Using a Chainsaw - everything you should know : Hirepool

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Using a Chainsaw - everything you should know

Need to cut some firewood, trim some trees, or cut some down altogether?  Chainsaws are the perfect tool to get these jobs done - saving time and energy and giving you a professional looking finish. 

At Hirepool, we make it fast and convenient to hire a quality chainsaw or pruning saw. Whether you’re looking to prune trees in hard to reach places, trim branches around your home or getting your firewood ready for the upcoming winter, we have a range of simple to operate chainsaws and pruners that can do the job.

Each of our available chainsaws are well maintained and simple to operate. We only use the top professional chainsaw brands; Stihl and Husqvarna. If it’s your first time operating a chainsaw or pruner, our equipment is accompanied by safety and operating instructions. In this guide we’ll go over the easy to follow operating procedures, which will make tending to your landscaping or gardening needs that much simpler.

Our equipment hire experts have put their heads together to tell you everything you need to know about hiring a chainsaw from Hirepool. 

So, without further ado, let’s launch in!

What jobs are chainsaws good for?

Chainsaws are a really handy tool for a range of landscaping and tree-sculpting work. They’re best used for:

  1. Felling (cutting down trees)

  1. Cutting up trees 

  1. Trimming bigger branches

  1. Making light work of cutting up firewood 

Pruning saws are best for trimming back branches at height, or for pruning and shaping trees and bushes. 

Note that we don’t recommend chainsaws for use on wood such as builders scrap wood or pieces of 4x2 .

We’ll go into more detail further on in the article, but first, let’s tell you about the chainsaws we have available for hire.

Types of chainsaws for hire

Hirepool offers a range of chainsaws, which will be fit for most general landscaping or gardening requirements around the home. If you’re unsure what chainsaw you need, we can help you make that decision. The easiest way to categorise our chainsaws is by their chain bar length and how they’re powered. 

 

Battery

Battery powered chainsaws are quieter and cleaner, and have less vibration than petrol powered ones, and offer a more user friendly-experience, as they’re often simpler to start and use. With a battery chainsaw, you have no engine to refuel and maintain, but you do have to factor in the need to recharge the battery from time to time (you get about 40 minutes work from each battery). These chainsaws are ideal for smaller landscaping jobs around the home and cutting up smaller bits of wood for firewood. The batteries can be recharged in about 40 minutes from flat, so you should be able to swap them out and keep working. 

Petrol

Available in three chain bar lengths, petrol powered chainsaws can offer more power and can be noisier. They are best if you need to work remotely as you can refuel on the go rather than needing to charge a battery.

If not maintained properly, they can be hard to start, especially since they may not be used for months at a time. Unless you plan on using one regularly, this is a great reason to hire rather than buy as we keep ours in tip top condition.

Here’s a handy table showing the range of chainsaw sizes Hirepool offers and what each is best used for:

Chainsaw Size

Ideal Use

Battery 300 - 400mm Bar 

If noise is a concern, this battery operated chainsaw  is ideal for keeping the noise down. This chainsaw is easiest to use and best suited to trimming jobs around the home and cutting up light firewood.

Petrol 16" Bar

If you need a bit more power for bigger jobs and noise is not an issue, this chainsaw model is ideal for general trimming around your property or cutting medium sized firewood.

Petrol 20" Bar

Ideal for cutting up larger pieces of wood for firewood and felling medium sized trees and branches.

Petrol 24 - 30" Bar

The largest of our range, this chainsaw is best suited for cutting down larger trees and branches.

 

As always, the Hirepool team at your local branch will be able to advise the best chainsaw to hire depending on your job requirements.

Chainsaw cutting techniques

There are a number of ways to cut using a chainsaw. It’s a good idea to use the correct cutting technique for the job you’re doing - not only from a safety perspective, but also to achieve the best results. 

Some general things to remember when cutting trees with a chainsaw are:

  • Always remove lower branches from a tree before felling it.

  • Cut branches with a downward stroke of the chainsaw, as close as possible to the main trunk. 

  • If working on a large tree, its recommended to cut large branches to manageable lengths instead of the whole branch. 

  • It’s a good idea to remove smaller branches (where you can reach these) from big branches before cutting these as this helps reduce the weight of the branch. 

  • Always use a vertical cut when cutting branches. 

  • Never cut with the saw above your shoulder height. 

  • Very tall trees may require a cherry picker or ladder to reach branches; start the saw on the ground and apply the chain brake before climbing the ladder, only removing the chain brake once you are securely in position and ready to cut. (Starting the chainsaw on the ladder may cause you to lose balance) 

  • Using the tip of the chainsaw is generally not recommended. 

  • Do not attempt to fell large trees without a professional as this can be extremely dangerous. 


The most common chainsaw cutting techniques are:

Felling cut

This technique sees cuts placed into the trunk of a tree or branch in order to sever it and get the branch to fall in the desired direction. It’s basic physics really - you weaken the branch or trunk of the tree in one area and it will fall in that direction.

Felling a tree requires three cuts:

First cut: The first is a diagonal directional cut on the side of the tree where you want it to fall. Hold the saw at about a 45-degree angle and cut downward and inward, approximately a 1/4 or 1/3  into the tree diameter . Run the saw at full power and do not let the chain bind (get clamped down on by the wood you are cutting into). 

Second cut: The second cut is a bottom cut. This is made horizontally to intersect with the directional cut and remove a triangle from the tree. 

Third cut: Now move to the other side of the tree and make the third cut which is also known as the felling cut. This is another horizontal cut made a couple of inches above the level of the bottom cut. This can be the most dangerous part of the cut, the tree can split as you cut causing a violent "kickback" of the trunk. Ensure you are standing to the side of the tree, clear of the fall direction and the kickback as you cut. 

The tree should fall when the felling cut meets the directional cut. If the saw starts to bind, remove it and drive a wedge into the felling cut to force the tree to fall.

Once you have successfully felled your tree or branches the next step is to cut them up into manageable pieces for transport or chipping. To do this, firstly trim off any remaining branches to limb the tree.  

Then, determine your desired length of wood pieces and mark this on your trunk or large branch. You can also eyeball it if you are confident enough.

Finally, cut three quarters of the way through the trunk or branch where you have made your marks. Then using a felling lever (if needed), turn your trunk or large branch over and finish cutting through from the other side of the trunk or branch.

Here’s a handy video by Stihl, one of our chainsaw brands, showing you exactly how to cut up your trunk or large branches.

 

Felling Cut Chainsaw Blog

Horizontal bore cut

This cut is achieved by placing the chainsaw on its side and using the tip of the chainsaw to cut into a tree or log, usually when a tree is at an undesirable angle for safer cuts. This type of cut is for an experienced user as it can give a dangerous kick back if not done properly. We highly recommend only using this technique if you know what you are doing!

 

boring cut chainsaw blog

Trimming cut

As the name suggests, this action is the cutting/removal of branches from the trunk of a tree, known as limbing. 

Always cut with a downward stroke and stay as close as possible to the main trunk of the tree. It’s often useful to remove smaller branches or cut large branches into manageable sizes  as this will reduce the weight of the branch and make for a safer job. 

 

trimming cut chainsaw blog

How to use a chainsaw

Each of our chainsaws and pruners are well maintained and simple to operate. If it’s your first time operating a chainsaw or pruner, our equipment is accompanied by easy to follow operating instructions, which will make the process a lot simpler.

If you want an example of how to operate some of our chainsaws, check out these instructions for use sheets:

If you’re new to chainsaws, here are the quick ins and outs of this super handy and highly efficient landscaping and tree maintenance tool

Chainsaw Parts

It’s really important to refer to the instruction for use sheet provided with your chainsaw as this will tell you how to use the particular model you’ve hired.

This diagram shows the different parts of the chainsaw:

Chainsaw parts

 

Safety when using a chainsaw

Never operate a chainsaw without understanding how to safely operate it. While they’re useful, they can be lethal. Keep reading for our top safety tips when using a chainsaw!

Work with a partner

In addition to understanding how to safely operate your chainsaw it’s highly recommended to work with a partner. Not only will they keep you company and be a handy extra pair of hands, they also offer an extra set of eyes for hazards. Make sure your partner is standing well clear of the work area when the saw is in use and that you also have a charged mobile phone so that you can call for help should you have an accident.

Identify branches under tension before cutting

You need to inspect each tree branch and trunk before you cut it to identify if it’s under tension (being stretched or pulled). You can do this by pressing slightly on the branch or trunk (if it’s a small tree) to see if it moves easily or with restraint. Trunks and branches under tension spring once they are released by cutting. This means it could hit you or someone around you.

If you identify a branch under tension, the best method to tackle this is to cut in stages to gradually reduce the tension. Here is a useful article by Husqvarna, one of our chainsaw suppliers, on how to deal with branches under tension.

It’s really important to follow all the safety guidelines as laid out the instructions sheet supplied with your chainsaw.

Safely operating a chainsaw

Whilst they are an incredibly efficient tool, chainsaws are also highly dangerous if used incorrectly. Safety measures should be in place before you start the chainsaw and need to continue until it’s placed back in storage.

Don’ts when using a chainsaw:
  • Don’t use on surfaces it isn’t intended for e.g. steel 

  • Don’t cut in to the ground, cables, stones, pipes, etc. Only use to cut what they are designed to cut

  • Don’t cut overhead 

  • Don’t cut light materials (eg bamboo, hedges etc)

  • ­Don’t drop-start the saw

  • Don’t place a running saw on the ground

And while we’re on a roll with safety advice, here’s some more!

Weather
  • Don’t use chainsaws in damp or wet conditions 

Personal Check­
  • Always wear the required safety equipment - see the list below and as listed on the instructions for use sheet provided with your chainsaw

  • Beware of loose clothing that could obstruct use of the chainsaw

Chainsaw check
  • Check the machine for any binding of moving parts or breakages 

  • Remove the chain protector

  • Check the chain is lubricated with chain oil and the oil reservoir is full ­

  • Check the chain’s tension is correct   

  • Ensure the fuel tank is full (2-stroke 25:1 mix)

Cutting area check ­ 
  • Check for overhead wires ­ 

  • Clear your work area of any obstructions that may cause you to trip while working and be aware of and remove trip hazards while working

  • Have a planned retreat when cutting down a tree ­ 

  • Always keep chainsaw away from leads and other equipment 

Safety when using the chainsaw
  • Always carry the chainsaw with the chainsaw blade facing to the rear and stopped (i.e. if you leave the chainsaw on while carrying it make sure that the blade has been stopped from turning)

  • Beware of falling branches

  • Always have a clear working area

  • Have a planned retreat when cutting down a tree

  • Always hold the saw’s handle firmly with both hands

  • Do not stand over or directly behind saw when operating

  • Always keep a slight downward pressure on saw when cutting, release pressure when coming to the end of a cut

  • Use a spiked bumper or bucking spike against the wood to help steady the saw

  • Always turn the chainsaw off before moving through fallen tree trunks, branches and other debris.

 

For more reading on chainsaw safety, here’s another great compilation of safety tips and tricks.   

Safety gear to wear

While modern chainsaws are much safer to use than older models, it’s still very important to wear safety gear. The correct safety gear will save your limbs or even your life should something go wrong while you’re using a chainsaw. It should be well fitting and not obstruct your chainsaw operation. Hirepool can provide all the safety gear you need to hire or purchase.

Here’s what you need to protect with safety gear:

Hearing

It’s really important to protect your ears, especially when using a petrol powered chainsaw. Prolonged exposure to noise is just as bad for your hearing as short pulses of loud noise, and when using a chainsaw you’re potentially subjecting your ears to both types. 

Eyes

A safety visor is a must to protect your eyes from sawdust and debris. Never operate your chainsaw without adequate eye protection.

Head

A hard hat will protect your noggin from potential falling branches and tree debris, as well as from chainsaw kickback. 

Hands

Always wear gloves as these will protect your hands from the rough branches, make clearing your site easier and faster and also help protect against cuts from accidental contact with the chainsaw blade. 

Feet

Wearing appropriate safety footwear will make it both easier to move around your work area and protect your feet against potential contact with the chainsaw. 

Legs

As your legs are closest to the action when using a chainsaw, wearing leg protection is highly recommended. Safety chaps will protect your legs from injury or worse should your chainsaw slip or kick back.

 

Disposing of your wood after using a chainsaw

Now you’ve finished with your chainsaw it’s clean up time! We aren’t about promoting waste, so put your chopped up wood to good use. 

Create mulch or wood chips for the garden

Take the hassle out of removing trees and other garden debris from your landscaping or DIY job by hiring a wood chipper, mulcher or log splitter (or all three). These tools make clean up after tree pruning and cutting branches or trees around your property so much quicker! You can also use them to convert your tree waste into mulch - a valuable resource you can use for your garden. Double win!

Hirepool’s wood chippers, mulchers and log splitters are towable, making them quick to transport and convenient to hire. 

Our wood chippers come in two sizes to suit your job size and power requirements. You can easily make chips for your garden from small and medium sized branches or chip larger branches to make mulch to cover the soil. If you don’t have any need for mulch, why not offer it to a neighbour?

For your chipper hire needs, try our largest wood chipper and convert your garden debris into mulch for your garden.

Chop up some firewood for the colder months

If you’re looking to get your firewood ready for winter, hire a log splitter for splitting logs for your fireplace. Splitting logs helps them to dry faster, get stacked more easily into log piles, and also makes them simple to transport. They’ll also be much easier to fit in your fireplace! For heavier logs or if you want to save your back, use our log splitter with hydraulic lifter. If winter has passed, it’s still good to have some firewood handy for summer barbeques and bonfires.

Our wood chipping, mulching and log splitting equipment comes with safety and operating procedure information. Before starting your job, we recommend spending a few minutes familiarising yourself with the equipment.

Here at Hirepool we pride ourselves on being experts on a huge range of tools and equipment to help you complete jobs without the expense, maintenance and storage issues that come with owning the equipment yourself. 

Give your local Hirepool branch a call or use our easy online booking system to secure the tools you need and tick that next job off your list!