What Is Chainsaw Kickback And How TO Avoid It?

As a chainsaw user, you know that working with this powerful tool requires caution and expertise. 

One of the most dangerous risks involved in chainsaw operation is known as a kickback. 

Kickback happens when the chainsaw’s guide bar suddenly jerks back toward the user, potentially causing serious injury. 

Although the risk of chainsaw kickback cannot be completely eliminated, understanding what is chainsaw kickback and how to minimize its risk can help you operate your chainsaw more safely.

What Is Chainsaw Kickback?

What Is Chainsaw Kickback

Chainsaw kickback is a sudden and unexpected upward movement of the guide bar when the chainsaw chain is actively engaged in cutting.

This can happen if the upper tip of the saw touches an object, such as a branch or log while cutting.

What Causes Chain Saw Kickback?

This can happen due to a variety of reasons,

Damaged or Dull Chain

Damaged or Dull Chain

The most common being a dull or damaged chain. If the chain is not sharp or damaged, it can catch on the wood, causing it to buck backward.

Improper Chain Tension

Improper Chain Tension

Another factor that contributes to chainsaw kickback is improper chain tension. If the chain is too loose, it can also catch and cause a kickback. 

Incorrect cutting technique

Incorrect cutting technique

Similarly, if the cutting technique is incorrect, with the chainsaw held at an improper angle or in the wrong position, a kickback can occur.

Poor Chain Maintenance

Poor Chain Maintenance

Lack of proper saw maintenance is yet another cause of chainsaw kickback. If the chainsaw is not regularly serviced and checked for issues, it can increase the risk of kickback during operations. 

Cracked-on Broken Chain Components

Cracked-on Broken Chain Components

Furthermore, bent, cracked, or broken saw chain components or loose rivets can lead to kickback, as they reduce the overall stability of the saw.

Contact With Kickback Zone

Contact With Kickback Zone

Lastly, coming in contact with the kickback zone, which is the area of the saw closest to the guide bar tip, can contribute to chainsaw kickback.

It is important to be aware of this zone while operating the chainsaw and never to let any part of your body come in contact with it. 

What Is a Low Kickback Chain

How to Avoid Chainsaw Kickback

Steps to Reduce Chainsaw Kickback

Reduce Chainsaw Kickback

Chainsaw kickback can be dangerous and may cause serious injuries. However, by following these steps, you can minimize the risks of potential chainsaw kickbacks:

Step 1: Read Instruction Manual

Read Instruction Manual

Before you use it, be sure to read through the operating instructions in their entirety. By doing so, you can familiarize yourself with your chainsaw, its components, and how it works.

Step 2: Wear Personal Protective Equipment

Wear Personal Protective Equipment

Wear PPE (personal protective equipment). When using a chainsaw, always wear appropriate PPEs such as hearing protection, eye protection, a hard hat, steel-toed boots, gloves, and chaps. 

Step 3: Be Cautious

Be Cautious

Be particularly cautious when removing tree branches. Chainsaws are more prone to kickbacks when cutting small or flexible objects, such as branches. 

Step 4: Use Underside Bar

Underside Bar

When preparing a tree for felling, use the underside of the bar. The chain’s rotation direction should also be considered when preparing a tree for felling. 

Step 5: If you are using your saw for felling or crosscutting or bore cutting the chainsaw bar into the trunk may be the best way to cut. 

Step 6: Make Sure the Chainsaw Brake Works

Make Sure the Chainsaw Brake Works

Make sure the chain brake on your saw works before use.

Step 8: Use a Low Kickback Chain

Use a Low Kickback Chain

Choose low kickback chainsaw chains

Step 9: Sharpen the Chainsaw Chain Regularly

Sharpen the Chainsaw Chain Regularly

What Is Chainsaw Kickback: FAQs

What causes a chainsaw to kick back?

Here are some key points to keep in mind regarding the causes of chainsaw kickbacks:

Improper saw maintenance: 

Dull chain

Loose saw chain tension

Incorrect chain sharpening: 

Using the wrong type of chain

Insufficient experience with chainsaws

Not following proper safety procedures

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, chainsaw kickback is hazardous and potentially fatal which occurs when the chainsaw’s chain comes in contact with an object or material being cut.

It can result in severe injuries or even death. 

To minimize the risk of chainsaw kickback, it is crucial to use proper safety measures and wear personal protective equipment PPEs. 

The above-mentioned tips and tricks on chainsaw safety measures can help to prevent chainsaw kickback and ensure safe operation. 

Photo of author

Charlie Bass

Charlie has been a mechanic for over 25 years and has worked on everything from small engine gardening equipment to huge diesel-electric mining haul trucks, trains and even aircraft. This broad range of industry experience gives him a unique insight into almost anything mechanical especially with an engine, including gardening and landscaping equipment. He currently owns his own mobile mechanic business and lives with his family in Australia.

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