Chain saw for a novice??

newhomeowner-2009October 22, 2009

I posted in another forum about a tree that fell on my property. See here:

So several members have recommended that I simply buy a chain saw and go to work. But one member recommended that I only use a chain saw if taught to do by someone who knows what he's doing. The Internet has some really blood-curdling numbers on chain saw casualties.

I'm past 50, not in great shape, and need all my limbs. Any thoughts on my dilemma, pls give a shout.

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Get a few quotes to have a professional cut it out and compare to the cost of the chainsaw and your time. I had a 7 inch caliper tree taken down and the stump ground for $150.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2009 at 9:07PM
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Advertise that someone can have the wood for removing the tree.

In my experience as a chain saw user and mechanic for 30+ years, you are not in condition to learn. I repaired saws for professional tree trimmers, my sons did that for several years---even young tree butchers get hurt on a regular basis.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2009 at 11:00PM
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See if you can find a friend who has experience felling and bucking trees to show you how.

It is not that hard, but there are many things that can go wrong, and a few tricks that make it much safer.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2009 at 10:36AM
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I'm a 50 YO woman and wanted a chain saw to do clean up around the yard. My DH would not allow me to use a real chain saw because I'm disabled and able to move a quickly as I used to. We purchased an electric saw for my use. It won't cut large wood branches so if I can't cut it it's out of my league and I have to let him do it. If you get an electric saw and do what you can, you can then call in a pro do the rest and save a few bucks for having done the smaller messier work yourself.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2009 at 3:58PM
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Would a reciprocating saw do the trick?

    Bookmark   October 23, 2009 at 7:14PM
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"Would a reciprocating saw do the trick?"

NO! Not for felling a tree of any size!!

Folks, cutting a tree down requires a lot of expertise to so safely. Cutting up a tree laying on the ground requires more expertise. One slip of a chain saw and you can lose a body part---Google chain saw accidents.

Using an electric saw can lessen the personal damage probabilities from getting cut, but increases the probability of getting the saw stuck in a cut or a branch/tree falling on the sawyer.

And using a reciprocating saw is worse.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2009 at 7:51PM
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If you have moved to the country and expect to be dealing with more trees in the future you should consider purchasing a small chain saw, safety equipment and spending time to learn what you are doing. I'm over sixty and would not consider a spring cleanup without a chain saw.

In your situation I would hire this one out and watch them deal with it. Then decide if it is a skill you wish to learn.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2009 at 10:09PM
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As someone who cut hundreds of trees down for the US Forest Service (creating fuel breaks)...

I will say that most people who would 'train you' on how to use a chain saw - are not correctly using one themselves.

1. STARTING the chainsaw is extremely important. People stand around, holding the saws close to their hips, and pull the cord; thrusting the saw out away from their body...


When you start a saw, you need to have one foot in the handle, hold the saw firmly by the upper guard with one hand; and pull the starter cord firmly with the other. Which keeps the saw anchored to the ground, while your starting it.

2. KNOW where anyone is - in the area of the saw - before yo start it; or after it is running - before you move it.

3. KNOW that ANY chainsaw; electric or gas - no matter how dull, will cut any limb or finger off - quicker than you can blink.

4. If you have long hair; it needs to be tied up, and not flopping around.

5. NO tennis shoes, leather loafers, whatever shoes. ONLY STEEL TOED boots, with high uppers.

6. Hearing protection.

7. Goggles. (flying rocks or other debris from the saw bar tip.)

8. CHAPS. Chaps clasp around your legs, fitting around your waist and going down to about 5" below the knee. They are a 'safety jacket' for your legs; filled with a material which WILL stop a chainsaw blade in less than 1/4 second.

I wouldn't have my left leg - would have cut it off mid thigh - except for the US Forest Service's insistence - that we wear chaps.

9. Most chainsaws sold today, have an autobrake - in the event of a kickback. The autobrake locks the saw up. Exact same idea as the quick blade 'stops' on lawnmowers. Purchase ONLY a saw equipped with braking in case of Kickback.

  1. READ the safety directions included with the saw.

The tree which is laying on the ground on your property - you would cut it up into sections - starting with areas of the tree which are elevated. This keeps the saw from encountering ground and kicking back. You need to be aware that a saw tip encountering another branch or piece of wood - will also kick back. When cutting - you need to be aware of where the tip of the saw bar is...

  1. Falling or FELLING a tree is ALWAYS a minimum of a two person job. ALWAYS. Sometimes more.

You need to have mapped out the route you are taking when the tree starts to fall; have an alternate route if it starts to spin; and since you CANNOT tell when a tree starts to fall - you need a minimum of at least ONE other person - with a long, lightweight pole, or stick, or willow - whos is constantly monitoring the tree. Standing far away; and looking at the top... When the tree starts to fall - they TAP you on the shoulder, and YOU LEAVE. NOW.

IF you are willing to invest in hearing protection; STEEL TOED shoes; ChainSaw CHAPS; and to ALWAYS have at least one other person around to help out, to spot; and to go for emergency aid should something drastic happen - than I would certainly vote for purchasing a saw.

Most people are way to complacant about chainsaws. They are one of the most deadly tools used by man. However, common sense, and a very healthy respect for the saw - goes a LONG way toward proper usage.

If you will start it properly, always wear the safety equipment; be aware of where your moving it - in relation to others and your own legs... you will probably have no problems.

EXPERIENCED loggers hurt themselves all the time. The first year I used a saw for the Forest Service; a logger cut his arm off - trying to stop a saw which had kicked back... this was before they had the anti-kickback blade stop for saws... It is an EXTREMELY natural motion to fling your arm up.... unfortunately - the saw will win every time.

I am not being sarcastic. I recommend you purchasing a saw - IF you will also purchase the safety equipment; and use it! And again - as far as watching people cut up the tree; or getting trained by others - MOST people do not use a saw properly. They laugh at steel toed boots, laugh at chaps (it's 90 degrees out; those are hot...; I can't walk easily in them...) and on and on and on... with dumb excuses.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2009 at 1:23AM
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Thanks for the tips dave777. Good advice.

And if you ever fell a tree, do some research on how to do it right. A tree that is felled against its natural falling path is a killer. And a tree that hangs up and may thus fall any direction is called a "widowmaker". Frankly, I prefer the smaller trees (6"-12" diam) for firewood.

Use a sharp saw. A dull one is more likely to kick back.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2009 at 4:38PM
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Thanks much. I think that since the tree is small I'll go with a bow saw, probably a 36 inch one that I saw at the local trading post. I bought a 21 inch one at Home Depot, but I suspect the bigger one might be better suited. Good exercise, less chance of lost limbs.

Thing is, I just don't have that much in terms of woods on the property, and for the most part I think they can just take care of themselves. The trees near the house are in good shape, and any out there in the woods that may be in danger of falling--well, this being the mountains, theyc an fall and not bother anybody. Anything big (and i need to trim some branches overhanging the house) and I'll get a pro.

I think that, based on all I've read and Dave's recent post, getting a chain saw is just too risky considering how little I'm going to use it. Probably my only use of it would be in cutting up that single tree.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2009 at 9:48AM
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If you were thinking about using a reciprocating saw to do your job, STOP! You better hire someone to do it for you. Where are you from, if your near Gilbertsville, Pa. i can do it for you.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2009 at 12:28PM
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I think you made the right decision, newhomeowner-2009. A good, sharp bow saw is very effective, and not that much more time consuming than a chain saw. Plus a lot less weight.

Still be careful, however, because in working with trees, it's more often the tree does the killing, rather than the saw. I made my living felling trees for logs and pulp for about 5 years, so I know firsthand how unseen forces of tension and compression in felled and partially felled trees can quickly surprise and injure you. In fact, I believe the main advantage of experience is that you can predict more accurately the effect of every cut BEFORE YOU MAKE IT. It's only physics, but it's twisty, knarled up physics, and the wood doesn't give you much warning when it reaches it's point of overload.

In fact, that is one of the reasons I would recommend the bow saw - it's slower cutting will give you more warning if an unexpected reaction is about to occur. Just listen for that tell-tale cracking as you stroke...

As a bonus, your biceps might even start to firm up...

    Bookmark   November 4, 2009 at 2:40PM
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Excellent safety advise form d-777 and trying b! We fall small trees on our property but leave the larger ones for the pros. I use a chainsaw, but only after learning the in's and out's of safe use and operation. Even at that I've had some close calls even with smaller trees. Basic common sense is key and not taking unnecessary risks. Get help if needed and use whatever you need to do concerning safe methods. here's a link that is geared more for chainsaws, but might help:

Here is a link that might be useful: felling

    Bookmark   November 4, 2009 at 2:56PM
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So here's an update:

I went to Home Depot and got myself all they had in bow saws, which was a 21 incher, which cost all of ten bucks. That didn't seem big enough, so I went to an Agway and picked up a 30-inch bow saw.

I tried the 30-inch one first, and it was murder! The blade kept getting stuck and dislodged from the saw, over and over again. I was using this to cut a 12-inch trunk, mind you, it wasn't so big. I used lubrication--no good.

So I got my 21-inch bow saw, and it worked fine! I think it helped that the blade is afixed permanently to the saw and can't be dislodged. I'd say it took 20 minutes, tops, to cut through the tree and to repeat the process again. The blade never got stuck. I'm still unclear why the 21 inch saw worked and the 30 inch one was such a failure.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2009 at 12:41PM
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Congratulations...and you also presumably still have all of your extremities intact, so congratulations on that, too!

    Bookmark   November 18, 2009 at 9:10PM
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I wish there were a prize for the all-time greatest and most amusing title for a GardenWeb Forums thread.

I admire people who use safe, slow, effective, controllable hand tools to accomplish the same tasks our ancestors accomplished without the need to dial 911 when things do not go quite as planned.

I also admire people who never stop developing state-of-the-art safety products:

Here is a link that might be useful: STIHL Protective Apparel and Accessories

    Bookmark   November 18, 2009 at 9:24PM
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Yup, all limbs intact. You know, I never even heard of a bow saw till I saw it suggested in this thread.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2009 at 6:54PM
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