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Having looked up chainsaw safety videos on the internet it seems that a big danger with chainsaws is kickback - where the tip of the chainsaw contacts something unexpected and throws the blade back up towards the users head/neck.

Is there a way to make a plunge cut with a chainsaw into thick wood safely (i.e. pushing the tip of the chainsaw into a thick block of wood, maybe 12 inches thick) or is this just a flat out bad idea?

Is the potential kickback on entry hard to avoid or control?

Is the wood more likely to bind onto the chain in this case and/or break it?

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  • I would be curious as to why you want to do this? Auger bits might not be able to do this as fast but depending on what you want they could be sufficient.
    – Matt
    Oct 5 '15 at 16:36
  • Of interest, maybe: youtu.be/AgCYajYs1rY
    – jdv
    May 29 '19 at 20:41
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Is there a way to make a plunge cut with a chainsaw into thick wood safely (i.e. pushing the tip of the chainsaw into a thick block of wood, maybe 12 inches thick) or is this just a flat out bad idea?

Plunge cuts with a chainsaw are made all the time with chain mortisers, like the one pictured below made by Makita.

mortiser

However, you will notice that this mortiser has a sturdy frame to control the saw and has a controlled rate of feed provided by the plunge handle.

Is the potential kickback on entry hard to avoid or control?

On the contrary, a chainsaw that is controlled by your arms has neither of these very necessary things. Chainsaws are quite powerful and can very easily overpower the confining power of your arms. Couple this with the variable feed rate your non-mechanized arms supply, and you have the recipe for disaster.

Is the wood more likely to bind onto the chain in this case and/or break it?

Without the control of a supporting frame, I'd say it's easier to twist the chainsaw bar and bind the chain. Therefore, your risk for breakage is higher.


This is not to say that you can't do plunge cuts with a chainsaw (I've done it myself on rare occasions where I had some sort of physical barrier keeping the saw from flying into my face). It's just not a very good idea. People who do timber-framed houses for a living might have a different experience, but that's just my two cents.

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Can you do a plunging cut with a chain saw? Yes, I've done a couple though I don't recommend it. It can be extremely dangerous for those who don't have much experience with one and still moderately so to those who have plenty.

I knew of one guy that would put one cut down the middle of large logs (a cross section) put gunpowder in it and light it off to 'split' the wood. Not a smart idea in my opinion. as far as the kick back is concerned, that part is only a concern until the tip has entered into the wood far enough it can't 'jump' any more (1-2 inches).

However there are still plenty of things that can go wrong. Pushing the saw to hard can bind the chain and stop the motor, if you are unlucky enough it can be wedged into the log and very hard to get back out. a twisting of the saw or the log can break the chain or the bar, neither are safe problems.

Chainsaw carvers do a lot of things with chain saws a normal logger would avoid.

Ultimately it is possible, but know what you are doing, understand your equipment and make sure you wear all your safety equipment, gloves, helmet, faceguard, chaps, etc. to reduce the chance of an injury should you still feel the need to try.

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  • Ideas: 1) Start the cut with a weaker saw, one that is easier to stop in case of... 2) Start the cut with another tool; make a hole with another tool and first then start chain sawing. Or if a proper hole is not possible at least weaken the wood (e.g. drill holes) before taking the plunge. FWIW.
    – LosManos
    Oct 6 '15 at 10:31
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Yes. If you look at the tip of the chainsaw it's shaped like a half-circle. Only the top half will kick back hard.

You need to insert the bottom-half first. Once that is securely inside the wood, Turn the blade to go straighter in.

TL;DR: The top half of the tip is extra scary.

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