How To Use A Chainsaw To Cut Logs: Step-By-Step Guide To Cut Wooden Logs Easily

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Welcome to my article about how to use a chainsaw to cut logs

For a beginner, it’s maybe a difficult task. So, it was for me when I started working with trees. 

But the good thing is – it’s really not that difficult. Read on to know the step-by-step instructions.

Cutting logs with a chainsaw is actually a very easy process. Going through this article will make you understand why and how to use a chainsaw to cut logs. By the time you’re done reading this article, you’ll be ready to get out and start cutting logs right away.

How to use a chainsaw to cut logs with ease?

The entire process of cutting logs using a chainsaw is very simple. By knowing the right method, you’ll be able to stay on the right path and avoid wasting time. Moreover, you’ll be able to do the entire thing easily and safely. Knowing the right chainsaw cutting techniques and the process to cut logs will be key. Here is a step-by-step guide that will help you with that.

1. Wear the right safety equipment

Every time you have to operate a chainsaw, you should remember to wear the necessary safety equipment. Chainsaws are risky to operate, which is why you cannot afford to skip this step. There are some mandatory items that can prove to be the difference between a minor injury scare and a fatal incident.

There are three mandatory safety equipments that you simply cannot start without –

Apart from those three, you should also look to wear steel-toed boots, noise protection, and a face mask. Never try to operate a chainsaw with flip-flops or loose-fitting clothes.

2. Clear the working area

If a tree falls, there will likely be branches and wooden pieces everywhere. Before you start cutting down trees into logs, you will want to ensure that the working area is clear. Make sure to remove any previous branches or bushes and make it clean. Your main objective here would be to remove any object that could trip you or cause potential accidents.

Moreover, remove objects that are near the log or on the log that could obstruct from getting clean cuts. This will help avoid the probability of chainsaw kickback.

3. Avoid working in the kickback zone

Kickback is easily one of the most common and dangerous issues with chainsaw operation. This issue is so significant and dangerous that chainsaw chains today come with high kickback or low kickback ratings.

Chainsaws come with a kickback zone, normally located on the upper-end of the tip of the bar. If you accidentally or intentionally hit the tip of the chainsaw against a piece of wood or metal, it’ll catch the chain and throw the chainsaw back with force. This is very dangerous and ends up causing a lot of accidents.

4. Cut off the branches

Some trees have very few branches, while others have a lot of branches. In either case, you should prefer cutting the branches off before you start cutting the logs. It will make the entire process safer as the risk of tripping will be reduced. Additionally, clearing the branches will make things a lot easier and will produce better firewood.

There are multiple ways for you to do the limbing (i.e. cutting off the branches). You can easily use the chainsaw to cut off the branches. If you’re using this method, remember to choose a light chainsaw as the heavier ones will wear you out easily.

The other option is to make use of a small forest ax and chop off the branches. If you can get your hands on a lightweight ax, it would be a great option.

5. Do the cutting and always measure the lengths of the cuts

This is a crucial step and should be followed carefully. If you are cutting logs, you’ll have a specific purpose in mind, and you should remember to measure the cuts. For instance, if you’re planning on using wood for firewood, make sure that cut the right sizes. You should cut the pieces such that they can fit in the fireplace or wooden stove.

Most wooden stoves can accommodate pieces up to 16-inches in length. If you aren’t sure what to do, it is standard to cut the logs into pieces 16-inches in length. Here are the different ways to cut logs using a chainsaw.


This is used to refer to cuts from the top of the log. This is done from where it is supported through to the full length of the log. This is arguably the safest and simplest way of cutting a wooden log. Start off the cut at the top of the log and then apply little pressure with the chainsaw. You should try to let your chainsaw do all the work as the teeth pull the bar into the log. 

Try to ensure that the guide bar’s nose doesn’t come in contact with the ground or any object. In case the guide bar gets pinched in the log, avoid trying to force it out. Instead, turn off the chainsaw and drive a wooden wedge into the cut using a hammer. Then, you can easily remove the saw. Don’t try and restart the chainsaw when it is pinched into the log. Once you’ve removed the chainsaw, restart it, and finish the cut with a downwards motion.

Log supported on both ends

Another method would be with the log supported on both ends and not in the middle. This situation includes small logs supported on a sawhorse or bigger logs sitting on other pieces of timber. First, you should cut the log from the top, around 1/3 of the way into the wood. Then, you should cut from the underside while making sure you’re exerting little pressure upwards. Do this until you’ve reached the first cut for avoiding the log pinching the bar.

Log supported on one end

The next method is with the log supported on one end whereas the other end is in the air. The first cut needs to be made from the underside and towards the top, about 1/3 of the way through the log. Then, overbuck from the top until you meet the first cut. This will allow the chainsaw from getting pinched. You should keep in mind when the cut portion of the wooden log falls. You should ensure that you’re not in the line of the fall.

6. Let your chainsaw do the work

A common mistake for beginner users is that they move too much. If you try to work extra hard, chances are that you’ll end up doing something wrong. Instead, you should let your chainsaw do the work.

If you do extra work, you will wear yourself out and not be able to finish the work. Instead of pushing and pulling the chainsaw, simply get into position and let your chainsaw do the work. On your chainsaw, you’ll notice spikes called bucking spikes. When you’re cutting through logs, you will need to lodge the spikes into the wood. Then, simply let the chainsaw chain pull its way through the wood.

man cutting logs using chainsaw

Once the spikes are set and the chainsaw is in the wood, your hands should be on the chainsaw to provide stability. Try not to push or pull the chainsaw until you have to reposition the spikes or till finishing the cut.

7. Try not to pinch the chainsaw

Another challenge that you’ll likely face when cutting logs is to avoid getting the chainsaw pinched in the wood. This normally happens when there is an inward angle towards the cut caused by the terrain if the tree is lying. It can be a tricky problem to solve, while it can also damage the chainsaw. Here are a few ways to avoid it –

  • Simply elevate the log – You can use a tool or something to elevate one side of the tree. You will also be able to do that with small chunks of wood. Ultimately, it will depend on the tree’s size and whether or not it can be moved. Once you have the tree elevated on one side, it’ll be easier to cut into logs. Gravity will work in your favor and prevent any pinching. 
  • Cut one side at a time – If you have a log on the ground that might pinch, you should cut one side at a time. In other words, you’ll be able to cut down as far as possible without pinching the bar. Then, roll the log for finishing the cut from the other side. This approach will need precise judgment, and you will need to estimate how far to cut without pinching.
  • Use wedges – Wedges can be pretty handy when it comes to preventing pinching. This approach is useful mostly when you’re cutting large logs. You will be able to cut through the wood until the bar is under the surface of the tree completely. Then, simply tap the felling wedge into the opening the chainsaw has created. The motive is that the wedge will keep the space “propped open” and prevent it from closing on the chainsaw. 

8. Split logs into firewood

If you want to cut firewood, then as soon as you’ve cut the logs, you should split them into pieces. This makes them easier to stack, while also decreasing the time needed for seasoning the wood. There are multiple ways to split firewood like splitting mauls, splitting wedges, splitting axes, hatches, log splitters, and more.

How to cut logs safely with a chainsaw - Which? guide


Thank you for reading. Hopefully, now you will have a better understanding of how to use a chainsaw to cut logs. There are multiple methods to make the cuts, choose the method that you feel most comfortable with. Regardless of the path you take, remember to always take care of your safety. Wear all the necessary safety gear before you operate a chainsaw.

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Hi, I'm Mike - but my friends call me Backyard Mike. I'm the founder of this website, and I'm addicted to outdoor power tools. I love to work with wood and share my knowledge here on this website with you. You can find more about me here.