Chainsaw Safety Course Teaches Valuable Lessons

Basic safety, bucking, felling, and maintenance taught at the Forest Society Conservation Center in Concord.

June 1, 2015

Participants learned basic skills and practiced cutting techniques with the guidance of foresters Jake Bronnenberg and Wendy Weisiger.

On Friday, May 29, Wendy Weisiger, the Forest Societ's lead forester, and Jake Bronnenberg of Bronnenberg Logging & Trucking led a chainsaw safety course at the Forest Society's Conservation Center in Concord. This half-day class, offered twice a year, teaches people of all ability levels basic safety, bucking, felling, and routine maintenance. On Friday, experience levels ranged from first-time users to multi-decade veterans, but each left the training with a new outlook and skill set for this common tool. While this class is required for all volunteer land Stewards to operate chainsaws on Forest Society land, it is open to all interested community members. 

As a summer communications intern, I was lucky enough to have the chance to join and photograph this class and took away some important lessons for myself! Jake and Wendy opened the class with an overview of safety equipment including a hard hat, chaps (Kevlar pants), and steel toed boots. They urged the class to store their hard hats in the shade and to replace them every two years, if used on a regular basis. They also recommended checking safety chaps for a UL Class A approval to ensure leg protection meets the current standard. While this safety equipment gives someone more reaction time, Jake noted that it only acts as a "thin skin" against the blade of a chainsaw. There are many different places to find this safety equipment but both Wendy and Jake recommended buying straight from a chainsaw dealer or dealership website.

We then discussed chainsaw maintenance. Jake demonstrated how to clean and sharpen the chainsaw, using a file and guide. He recommended loosening the chain after ever use in order to protect the crank shaft. These small measures will go a long way in ensuring the longevity and productivity of the chainsaw. Because participants brought their own chainsaws, we were able to see the difference in effectiveness between Jake's and Wendy's chainsaws, which are maintained after almost every use, and members of the class who had only recently learned how to sharpen the saw's teeth. The difference was incredible! 

We then walked into the woods, and participants were given the chance to practice two of the four cuts Jake demonstrated. The first was the open-faced notch cut, which creates a 70-degree cut in the base of the tree and determines which way to tree will fall. After everyone practiced the notch cut, Jake demonstrated how to create a hinge using a bore cut and then safely felled the tree. Once the tree was on the ground, participants practiced bucking it up for firewood. Every member of the class walked away having learned a new technique that will provide better safety for the future. As a novice woodsman, I found this class to be a solid base to my understanding of chainsaw use and protective measures. 

The Forest Society’s next chainsaw workshop will be scheduled in October - keep an eye on our events page in the fall to get details.  To learn how you can become a land steward or volunteer, please check out our website.