Tips to Avoid Chainsaw Kickback

Aug 20, 2018 | Blog

A study done by the CPSC concluded that over twenty thousand injuries each year come from chainsaw-related accidents. Unfortunately, some of these injuries wind up being fatal to the operator or those around the chainsaw when the accident occurs.

Chainsaws are a very useful tool that many homeowners must deal with small trees, cutting limbs, or pruning. However, they also have the potential to be deadly and bring tragedy to a family if something goes wrong while using the chainsaw.

We never want to see anybody hurt or killed by a chainsaw or any chainsaw-related accident. To help prevent this, we put together this guide on tips to avoid chainsaw kickback. Chainsaw kickback is one of the leading reasons for chainsaw-related accidents. If you can avoid kickbacks better, you are much safer from injury.

What is Chainsaw Kickback?

First off, we must answer the most basic question before diving any further. What exactly is chainsaw kick back and why does it happen? Kickback happens when the nose of the chainsaw “kicks” upward towards the operator creating a potentially dangerous situation.

Why does this happen? There are a few reasons that can cause this that we’ll cover. The first is when the blade is pinched meaning the blade is pinched between the wood while cutting. This will, depending on how fast the blade is moving, will kick the blade out back towards you.

Another reason is if the nose of the chainsaw also called the “kickback zone ” hits a solid object while cutting. This will throw the momentum of the chainsaw back onto you which can endanger your life with a blade rushing at your face.

Kickback can certainly be a scary thing about chainsaws as it has injured plenty of people. However, if you are educated about it, and you understand how to avoid it then you won’t have any worries about it. Now, let’s look at some tips to avoid chainsaw kickback.

Know Your Chainsaw

In laymen’s terms, read the manual first off! Don’t pull your chainsaw out of the box and start swinging it around. Each chainsaw is unique and has different qualities that others don’t. You need to understand how to start it, how to stop it, how to control the speed, etc.

If you are a beginner, this is very important for you to do. Learn how to hold the chainsaw and how to cut limbs or whatever your project is. This helps to keep you much safer while still getting your work done. Don’t take the manuals lightly.

Take the time to open the manual and read about your chainsaw. This will immediately cut down on the risk of you getting injured since you’ll know how to wield your chainsaw properly. We’re all guilty of skipping over the manuals and directions, but please take a moment to read your chainsaw’s manual. It could keep you out of the hospital.

Keep Your Hands on the Machine

You’re holding a machine that has a spinning blade at the end of it. You might want to keep your hands firmly wrapped around those handles. Stay focused as you cut and keep your grip tight. If you’re not firmly holding your chainsaw, a kickback will prove extremely dangerous to you.

However, if you have good control of your chainsaw, a kickback does not mean injury. You have the potential to wrangle it back under control without harming yourself. Have both hands in place before cutting, and don’t assume you can handle it if things go crazy. Never make assumptions, but always take precautions when dealing with dangerous machinery.

Check Your Sharpness and Tension Regularly

One of the biggest things that can cause a kickback is a dull or loose blade. It is very important to sharpen your chainsaw and check the tension of your chain regularly. If your chain is getting dull, you can either sharpen it or replace it. However, do not go out cutting with a dull blade. This makes it easier for the blade to kick up while working.

If you’re not sure how to check the tension of your chain, we’ll explain it quickly. You’ll want to turn the chainsaw off and unplug it from any electrical outlets. Now, grab the chain and pull it away from the guide bar. If it comes up a little, but the drive links stay attached, then your tension is fine.

However, if the chain and drive links come completely off the guide bar, you need to tighten your chain as soon as possible, and you should not cut with it under any circumstances. Check both aspects often to help ensure your chainsaw does not kickback while operating it.

Wear Proper Gear

An unfortunate truth is that sometimes, no matter how much preparation we put forth, accidents just happen. There will always be a chance for kickback when dealing with a chainsaw, but you can be prepared in that situation. All you must do is wear proper gear while operating a chainsaw.

All chainsaw manuals include a section dedicated to proper gear while operating the machine. Wear that gear! Make sure you have proper eyewear to protect your eyes and face especially plus whatever other gear it suggests you wear. If you refuse to wear protection, you place yourself in position to be seriously injured if an accident does happen.


Chainsaw kickback can be extremely dangerous and sometimes even fatal. Chainsaws are not a toy and should be respected as a dangerous machine that can hurt you. If you approach it lightly, then you put yourself in a very poor group of people. Respect the machine, or you could lose a limb.

Know what you’re dealing and how to deal with it. This will help ensure your safety while using a chainsaw. If you’ve never used a chainsaw before, take time to read that manual and familiarize yourself with your chainsaw before using it. Never cut with a loose chain or dull teeth. This only increases the odds of kickback.

The most important thing is safety. If you’re smart, you’re safe. We hope this guide has helped you learn more about chainsaw kick back and some tips on how to prevent it. If you’ve enjoyed this guide, be sure to let us know!

John McDonald

Chainsaw Expert for

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