How To Cut Logs With A Chainsaw (4 Easy Steps). Log cutting chainsaw

How To Cut Logs With A Chainsaw (4 Easy Steps)

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Cutting logs with an ax is not only strenuous but also time-wasting and dangerous. Therefore, we recommend a faster and easier way of doing that, in the form of a chainsaw. Although they can be hazardous machines, the chainsaw will undoubtedly work wonders that the ordinary ax could not.

Like we mentioned earlier, the chainsaw is undoubtedly risky, so it would be best if you’re careful whenever you use them.

Once you’ve understood a few basics on how to cut logs with a chainsaw, namely, wearing safety equipment, positioning, measuring your cuts, etc., you’ll be surprised at how straightforward it will be.

We have found out that many people waste so much time cutting logs in the wrong way and have even hurt themselves as a result. That is why we’ve highlighted below possible safe and efficient guides on cutting of logs with a chainsaw.

How to Cut Logs with A Chainsaw

Step 1: Wearing Appropriate Safety Equipment

We know the reason for including wearing safety equipment as one of the ways you require in cutting logs with a chainsaw.

We have even made it the first step, as most people have failed to understand that anything that has to do with cutting chainsaws is dangerous. Therefore, appropriate safety equipment is required.

But, what exactly are the safety equipment you need? We have 3 or 4 main safety equipment you can use when operating a chainsaw, namely, chainsaw gloves, chaps, a chainsaw helmet, and a pair of boots.

They are all critical equipment that can mean a lot of differences between a minor scratch and a major injury.

Chainsaw gloves consist of Kevlar on the backs, which helps to protect you from any potential chain breaks that tend to spin and hit the back of your hands. It can also protect your hands from any chainsaw kickback and serve as opposition or protection against vibrations.

Chaps are safety equipment you wear through your pants and around your legs. It is made up of one external tough but slick material and some internal fibrous layers.

Chaps can protect you from light blows by making the chain slide off the external layer of the chaps and causing the fibers in the internal layer to join the chain and get pulled inside the drive sprocket, hence, slowing down the blades or even stopping it.

Chainsaw helmet consist of the helmet itself that protects your head from branches or potential accidents, and in-built ear protectors and face screen.

How To Rip Split Firewood With Chainsaw

The ear protectors help to protect your ears from the noise of the machine, while the face screen acts as a face shield against projectiles.

Step 2: Positioning Strategy

If you are using a chainsaw, you should be mindful of your positioning or posture, as good posture gives you better balance every time.

Make sure you stretch out your feet wider than your shoulder length, as it will make the other parts of your body give more balanced support to the chainsaw.

Good positioning also helps to avoid weariness or fatigue. Just ensure that in the area you are positioning that nothing will cause you to lose balance.

Always FOCUS on the job at the moment because even the smallest of distractions can make you lose your footing, leading to any disastrous situation.

Step 3: Cutting Strategy

Having provided the appropriate safety equipment and taken the right position to get balance, the next thing is how to start your cutting process to get a successful result.

There are two ways to cut your logs with a chainsaw; cutting upwards or downwards strategy.

logs, chainsaw, easy, steps, cutting

It would be best to cut downwards, as gravity regularly pulls the cut logs downwards is the most convenient and safest of the two methods. This strategy is carried out by placing the chainsaw over the log and cutting through it.

However, in cases where the log or any part you intend to cut is undergoing serious tensions, downward cutting could result in the saw getting pinched and even getting hooked.

Therefore, when this happens, consider the other option (upward cutting) by placing the machine underneath the log and cutting upwards through it. You can also avoid bigger logs from pinching or ceasing the chain by using a plastic wedge.

Step 4: Start Your Cuttings with the Branches

The first and best place to start your cuttings, especially with felled trees, is the branches. Before encroaching into other parts of the tree, make sure you cut off every little and useless branch that you don’t need.

You can do this by positioning the chainsaw blade at the base of the branches to enable you to catch clean cuts.

Most times, you ought to locate the more giant and stronger of the branches that may be anchoring the tree trunk over the ground.

This is because such branches serve as supports by elevating the trunk for a more straightforward cutting, and at the same time, make your machine’s chain stay as far away as possible from debris that could hinder smooth cutting.

If I were you, I would create a plan to see me cut the tree to ensure the biggest branch, which I had used for my support, would be the last thing I cut. You can see exactly what I am talking about below;

Surely, the more progress you make from the branches towards the base of the tree during your cutting, the more you will find out that the tree trunk is slowly becoming thicker. At this point, you should probably do the cutting in an A-framed house shape.

In other words, it should be in 45-degree slants; after that, you can FOCUS on cutting either using an upward or downward strategy, during which the two sides of the wood are cut uniformly.

There are times you will notice the trunk becoming so heavy to pull from the ground, thereby becoming a challenge when you’re cutting the trunk and protecting the saw chain from coming in contact with debris.

When this happens, what is required of you is to utilize a strategy called HajksnHalf-Cut Technique.

Using the half-cut technique requires you pre-cut the trunk in the sizes of your choice, based on what you want to do with the logs, and leave either two or three inches uncut.

Turn the trunk over and over until you can gain access to the uncut part, which is when you are now free to cut through gradually till the cuts converge.

How to Hold Logs While Cutting with Chainsaw

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How to Hold Logs While Cutting With a Chainsaw

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To safely cut logs with a chainsaw, you must ensure that they are adequately supported and immobilized. A log jack is the best way to hold logs, but there are other options as well. We’ll cover everything you need to know in this article, as well as give some general tips for cutting logs with a chainsaw.

How to Use a Log Jack to Hold Logs While Cutting With a Chainsaw

A log jack (also called log lifter, or timberjack) is the simplest and most versatile method for holding logs while cutting them with a chainsaw.

  • Check the log diameter. Log jacks are designed to lift and support logs of a certain diameter. Measure the diameter of your log to make sure it fits within the specifications for your specific jack.
  • Check the log length. You’ll need to roll the log onto the log jack. If your log is too long to allow it to be rolled, you may have to cut it into smaller pieces before you can use the jack.
  • Clear the branches. Remove the branches from the length of the tree before you roll it onto the jack, to make it easier to maneuver and prepare the log for cutting.
  • Place the jack on stable ground. The bottom foot of the jack is what will support the log during cutting, so you want it to be steady and secure.
  • Roll the log onto the jack. For larger logs, use a claw bar to help get the log moving. Maneuver the log so it rests on top of the jack.
  • Set the hook and handle. The log jack has a hook to hold the log in place. Slide the hook over the log. Set the handle of the log jack to about 60 degrees.
  • Check the hook. Ensure that the hook is properly secured by pressing down on the log jack handle. The log should roll slightly toward the handle, and the hook should dig into the side of the log.
  • Lift the log. Most log jacks can raise a log about ten inches – plenty of room to make a cut with a chainsaw. Crank the handle to lift the log to an appropriate and stable height.

Alternative Methods for Holding Logs While Cutting With Chainsaw

If you don’t want to use a log jack, there are several other options you can choose to hold a log while you cut it with a chainsaw. For large logs on the ground, use wedges. For logs you can lift, use a log holder or a log sawhorse to stabilize the log.

Use Wedges

If the log you want to cut is too large to lift onto a saw horse or into a dock, you may need to use wedges to stabilize it and cut it on the ground.

  • Wooden wedges are the perfect support for stabilizing cylindrical logs.
  • Insert the wedges between the log and the ground.
  • You should insert a wedge every few feet. Make sure to put wedges on both sides of the log.
  • If necessary, use a mallet to knock the wedges into place.

You should never allow your chainsaw bar to touch the ground, so you won’t be able to cut all the way through the log in one pass.

Instead, start by making each cut three-fourths of the way through the log. Then, use a pry bar or claw bar to roll the log 180 degrees.

When it’s time to roll the log over, remove the wedges. Reinsert them before finishing the cut.

Use an Adjustable Log Holder

If you do a significant amount of cutting, you may want to invest in a log holder.

  • Log holders have a set of adjustable jaws or a vise that grip the log and hold it in place. The jaws or vise are supported by a sturdy metal frame.
  • When considering log holders, think about the size and weight of logs you’ll be cutting. Smaller models made for easy use may be more portable and lightweight, but a heavy-duty log holder is necessary to cut large, heavy logs.

Cutting hard wood requires the right chainsaw – make sure you aren’t using one that doesn’t have the proper engine power.

Use a Log Sawhorse

Log sawhorses are sometimes called ‘sawbucks’. You can purchase log sawhorses from your local hardware or home improvement store. You can also build a log sawhorse yourself using 2x4s.

  • A log sawhorse is made from several large X shapes in a row.
  • The bottom of the X is reinforced with horizontal supports. The top X forms a V-shaped trough that holds your log.
  • When you’re ready to cut a log, all you need to do is lift it into one or more log sawhorses. Arrange the log so that the cut will ‘open’ and the waste section falls away from the remainder. This will prevend your blade from getting pinched.

General Tips for Cutting Logs with Chainsaws

Now that you know how to hold logs in place, here are some general tips for successfully cutting those logs with a chainsaw.

  • The bar of the chainsaw (the part that holds the chain) should be at least two inches longer than the log you are cutting. For example: to cut a log with an 18-inch diameter, you must use a chainsaw bar of at least 20 inches. The tip of the chainsaw should not come into contact with the log, as this is a leading cause of kickback.
  • For cutting logs larger than 16 inches in diameter, you’ll probably need to use a gas-powered chainsaw. Electric chainsaw bars don’t tend to be longer than 18 inches.
  • Never cut into the ground. Cutting into the ground quickly dulls your chainsaw blade, can introduce dirt into your chainsaw and can cause dangerous kickback.
  • If your chainsaw gets pinched between two sections of wood, turn it off immediately. Use a wedge to create space between the wood so you can extract the chainsaw. Don’t attempt to keep cutting, as you could lose control of the saw.

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Is it Possible to Mill with a Chainsaw?

Preparing freshly-cut lumber usually involves a series of steps, one of these steps is milling. Normally when you cut a tree, and you want to get usable boards and planks out of it, you’ll first have to cut the log down to an appropriate size. Typically, log milling is often done in large-scale lumber mills. This usually involves the use of large machines that cut away branches, remove barks, and trim the logs into marketable sizes.

However, it is safe to assume that most people don’t have a full-scale lumber milling operation or have all the required machinery set up in their backyard. This brings us to the main question:

Is it possible to mill with a chainsaw?

Yes, you can mill a log using a chainsaw, but you need some appropriate attachments. Normally, chainsaws are used to cut across the grain of trees, but it can be adapted in such a way that it cuts efficiently along the grain to mill logs into planks, boards, or beams. This process is achieved by altering the chain and using a guide to get accurate cuts on the log.

Do you want to find out more on how to mill using a chainsaw? This article will guide you through the basics of milling, like the kind and size of chainsaw you might need for milling, as well as other important factors.

What do I Need to Mill My Own Lumber?

A lot of people might be wondering, why do I need to use a chainsaw to mill? Since only a few people have their lumber yard in their backyards. Well, once set up it will save you the future cost of having to mill your logs of wood or buying them from someone else. The first and foremost thing you might want to consider before milling your wood is the best logging chainsaw that suits you, this is very important. This does not necessarily imply that you get the largest saw you find. No, it simply implies that you should know your preferences and whatever fits the size of the logs you plan to with work.

Transportation of heavy lumber often means additional cost especially if you’re trying to minimize cost. The same goes for hiring a lumber mill to cut them down to size for you. However, if you have a good chainsaw with adequate power, length, and milling attachment, you can easily do all of this in the comfort of your backyard. This is excluding the initial amount you spent on the purchase of the equipment.

Also, you won’t need to hire anyone to help transport or cut the lumber for you. For the most part, it is ideal to get a saw that has at least a 50cc displacement and can run a 20-inch chain. Although this is not compulsory, if you’ll be cutting smaller logs or milling smaller boards, then you can use a smaller chainsaw. This also applies to larger, customized widths and lengths. As long as you have a chainsaw that you’re comfortable with, all you need to do is get a good milling attachment or even create one yourself. Just get a measuring attachment that will help you guide your saw to make the size cuts you prefer.

Why Use a Chainsaw for Milling Lumber?

It is safe to assume that you don’t have a lumber mill in your backyard. This would only mean that after you cut trees down, you would have to transport them to a lumber mill, either by yourself or by a hired lumber truck. This also means that you’ll have to pay someone to transport the lumber to the mill, get it cut down, and then transport it back home for you.

So, the logical reason why anyone would want to mill their lumber with a chainsaw will be to reduce costs. One of the main reasons why people prefer to mill their lumber is to save costs. If you have access to raw lumber on your property or you have been granted access to forests, all you need to get started is your chainsaw, enough gas, and oil. You might be lucky enough to get cords of logs delivered to your house at a minimal cost, then many firewood cutters can also supply uncut logs to you. Bottom line is, with basic research, you can find a way to get the logs you need to mill to your lumber, it will save a lot of money in the long run.

logs, chainsaw, easy, steps, cutting

Things to Consider when Choosing a Chainsaw for Milling – Power and Size

The first thing you need to look out for is the chainsaw itself. You must invest in a chainsaw of high quality, one that will last you for quite a long time. It is also wise to get a chainsaw that you find convenient and comfortable to use. Another factor to keep in mind is that you don’t exactly need a large chainsaw just because it’s available. Get an ideal chainsaw with the size of logs you plan on milling.

When it comes to the size of chainsaw that you’re choosing, the size of the log you plan to mill is everything. If you plan to saw down whole trees, you might want to go for smaller chainsaws. Although with a small chainsaw, it might take more time and energy to cut down a tree. Generally, you can still get the job done. However, when you have to mill the logs into boards or planks, you will need something large and powerful enough to efficiently mill the wood. Here’s a list of equipment you will need:

  • A chainsaw larger than 50cc. ideally, the larger the better.
  • Chainsaw mill
  • Wedges, measuring tapes and chalk
  • A range of chainsaw sharpening files
  • A straight edge to create the first cut, this depends on the type of mill used
  • Fuel and oil
  • A forklift or similar machine, or at least a log bar to move and turn logs
  • Timber “stickers”, banding and strapping equipment
  • PVA/emulsion paint for the end grain

Engine Power – the CCs

Another important thing to factor in is the engine power. When milling wood, the engine power of the chainsaw will determine the amount of energy you will use during the process, the amount of time it will take, and how smooth the job will be upon completion. For most milling purposes, a 50cc chainsaw is usually ideal, at least for everything except large jobs. However, if your chainsaw is heavy and powerful, you’ll be able to get jobs done faster and cut smoother logs of wood. The chainsaw will also be a lot easier to control. So to get the best results, it is advisable to get a chainsaw with a lot of engine power. If you’re considering milling your lumber regularly and you have large and knotted logs to deal with, you might want to invest in a 100cc. chainsaw. It will be able to handle larger jobs effectively.

Chain Length

The length of the chain is another important factor to consider when choosing a chainsaw for milling, especially the arm and the chain. For general purposes, an average 20-inch chain will do just fine. That being said, keep in mind that 20 inches are not very long. So if you are dealing with large logs, you may need to find a longer chain. For larger logs, you will need a chainsaw that has a length of about 30 inches or more. Always keep in mind that the length of the chain would depend on the diameter or size of the logs to be milled. If the saw is long enough to make its way through the diameter of the log, you’re pretty much good to go. Just know that there is a general rule of thumb that applies here, the size of chainsaw you need, in terms of chain length, depends solely on the size of the log.

Cutting Performance

If your chainsaw bar can reach across the log, then you should be able to cut it into lumber. Your chainsaw is also great for cutting wide slabs from large trees. So if you plan on building tables with a single slab top, then a chainsaw mill is the perfect tool for the job.

Final Remarks

We hope this article has helped you realize that you don’t need that lot of equipment to mill lumber. All you need is an appropriate chainsaw and a high-quality milling attachment for your chainsaw (you really can’t mill lumber without the appropriate chainsaw attachment). Be sure to get a chainsaw of at least 20 inches in length and with 50cc. of engine power to achieve good results.

Finally, make sure you figure out the size of the chainsaw you need. We hope that this article answers your questions and guides you. Good luck!

Proper Chainsaw Techniques (for Cutting Trees, Logs Stumps)

Or maybe just need a refresher on the proper chainsaw techniques?

Below, you’ll find the best chainsaw techniques for beginners and advanced operators.

By the end, you’ll know how to cut logs, trees, and stumps like a pro.

To ensure that you’re staying safe and to reduce the chances of seriously hurting yourself, knowing proper chainsaw cutting techniques is crucial.

Also, having the best tools for the job will make things a lot easier.

If you need a new chainsaw, be sure to check out my list of the best rated chainsaws here. It includes the top models available today.

Also, if you need a smaller gas chainsaw for quick jobs, be sure to visit my small and lightweight guide to find the lightest chainsaw models.

The next few sections break down the various techniques you can use a chainsaw for and explain how to do them properly and safely.

Proper Chainsaw Techniques

Overbucking (Overcutting Chainsaw Technique)

Overbucking, also referred to as overcutting, is the most used technique for cutting wood.

It’s the act of cutting down through the top of a log or branch that’s sitting horizontally.

Underbucking (Undercutting Chainsaw Technique)

Underbucking, also called undercutting, is the opposite of overbucking and you’ll use about 2/3 of the time when cutting wood.

This cut is accomplished by cutting up through the underside of the log or branch that’s sitting horizontally.

Limbing Trees Technique

Limbing is the process of using a chainsaw to remove limbs from a tree that has fallen over or is lying on the ground.

You want to exercise caution when limbing trees to reduce the risk of injury.

  • Cut the limbs and branches on the top side of the tree that are not bearing any weight.
  • Cut the smaller limbs on the underside of the tree that aren’t supporting the log’s weight.
  • Inspect the other limbs and determine which way the log will roll or collapse when these are removed.
  • Once you have determined which way the tree might roll, you can then start cutting the limbs that are supporting the tree.

It’s often best to use the undercutting chainsaw technique to reduce the chances of the chainsaw getting pinched or stuck during a cut.

Keep in mind that you might have to move out of the way quickly if the tree gets loose, so be prepared to jump.

Pruning Trees Technique

Pruning is similar to limbing with the only difference being that the tree will be upright, not horizontal on the ground.

A word of caution: don’t cut large branches that are above chest height. This is incredibly dangerous and could lead to injury.

  • Make sure you have stable, firm footing and your work area is clear.
  • Underbuck the branch about one foot from the trunk and cut 1/3 of the way through.
  • Overbuck the branch about 2 to 4 inches away from the underbuck cut to remove some of the branch’s load and allow it to fall and swing toward the tree trunk.
  • Make the final cut, which will be an overbuck that’s as close to the trunk of the tree as possible to remove the remaining branch stub.

Pruning branches as close to the trunk as possible ensures that the bark will be able to grow back and seal the tree so that it remains healthy and grows strong.

Cutting a Log on the Ground Technique

When a log is on the ground, you can use the overbucking technique to cut it.

  • Start cutting from the top of the log, applying light pressure to the chainsaw.
  • The chainsaw should do the work, and the teeth should pull the chain bar into the wood.
  • Don’t let the guide bar nose or chain touch the ground or other objects. This could cause a kickback or dull the chain.

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If the guide bar happens to get stuck in the log, there are some things you can do to get it out:

  • First, turn off the chainsaw.
  • Next, drive a wedge (plastic or wooden) into the cut with a hammer.
  • Finally, as the wood releases the chainsaw, pull it out of the log.

Once the chainsaw is free, you can then start it again and finish the cut with the same downward motion you used before.

Cutting a Log Supported on Both Ends (Cross Cutting Technique)

When it comes to cutting a log that’s supported on both ends, you’ll want to use the cross cutting technique.

This applied whether you’re cutting a log that’s on a sawhorse or out in the field resting on other types of supports.

The reason you want to use this method instead of just overbucking or underbucking is that as you cut the wood, the bow downward toward the area being cut.

And the cross cutting chainsaw technique will prevent your tool from getting bound (pinched) inside the wood.

  • To start the cross cutting chainsaw technique, cut about 1/3 of the way into the log from the top.
  • Next, use the underbucking technique to cut into the log from the underside and cut upward until you reach the first cut.
  • As you get closer to the top cut, the weight of the wood should cause the log to split in half and fall downward.

A word of caution when using the cross cutting chainsaw method: the chainsaw will try to push back at you.

Be ready for this force and keep a firm hold on the equipment. Don’t pull too hard when making your cut. If you do, when it gets free from the wood, you could wind up hitting yourself.

Also, keep your feet free and clear from the path of the fallen log pieces so you don’t get injured.

Cutting a Log Supported on One End Technique

When it comes to cutting a log that’s supported on one end, you’ll want to begin by cutting 1/3 of the way through the log using the underbucking technique.

Then, you’ll cut it from the top to ensure that the blade doesn’t get pinched.

Make sure you know where the log is going to fall so that you aren’t in the way when it does.

Cutting a Log on a Hill Technique

If you find yourself cutting a log on a hill, make sure you stand on the upslope side.

logs, chainsaw, easy, steps, cutting

This position will ensure that you don’t get injured by the felled tree if it rolls down the hill.

Then, use one of the appropriate chainsaw techniques listed above to perform the correct and safest cut.

Chainsaw Stump Cutting Techniques

There are several techniques to cut a tree stump; however, this method is the easiest and most fool-proof.

  • Remove as much dirt from around the stump as possible. Consider using a power washer or hose to help get rid of the debris. This will give you more clearance for you chainsaw and remove things that can damage or dull your chain.
  • Consider using an old chain for this work. Working this close to the ground, it’s bound to get beat up.
  • Make a horizontal cut as close to the ground as possible. Go slow and keep the chainsaw steady.
  • If you find that the chainsaw chain is getting pinched, use a wedge to keep a separation between the top and bottom layers of wood.

Summary of Proper Chainsaw Techniques

Hopefully, you found these techniques for using a chainsaw to be exactly what you were looking for.

As you learned, most methods for cutting logs, trees, and branches include some combination of overbucking and underbucking.

By using these proper chainsaw cutting techniques, you should be able to take care of most common tree cutting jobs.

One thing to keep in mind is that you always want to use a chainsaw that’s at least 2 inches longer than the wood you’re going to cut. This clearance gives the blade enough room to help prevent a sudden kickback from the nose getting nicked.

In most cases, a 16 inch or 18 inch chainsaw is the most universal tool out in the field.

If you don’t own a chainsaw of these lengths, I invite you to visit my best 16 inch chainsaw guide and best 18 inch chainsaw guide to find the right tool for your needs.

Those pages include the top chainsaws in every type for those lengths: gas, battery, and electric.

I hope you found this guide on chainsaw techniques to be helpful.