New Video Series: Safe Is Better than Sorry When You’re Using and Buying a Chainsaw

By Richard Myers, NCAT Outreach Specialist

“(A chainsaw) is a very dangerous tool. I think it’s often underappreciated in terms of the potential dangers associated with it. And (the dangers are) worth bearing in mind as you go forward in exploring what saw is right for you.” 

– Chainsaw instructor Shane J. LaBrake


Photo: NCAT

Suppose you want to cut some firewood, but it’s crazy cold outside. That’s why you need the firewood.  

You can do the job quickly and efficiently – and safely – with a chainsaw in the relative comfort of your garage. That is, if you’ve planned far enough in advance to buy an electric or battery saw so there’s no exhaust to worry about. 

Choosing the chainsaw you need for the jobs you expect to do is key – that electric saw may be fine to load up the fireplace and stay toasty on a cold winter day. For felling good-sized trees, on the other hand, the best choice may be a saw with a powerful combustion engine. 

But regardless of the chainsaw you choose, it can cut into you as easily as it can cut into a log. So safety is paramount. That means knowing how to safely start the saw, safely cut with it, and safely shut it off. 

NCAT’s ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture Program connected Amanda Littleton of the Cheshire County, N.H., Conservation District with instructor Shane LaBrake to create a three-part series of short videos aimed at giving women in agriculture a practical guide for adding a chainsaw to their toolshed. 

  • Part 1. Personal Protective Equipment. The chain on a saw running at full speed can be whirring along at 68 miles per hour. Six hundred links on the chain will pass by a single point on the blade every second. That is always going to be dangerous, no matter how experienced you are handling a chainsaw. Protective clothing, goggles, even helmets can be a matter of safe over sorry.  
  • Part 2. Choosing the Right Saw. Internal Combustion. Battery. Electric. Pole. Rear handle. Top handle. Choosing the right chainsaw for both your job and your budget is a sensible and safe strategy when you make a purchase.   
  • Part 3. Starting the Saw. Electric chainsaws are easier to start than internal combustion saws. You can’t flood an electric saw, for example. But all chainsaws command the same level of respect and care when you’re starting them.  

Curl up in front of the fireplace and watch all three videos below, or at the Chainsaw Operation, Safety, and Maintenance for Women in Agriculture playlist. 

This blog is produced by the National Center for Appropriate Technology through the ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture program, under a cooperative agreement with USDA Rural Development. ATTRA.NCAT.ORG.