Chainsaws are versatile pieces of power equipment that can make yard work much more efficient than manual trimmers. Due to the dangerous nature of power equipment, however, you must follow proper safety procedures during use. In addition, basic knowledge of trimming techniques can vastly improve the appearance and health of cut plants and hedges.
Chainsaw Safety Procedures
- Read the owner's manual and familiarize yourself with power, fuel and safety features.
- Inform family members that you will be using power equipment, and advise them to avoid your vicinity.
- Wear safety goggles, hearing protection, long pants, a hard hat and heavy-duty yard gloves to protect yourself. Steel-toed boots are a great choice, as well. At a minimum, you should wear close-toed shoes when operating a chainsaw.
- Always cut from waist height, and never raise a chainsaw above shoulder level.
- Cut from the saw's side to avoid dangerous kickback.
- Do not cut too close to the ground, as doing so could cause the saw to hit and recoil.
- Check your saw's oil filter, fuel level (if applicable) and surface oil prior to each use. In addition, adjust the tension as needed.
- Keep your chainsaw clean and sharp at all times. You can sharpen a chainsaw yourself using a file, but it's not a bad idea to entrust this task to a professional.
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How to Start a Chainsaw
- Always start your chainsaw from the ground.
- Lay it flat on the grass and push the chain brake until it engages.
- Turn the power switch to the on position. If your saw has a decompression valve, you should press it and pump the primer valve multiple times.
- Hold the saw's front handle with your left hand, and place your right foot on the rear handle.
- Use your right hand to start the chainsaw.
- Once the saw starts, you can make cuts either from the top of the saw, known as the pushing chain, or the bottom of the saw, called the pulling chain.
How to Prune Using a Chainsaw
The technique used to operate your chainsaw depends largely on the plant you are cutting. For instance, to cut juniper bushes, you will need to exercise extreme caution and precision to cut only old, weak or crossed branches. Hedge trimmers can offer a greater level of accuracy for this sort of project than can a chainsaw. In general, you should attempt to remove no more than a quarter of the plant when pruning.