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Chain saws Buying Guides

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Getting started

Chain saws range from small, light-duty electrics to large gas-powered models intended for forestry work. Prices are often tied to cubic centimeters of engine displacement for gas saws and amperage for electric saws.

How safe?

Chain saws are associated with tens of thousands of injuries and a number of deaths each year. Some of the most serious injuries occur when the chain snags and the saw kicks back toward the operator's chest and head. Chain saws now have safeguards designed to eliminate kickback.

But even the safest saws should be used with care. Start with snug-fitting clothing and sturdy work boots, preferably steel-toed. Shield your legs with cut-resistant chaps and the backs of your hands with protective gloves, and wear a helmet with a face shield. All chain saws require hearing protection. Sound levels for gas saws can easikly exceed 100 decibels at the operator's ear. And even electric saws require hearing protection.

Keeping the cutting chain properly sharpened, tensioned, and oiled speeds cutting and helps to prevent kickback. When starting a gas-powered saw, grip it with both hands and keep both feet firmly on the ground. Don't saw on a ladder or with the saw above your shoulders. Avoid sawing with the tip of the chain and bar, where kickback typically occurs.

Visit for our latest information on Chain saws

Copyright © 2006-2012 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. No reproduction, in whole or in part, without written permission.

Getting started

1. Getting started

2. Types

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