Chainsaws are an essential tool for any homeowner. They make things a lot easier when it comes to cutting your own firewood and trees.
But let’s be honest, they can be quite intimidating and scary if you have never used them before. They are not just dangerous but also very noisy. And the noise alone can scare off most people.
When started learning how to use a chainsaw, I had many questions – one of which was very basic.
Namely, are chainsaws hard to use? Chainsaws can be hard to use for beginners. Gas chainsaws are usually harder to operate and use because they are heavier and more powerful. Electric and battery-powered chainsaws traditionally require less maintenance, are a lot more lightweight and easy to use.
Of course, there is more to it than that. Read on if you want to learn about the specifics!
Which Types of Chainsaws are the Hardest to Use?
Currently, we have three types of chainsaws on the market. Each one of these poses its own safety risks and difficulties.
Knowing and understanding how they operate, as well as their unique features is essential.
Gas chainsaws can be considered the hardest ones to use.
They are usually the most powerful and heavy-duty. As such, they are typically used for heavy work.
They can be a bit challenging to start sometimes, and they are heavier and a lot noisier too.
Another aspect that makes them hard to use is the fact that they usually need more maintenance.
They are significantly easier to start and use compared to their gas-powered counterparts, and they require less maintenance.
They are a lot less noisy and lightweight.
One thing that may make them hard to use is the fact that they are powered by electricity, so you need a proper outdoor outlet with the appropriate amperage.
You will also need to be mindful of where the cable is, ensure it is not damaged in any way, and that it stays dry.
If you want to learn more about the differences between gas and electric chainsaws, you can check out this article I wrote on the topic.
Cordless or battery-operated chainsaws are very portable and easy to use. They can be pretty powerful too.
They require little maintenance, but are heavier than their corded siblings due to the added weight of the battery itself. They are best used for small to medium jobs.
What Can Make Chainsaws Hard to Use?
Chainsaws can be hard to use for a number of reasons. Here are the most prominent ones:
Kickbacks, Pull-ins, or Pushbacks
Kickback is one of the main things that you need to be very careful about, as it’s one of the most common reasons for chainsaw related accidents. It is hard to simulate a kickback and understand what it feels like before it happens, but think of it as the chain suddenly hitting a hard object and the entire chainsaw swinging backwards as a result.
A kickback usually happens when the chain at the top of the bar hits a solid object or gets pinched in the cut. The resulting jump can be very difficult and hard to control.
The chainsaw may also get pushed back or pulled in unexpectedly if the chain gets pinched in the cut or hits a foreign object.
Anyway, I think this video explains it better than I could:
Personal Strength Level
Although you don’t need to be a strongman to use a chainsaw, your fitness level matters.
It will affect your ability to control, handle, and manipulate the chainsaw. A chainsaw can be very dangerous, and your capability to control it is of the utmost importance when it comes to safety.
This is further amplified by the fact that some chainsaws can be very heavy, which can cause your hands to fatigue very quickly. If you want to know how much the different types of chainsaws weigh, you can read this article.
Do not work with your chainsaw if you are tired as this makes controlling the saw very hard and challenging, and there is an increased risk of injury.
Chainsaws should not be used by people under the minimum school leaving age, which varies between 16 to 18 years depending on the state you live in.
Vibrations can make the use of chainsaws very difficult.
If you are exposed to prolonged vibrations, you may experience severe numbing in your hands. This can lead to low grip strength and an inability to control the chainsaw.
Make sure to take frequent breaks if you are doing a lot of sawing work.
A useful feature to look for when buying a chainsaw is an anti-vibration system, which – through the use of springs between the motor and the handle – significantly reduces the power of these vibrations.
Make sure to follow the recommended maintenance steps in your user’s guide, and do them regularly.
A few things that can make your chainsaw hard to use are:
- Loose chain
- Dull chain
- Poor chain lubrication, and
- Dirty chain or chainsaw
This also applies to old equipment and machinery. If your chainsaw and chain are very old, it may lead to difficulty sawing and more kickbacks.
Using the Wrong Tool
One of the things that can make the use of your chainsaw extremely difficult is using a chainsaw that is not suitable for the type of work you will be doing.
Know the capabilities of your chainsaw and do not use it for jobs it was not designed for.
If you are using a severely underpowered chainsaw for cutting large trees, it can cause many difficulties and hazards.
The bar length of your chainsaw is another aspect that can make your job harder.
The rule of thumb here is that the diameter of the branch or tree trunk should not be more than twice the length of the guide bar.
Poor Working Posture
Make sure to have a well-balanced posture and firm footing.
Standing on insecure surfaces that are not leveled and/or slippery can make your job not just harder but a lot more dangerous too.
One of the first rules of using a chainsaw is to always mind your surroundings.
Working in tight spaces, low light conditions, areas with lots of debris or foreign objects that your chain can get in contact with while you are sawing can make the whole job extremely difficult and dangerous.
How Difficult are the Different Types of Work You Can Do With a Chainsaw?
How hard it is to use a chainsaw is determined by a combination of several factors, one of which is the type of work you will be doing.
Above, we covered the most common things that make chainsaws challenging to use. Now let’s take a look at how the type of work can affect you.
Limbing and Pruning
Limbing means cutting the smaller branches of a tree.
Although they are small in size and very thin, they can be challenging to cut.
Be careful while pruning those little branches as some of them can be under a lot of tension. Once you cut them, this tension can produce a violent kickback, and the branch may hit you.
Additionally, the branch may easily pinch your chainsaw, which can lead to a pull-in or a kickback.
Cutting firewood can be both difficult and dangerous if done without the necessary care.
This often involves the cutting of many small branches that are on the ground. If the chainsaw gets in contact with the dirt or the ground, it can dull the chain and significantly reduce the cutting power making the job harder.
On the other hand, the small branches may not be adequately secured, and they can move around or turn as you cut them. This is dangerous, so extra care is advised.
There are proven techniques that can make your job a lot easier though – check out his article if you want to learn about them.
Cutting large trees can be a tough and challenging task. It asks for the utmost attention, and it is not advisable for people that do not have any previous experience using a chainsaw.
Both large and small trees can pose different problems and dangers. I definitely wouldn’t attempt it without proper training – you can search online for chainsaw courses in your area, or ask an experienced friend to show you the ropes.
Using a Ladder
Pruning or cutting down a tree while using a ladder poses its own difficulties and risks.
Ladders can be very unstable, and maintaining your balance while sawing can prove to be very hard. If a kickback or a pull-in occurs, you may easily lose your footing and fall.
Resources used and additional information:
- Nasdonline.org -Safety With Chainsaws
- HSE.gov.uk – Chainsaws at work
- IN.gov – Work Safely With a Chain Saw
- OSHA.gov – Working Safely with Chainsaws