Q('s) on kick-back, especially in-canopy / top-handled saws

eyehearttrees

New Member
I've yet to feel prepared to use my lil 25cc top-handled 10" saw but I've been watching others & watching youtubes and there's something I just can't wrap my head around and that's kickback-aftermath in a tree... is kickback basically tantamount to catastrophic injury? I'd been thinking that, of course, you limit kickback potential, but had been thinking you also stand clear of the bar's backwards-path (rear-handled saws) so that if the thing did kick backward you wouldn't be in its path...this isn't really possible with 99% of the work-positioning I'm seeing done in-canopy with top-handled saws.

It's creepy to think that a single bolt left by someone's recreational zipline a decade ago could create kickback that'd throw your 10" bar into your face and I'm guessing even using a face-shield is barely buying you a split-second's insurance in the event of the bar whipping back at you! Would love to hear any thoughts / elaborations on this, I feel I've gotta be missing something as I'd expect a ton more fatalities if kickback was inherently a catastrophic/fatal injury, for instance I look at the lil 10" and 12" bars and think about how often I see people reach-around the trunk to use the top of their bar to make notch cuts and how if that chain ever bound-up it'd just whip that chainsaw right back into their head...I expect/hope I'm missing something!!

(FWIW I understand that a sharp chain, appropriate .025 rakers, safety-chain toothing, chain tension and all that are going to reduce kickback but I guess I still just *ass*umed that a kickback was something that a production-level person would see at least annually, so either it's not as automatically-catastrophic to have a top-handle kickback in a canopy or kickbacks aren't as common as I'd thought! I've never seen one irl but I've got maybe 500-1000hrs max/lifetime around chainsaws so just figured I've been lucky not to see one outside of Youtube!)
 

ATH

Well-Known Member
It is not inherently fatal...but can certainly cause pretty bad cuts.

You listed some good ways to prevent kickback, but left off the best way to reduce (almost eliminate) its impact if it does occur: two hands on the saw for every cut. I know that horse has been well beaten long after it has died, but it remains true that 2 hands is safer...and until you decide that "there is always a safer way" when tempted to one-hand it, there never will be.

A carving bar will also significantly reduce kickback potential.

Be aware of body placement when the saw is in a position where it can kickback.

But I do agree with your overall observation: I'm surprised there are not more in canopy kickback injuries with some of the practices I see.
 

rope-a-dope

Well-Known Member
Some other factors: good cutting positions, like on the ground, place your vital organs out of the saws path, kickback or otherwise. Top handles don't have a very strong kickback and 10-12 inch bars are short, so they wont reach too much if you are cutting a comfortable distance from the body. I avoid making cuts at head/face/neck level.
I think aerial kickback is less common because of the saws and bars typically used, plus if there is a challenge or obstacle to the cut, you just move yourself, or you cut something else first.
 

Birdyman88

Active Member
What 25cc saw? Echo?
The reason I ask is that I have the 2511T. I also have the Stihl 193. When I put myself in a good position on the ground or in tree, which includes setting my arms in a strong position, snug in the armpits and locked in, I can stop both saws dead in their tracks using either side of bar. Now upper part of tip is another matter, so it helps to have a narrow nose bar and less aggressive chain.

I have been known to stall my 193 back chaining the underside of a large oak limb where the tip is in play. Thats how snug I have that saw while making that cut. Don't want to downplay the risk, just saying if you're in good postion and hold onto that mofo, the saw might just stall first even it you hit something hard.

When I have someone learning the saw, we put .043 gauge safety chain on a green narrow nose bar and purposely (and very carefully) put that upper quadrant in different wood so they can see the reality of rotational kickback. They learn strong stance and solid arm position. I've never seen one serious kick doing this, linear or rotational, using Stihl 3/8P safety chain, but of course it is still possible. I've personally done it with 50cc saws and different chains just experimenting and the results can vary, but still nothing scary. I'm holding on to that joker and not in the bar path when I do it though! Hey, at least my guys know what it feels like and are pretty confident when cutting. If we had to choose, which is mainly in limbing, we would rather execute a good cut, even with risk of tip touching, rather than execute a bad cut just for the sake of keeping tip clear. But we all know not to get careless or lax, and we know what to expect if it does touch. Just my 2 cents.
 

Chaplain242

Well-Known Member
Biggest risk I have seen is not with the primary limb being cut but indeed the limb or trunk etc behind. I have assisted in training new operators and trying to communicate the risk to those that think that they know it all is like banging my head against a wall.

I have tried that demonstration of kickback taking all precautions I could and against training procedures to try and snap belligerant learners out of it to no avail.... I have been left speechless at some newcomers to chainsaws attitudes considering most people generally treat a moving cutting chain with respect. Can correct them 3-4 times on the same cut and still won't listen or learn.

I think the attitude of the operator is far more important than general procedures
 

chiselbit

Well-Known Member
Biggest risk I have seen is not with the primary limb being cut but indeed the limb or trunk etc behind. I have assisted in training new operators and trying to communicate the risk to those that think that they know it all is like banging my head against a wall.

I have tried that demonstration of kickback taking all precautions I could and against training procedures to try and snap belligerant learners out of it to no avail.... I have been left speechless at some newcomers to chainsaws attitudes considering most people generally treat a moving cutting chain with respect. Can correct them 3-4 times on the same cut and still won't listen or learn.

I think the attitude of the operator is far more important than general procedures
This fits right in with my new idea of implementing shock collars for new groundies. Hell. I think I’ll include all employees, not just new. I’ve been giving it a lot of thought lately, I think it will help.
 

Raven

Well-Known Member
Maybe the most scary and vulnerable moments are when aloft with a spinning chain near soft body parts. The key for me has been to shift my mental focus from production to self preservation - it's like a switch that goes on when I disengage the chainbrake. There are so many things to check off the list before cutting a piece - dropzone clear, groundrigger ready, is the cut in the right location, is the rigging set properly, am I out of the way, lanyard and spurs not gonna slip, etc. - all that stuff gets checked off first then goes to the back of my mind, the only thing in the foreground is DO NOT CUT YOURSELF! until the cut is finished and saw is off then I can get back to the rest of the work.

Too many cowboys are up there just wielding that thing like a machete and you can tell their focus is on production not safety at all. Slow down just a bit and go home safe to come back the next day - no biz owner ever thanked an employee for taking a hit in the name of production.
 

TimBr

Well-Known Member
@eyehearttrees; My Echo top handle saw came with an anti-kickback plate that gets mounted on the bar tip, which prevents the top of the bar from coming in contact with branches behind the one you are cutting. Some folks might not like to have something like that on their chainsaw, as it somewhat limits the size of branch you can cut with the saw, and also prevents bore cutting from being a possibility.

I'm new enough to all of this that I tend to leave the plate installed, unless I have a strong reason to remove it. I am not yet a bore cutter.

Tim
 

RBJtree

Well-Known Member
In my experience, it is almost always possible, even while climbing, to position yourself safely while cutting so in the event of a kickback you will be safe. Two tie in's, as in climbing line and lanyard, two lanyards, two climbing lines, whatever as long as there are two and not in the same plane, is important saftey precaution so in the event of a cutting mistake resulting in a cut saftey line there is not a fall. Two lines can also help with positioning to stay clear of kickback zone. As was previously said, top half of bar tip is responsible for 99% of kickback and most dangerous kickback so keep it clear and always know whats on the other side of the piece you are cutting. Two hands on saw, with non trigger hand behind the brake when making any cut that may result in kickback or when you can't position clear of kickback zone, or find another way to cut the piece. No one should ever enter a tree with a chainsaw until they are an expert with a saw on the ground. EXPERT! Best learned cutting up felled trees with loaded limbs, bad angles, ect. Experience with kickback, pinching, binding, ect is a must.
 
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