Cutting Guide

Can You Cut Railroad Ties With A Chainsaw? [Easiest Way]

Cutting railroad ties with a chainsaw is possible, but it’s a quick way to wreck your chain and possibly the bar too. Why? 

The dirt embedded in the wood is not your chainsaw’s best friend. So, using a chainsaw for this task is a risky move that won’t be covered by your warranty.

Railroad ties are usually made from tough hardwoods like oak, jarrah, and karri, and they’ve often seen a lot of wear and tear. The mix of wood and grit can lead to some serious problems for your chainsaw.

So now that you know the short answer, let’s talk about why it’s such a bad idea and what other tools can get the job done more effectively. 

What are railroad ties and why are they hard to cut?

Railroad ties are sturdy blocks that support train tracks. They’re usually made of hardwood like oak or maple. This makes them dense and tough to cut.

Add to that, they’re often chemically treated with substances like creosote. This sticky chemical can quickly gum up your saw blades.

But wait, there’s more! These ties can contain metal objects like spikes or nails. Hit one, and you’re looking at a damaged blade.

Lastly, these ties are big and heavy. Maneuvering them for a cut is a workout all by itself.

So there you have it. The hardness, chemical treatment, hidden metal, and sheer size make cutting railroad ties a daunting task. Choose your tools wisely!

is it ok to cut railroad ties with a chainsaw?


As I said above it is not recommended. Railroad ties are notorious for housing substantial amounts of dirt and gravel, and when these hard materials come into contact with your chainsaw’s chain and bar, it can cause significant damage.

Let’s take a real-life example for better understanding. Imagine you’re preparing for a backyard project that requires railroad ties. Eager to get started, you take your trusty chainsaw and begin cutting. Almost instantly, you notice your chainsaw is struggling. 

What was once a breeze feels like cutting through stone. Within minutes, the sharp chain is dulled, and its efficiency decreases dramatically. The reason? The embedded dirt and gravel within the ties are abrasive to your chainsaw, just like sandpaper on wood.

That said if you do decide to cut railroad ties, be prepared for potential consequences. Your chain will likely dull quickly, resulting in more frequent replacements or sharpening. Worse, you might even ruin the chainsaw bar, which can be an expensive repair.

how to cut railroad ties with a chainsaw

Well, it’s a bit challenging due to the toughness and density of the wood, which could blunt your chainsaw quickly. Nevertheless, if a chainsaw is your only option, here’s how you can do it.

Safety First, Always


Let’s start with the basics, always prioritize safety. Remember the old saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?” Ben Franklin wasn’t messing around when he said that. And hey, we’re dealing with chainsaws here, not a pillow fight.

Check the Chainsaw

Next up, ensure that your chainsaw is in tip-top shape. A sharp chain and a well-oiled machine are your best friends when you’re planning to cut railroad ties. Dull blades can bounce back, causing injury. You wouldn’t drive a car with flat tires, would you?

Mark Your Cutting Line

Now, mark the cutting line on the railroad tie. Make it as straight as possible. A crooked line could lead to the chainsaw kicking back, and let me tell you, that’s not a kickback you want to experience.


Hey, speaking of lines, did you know you can cut a log lengthwise with a chainsaw? It’s an art in itself. Imagine slicing a giant log like a loaf of bread. Intriguing, isn’t it?

Position Yourself Correctly


After marking, position yourself correctly. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart for balance. You should look like a Roman statue, sturdy and immovable. You wouldn’t want to stumble while operating a chainsaw, trust me.

Start Your Chainsaw

Here we go! It’s time to start your chainsaw. Pull the starter cord firmly until the engine fires up. Hold on tight, my friend! It’s going to be a thrilling ride.

Make the First Cut


Once your chainsaw is purring like a tiger ready to pounce, begin your cut. Apply steady pressure, and let the chainsaw do the work. Remember, you’re the boss here, not the chainsaw.

Rotate the Railroad Tie

Rotate the railroad tie to cut all the way through if necessary. It’s a bit like spinning a giant marshmallow to roast all sides evenly. Just remember, don’t try to eat this one!

Final Touches

After making the initial cuts, you might have a few rough edges. Use your chainsaw to make the finishing touches and smooth them out.


A question that might be itching your mind right now – Wet tree cutting with a chainsaw Absolutely, yes. But it’s slightly trickier than chopping dry wood. The chainsaw can slip more easily, so a firm grip and extra caution are essential.

Special Note: Don’t rush when using a chainsaw. Patience is not just a virtue; it’s a safety requirement. Cutting railroad ties or logs or even removing a stump with a chainsaw – it’s all about keeping a steady hand and a cool head.

While we’re at it, let me tell you – splitting large logs with a chainsaw can feel like you’re recreating a scene from an epic lumberjack movie. It’s challenging, but boy, is it satisfying!

Curious about splitting large logs with a chainsaw? We’ve got an article for that! Also, if you’re wondering how to remove a stump with a chainsaw, we’ve got you covered.

Easiest Way To Cut Railroad Ties in Just 7-Steps


Step 1: Gather Your Equipment

First things first: a job well done starts with the right tools. You need a chainsaw with a diamond blade or a carbide-tipped blade. Trust me on this, a good saw makes all the difference.

Imagine trying to cut a prime rib with a butter knife. That’s you trying to cut a railroad tie without a good saw. Don’t be that guy.

Step 2: Mark Your Measurements

Next, you’ll measure and mark the spots where you plan to make your cuts. A carpenter’s pencil or a marker works best for this. Why? Well, have you ever tried drawing a line with a ballpoint pen on a railroad tie? It’s like trying to tattoo a cat – it just ain’t going to happen.

Step 3: Secure the Railroad Tie

Secure the railroad tie using sawhorses or any sturdy support that you have handy. It’s a bit like wrestling an alligator – it doesn’t stay still, and it could hurt you if you’re not careful.

Safety Note: You’re probably wondering, “How dangerous can it be?” Well, here’s the thing: it’s not the cutting that’s typically dangerous; it’s when the tie moves unexpectedly. Think about it. A giant block of wood + fast-moving sharp blade + unexpected movement = disaster. So secure that tie as it owes you money.

Step 4: Cut Along the Line

With your railroad tie securely in place and your path clearly marked, it’s time to start cutting. Use your chain saw to cut along the line you marked earlier.

Remember, slow and steady wins the race. I mean, unless it’s a real race, then fast and steady probably works better. But you get the idea.

Step 5: Follow Proper Safety Procedures

Now, cutting railroad ties is serious business. You need to ensure that you’re wearing proper safety gear. This includes safety glasses, gloves, and steel-toed boots.

If you’re thinking, “Do I really need all that?” Let me ask you this: Would you play football without a helmet? Would you wrestle a bear without any training? I thought so.

Step 6: Handle the Waste

Railroad ties are often treated with creosote, a tar-like substance that’s toxic. Make sure you dispose of the sawdust and leftover pieces properly.

Not sure where to dispose of it? Your local waste management facility can probably help. It’s their job to deal with trash, after all, and they’re really good at it.

Step 7: Celebrate Your Success


Congratulations! You’ve successfully cut a railroad tie. Now, it’s time to sit back, relax, and admire your handiwork. Crack open a cold one, throw some meat on the grill, and take a moment to appreciate that you just did some seriously manly woodworking. You deserve it.

In the end, remember, every new skill comes with a learning curve. If your cut didn’t come out exactly how you planned, don’t worry. You can always blame it on the saw.

Quick Note: Railroad ties can sometimes be a bit unpredictable due to their age and the hardness of the wood. So, if your cut isn’t perfect, don’t be too hard on yourself. Even Michelangelo made mistakes. I mean, have you seen the size of David’s hands? Way out of proportion.

Best chainsaw Blade For Cutting Railroad Ties


Husqvarna 24 Inch 460 Rancher Gas Chainsaw:

Think of a sturdy warrior that cuts through challenges like a hot knife through butter – that’s the Husqvarna 460 Rancher for you! With a mighty 3.62 HP engine, it makes railroad tie-cutting seem like child’s play.

Makita XCU03PT1 18V X2 LXT Lithium-Ion Brushless Cordless Chainsaw Kit:

If James Bond needed a chainsaw, this would be his pick! The Makita XCU03PT1 merges style with substance, offering tool-less chain adjustment and automatic lubrication that ensures your railroad tie job runs as smoothly as a secret mission.

DEWALT 20V MAX XR Chainsaw, 12-Inch:

Picture a marathon runner that just won’t quit – that’s the DEWALT 20V MAX XR for you. Compact, yet power-packed, this chainsaw’s high-efficiency brushless motor guarantees longevity that’s perfect for the long haul of cutting railroad ties.

Oregon CS1500 Self-Sharpening Electric Chainsaw:

Imagine having a personal blacksmith keeping your sword perpetually sharp – that’s what the Oregon CS1500 offers. With a built-in self-sharpening system, it assures a swift, clean cut through the toughest railroad ties every time.

Echo CS-400 18″ Gas Chainsaw:

Echo CS-400 is like a seasoned professional who knows his job. With its powerful cutting prowess and easy start system, it makes handling hefty railroad ties as easy as slicing through a loaf of bread.

STIHL MS 271 Farm Boss Chainsaw:

The STIHL MS 271 Farm Boss is the Hercules of chainsaws. Known for its impressive engine power and fuel efficiency, it makes cutting through railroad ties seem as effortless as a hot knife sliding through butter.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it safe to cut railroad ties?

Cutting railroad ties can be risky due to chemicals like creosote used for preservation. Always use protective gear and work in a well-ventilated area.

What is the best chainsaw chain for railroad ties?

A carbide-tipped chain is the best choice for cutting railroad ties. It’s durable and stays sharp longer, even when cutting through tough wood and materials.

What kind of wood are railroad ties made of?

Railroad ties are usually made of hardwoods like oak, but you’ll also find them made of softwoods like pine, treated with preservatives to enhance durability.

Can you cut railroad ties with a chainsaw without?

Yes, you can cut railroad ties with a chainsaw. Just make sure to use the right chain and always follow safety guidelines.

How to cut railroad ties in half lengthwise?

To cut railroad ties lengthwise, mark your cutting line clearly. Then, use a gas-powered chainsaw with a carbide-tipped chain, making a steady pass along the marked line. Safety first!

Key Takeaway

  • Cutting railroad ties with a chainsaw can damage the chain and void the warranty.
  • Railroad ties are made of hard, dense wood and often contain hidden metal and abrasive materials.
  • Safety measures and proper preparation are crucial for this task.
  • Specialized chainsaw blades like carbide-tipped ones offer a better option.
  • Always follow safety guidelines and dispose of waste properly.