Gardening Articles: Landscaping :: Trees, Shrubs, & Vines

Getting Smart About Chain Saws

by William Bryant Logan

Consider appropriate safety gear part of the cost of a chain saw, not accessories, then learn how to use the saw safely.

The first time I ever used a chain saw, I had nothing to go by but the manual. From its warnings--"Serious injury or even death," and "Danger!"--I thought using it was likely to kill me. Had it not been for the presence of an experienced friend, I might never have ventured to pull the starter cord ... or if I had, the saw would likely have slipped from my grip.

Rule number one for using a chain saw is, therefore, to relax. Using a saw properly is no more dangerous than driving a car.

Rule number two is to learn immediately how to use the saw safely. This article offers some basic rules, and the usually excellent. If frightening, user's manual that comes with every saw will provide more detailed instructions. Some manufacturers also produce videotapes demonstrating good practice.

Absent an experienced and patient friend to guide you through your first attempts and answer questions, find a knowledgeable dealer. The best bet is a supply company that deals with arborists, loggers, or woodlot owners. There, you are likely to find someone who will gladly demonstrate each saw and help you make choices. A good dealer won't sell you a saw until you show that you can tension the chain properly, start the saw safely, and hold it correctly. The dealer will also be available to tune and sharpen the saw you select.

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