A Chain Saw Safety Guide

MOTHER EARTH NEWS shares excerpts of Walter Hall's book on chain saw safety, Barnacle Parp's Chain Saw Guide, including using a chain saw, hazards, bucking and felling a tree.


| July/August 1986



Chain saw safety guide

When you operate a chain saw, you must constantly be alert and take whatever precautions you can. A lot of things can go wrong.


PHOTO: FOTOLIA/KROPIC

Reprinted from MOTHER's Handbook, MOTHER EARTH NEWS NOs 54 and 55. 

Rural author Noel Perrin once said, "If I were to move to an old-fashioned farm, everything quaint and handmade like a scene from Old Sturbridge Village, and could bring just one piece of modern machinery with me, I wouldn't hesitate a second. I'd bring my chain saw." Perrin was right — a chain saw is that important to country living. And as far as MOTHER's concerned, Barnacle Parp's Chain Saw Guide is that important to proper chain sawing. Over six years ago, in MOTHER EARTH NEWS issues 54 and 55, we excerpted two hefty chunks of Walter Hall's entertaining, readable, and — most important — useful woodcutting manual. (Parp, by the way, is Hall's experience-wise sawyer self.) In fact, when the book went out of print a couple of years ago, we decided it was too good to let die . . . so we got Walter to update it a bit and then reprinted it ourselves!

A Chain Saw Safety Guide

Parp's Guide remains the standard handbook to selecting, using, and caring for that dangerous, but well-nigh indispensable, machine — the chain saw. So we're very-pleased to have the chance to re-present here in issue 100 some of this basic — and vital — information on working up wood. Safe cutting and warm fires to you!

Chain Saw Safety Hazards

Many aspects of chain saw work present potential threats to your health and safety. First is the obvious danger of the cutting attachment itself. It is meant to cut wood. It will also cut meat. When you operate a chain saw, you must constantly be alert and take whatever precautions you can when it comes to chain saw safety. A lot of things can go wrong.

Kickback is the most common cause of wounds. It causes 30% of all chain saw injuries. Kickback occurs when the chain, as it speeds around the upper part of the nose of the bar, comes into contact with something solid (see Figure 1 in the image gallery). When the chain is at the upper third of the nose, it can't cut efficiently, and its movement forces the bar back and up, in the direction of the operator. If for any reason you have to cut with the nose of the bar, be sure to start the cut with the lower part of the nose, and be sure the saw is running at high speed as the chain touches the work. You should definitely avoid boring or using the nose of the bar until you are familiar with operating chain saws.

When you operate your chain saw, be alert for kickback at all times. Always cut with your left elbow locked or with your arm as straight as possible. Cut only one log at a time. Take every precaution to be sure that the nose of your bar does not touch anything. Always cut as close to the engine end of the bar as possible. Use your saw's bumper spikes to grip the wood and to provide pivot and balance for your saw.





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