One Hand Sawing
A Tim’s Tips YouTube Episode
By Tim Ard - Forest Applications Training, Inc.
Quite often I am asked this question…
Are Top handle chainsaws, or lighter weight chainsaws, designed to be operated with one hand? My answer is usually this - No manufacturer sells a one handed chainsaw.
Now days however, there are several small pruning chainsaws with a rotating saw chain that are effectively for one handed operation. I guess in my thoughts they can be very useful, low cost tools, as long as the operator understands the risks. Without proper position of body parts these tools can produce major surgery.
In other terms - if you put your hand in front or beside the tool while you’re cutting (holding a limb to be cut) you increase your chances of coming in contact. It does appear that most of them have added guards or deflectors in the kick-back and push-back areas of the rotating chain. That’s good news…
However position of your body parts is the key to maintaining a safe work environment with these tools.
The chainsaw for most common cutting work required in Tree Care, Logging, Storm Debris and Firewood for example, the equipment is much different. It’s heavier, more powerful and is designed for two handed operation/stability.
For many years the highest laceration incidents with chainsaws were effecting the left hand. The left leg was second in cuts reported. Some were from reactive forces causing loss of control but it’s my theory that many were from position, or lack there of, and probably a mix of fatigue thrown in. The operator is tired/fatigued and comes in contact with his or her arm, hand, leg, foot, head or torso.
When you hold a chainsaw one handed it’s just a matter of time, in my experience, before the incident occurs…. Why do they have a top handle then, it fits your hand perfectly it seems?
One story from a professional friend who had an incident with a top handle professional saw. It was right at a 100 degree day. He was working out of a bucket truck removing a limb from a large pine tree. He admits he was tired and yes, he admits he was one handing the chainsaw, in his right hand, to reach a higher limb. His position was extended, the saw bar tip contacted the limb, it kicked back, or the limb rebounded against the saw bar and rotated the saw in his one hand allowing the saw bar and chain to come back over his right arm. Cutting it deeply to the bone.
The design concepts of top versus long rear handle is this. When you place your hands on a long handle saw the weight when lifted, almost entirely, goes to the left hand holding the front handle.
Because of the balance points of the top handle versions two handle positions, the weight load is very evenly applied to both arms/hands when its lifted. This configuration still allows reach of your extended arms but maintains better control for less arm and body fatigue.
S0, for years manufacturers (and I ) have been preaching the importance of two handed operation of chainsaws. I hear just about every week at training workshops the effects of one handed or loss of control operator incidents. Stories of past incidents of their person, family or coworker come up in conversations often.
My challenge to you - homeowner, firewood, arborist or logger. If you operate a chainsaw with two handles, USE BOTH HANDS.
Accidents are Un-Planned Events folks. It can happen to any of us if we are not constantly planning!
My final and very important finish to this ONE HAND SAWING monolog is this….
I see chainsaw operators on Social Media and TV all the time using chainsaws one handed. (and without proper Personal Protective Equipment - PPE) Maybe you are a seasoned operator and have done it right many, many times. But those watching and learning from your experience in the media may not have the same skill set. We are all teachers. Future saw operator/operations are picking up techniques from you that can change their lives - positively and negatively.
Please take the time for important planning and show others correctly.
There is a fine line between production and safety. Let’s consider the fine line….of one handed sawing.
Tim Ard is President and Instructor of Forest Applications Training, Inc. Rome, GA