Chainsaw Safety

Chainsaw Safety – How to safely cut trees:

Felling:

If you own a chainsaw, you may eventually face the prospect of felling a standing tree to the ground. The following tips should help you drop the tree safely:

Before doing anything else, try to predict where the tree will fall. Note the direction in which the tree leans, the presence of any obstacles (other trees, fences, power lines, etc.), the amount and direction of wind (Do not fell trees on a windy day) and the presence of dead limbs that might drop on your head when the tree is being felled. Make sure there are no other people near the tree who could get hurt.

Clear away brush or other obstacles from around the tree. Make sure you have at least two paths away from the tree for an emergency exit before you start to cut.

Start the first cut about 6 inches above the ground line. If the tree is large, make a V cut (also called the felling notch) about a third of the way into the tree on the side that the tree will most likely fall.

After the first cut is made, start your felling cut directly behind the notch on the opposite side of the tree. Leave a hinge between the two cuts to slow the tree’s fall and give you time to get out of the way. This is the most critical time because the tree may not fall in the direction you picked out. If this happens, be sure you are safe – broken chainsaws can be repaired. Try to be several feet to the rear or one side of the tree as it falls to avoid being hurt if the trunk bounces off the stump. Be careful of “stump jump,” which can occur if the hinge is cut or breaks while the tree is falling. If the tree hangs up in another tree and will not drop, do not use your chainsaw to free the tree. The safest method of freeing a hung tree is to use a cable winch attached to a tractor to pull the tree down from a safe distance away. You can also use a block and tackle for this purpose. If you must leave the tree hanging, mark off the area with tagging tape so that others will be aware of the danger.

Another felling method is to make the hinge and felling cuts above the swell of the butt of the tree, then remove the remaining 12 to 24 inches after the tree is down and off the stump (i.e. a stick of firewood length above the ground level for felling).If there is any question as to the safety of cutting down a tree, consult a professional. Tree felling can become dangerous around buildings, power lines and high-ways or when it becomes necessary to use ropes to control the tree felling.

De-Limbing:

This is one of the most dangerous operations for a chainsaw user because the limbs are small and close together, the working area is confined and the operator is working with the saw close to his or her legs. To make de-limbing a safe operation, keep in mind the following suggestions:

Start at the butt or bottom end of the tree where there is more room to maneuver and work your way up to the top of the tree. This will increase your working space while de-limbing. Keep both feet to one side of the tree as you work — preferably the uphill side in hilly terrain. Don’t straddle the tree and don’t over-extend your reach as you move up the tree. Keep the chainsaw in line with the side of your body as you cut.

In firewood operations, trim the smaller limbs off and clear the path of brush. Then work from the top of the limb towards the juncture with the trunk. Limbs may be “lowered to reach” by making partial cuts. This also helps the operator keep the saw chain out of dirt and rocks.

Bucking:

After the tree has been felled and de-limbed, it must be bucked or cut into sections. When bucking for firewood, cut the tree into lengths that can be easily handled by one or two people. Be sure to stand on the uphill side of the tree when bucking, since logs tend to roll downhill and can hurt you when you get in the way. To avoid pinching the saw when bucking, make two cuts. Where the tree is supported at both ends, make the first cut at the top (pressure side) about a quarter of the way through the trunk. Then make the second cut from below (tension side) directly in line with the first cut. When the tree is supported only on one side, reverse the procedure. Make the first cut from below (pressure side) about a quarter of the way into the tree. The second and final cut should be made from the top (tension side), directly above the first cut. When bucking wood into short lengths for firewood, use a sawhorse to support the wood. With a sawhorse, you don’t cut into the dirt with the saw and you reduce the danger of kick back. Using a sawhorse will place you and the chainsaw in a safe working position.

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