If you want to cut down a tree quickly, what you don’t want to use is a regular saw. Using one would take a hell of long time, particularly if the tree you want to cut down is made of a hardwood such as oak.
Instead, it would be better to spend a bit more money and use a chainsaw. These are either electric or gas-powered chainsaws that work by having a sharp chain racing round the bar at lightning speed in order to provide a powerful cut that can get through even the strongest of woods.
About the chain
As mentioned, the chain of the chainsaw is stretched around the bar, and when the device is turned on, it moves around the bar. The chain of a chainsaw is very much unlike other chains, such as that which you might find on a bicycle. The difference between a chainsaw chain and a bicycle chain is that a chainsaw chain is covered in teeth. Teeth are just the technical term for the sharp bits. These teeth are what actually cuts into the wood you are working on. Without the teeth, it simply wouldn’t be a chainsaw chain.
Maintenance is a vital part of having a chainsaw. If you don’t take the necessary steps, then it will not function at maximum efficiency. Part of this maintenance is making sure that the teeth on the chainsaw are always sharp. If you use your chainsaw on a regular basis, then it’s inevitable that the teeth will become dull over time, particularly when you’re cutting hardwood such as oak. When this happens, the tasks that you wish to perform will take longer, and could potentially be hazardous. This is because sharp teeth will lock into the wood, whereas dull teeth are more likely to cut through or bounce out.
When you’re putting your chain back onto the chainsaw, you need to make sure it’s nice and tight. After all, you want it to stay on. The last thing you want when you’re operating a chainsaw is to have the chain fly off in the middle of a cut. If you’re lucky, it will fly away from you, and into another tree. However, if you’re not so lucky, it could end up flying either into your face, which could cause a serious injury (particularly if you’re not wearing safety goggles) or at another person, which could potentially be fatal.
For that reason, making sure the chain is tight enough is an essential aspect of operating the chainsaw safely. Also on the topic of safety, you need to take the utmost care when removing or reattaching the chain. I probably don’t even need to explain the reason for this: it’s sharp. If you’re not careful, you could end up with cuts all over your hand. Not only will this be very painful, but it will also prevent you from being able to continue to use the chainsaw. Where possible, wear gloves!
After a lot of uses, when your chain has become too loose, or when you’re putting the chain back on after cleaning, you’ll need to tighten it.
Today, a lot of chainsaws actually have a side-tightening knob. This knob is extremely useful as it means that you will be able to tighten your chainsaw without having to disassemble the saw itself. This is obviously beneficial to you: not only is it going to be crazily easier to do, but it’s also going to be much less time consuming, leaving you with more time to get cutting.
However, there are some chainsaws without this function, and they require a little bit more effort. First, you need to remove any batteries and put them down on a flat surface. Then loosen the bolts that secure the bar, but don’t remove them. Then tighten up the chain adjustment screw. This can usually be done with a flat-head screwdriver. Since every chainsaw will be different, these instructions won’t apply to 100% of chainsaws, however, generally, if your chainsaw doesn’t have a tightening knob, these are the instructions you’ll need to follow.
Too tight or too loose?
Be careful when you’re tightening the chain. While you do want your chain to be tight, you don’t want it being too tight. If your chain is too tight, then it won’t be able to move around the bar as quickly as you need it to, this can have a negative impact on your cutting as it will happen more slowly and the cuts will be less smooth. Also, as the chain will be scraping against the bar, it can actually cause damage to the bar itself. So make sure you don’t go too tight!
On the flip side of that, you want to avoid a chain which isn’t tight enough. This can be damaging for a variety of reasons. First of all, it’s going to be more likely to fly off. As mentioned earlier, this can be dangerous as it can cause an injury to yourself or someone else. The best-case scenario is that you’re going to be wasting time putting it back on again. Also, the grip that a loose chain will have on the wood you want to cut will not be strong enough and the teeth will not be able to effectively lock themselves into place.
How tight should it be?
Now that we’ve established that the chainsaw should be neither too tight nor too loose, we need to figure out how tight is just tight enough.
There are two popular tests you can do to ensure that your chainsaw chain is just right.
The first is known as the snap test. To do this, pull the chain away from the bar as far as it will go (of course, take the appropriate safety precautions) and then release it. The chain should land back into place. If you can’t pull it, it’s too tight. If it goes limp after releasing, it’s too loose.
The second test that you can do is the pull test, and it’s probably better than the snap test. Like the snap test, the pull test involves pulling the chain as far away from the bar as you possibly can. Then look at the drive links. When you pull the chain, the chain itself should pull away from the bar, however, the drive links should not make a complete exit! If you cannot pull the chain away, then it’s too tight. And if the drive links100% exit the bar then the chain is too loose.
Chainsaw experts refer to this ‘Goldilocks zone’ of tightness as ‘snap tight’, named after the snap test. Of course, nobody can expect you to be able to reach perfect tightness every time you set up your chainsaw; however, it will be good if you can get as close to it as you can as often as you can. It’s best to check the tightness of your chain before you start each day of cutting. This doesn’t mean you can’t tighten it throughout the day if you need to.
Importance of length
As well as, and related to, tightness of the chain is the length of the chain. Almost all chainsaws come with a chain. However, you may have to replace the chain after a while. This may be because it has become dull and the teeth too small to consider sharpening any more, or perhaps it breaks.
When you get yourself a new chain, making sure it’s the right length will ensure that it will do its job as well as it can.
A chain that’s too small will have the same problems as one that’s too tight. And one that’s too big will have similar issues as one that’s too loose.
Summary and Conclusion
The chain is arguably the most important aspect of a chainsaw, a chainsaw without a chain is just…a saw, and a rather awkward one.
The chain is what’s responsible for making sure that you get clean cuts in a short amount of time. And to make sure that it does its job as well as it possibly can, you need to ensure that the tightness is as close to perfect as you can get it. At this level of tightness, you should be able to pull the chain up, but not so far that the drive links come out.
And that’s why and how you should make sure your chainsaw is tight, but not too tight. With this information, you will be able to tighten your chainsaw whenever you need to, and know when tight is too tight. With your chainsaw, you’ll now be cutting down those trees like a professional lumberjack, so it’s time to iron out your checkered shirts.
Don’t worry too much if you don’t get it right all of the time: it does take a bit of practice.