Chainsaw Maintenance

What Should You Not Use A Chainsaw For? Chainsaw Misuse

Welcome to the essential guide on chainsaw safety! When it comes to operating a chainsaw, knowing what not to do is as crucial as understanding its proper usage. Chainsaws are powerful tools designed for specific tasks, but they can be hazardous when used incorrectly. This article addresses the vital question: “What should you not use a chainsaw for?”

We’ll delve into the pitfalls of inappropriate chainsaw applications, highlighting materials and scenarios where a chainsaw should never be used. Let’s explore the world of chainsaw dos and don’ts together, keeping safety and efficiency in focus.

Why It’s Important to Know Chainsaw Limitations


  • Why You Should Stick to Wood with Your Chainsaw:

Chainsaws are like professional wood artists, right? Their teeth are made just of wood fibers. If you try cutting other stuff, it’s like asking a fish to climb a tree. The teeth can wear out, break, or bend. Not good!

  • Keep It Safe – Avoid Kickback:

Kickback is pretty scary. It’s like the chainsaw’s sudden, angry reaction when it hits something tough. Cutting non-wood things ups the risk big time. You don’t want a chainsaw coming at you unexpectedly!

  • Expect the Unexpected – But Not in a Good Way:

Cutting other stuff can be like opening Pandora’s box. Hit metal, and you might spark a mini firework show. Try concrete, and it’s like a debris cannon. Not the kind of surprises you want.

  • Efficiency Matters:

Ever tried using a butter knife to cut a steak? That’s what using a chainsaw on non-wood materials feels like. Frustrating, slow, and a recipe for a ruined chainsaw.

Common Misconceptions About Chainsaw Usage

Understanding these misconceptions and educating yourself on proper chainsaw use can significantly enhance safety and effectiveness. Remember, knowledge and caution are key to preventing accidents and ensuring a long lifespan for your equipment.

Misconception 1: Chainsaws are Suitable for All Cutting Tasks

Many believe that chainsaws are versatile tools for cutting any material. However, chainsaws are specifically designed for wood and similar materials. Using them on metal, plastic, or concrete can cause damage to the chain and pose safety risks.

Misconception 2: Experience Overrides Safety Protocols

Even seasoned users can underestimate the importance of safety gear. Regardless of experience, wearing protective equipment, such as gloves, goggles, and ear protection, is non-negotiable.

Misconception 3: All Chainsaws Work the Same

Users often think all chainsaws operate identically. In reality, different models and sizes suit different tasks. For instance, a smaller electric chainsaw might be ideal for garden pruning, whereas a larger gas-powered one is better for felling trees.

Misconception 4: Maintenance Can Be Infrequent

Regular maintenance is crucial for chainsaw longevity and safety. A common misconception is that chainsaws require little to no upkeep. Regular cleaning, sharpening the chain, and checking for wear and tear are essential.

Misconception 5: Faster Cutting is Better

Speed is often mistaken for efficiency. However, rushing a cut can lead to uneven or dangerous outcomes. Proper technique and control are paramount for safe and effective chainsaw use.

What You Should Never Cut with a Chainsaw


When it comes to using a chainsaw, it’s crucial to understand what it’s not designed for. Chainsaws are powerful tools, but they have their limits and safety risks when used on inappropriate materials. Let’s dive into this with a focus on the keyword “What should you not use a chainsaw for”.

1. Metal

Chainsaws are designed for cutting wood, which is much softer than metal. The hardness of metal can quickly dull or even break the chainsaw’s chain. This not only renders the tool ineffective but also poses a serious risk of injury from flying metal or broken chain pieces.

Related: Can Chainsaw Cut Metal?

Instead, use a metal cutting saw or a grinder, which is specifically designed to handle the hardness and characteristics of the metal.

2. Plastic

Cutting plastic with a chainsaw is ill-advised because the friction generated can melt the plastic. This melting can damage both the chainsaw and the plastic itself. Furthermore, melted plastic can release toxic fumes, posing a health hazard.

A safer alternative is a plastic cutting saw or a simple knife, which can cut through plastic cleanly without generating excessive heat.

3. Masonry and Concrete

These materials are very hard and abrasive. A chainsaw’s chain isn’t designed to cope with such hardness and can get stuck or become severely damaged. Additionally, the abrasive nature of masonry and concrete can rapidly wear down the chain.

A masonry saw, hammer, chisel, or concrete saw is much more suitable for these materials, as it can handle the hardness without getting damaged.

4. Electrical and Live Wires

The risk of electrocution makes it extremely dangerous to cut electrical wires with a chainsaw. There’s also the potential for sparks, which could ignite a fire.

The appropriate tools for handling electrical wires are wire cutters or pliers, designed to cut wires safely and without conducting electricity.

5. Gas Lines

Cutting gas lines with a chainsaw is highly dangerous due to the risk of gas leaks and potential explosions. A gas line cutter is a specialized tool designed to safely cut through gas lines without sparking or causing leaks.

6. Asphalt

When asphalt is cut, it tends to heat up and become sticky, which can cause a chainsaw’s chain to get stuck and possibly damage the saw.

Instead, use an asphalt saw or a pickaxe, which can handle the texture and composition of asphalt more effectively.

7. Glass

Chainsaws are completely unsuitable for cutting glass. The high-speed motion of a chainsaw can shatter glass, creating a significant hazard.

A glass cutter or diamond saw is the right choice for glass, allowing for precise and controlled cuts without the risk of shattering.

8. Ice and Frozen Water

While chainsaws might seem like a good option for cutting through ice, they can get stuck, and the rapid temperature change can damage the chain.

Related: Does Ice Dull A Chainsaw?

An ice saw, ice pick, or chisel is much better suited for cutting through ice, offering more control and reducing the risk of damaging the tool.

What Not to Do with a Chainsaw


Understanding what not to do with a chainsaw is as crucial as knowing how to use it. Misusing a chainsaw not only compromises your safety but can also damage the tool and the environment. Adhere to these guidelines, respect the tool’s capabilities, and prioritize safety above all.

Never Disregard Safety Gear

  • Neglecting Protective Equipment:

Skipping safety goggles, gloves, ear protection, and sturdy boots can lead to serious injuries. Always dress appropriately for chainsaw operation.

Avoid Improper Settings and Environments

  • Using Inappropriate Locations:

Chainsaws are not indoor tools. Their use in confined or enclosed spaces increases the risk of injury and exposure to harmful fumes.

  • Operating in Adverse Weather:

Avoid using chainsaws during bad weather conditions, especially in high winds or wet conditions, which can affect your control and the tool’s effectiveness.

Misuse of the Chainsaw

  • Cutting Inappropriate Materials:

Chainsaws are designed for wood. Using them on metal, plastic, or stone can cause damage to the tool and pose a significant safety hazard.

  • Improper Height Use:

Avoid using a chainsaw above shoulder height. It increases the risk of injury and reduces control over the equipment.
One-Handed Operation: Always use both hands. One-handed operation greatly increases the risk of losing control.

Maintenance and Handling Mistakes

  • Skipping Regular Maintenance:

Failing to perform regular checks and maintenance, such as chain sharpening and tensioning, can lead to dangerous malfunctions.

  • Forcing the Chainsaw:

Let the tool do the work. Applying excessive force can lead to kickback or loss of control.

Other Critical Missteps

  • Ignoring Kickback Danger:

The kickback zone, the upper part of the bar nose, is particularly dangerous. Be aware of where it is in relation to what you’re cutting.

  • Starting the Chainsaw Incorrectly:

Avoid drop-starting your chainsaw. Always start it safely on the ground or another stable surface.

Chainsaw Maintenance and Handling Tips


  • Regular Maintenance: Ensuring Longevity and Safety

Inspect Before Use: Always check for loose, damaged, or worn parts before operating a chainsaw. This includes the chain tension, sharpness, and lubrication.

Clean After Use: Remove debris and sap from the chain and guide bar. Ensure the air filter and cooling fins are free of sawdust.

  • Correct Handling: Maximizing Efficiency and Minimizing Risk

Proper Stance: Maintain a stable stance, keeping your feet shoulder-width apart. Balance is crucial for safe chainsaw operation.

Two-Handed Operation: Always use both hands on the chainsaw – one on the rear handle and the other on the front handle – for maximum control.

  • Safe Storage: Avoiding Accidents and Deterioration

Dry and Secure Location: Store your chainsaw in a dry, secure place. Exposure to moisture can lead to rust and other damage.

Disengage the Chain Brake: When not in use, engage the chain brake to prevent accidental starts.

Frequently asked question

What not to cut with a chainsaw?

You should avoid using a chainsaw on materials like metal, stone, or ice. These are not suitable for chainsaw blades and can damage the tool or cause safety hazards, such as kickback or blade damage.

What are the dangers of using a chainsaw?

Chainsaw use can be risky due to the potential for kickback, cuts, and flying debris. Without proper handling and safety gear, there’s a risk of serious injuries, especially to the hands and face.

What is the disadvantage of a chainsaw?

A major disadvantage of chainsaws is their potential for danger if not used correctly. They require significant physical control, and there’s a risk of injury due to their power and sharp blades, especially without proper training.

What are the rules for using a chainsaw?

Key rules for using a chainsaw include wearing appropriate safety gear, ensuring the chainsaw is in good condition, using both hands for operation, cutting at waist level or lower, and never using the chainsaw above shoulder height.

Final thought

when handling a chainsaw, stick to its intended use – cutting wood. Avoid using it on materials like metal, plastic, or concrete to prevent damage to the tool and ensure your safety.

Always prioritize proper safety gear and maintenance. Remember, a chainsaw is a powerful ally in woodcutting when used correctly, but misusing it can lead to dangerous consequences. Stay safe and make the most of your chainsaw by respecting its limits.