From Novice to Pro: How to use a Chainsaw?

Suppose you’re a professional logger who needs to improve your chainsaw skills. Either way, if you’re wondering “How to use a chainsaw?” you’ve come to the right place.

Operating a chainsaw can be intimidating for beginners, but you can make it a powerful tool in your arsenal with the right guidance and precautions. Whether you need to prune trees, cut firewood, or clear debris, we’ve got you covered. 

Safety Tips for a Beginner 

To ensure the safer operation of a chainsaw and reduce the risk of kickback, it is important to maintain a sharp and properly tensioned chain while cutting below shoulder height.

In addition, modern chainsaws, including electric models, are designed with a low-kickback chain that grabs less fiber as it approaches the kickback zone, making them safer for DIYers who use them for cutting firewood or pruning their property. 

Before You Start

1. Choose a Partner

When using a chainsaw, having a partner with you is always best, especially if you are a beginner. Operating a chainsaw alone can be dangerous; if something goes wrong, you may be unable to call for help. Having a friend or colleague with you can make a big difference in safety.

Essential safety tips when working with a partner

  • Communication

Before using the chainsaw, communicate with your partner about the task. Ensure you both understand what needs to be done, where to stand, and how to stay safe. You can also develop hand signals to communicate quickly and efficiently.

  • Keep a Safe Distance

While utilizing the chainsaw, stay away from one another. Avoid getting too close to your partner or letting them get too close to you. Keep a protected separation to avoid injury from payoffs or accidental slips.

Safety Tips for a Beginner 
  • Rotate Tasks

Rotating tasks while using the chainsaw is an excellent way to ensure both partners are safe and the work is done efficiently. For example, one person can hold the log while the other cuts it. Then, the roles can be reversed.

  • Be Prepared for Emergencies

Ceaselessly be prepared for emergencies. Have a clinical guide pack nearby with something like one blood-coagulating wrap. Guarantee someone knows where you are and when you hope to return. If you work in the woods, set a traffic prosperity standard by your vehicle.

2. Use Protective Equipment

Protective equipment is vital for your safety when using a chainsaw. Accidents can happen, and it is crucial to take appropriate safety measures to avoid injury. Eye protection is essential to prevent debris from getting into your eyes. Ear protection such as earmuffs or earplugs will protect your hearing from the high noise level produced by chainsaws.

Chainsaw chaps or pants are necessary to protect your legs from accidental cuts. These protective gears are made of ballistic nylon or Kevlar that can prevent a chainsaw from penetrating through them.

2. Use Protective Equipment

Steel-toed boots will protect your feet from heavy objects or accidental slips. Look for boots with sturdy, slip-resistant soles and reinforced toe caps. Gloves that can provide a good grip and protect your hands from cuts and abrasions are also crucial. 

Protective equipment while operating a chainsaw is essential for your safety. So, use a hard hat, eye protection, ear protection, chainsaw chaps or pants, steel-toed boots, and gloves when using a chainsaw.

3. Finding the Correct Stance for Holding the Saw

Using a chainsaw requires proper technique to ensure your safety and effective operation of the tool. 

  • Stand Firmly and Comfortably
  • Keep your knees slightly bent, and distribute your weight evenly on both feet.
  • Keep the Chainsaw Close to Your Body
  • While holding the chainsaw, keep it close to your body to maintain better control of the saw’s movements and reduce the risk of accidents.

4. Use Both Hands

Use both hands to grip the chainsaw properly. Your dominant hand should hold the rear handle, while your non-dominant hand should grip the front handle. This position will provide better control and stability when using the saw.

5. Angle the Saw Correctly

Angle the chainsaw correctly to achieve optimal cutting performance. Hold the chainsaw parallel to the ground when cutting horizontally and vertically. When cutting overhead, keep the chainsaw perpendicular to the ground.

6. Ensure Proper Maintenance of Your Chainsaw

Regularly maintaining your chainsaw is crucial to ensure its optimal performance and prevent malfunctions that could lead to accidents. Check that the chainsaw’s chain is sharp and properly tensioned and that the fuel and oil levels are correct.

7. Be Aware of Your Surroundings

Keep bystanders and pets at a safe distance and stay alert for any potential hazards that may arise. 

Using the Correct Chainsaw

Using the wrong chainsaw can lead to many issues, including damage to the saw and an increased risk of accidents. Before starting any cutting job, ensure you have the appropriate chainsaw for the task.

When selecting a chainsaw, consider the size and type of wood you will be cutting. A lightweight chainsaw with a shorter bar length may be sufficient for smaller jobs. A more powerful chainsaw with a longer bar length may be necessary for larger trees or thicker logs.

Choosing a chainsaw with the appropriate safety features, such as a chain brake and anti-vibration technology. These features can help prevent kickbacks and reduce the risk of operator fatigue.

Using the Correct Chainsaw

If you’re unsure which chainsaw to use, consult the manufacturer’s guidelines or seek advice from a professional. Using the correct chainsaw for the job is essential for ensuring your safety and the efficiency of the cutting process.

1.Never Mix Substances with Chainsaw Use

Chainsaws are powerful tools that require the user’s attention and concentration to operate safely. One crucial safety tip is to never mix substances with chainsaw use. This includes alcohol, drugs, and medications impairing your judgment, reflexes, or vision.

Using a chainsaw under the influence of these substances can increase the risk of accidents and injuries and affect your ability to react quickly in an emergency. Additionally, mixing substances with chainsaw use can result in errors in judgment and poor decision-making, which can lead to catastrophic consequences. 

Before using your chainsaw
  1. Inspect it for any damaged or worn parts.
  2. Ensure the chain is properly tensioned and sharpened, and all bolts and nuts tightened.
  3. Check the fuel and oil levels and fill them if necessary.

2. File the Depth Gauges

Filing the depth gauge is essential in maintaining a chainsaw’s cutting performance and ensuring your safety during use. Depth gauges are the small bumps on the chainsaw’s cutting teeth that control the depth of the cut. Over time, the depth gauges can become worn or damaged, reducing the saw’s cutting performance and increasing the risk of kickback.

To file the depth gauges
  1. Remove the chain from the chainsaw and secure it in a vice.
  2. Use a depth gauge tool to check the height of each gauge.
  3. If the gauges are too high, use a flat file to carefully file them down to the correct height.

Filing each gauge evenly and consistently is essential to maintain the chainsaw’s balance and prevent the teeth from cutting too deeply.

2. File the Depth Gauges

It’s also crucial to file the depth gauges in the correct position. Each tooth has two depth gauges, one in front and one behind the cutting tooth. Be sure to first fill the gauges in the front of the tooth, followed by the gauges behind the tooth. This sequence will ensure that each tooth is filed correctly and evenly.

Filing the depth gauge is a simple process that can significantly improve your chainsaw’s cutting performance and reduce the risk of accidents. Filing the gauges regularly is essential, as they can become worn or damaged after just a few uses. By taking the time to maintain your chainsaw properly, you’ll enjoy safer, more efficient cutting and a longer lifespan for your chainsaw.

3. Engage the Chain Brake

Engaging the chain brake is critical in using a chainsaw safely and effectively. Before starting the chainsaw, you must engage the chain brake by activating the brake lever on the saw’s top handle.

To engage the chain brake, follow these steps:

  • Hold the chainsaw with both hands.
  • Use your thumb to press down the chain brake lever on the top handle. This lever is typically located in front of the throttle trigger.
  • While holding down the brake lever, pull the chain brake handle toward you until it clicks into place.
  • Release the brake lever slowly, making sure the chain is not moving.
  • Once the chain brake is engaged, the chainsaw’s chain should not move when you start the saw or during kickback.
  • If you notice the chain moving when the brake is engaged, stop the saw immediately and check for any issues with the brake system.

Remember to disengage the chain brake before starting to cut. This is typically done by pulling the chain brake handle away from you until it clicks into the disengaged position. 

4. Choke and Prime the Saw

Choking and priming your chainsaw is essential to ensure it starts correctly. To do this, locate the choke and primer bulb on your saw. The choke restricts airflow to the carburetor, which creates a fuel-rich mixture that aids in starting the engine. On the other hand, the primer bulb pumps fuel into the carburetor to help with starting.

Before starting the saw, make sure the chain brake is engaged. Once that is done, move the choke to the “on” position and prime the bulb by pushing it several times until you feel resistance. This will flood the carburetor with fuel.

4. Choke and Prime the Saw

Next, pull the starter cord with a firm grip to start the engine. If the saw doesn’t start, move the choke to the “off” position and pull the starter cord several times. Once the engine starts, move the choke to the “run” position and disengage the chain brake.

Following the manufacturer’s instructions on choking and priming your chainsaw is crucial to prevent flooding the engine or causing other mechanical problems. Properly preparing your saw for use will make it easier to start and ensure that it runs safely and efficiently.

5. Secure the Saw 

To start the chainsaw, you must secure it properly to avoid accidents. Place the saw on a flat, stable surface and ensure the chain brake is engaged. Next, hold the saw with your left hand and place your right foot in the handle opening on the rear of the saw. Ensure the chainsaw is between your legs and the handle is free to move.

Before pulling the starter handle
  1. Check that the choke is on and the throttle is set to the “on” position.
  2. Prime the saw by pressing the primer bulb several times until fuel fills the bulb.
  3. Once primed, hold the rear handle using your left hand. Place your right hand on the handle.

Now, pull the starter handle with a firm and quick motion. If the saw doesn’t start after several pulls, move the choke to the “off” position and try again. Once the saw starts, let it run for a few seconds to warm up before making any cuts.

Before cutting
  • Plan the direction of the fall.
  • Mark the cutting line.
  • Clear the area of any potential obstacles or hazards.

This will help you to avoid unexpected falls or kickbacks, which can cause severe injuries. Once you are in position and have properly assessed the work area, cut smoothly and steadily, avoiding sudden jerks or movements that could lead to accidents.

6. Make your Cut

Cutting with a chainsaw requires precision, control, and confidence. Once you have positioned yourself correctly, engaged the chain brake, and braced yourself, it’s time to make your cut. Remember to plan your cut, considering the direction of the fall and any potential obstacles. 

When ready, engage the throttle and slowly lower the chainsaw blade onto the wood. Use a smooth and steady motion, allowing the saw to do the work without forcing it. Keep your body weight balanced and your feet firmly planted, and avoid bending your back or twisting your torso while cutting. Always maintain a safe distance from the chainsaw’s bar and chain while using it. 

7. Finish your Cut

Finishing the cut is the final step in using a chainsaw professionally. Once the saw has passed through the wood, release the throttle trigger to stop the chain. Allow the chain to come to a complete stop before removing the saw from the workpiece. 

Next, re-engage the chain brake to prevent any accidental movement of the chain. Please take a moment to inspect the cut to ensure it is clean and straight. If necessary, make a second cut to achieve the desired result. Once satisfied with the cut, please turn off the chainsaw and set it aside safely. 

Must-Do Chainsaw Maintenance


If you own a chainsaw, it’s essential to keep it maintained to ensure it performs efficiently and safely. One of the most crucial aspects of chainsaw maintenance is tensioning. The chain on your chainsaw must be properly tensioned to work correctly and avoid dangerous kickbacks. Over time, the chain on your chainsaw will loosen due to use, which is where tensioning comes in.

You must locate the tensioning screw or knob to tension the chain on your chainsaw. Using a flat-head screwdriver or a specialized chainsaw tool, turn the tensioning screw clockwise to tighten the chain or counterclockwise to loosen it. 

Must-Do Chainsaw Maintenance

To determine the appropriate tension for your chainsaw chain, consult your owner’s manual. 

It’s important to note that tensioning should be done regularly, preferably before each use, as a loose chain can cause kickback, which is extremely dangerous. 

Tensioning is crucial to chainsaw maintenance and should be done regularly to ensure your chainsaw performs safely and efficiently. By following the manufacturer’s recommendations and ensuring the chain is properly tightened, you’ll enjoy the benefits of your chainsaw for years to come.


A chainsaw’s chain can become dull over time, significantly impacting its performance. A light chain can cause the chainsaw to work harder than necessary, leading to a shorter lifespan for both the chainsaw and the chain. That’s why it’s essential to regularly sharpen your chainsaw’s chain to ensure it remains sharp and efficient.

Sharpening a chainsaw chain involves filing the cutting teeth on the chain, which can be done manually using a chainsaw file or an electric chainsaw sharpener. Regardless of the method, following the correct procedure is important to ensure the chain is sharpened correctly.

The first step is to ensure the chainsaw is turned off and the chain is cool before sharpening. Lose the nuts using the wrench.


Once the bar is loose, use a file guide to file each cutting tooth at the same angle and depth as the manufacturer’s recommendations. This will help ensure consistency across all teeth.

When sharpening the cutting teeth, ensure that you maintain the original angle of the tooth, typically around 30 degrees, and file each tooth in one direction only. You’ll need to file each tooth’s beveled edge, the cutting edge, and the depth gauge or raker, which determines how deep the cutting tooth will cut.

After you’ve filed each tooth, check the depth gauge to ensure its set to the correct height. You can use a depth gauge tool to make this process easier. If the depth gauge is too high, it will cause the cutting tooth to be too shallow, and if it’s too low, it will cause the cutting tooth to be too deep.

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