valuable tips online and found this short video on youtube. I liked this video, so I am sharing it with you:

How to use a cordless chainsaw?

Well, there is no need to explain how the cordless chainsaw works if you know how to use gas saw & corded electric chain saw. Cordless saw works the same as the corded, only difference is that it works on lithium-ion batteries. Like, corded saw, it has also an easy to start button. Just press that button and it will start.

I found a video of the cordless chainsaw on youtube. After watching this video, you will also understand how to use it.

I hope you will find this article helpful & will be able to operate or use a chainsaw safely. If you want to know more about some best chainsaws available right now in the market along with pros & cons and buyer’s guide then check my article HERE.

Don’t have enough time to read???

No problem…

Let me show you the top gas chainsaws, corded-electric & cordless saws.

Best gas chainsaw:

Husqvarna 455 Gasoline Chainsaw

how to use a chainsaw

Best cordless chainsaw:

Makita XCU03PT1 Cordless Chainsaw

Makita XCU03PT1 cordless chain saw

Best corded chainsaw:

Makita UC4051A Corded Electric Chainsaw

Makita UC4051A Corded electric chainsaw

This post was written by

Hi. I am Saket, member of the DIY Club (4 yrs of exp.) & I was lucky to use many awesome power tools without spending any money because I got it for free for my DIY projects. I am NOT a PRO woodworker but I'm an Expert Reviewer & also an Expert in WordPress. That's why I'm writing articles on power tools.

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