What is chainsaw kickback? How to prevent the chainsaw from hurting you?
A kickback is the unexpected reaction of a cordless chainsaw bar jumping at you from an object. Kickback can happen very suddenly. It is when the chainsaw either swings backwards or jumps back towards the user. Even a stationary chain can cut flesh.
There are 2 types of kickback :
- Linear Kickback : A fast backward motion of the chainsaw results when the chain at the opposite end of the bar is pinched by the object being cut.
- Rotational Kickback : Occurs when the nose or tip of the guide bar touches an object causing the saw to be thrown back toward the user with great force and in an out of control manner, making for a very dangerous situation.
Before I discuss the mechanics of a kickback, I want to reflect on the forces you encounter when using a chainsaw.
When cutting with the top edge of the blade, the chainsaw is forced to move toward you by the teeth of the saw biting into the wood, pushing you back. At the bottom edge of the saw blade, the chain moves toward you. The chainsaw tends to move away from you as the saw teeth bite into the wood.
At the top and bottom cutting edges, these forces are controlled. Many of the saw teeth make contact with the wood and you force the blade into the cutting range. The saw teeth also run at the angle they are designed to cut, making it an effective cutter. This is the usual and safest way to use a chainsaw, but kickback can occur in this position as well.
The rotational kickback force is the least controllable. It occurs at the tip of the saw blade, often referred to as the saw blade's kickback danger zone. At the head, the cutting angle of the chain as they move around the head, where they are influenced by the radius of the head. The saw teeth are tilted back, causing them to be inefficient and tend to run over the wood rather than cut into it. The force generated by the teeth running over the wood causes the tip of the saw blade to swing rapidly upward toward you. This can force the chainsaw out of your reach, causing you to lose control of the saw.
Bars with smaller diameter tips reduce kickback and are referred to as low-kickback bars. The smaller diameter allows fewer saw teeth to make contact, making kickback easier to control. Professional carving bars can be made with smaller tips.
So how do you go about Avoid Chainsaw Kickback？
- Always keep a good grip on the chainsaw with both hands. The right hand should firmly grip the rear handle, with a firm hold on the front handle using the left hand.
- Before you start, make sure that the area in which you’re cutting is free from obstructions.
- Always watch the nose of the bar. Do not let the nose make contact with anything, like a log, branch, or any other obstruction.
- Always cut at high engine/motor speeds. The chain is most effective at high cutting rates, and less prone to kickback.
- Hold the chainsaw close to you and never cut above shoulder height.
- Not all chainsaw cutting chains are equal. Some are lighter than others and pitches vary to suit different chainsaw sizes and tasks. Special low kickback chains are available which reduce the risks. Always use the chain most suitable for your cutting requirements and experience.
- Be extremely cautious of limbs under tension that can recoil or close up on the bar.
- Work on the left side of the trunk, as close as possible to the chainsaw for maximum control.
- Be attentive and wide awake. Do not use a chainsaw if you feel ill, are intoxicated, or distracted.
- Small, light pieces can jam in the chain and be thrown toward you. This may cause you to lose control of the
- Never cut stacked logs or branches. Always separate them and cut one log or one piece at a time.
- Remove all cut pieces to ensure a firm footing and to keep your working area safe.
- Before you operate the chainsaw, always ensure that the chain brake system is working correctly.
- If all else fails, your safety clothing is there to protect you. Always wear your full safety kit and work safely.