I’ll be first to admit that when it comes to working outdoors I can be a bit girly. Don’t get me wrong, I love to get down and dirty with a trowel or even digging my hands right into the soil but when power tools are needed, I leave them to the man of the house.
When the apple tree came down in front of my house and my man was nowhere to be found (ie on a business trip) I decided it was time to bite the bullet and start researching chainsaws to learn how to use them. As I did so, I kept running into terms that escaped me. What the heck is kickback? What is “bar length” and why should it matter? “Bucking” is actually a good thing?
I started to make a list of chainsaw terms and their definitions.
The Major Danger with Chainsaws
1. Kickback – Kickback occurs when the saw chain catches on something or is pinched by the wood and momentarily gets stuck. In a full kickback a violent reaction will occur bouncing the saw back at the user causing serious injury or even death. This mostly occurs when using the tip of the saw for cutting.
Important Chainsaw Parts
2. Bar or Blade – This is the long, thin, protruding part of the chainsaw on which the chain spins. This is the part that cuts through the branches. Bar lengths range from 8 to 20 inches long depending on the size and capabilities of your saw. The larger the tree you want to cut down, the longer the bar length you will need. This is also referred to as a guide bar.
3. Saw Chain – The chain with teeth that turns around the bar.
4. Chain Brake – A safety feature that stops the chainsaw if something goes wrong or if kickback begins to happen.
5. Throttle and Throttle Interlock – The chainsaw throttle will increase or decrease the amount of fuel that the motor receives to control how fast the chainsaw spins. The throttle interlock is a safety feature which prevents the chainsaw from starting if the throttle is accidentally pressed by something like a branch.
6. Anti-vibration Handle – A feature recommended by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), an anti-vibration handle helps reduce vibrations to make cutting more comfortable for the user.
7. Air Injection – A system which cleans the air it takes into the saw, protecting the insides from dust and dirt. This ensures smooth running of the chainsaw.
Felling and other Chainsaw Cuts
8. Felling – The process by which one cuts down a tree.
9. Limbing – Cutting the smaller branches off the felled tree.
10. Bucking – The process of cutting a felled tree into manageable logs.
Don’t Forget Chainsaw Safety
Cutting down a tree with a chainsaw can be a very dangerous job. When you buy a chainsaw remember to read the manual all the way through–it shouldn’t be that long and will help you to maintain the saw properly.
Try to get a chainsaw with all the safety measures possible. A few dollars is worth it if your chain breaks and the saw prevents it from whipping back into your face.
All in all if you have large trees in the area and you’ve never used a chainsaw you may want to leave the felling to a professional. You can cut costs if you wish by limbing and bucking the tree yourself–and you could even make a little money by selling the wood!
And, by the way, in the end I decided to buy an alligator lopper instead. It ended up being a much easier and safer option for me and did just what I needed it to do.