Last time, we looked at some of the basic safety precautions you should take when using a chainsaw, whether you’re experienced or new to the tool. Just as important are planning your cut and maintaining your saw.
Plan your approach every time â€“ whether you’re cutting a branch or a large tree. To begin with, figure out if you should even be attempting the job. If the diameter of the tree is greater than the length of the guide bar, you’re not well enough armed. Call in a pro.
Examine the tree, how it’s growing, and what potential hazards might be lurking nearby. These might include adjacent trunks or branches, wires, buildings, uneven or soft ground, or undergrowth and deadfall.
When pruning or removing branches, make sure you learn proper cutting techniques first. In a nutshell, you want to cut off the heavy part of the branch completely, and then finish up the job; otherwise, you’ll tear the bark and potentially put yourself in danger. Make a small notch-cut on the underside of the branch a few inches on the branch side of the branch collar. Then a bit further along on the branch side, cut the branch off completely, starting from the top down. Finally, remove the rest of the branch parallel to the collar, as close as possible to the stem, without cutting into the collar or the bark ridge at the top of the branch.
If you’re removing an entire tree, and you don’t have a bucket truck handy, it’s safer to get the tree down first before removing the branches. Make sure anyone else working with you is at least double the height of the tree away from you. Plan an escape route on the opposite side of the felling line, and make sure it’s clear.
Don’t cut in high winds. Aside from the added danger of working above the ground in wind, it can affect how branches and even the tree itself falls.
Next time we’ll look at how to keep your saw running smoothly.