Man has been using firewood as a source of fuel, since the dawn of civilization. Since the price of other fuels is continually rising, firewood has become one of the most available, and the cheapest energy source today. Moreover, the introduction of the wood furnace has made it even more popular. Some homeowners buy firewood when winter months arrive, while a lot of them cut their own firewood.
Learning how to cut your own firewood with a chainsaw is the most efficient way, especially if you live where trees are available. It may seem simple and effortless when you see an expert cut logs with a chainsaw, but the task may become harder and time-consuming when you try to do it yourself. Also, if you’re not careful with the equipment, you may seriously hurt yourself.
That being said, it’s not something you need to spend a lot of time practicing, you can master it in no time. This guide is aimed to teach you how to split logs with a chainsaw with ease, and without hurting yourself.
Essential requirements and tools/equipment
Having the equipment that best suit your needs is a must. Don’t just buy a random chainsaw which was recommended by a friend or a neighbor. For example, if you are going to work someplace where electric power supply is not available, or the logs are bigger, it is best to buy a gasoline-powered chainsaw.
1. Saw size
This will depend on the size of the logs you intend to cut. To determine the right saw the size, it is recommended that you measure the diameter of the most massive log you want to cut.
The majority of the average homeowners usually go with a chainsaw that has 16-inch bar length. It largely depends on your needs, so it’s up to you. But if you have plans to cut bigger logs in the future, buy a longer chainsaw with more horsepower. A compact saw is recommended if it’s your first one.
2. Safety gear
Most modern chainsaws have added a lot of safety features, but it’s not enough. There are lots of people who have lost their lives and lost their limbs in a chainsaw accident. Sadly, most of them were working without proper safety gear when it happened. Never ever take any chances, always wear full gear, and be alert.
3. Safety glass or goggles
Always wear eye protection, debris, and sawdust can be a real threat to your eyes.
4. Ear protection
This is highly recommended if you’re operating a gas-operated machine. It can be very harmful to your hearing if you’re exposed to the noise for an extended period of time.
5. Chainsaw gloves and boots
There are gloves which are specifically designed for the purpose; these are equipped with protective material to ensure safety. A safety boot with a steel cap is also very important, and this will protect your feet.
6. A protective or safety helmet.
A helmet is a three in one protective gear. It keeps your head safe from falling objects, the ear muffs acts as ear protection, and the visor acts as safety glass and protects your face.
7. A sledgehammer and at least two wedges
You may need these tools in case your chainsaw gets stuck.
8. First Aid Kit
It’s better to be on the safe side. Ensure that you have a first aid kit beside you. Also, have someone around to assist you. Never work alone, especially if you’re far away from home.
Starting the engine
Before you fire up the engine, make sure you read the instruction manual thoroughly. This will help you know exactly what each knob or a lever does. In addition, you will learn more safety measures such as; how to hold the chainsaw correctly, how to operate safely, and so on.
Clear all branches and debris, as you will need space to work. Ask your helper to move at least 5 meters away from the working space.
Now you can start the engine. If you’re using a gas chainsaw, start it on the ground preferably a flat surface. Check that the throttle and chain brakes are working perfectly. And lastly, see that the chain does not move an inch when the engine is idling.
Cutting the log
Position yourself firmly and keep your feet apart. This will provide more stability. If you’re right-handed, place your left foot forward, and the right foot a little further behind and vice versa. Also, make sure that you’re standing on the side, and not in line with the blade, you may get hurt if a kickback occurs.
A kickback is very common among the first time users. It occurs when the blades are not sharp enough, and when a user tries to start cutting with the nose of the blade. The chainsaw will be thrown back violently when this happens. To avoid a kickback, always cut with the middle of the blade, and keep the blades sharp.
To start cutting the logs, clear the branches first. You can clear them with an axe or a saw. Run the saw at full power and place the middle of the blade on a small branch first. This will let you know that the blades are sharp, and you will get a feel of the saw when it’s operating.
You can now start cutting the logs, be sure to hold the saw firmly and don’t apply too much pressure.
The two common cutting methods are the overcutting or downward cutting and upward cutting.
- The downward cutting refers to placing the saw on the wood from above and cutting it downwards through it.
- The upward cutting is used in situations where the log is under tension. In this case, the log chain may get stuck if it is cut downward.
If the saw gets stuck, do not attempt to pull it out forcefully. Turn off the engine immediately and use the hammer to drive a wedge into the log to free the saw.
Cutting logs with a chainsaw can be fun if you learn how to do it right. But chainsaws can also be dangerous, so always be extra careful. Your safety should be the top priority. Ask someone for help or a demonstration if you’re not comfortable operating the machine.