Chainsaw Kickback

Chainsaw kickback is a risk to any chainsaw user; however, with the proper precautions, you can reduce your risk of injury.

What is a kickback?

A kickback is when the saw’s chain comes off the wood and drags back towards you. This can cause serious injury, so it’s important to understand how to prevent it. There are a number of things that can cause kickback:

  • Using your chainsaw incorrectly, like cutting too fast or at an angle so that the blade isn’t cutting into the wood but rather just bouncing off of it instead.
  • Using your chainsaw in a dangerous situation (i.e., trying to cut through something wet or frozen), makes it harder for the saw to cut through whatever you’re working on because there’s more friction between your blade and what you’re cutting.
  • Using a dull chain (a dull chain will not be able to make clean cuts).

How does chainsaw kickback occur?

Kickback occurs when the chain binds to a branch or other object, causing it to wrap around the object and pull the saw toward you. Kickback can also occur when your chainsaw is pinched between two objects and tips outward. When this happens, the chain can catch on another surface and kick back toward you with enough force to injure you.

Kickback zone

The kickback zone is the area where a kickback can occur. It’s best to keep your body out of this area, as it can be dangerous. The best way to avoid being caught in a kickback is by using the right safety equipment, such as chaps and gloves.

Pinched chain

The chain is pinched between the bar and the wood.

The chain is pinched between the bar and the guide bar.

The chain is pinched between the bar and the log.

The chain is pinched between the bar and the ground.

Types of chainsaw kickback

Kickback is a common injury that can happen to any chainsaw user. It’s usually the result of improper technique and can cause serious physical harm. There are several different types of kickback, each with its own unique risks and symptoms.

Kickback is an abrupt stop between the saw and the wood being cut, causing a force that throws the saw back toward you. Different kinds of kickback exist:

Linear kickback

Linear kickback is a common occurrence that can be difficult to avoid, especially if you are new to operating a chainsaw. The risk of linear kickback increases when you are working at full throttle in tight quarters, which means that it is important to use the chain brake sparingly and avoid full throttle so as to reduce your risk of this type of injury.

When performing any cutting action on trees or branches, there will always be some force exerted by those objects towards your body due to their inertia (inertia being an object’s resistance against change). When you try cutting something long and narrow with a chainsaw, this force becomes amplified because the material being cut will have less surface area than what’s pushing against it – thus generating more pressure per square inch than if it were being cut using another tool (such as an axe).

In order for a tree branch or stump to move away from its original position without being pulled down by gravity or other forces acting upon it, it must experience some kind of external force that acts in opposition against those existing forces exerting downward pressure on them (such as wind gusts blowing towards each other during storm season). When two opposing forces act upon each other simultaneously across opposite directions – like when two people push one another at once while standing facing each other—they create “drag” between themselves; this drag causes friction between their bodies which releases heat energy from both parties involved in creating such tension between themselves through physical contact only.

Rotational kickback

Rotational kickback occurs when the blade of a chainsaw is rotating and comes in contact with something that prevents it from continuing to rotate. The most common cause of rotational kickback is attempting to cut through a log that’s too large or heavy for the saw to handle. Rotational kickback can also occur if the chain gets tangled or stuck on something, such as branches or small rocks, which causes it to stop rotating.

When you experience rotational kickback, your body instinctively tries to move away from whatever is preventing the blade from continuing its rotation—in other words, you start falling backward because you’ve been leaning into your chainsaw as you strike it against what should be an easy mark for slicing through!

If your chainsaw does hit something unexpectedly (such as when cutting down small trees), make sure that the engine keeps running and doesn’t die out; this will prevent any further damage from occurring once things have settled down again.

Pull-in kickback

Pull-in kickback occurs when the lower tree limb or trunk is pulled into the saw by the weight of brush and debris. When this occurs, it can be very difficult to dislodge from the saw.

  • To avoid pull-in kickback, make sure your blade is sharp, and that you have a sharpening stone handy so you can sharpen it as needed.
  • Keep your chain tension correct — too loose or too tight could cause problems with kickback.

How to prepare for kickback?

When you’re working with a chainsaw, there are many things that you can do to prepare yourself for kickback. Many people don’t think of wearing safety equipment when just felling trees or pruning, but it’s important to be prepared for any potential accidents.

For example:

  • Wear safety goggles and hearing protection. If the chain breaks while it’s spinning at high speeds, pieces of metal could shoot toward your face and ears. And if that happens while the chain is moving at full speed? It could be extremely painful or even fatal!
  • Wear chaps and gloves. The chain will break or jump off its track occasionally on most saws; if this happens when running over your leg, it will cause serious injury or even death depending on how fast the blade was spinning before breaking off from its track (and how close your leg was). Wearing chaps will protect legs from these injuries by slowing down their impact with the ground after being ejected from their intended place on the bar assembly which keeps them from breaking into small pieces upon contact with softer tissue such as muscle instead of bone which would happen otherwise due to momentum after being thrown through air distances so large that we can’t even see them unless looking through microscope lenses given their size when compared against other objects found elsewhere around us such as dust particles.

Ways you can avoid chainsaw kickback

There are several ways you can avoid kickback.

  • Use a low-kickback chain. Low-kickback chains have fewer teeth per inch than standard chains, making them less likely to snag when hitting wood or other material. They also have a rounded tooth design to help prevent the chain from getting stuck in wood during cutting operations, which reduces the chance of kickback.
  • Use a kickback chain guide. A kickback chain guide is a safety device that uses spring tension to hold your bar against its sprocket when it’s not in use and automatically releases it when you’re cutting through material so nothing gets caught up between two spinning blades (like fingers!). It’s especially important for people who plan on doing lots of trimming work around their home as well as yard maintenance projects like tree removal and brush cutting; these activities often require frequent changes between different types of blades so having some sort of guard system installed on your saw will make life much safer while saving time since there won’t be any need for regular maintenance like oiling parts before using them again later on down the road!

Kickback trigger

Kickback can be caused by a variety of factors, ranging from improper use to saw malfunction. Kickback occurs when the saw is not in full control of the operator. The chain or bar can come into contact with an object and strike back at the operator, causing injury.

When you’re using a chainsaw, avoid making these mistakes:

  • Not wearing protective gear — Wearing safety goggles and hearing protection is especially important for long-term users who run their chainsaws regularly. If you don’t know what kickback feels like yet, always wear appropriate clothing that will protect your body from injury (like long pants) and invest in high-quality hearing protection so that you don’t suffer permanent damage to your ears while working with noisy equipment like chainsaws.

How to reduce the risk of kickback

There are several ways to reduce the risk of kickback:

  • Use a low kickback chain.
  • Use a low kickback bar.
  • Use a saw with a low kickback bar and chain combination, if you’re using one of those instead of a bar and chain separately.
  • If you have access to both, consider using them together for maximum safety.

Use a low kickback chain

If you want to cut wood, you will use a low kickback chain. This goes for all woodcuts, including those that are not specifically recommended by the manufacturer.


Kickback is a serious risk, but it can be mitigated with the right tools and knowledge. The best way to avoid kickback is to use a low kickback chain. It’s also important to keep in mind that as you cut through your material, the saw will be pulled in towards you—don’t let this happen too fast! Use slow strokes and don’t get distracted by anything else going on around you while operating the chainsaw.

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