How to Use an Electric Chainsaw

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For use around the house and small landscaping cleanup, an electric chainsaw is a helpful tool. They're easier to handle, lighter, less expensive, quieter and do not use gasoline. The limitations of an electric chainsaw are that they're less powerful, take longer to cut, and are tethered by an electrical cord or extension cord. If you've never operated a chainsaw before, buying an electric one will help you learn how one works and how to fell small trees and cut wood safely.

Things You'll Need

  • Electric chainsaw Owners manual Safety goggles Gloves Hard hat SAE 30 oil (see owners manual for chainsaw) Heavy gauge 100-foot extension cord (if necessary)

Using Your Chainsaw

  • Read the owners manual of the electric chainsaw before attempting to operate it. Different brands and models will operate differently from one another and reading the manual from cover to cover will help you understand how to saw works, what you need to do to make the saw work, and help prevent any accidents.

  • Fill the saw blade reservoir with SAE 30 weight oil, unless the owners manual specified a different grade oil for your saw.

  • Plug the power cord into an electrical outlet (for saws with 100 feet of cord) or into a heavy gauge extension cord (for saws with a short cord).

  • Put on the safety goggles, gloves and hard hat before using the saw. The hard hard is more optional if you're just pruning or trimming old, dead branches.

  • Place the blade of the chainsaw away from you and any other object, depress the safety switch, and pull the trigger of the chainsaw. Allow the oil to lubricate the chain properly (some models may have a pump to press to lubricate the chain).

  • Cut a piece of scrap wood or a small tree you wish to get rid of to practice with the saw and determine its strength and how it operates. Hold the chainsaw by the safety bar handle with your left hand and operate the trigger with your right hand. With the chain running at full speed, bring the saw down onto the piece of wood near the center of the blade. Never attempt to cut wood using the tip of the saw. As the chain cuts through the wood, apply slight downward pressure to guide the saw, but do not force the saw. Allow the chain to cut. Make your arms rigid and tight to help prevent injury in the event of a kickback.

  • Fell small trees/saplings by cutting them straight through.

  • Fell a medium tree by first cutting a horizontal notch one-third of the tree's width. Cut the notch in the position you desire to tree to fall. Cut a 45 degree angle cut above notch to create an open wedge. Reposition the chain saw to the back of the tree opposite the open wedge. Cut a 45 degree angle about two inches above the bottom of the wedge until the tree falls.

  • Trim and prune using the chainsaw applying basic safety practices and common sense, especially if you're climbing or using a ladder.

  • Keep a close eye on the chain oil reservoir when using the chainsaw and add more oil before it runs dry.

Tips & Warnings

  • As a general chainsaw rule (see Resources), you can cut a tree that is twice the width of your blade. Some newer electric chainsaw models are coming with longer and wider blades, but their power is still more limited than a gasoline powered saw.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings and know where the electrical cord is located so you don't strike it with the running blade of the chainsaw. Never fell a tree or standing wood while standing downhill from it. When possible, fell a tree away from other objects, but never cut away from its natural angle. Always be prepared for potential kickback. Do not fell large trees or buck trees with an electric chainsaw.

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