Can You Cut Wet Wood with a Chainsaw?

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Are you a chainsaw user who has to cut wood during the rainy season, but you’re wondering if it is possible to cut wet wood? If yes, then you are certainly in the right place.

Cutting wet wood with a chainsaw is a common question for chainsaw users, especially during the rainy season. Yes, it is possible to chainsaw wet wood. Whether it is snow, raindrops, or dewdrops, it won’t cause any harm to your chainsaw. In fact, the amount of moisture a piece of wood contains doesn’t affect how the chainsaw works significantly. However, dry wood does weigh less compared to wet wood. The water in wood acts as a natural lubricant and reduces the friction created when the chain moves at high speed and comes in contact with wood fibers.

In this article, you will get to learn all about cutting wet wood, can you chainsaw wet wood, can wet wood dull your chainsaw, how to work in wet conditions, and more. Stick around to get all the answers that you are looking for.

Cutting Wet Wood with a Chainsaw

Chainsaws can be a handy piece of equipment that aids in garden maintenance. From pruning trees to sawing large wooden planks and splitting firewood, chainsaws have many uses. With great utility comes the need for regular maintenance and better care. 

If you intend to cut wood that has been exposed to external elements like snow or rain, almost any type of chainsaw will be up to the task. However, there are many things that you must bear in mind before you start sawing the chainsaw. There are many things to know about if you’re wondering whether you can chainsaw wet wood.

Can You Chainsaw Wet Wood?

There are different types of wood and some of them are considerably harder to cut through than others. Even a lightweight chainsaw that is designed for basic gardening projects can cut through balsa wood with ease. However, dealing with wooden logs composed of denser wood like maple or mahogany will be much more difficult and likely need a more robust tool. The condition of the wood will also influence how easy it’ll be to cut wood. A fresh balsa log might be more difficult to cut through than dead or diseased oak trees. It’ll be best to approach each project as if the wood you’ll be cutting is green, alive, and in its prime.

The amount of moisture the piece of wood contains doesn’t have that much effect on how the chainsaw works. However, dry wood does weigh less compared to wet wood. Chainsaws work best when the chainsaw chains are well-lubricated. This is why using guide bar oil will be so important. The water in wood acts as a natural lubricant and reduces the friction that is created when chainsaw chains moving at high speeds come in contact with wood fibers. The guide bar will reduce resistance and maintain chain speed when you’re cutting through wood.

Can Wet Wood End Up Dulling a Chainsaw?

The common myth that wood having a lot of moisture in it dulls chainsaw chains isn’t based on science. Adding moisture will improve lubrication, which means that cutting wet wood will put less stress on the chainsaw compared to cutting dry wood. Reducing friction will also keep chainsaw chains sharp.

One thing that changes when you’re using a chainsaw to cut through wet wood will be the way you deal with sawdust. When you’re cutting through dry wood, sawdust will fill the air and get blasted away by the chainsaw’s exhaust. When you’re cutting wet wood, damp sawdust forms into clamps, and it can easily stick to the chainsaw chains and gum up sprockets. It can end up draining power and impeding performance, so frequent stops might be required for removing the gunk. However, you should keep safety at the front of your mind when you’re doing this and take an extra moment or two for filling up your chainsaw’s oil tank before getting back to work.

How to Work in Wet Conditions

Wet wood is much easier to cut and doesn’t harm your chainsaw, but the places where wet wood is found can be treacherous. High winds, slippery ground, and driving rain can make working outdoors pretty dangerous. You must proceed with caution when operating a powerful tool like a chainsaw in such conditions. Always follow the necessary safety protocols when working. Before you start cutting wet wood, here are a few things that you should consider.

1. Weather forecast

Clear skies can easily turn gray within a matter of minutes, while it can start pouring out of the blue. If you intend to work outdoors, you must check the weather forecast before planning your activities for the day.

2. The order of business

If you’re clearing up after a snowstorm, and you feel the weather is about to get worse, you might be tempted to get started straight away. While this is understandable, you need to clear the area first, as accumulated snow could conceal many hazards.

3. Communication

Wind and rain could make being seen and heard much more difficult. This is why you should ensure that you’re wearing bright clothing and have a proper communication strategy if you intend to work in wet weather.

4. Wear appropriate clothing

If you’re going to cut wet wood with a chainsaw, there is a good chance that you’ll need to contend with rain or low temperatures. In these conditions, you must dress in layers that you can discard as your body warms up. It’ll also be important to ensure that your outer layer is waterproof.

5. Guide bar oil

Moisture in wood will provide a natural lubricant, but it cannot replace guide bar oil. You should ensure that you’re using a quality material oil when cutting wet wood, and top up the reservoir each time you stop to remove damp sawdust. A well-oiled chain will resist rust and last longer.

6. The power source

Plugging an electric chainsaw into the extension cord can be perfectly safe in certain situations. However, this could be an incredibly dangerous arrangement in a storm. Gas-powered chainsaws can shrug off inclement weather, but water can damage them if it finds its way into the fuel and oil mixture.

7. Slippery footing

Water lubricates the ground and the wood, so you can expect the conditions to be treacherous if you’re venturing outdoors after a rainstorm. Falls and slips can cause sprains, strain, and contusions if you’re not careful. You should do everything possible to avoid mishaps in wet weather, even when you aren’t using a chainsaw.

8. Use special chains

There are companies that make chainsaw chains for all kinds of specialized applications but the success of these products will depend on hype rather than performance. A chainsaw capable of cutting through dry wood will also be able to cut through wet wood with ease, so there would be no need to purchase a special chain. If you’re looking to cut wet, frozen, or particularly dense wood, you might require a micro chisel chain whether the material is dry or wet.

9. Chainsaw specifications

Chainsaws are available in many different sizes and configurations, and the amount of material they can cope with depends on the length of their guide bars and the engine power. Cutting wet wood will be easier to cut dry wood, but it doesn’t make the chainsaw any more capable.

10. Personal protective equipment

Anyone who operates a chainsaw must wear protective equipment. Robust footwear, eye protection, and tough work gloves will provide a great safety foundation but won’t protect as well as chainsaw chaps or pants. These protective garments are made using advanced materials that shred on impact, clog drive sprockets, and stop chainsaws in their tracks.

How to Clean a Wet Chainsaw

Cutting wet wood can get quite messy, which means cleaning up could take almost as long as sawing. These chores can be seen as a form of preventive maintenance and cannot be neglected if you want your chainsaw to offer years of smooth functioning. Once wet wood has been cut, it’ll be time to put your chainsaw away. Here are the steps to take for cleaning a wet chainsaw.

1. Clean the chain

The first thing that you must do is remove any damp sawdust from your chainsaw’s chain. You’ll be able to poke the sawdust out or brush it away but ensure that you’re doing a thorough job.

2. Dry the chainsaw chain

Dust can easily be the nemesis of chainsaw chains, and it doesn’t require much moisture to take root. Before you put away your chainsaw, you should dry the chainsaw chain thoroughly before applying a thin coat of mineral oil for added protection.

3. Mop up the water beads

Use a clean, dry cloth for removing water spots from your chainsaw. You must pay close attention to metal components that can rust.

4. Clean the air filter

Damp sawdust doesn’t form thick clouds in the air, but it still clogs up air filters. A minute or so under a running tap is all that is needed to bring the chainsaw’s air filter back to pristine condition.

5. Clear out the sprocket cover

Wet sawdust can form clumps that become hard when they dry. When clumps accumulate under sprocket covers, they can end up causing starting problems and impede performance.

How to Choose a Chainsaw for Cutting Wet Wood

If you’re thinking of getting a chainsaw, you must look for a tool that is appropriate for the type of work you’ll be doing. This ultimately comes down to making two important decisions. You must choose the power source and the size of the chainsaw. Here is a look at the different options you can go for.

1. Battery power

Most electric chainsaws have battery packs instead of cables and plus, with some of them being powerful. Electric chainsaws are quieter and lighter compared to gas-powered chainsaws, and they don’t vibrate as much. Recharging the battery takes longer than filling a fuel tank, but electric chainsaws will be virtually maintenance-free.

2. Gas power

The massive chainsaws used by professionals almost always feature two-stroke engines that come powered by a mixture of gas and oil. These chainsaws can handle the toughest of jobs, but keeping them in top condition will require a lot of TLC. You must be careful if you’re adding fuel to one of the chainsaws in the rain. If the fuel-air mixture gets contaminated by water, your chainsaw can stutter, cut out, or run hot.

3. Guide bar size

Chainsaws having longer guide bars can easily cut through thicker logs, but this extra performance comes with a price attached. Longer chains will require larger and more powerful engines that consume more fuel, so these chainsaws are much heavier. Consider the size of branches or logs you’ll be cutting and lean toward shorter rather than longer when selecting the guide bar length.

What Chain Should You Use for Cutting Wet Wood?

A standard chainsaw chain can get the job done easily. Using a micro chisel chain will be ideal for dense wood, but any high-quality chain will do just fine. You can go for something like the Oregon 3-Pack AdanceCut as it works with Husqvarna, Poulan, Echo, and other brands.

The simplest way of approaching this will be to treat wet wood as if it was dry. Doing so will make it easier to find out which type of chain works best for the project.

First, you must decide the type of chain you will be using. Chainsaw chains are not universal, so if you need to get a replacement, you should ensure that it is correct.

Next, you should apply mineral oil to the chain and cut through the wood. How hard or easy that will depend on the type.

Ultimately, it’ll come down to what type of wood you’ll be cutting. Ironwood will be comparatively harder to cut than balsa, whether you’re cutting wet or dry wood. It’ll be the same with green wood compared to dead wood.

Regardless of the chain you’ll be using, make sure that it is well-oiled. While wet wood can function as a natural lubricant, mineral oil will make the chain rust and corrosion-proof.

It's raining !! Cut a tree by the roadside.

What Type of Chainsaw is Best for Cutting Wet Wood?

Gas-powered chainsaws will be the most suitable option for rainy conditions and for cutting wet wood. Yes, you could use battery-powered chainsaws on wet wood, but they aren’t the best option in the rain or around tall, wet grass.

Professionals use gas-powered chainsaws when it rains, and you must too. As long as you’re keeping the water out of the fuel tank, there will be no problems. For all-purpose cutting, it is suggested you should use a chainsaw like Craftsman 41BY4216791 16” chainsaw. It will get the job done without any issues.

High-quality chainsaws can withstand heavy downpours. They are specially designed for preventing water from leaking into the engine. However, you will still encounter some issues, so choosing the right chainsaw will be a must.

First, you should not leave the chainsaw in a pool of water. You shouldn’t immerse the tool in water, as water can seep into the engine and result in severe damage. If you are using gas-powered chainsaws, you shouldn’t allow water anywhere near the engine or tank.

You should not be using electric chainsaws in the rain. Even if it has got safety features, electricity and water can be dangerous. In case the electric cords get wet, the entire thing might short circuit and lead to serious damage. Not only can it wreck the chainsaw, but you’ll be putting yourself at risk. 

How to Prepare Wet Wood for Cutting

professional logger cutting wet wood using a chainsaw in winter

In case the wood is light and only slightly wet, you’ll be able to cut it right away. For cutting wet green wood, you should allow it to dry first. Once it is dry, you should lubricate the chainsaw and start cutting.

While you are waiting for the wood to dry, you should lubricate the chain. Lubrication is important to improve performance and for preventing rust. Corrosion in particular can be a major issue, especially if you’re using the chainsaw on wet wood.

You shouldn’t be using electric chainsaws in wet conditions. Electric cords and extension cables shouldn’t be allowed to touch wet grass or moist surfaces. If the surrounding area is dry, then you could cut wet wood using an electric chainsaw.

You can make use of a battery-powered chainsaw on wet wood. Again, you should ensure that water doesn’t end up getting into the battery to avoid problems. Whether you’re working with dry wood or wet wood, you should always wear protective gear. Wearing a helmet, goggles, gloves, and protective clothing will be important.


Can I cut wet wood with my chainsaw?

Yes, you can easily cut wet wood. Based on the age of the wood, diameter, and density, the level and complexity of the task might change. Gas-powered chainsaws can work all season, and so will battery-powered chainsaws. However, using an electric corded chainsaw wouldn’t be a smart idea.

Is it easier to cut wet wood?

Although the main factor here will be the type of wood and its age, cutting through wet wood will be easier according to many chainsaw brands. The wood after getting wet will develop moisture that acts as a natural lubricant, making the entire cutting process easier.

However, wet wood also creates thick chip-like sawdust, which could get stuck in the chain and make it dull, even damaging it if it stays on there for too long. You should ensure that you’re cleaning it after or in the middle to maintain the performance levels without applying extra pressure.

Can you use an electric chainsaw on wet wood?

The combination of water and electricity is never a good idea. A corded electric chainsaw wouldn’t be a good idea for wet wood and will be a big mistake during wet weather. You can even use a battery or fuel-powered chainsaw as an alternative for cutting wet wood.

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