First-Time Homeowner’s Advice for Using a Chainsaw

The truth is, nobody has ever really thought of me as Joe the Lumberjack. My experience with yard work has always been limited to raking leaves and mowing the lawn. When my wife and I purchased our first home, we were excited because the neighborhood is what we like to call “woodsy.” There are tall trees and bushes everywhere so even though our neighbors are relatively close in proximity, it seems as though each house is tucked away in its own small forest. Little did I know, “woodsy, cool, private lots” required a lot of outdoors work. We knew this was going to be quite the learning process. I began watching the way my neighbors took care of their lawn and shrubbery and felt a knot form in my stomach as I saw them smoothly operating chainsaws. Chainsaws intimidated me for obvious reasons – the injuries if used improperly could be ugly. Yet my bushes and tree branches were expanding and making my pool a mess and infringing into my neighbors’ yards. I did not want to be “that guy” – the only homeowner on the block with the messy landscape so I (the computer nerd that I am) conducted a lengthy amount of computer research on safe and affordable chainsaws and ended up purchasing a Poulan electric chainsaw. My new chainsaw only weighs about 7.5 lbs. and has a 14-inch bar. It is a manual oiler, which means I can “rewet” it just by pushing a button. The best part about my new chainsaw is that it came fully assembled so I did not need to purchase additional parts. I never even attempted to operate the machine until I read the book The Backyard Lumberjack from cover to cover. This was written by a father and son and describes the basics of using a chainsaw, including appropriate safety gear and proper storage and maintenance. I also purchased the Homeowners Complete Guide to the Chainsaw, which was great because it lays everything out in photos and explains chainsaw operation in very basic layman’s terms. I am finally at the point where I am comfortable using my chainsaw to trim branches and groom hedges. My wife is pleased because our house does not look like the crazies live there anymore. As she develops her gardening skills and I enhance my landscaping skills, we are really sprucing up our yard and keeping up with the neighbors. I strongly caution any new homeowner to read instruction manuals before operating a chainsaw for the first time. The Homeowners Guide I read had images of people using the dangerous machinery the wrong ways, which looked like ways I would have gone about using my chainsaw had I not read that book. The couple of hours it took me to read the book likely saved me from losing a finger or a limb. So my best advice would be to study first and saw later.