The truth is out there…

The truth is out there…

The chainsaw, a marvel of ingenuity. So simple, yet so complex, and most importantly, so misunderstood. So many myths and so much ignorance surround this marvellous power tool. So let’s get down to it. The truth is out there…

Please don’t let me be misunderstood
It seems like this plea of Eric Burton from The Animals have seemingly fallen on deaf ears when it comes to the humble chainsaw. I will now attempt so save and restore the reputation of the chainsaw back to being the useful power tool it can be. I will utilise my experience of almost a decade behind the sales counter of a chainsaw store. I will look at the questions most often asked, the myths and fallacies and the most common mistakes that are made.

Size is not everything
One of the most purported fallacies when it comes to a chainsaw is that the longer the bar, the bigger the saw. This could not be further from the truth. The length is a secondary consideration as a saw can in most cases take a variety of lengths. The key is to firstly establish what the intended application of the saw is going to be. If you are going to cut firewood and prune the odd tree, you don’t need a saw with a 63cm guide bar. Secondly, the golden rule is, use the shortest possible bar required for the intended job, and use better cutting techniques. For example, if I need to fell a tree that is 50cm in diameter, I don’t need a 50cm guide bar, but instead, a 35cm – 37cm bar will do nicely, and the advantages being that my saw is better balanced with more of the weight where I have the best control over it: in my hands. There is a cost benefit and sharpening time is decreased.

Staying sharp
Now that we have the size debate settled, let’s look at the cutting chain. The thing that does all the work, the very thing that the chainsaw is built for, without it a chainsaw is nothing but a very noisy paper weight. The success or failure is going to rely on effective chain maintenance. Frequent sharpening is advised. The key is to keep your chain sharp at all times and it’s recommended that the chain is sharpened with every refuel. If you hit soil with your saw, stop and sharpen right away because your chain is going to be dull, if you hit any foreign object in the tree like a piece of railway track (true story), your chain will be dull, guaranteed!!!

A chain of events
While we are on the subject of chains, do you know what the number one cause of mechanical failures on a chainsaw is? You’ve guessed it, bad chain maintenance or no chain maintenance whatsoever. Practically, every chainsaw failure can be traced back to a dull chain, from the anti-vibration system right to the air filtration system. It is really a chain reaction if you excuse the pun. Many people feel intimidated by the prospect of sharpening a cutting chain, or think that it will take up too much time. Don’t worry, it’s not that hard, and pretty quick to do too. Yes, it takes a bit of practice, but there are a variety of sharpening aids available to make the job easier. Sharpening will save you time in the long-run as the chain will cut faster, and will, if you are in a production type industry, yield more production, faster. Earning more money while saving money.

Look after your cutting chain, and your chainsaw and wallet will thank you!

The age old question: Can you cut dry wood?
This is probably one of the most frequently asked questions that I have had to answer over the years. It ranks right up there with the question, “is that your best cash price?” and “how much discount do I get?”.
So hold on to your hat, as I am about to blow your mind…
The answer is a resounding YES! YES you can cut dry wood! Just be watchful for one thing, and that is soil. Insects can carry soil into the wood, you get soil under the bark, and rain can splash soil onto the wood. And as you know, soil is to a chainsaw’s chain like kryptonite is to Superman. Remember, the cutting edge of the chisel on a cutting chain is coated with industrial chrome. This chrome is harder than any wood will ever be, dry or wet. Keep your chain sharp and watch out for soil and you will be fine!

Well that is all from me for now, join me again next week for another edition to the Chainsaw files.
We will be looking at the roll of 2-stroke oil, chain oil and short-/long-term storage of your saw.

Until next time.

Stay sharp!