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What is Chainsaw Kickback?

by James Laybourn |

One of the most dangerous things that can happen to an arborist is chainsaw kickback. A moments distraction can lead to the saw lurching out of the users control and into a very scary place.

To control chainsaw kickback, we first need to understand exactly what it is.

Chainsaw kickback happens when the chain gets caught on something it cannot easily cut through and stops dead. With the chain stopped, the momentum from the saw must go somewhere and leads to the kickback.

Depending on the angle the saw is cutting from it can kickback in a few ways. A good rule of thumb is to remember; the kickback will happen in the opposite direction to the chain.

If the chain is stopped on top where the chain is moving forward, it will move backwards. If it is stopped on the bottom, it will move backwards. The danger comes when the saw is moving forward and down at the same time. This can lead to the kickback going up and over towards the user.

So what can we do to prevent kickback?

As with many things, safety and awareness are the best way to reduce danger. Here are a few ways you can minimize the risk:

  • Wear all the appropriate safety equipment, just in case.
  • Be aware of the angle the saw is entering the log at. If you are cutting forwards and down, use extra caution.
  • Remove any other logs from the area. A common cause for kickback is if the chain hits another branch at a grossly inappropriate angle.
  • Ensure the chainsaw is well maintained and sharpened. This helps avoid jams from happening.
  • Hold the chainsaw correctly with your thumb under the handle and your arm outstretched.
Cut safely!