9 Necessary Tips for Using a Chainsaw to Clear Debris

chainsaw to clear debris
Fallen trees can cause thousands of dollars in damage during natural disasters.

It’s storm season, and as soon as a hurricane or tornado strikes, clean-up begins.

Often, volunteers supplement the work of experts in removing miles of debris after the storm. Many are weekend warriors who have never tackled such an immense task and may never have used a chainsaw in such rigorous circumstances.

Those brave volunteers need some guidance on how to prepare for, use and maintain a chainsaw during intense storm clean-up efforts.


A good chainsaw is the best tool to clean big debris such as limbs and fallen trees.

Tips from a Pro

Jared Abrojena, an Antioch, California-based certified tree worker and certified arborist, addresses the topic in layman’s terms. The 2015 ISA Tree Climbing World Champion, Abrojena is an expert on how to trim and fell trees. He often shares insights from his own experience working with a team of arborists to clean hundreds of fallen trees on the grounds of the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia, just weeks before the 2013 Masters.

Abrojena’s nine necessary tips — if followed — ensure safe and effective hurricane and tornado debris clean-up.

Sawing wood outside with a chainsaw
A worker demonstrates proper safety when using a chainsaw. (DepositPhotos)
  1. Safety first. Take some time to train before you start. Read through the owner’s manual for the chainsaw you’ll be using and learn about its safety protocol.
  2. Be prepared. This is a catch-all of tips regarding regular chainsaw maintenance and the possession of personal protective equipment (PPE).
  3. Map it out. Assess the full scope of the damage, and create a plan for how to tackle it. The plan should include coordinating with other volunteers, divvying up the work and prioritizing
  4. Know your limitations. Don’t volunteer for a job you’re unprepared for. There will be plenty of work to go around, so only tackle tasks that you are comfortable handling.
  5. Buddy up. No one should trim trees by themselves, given the risk of error or injury. Pair up with another volunteer, but stay a safe distance apart when operating saws.
  6. A good start. Start the chainsaw on the ground with the chain brake engaged. Don’t “cut” corners during intense, fast-paced clean-up efforts.
  7. The right cut. To achieve the right cut, use careful pruning practices to relieve tension from a branch or tree limb.
  8. Take it easy. You aren’t Superman, and most mistakes occur when you’re tired. Take frequent rests and stay hydrated.
  9. Pamper your equipment. Ongoing maintenance during storm clean-up is critical since you’ll be pushing your chainsaw hard. Pause often to clean filters and tighten chains.

Further Reading

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