1. Welcome Hearth.com Guests and Visitors - Please enjoy our forums!
    Hearth.com GOLD Sponsors who help bring the site content to you:
    Hearthstone Soapstone and Cast-Iron stoves( Wood, Gas or Pellet Stoves and Inserts)
    Caluwe - Passion for Fire and Water ( Pellet and Wood Hydronic and Space Heating)

Have You Ever Experienced Kickback?

Post in 'The Gear' started by WarmGuy, Apr 1, 2008.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. WarmGuy

    WarmGuy Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2006
    Messages:
    492
    Loc:
    Far Northern Calif. Coast
    I've always been concerned about kickback. I have low kickback chain, inertial brake, etc.

    But I've never experienced even the slightest kickback. The only thing I felt is the straight-back jump that comes when the bar is pinched.

    What about you?

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    5,705
    Loc:
    Central NYS
    Thanks to all the safety features you mentioned, kickback--at least kickback in the old school sense--is a lot less common than it used to be. But technically speaking, the straight-back jump you describe is kickback caused by one of the classics--a pinched bar nose. The force has nowhere to go but back at you.

    Back before there was such a thing as an inertial chain brake or low-kickback chain or shock absorption of any value, the saw could get away from you pretty easily. It wasn't all that uncommon. I've had hand-numbing straight-back kicks and a few close calls related to kickback, but I wouldn't rank it in the Top Ten of potential woodcutting hazards anymore.

    So, what are my Top Ten?

    In order of likelihood:

    1.) Falling down
    2.) Twisting a body part (knee, back, etc.)
    3.) Eye injury from flying or hanging debris
    4.) Spring pole
    5.) Smashed foot/ankle/hand
    6.) Widowmaker
    7.) My partner felling a tree on me.
    8.) Me falling a tree on myself (includes barber chair, tree butt coming back at you when the top hits the ground, i.e., accidents related to felling)
    9.) Cut leg or foot
    10.) Totally unpredictable freak accident of some sort
  3. Ncountry

    Ncountry Member

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2008
    Messages:
    220
    Loc:
    northern NY
    Yes I have experienced kickback numerous times. The new saws equipped with a chainbrake seem to offer a lot of protection from the dangers ,stopping the chain quickly.Even after many years of using a saw professionally and personally Ihave luckily never been cut. I believe a proper amount of respect(fear) and the correct methods of use go a long way towards making a chainsaw safer to operate. Losing this respect leads to bad habits . My father in law with 30 years of experience logging can attest to this with some nasty scars down the side of his neck ,shoulder, and the back of his hand received all at once.
  4. BotetourtSteve

    BotetourtSteve Member

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2008
    Messages:
    188
    Loc:
    Western Virginia
    I'm afraid I am jinxing myself here, but I have always thought the same thing - lots of warnings and cautions about kickback, but in 25 years or so of using chainsaws sporadically (limbing, 2-8 loads of wood per year), I have never had a significant kickback event. And I use chipper chains too.

    Now from Eric Johnson's list, I have accomplished 1,2,3 and 9, with only #3 requiring a doctor's visit. I may have done a 4 too, if I knew what it was.:) I wear safety glasses all of the time now, plus always hearing protection, and try to wear heavier clothing (canvas) too. And very careful cutting and lifting as I have a surgically-repaired back (not injured as a result of cutting wood, but it was a slip/fall in the woods while hunting).
  5. billb3

    billb3 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2007
    Messages:
    3,467
    Loc:
    SE Mass
    Any kickback I experienced I expected.
    (nothing like making something happen under a more controlled situation)

    My brother had a Stihl saw (they stopped making it, engines siezed after xxx amount of hours, his did, too) that you could stick the nose right into a tree and there was nothing. Amazing little saw (16" bar I think). Can't remember the model name/number.

    1.) I've pulled branches down on myself sort of by mistake.
    2.) I've tripped and fallen inside a fallen tree on the ground. (one can actually get some black and blues in oddd places this way)
    3.) pine needles can be slippery as hell
    4.) I've only moved 45 feet out of the way of a fifty foot tree once.(luckily upper branches are fairly soft)
    5.) I think the biggest pain I'v had is a branch snapping back whipping my face walking through the woods. Seems the lower the temp the more it hurts, especially later.

    Maybe a lot of respect for tools and nature. Maybe I've just cut enough trees to know they don't always do what they should.
  6. Redox

    Redox Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2008
    Messages:
    1,099
    Loc:
    Burbs of B'more, MD, Hon!
    I also can attest to Stihl's chain. I think I have the Picco chain on my 025. I can use the nose at low speed to nip at a strand of wood that is hanging on and not get a kickback. I don't do this regularly though. I don't ever remember a kick that was strong enough to even hit the chainbrake. I even "exercise" the brake occasionally to make sure it still works.

    Chris
  7. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2006
    Messages:
    6,737
    Loc:
    Northeastern MA (near Lowell)
    I can't say I've ever had a kickback that I wasn't expecting (I.E trying to get rid of limbs or brush with the "danger zone" of the bar nose...) I have had some of the pinched bar type, etc. but never anything hard enough to trip the chain brake... This is mostly running full chipper chain.

    BotetourtSteve - a Spring pole is either a branch or another tree, often a little sapling that has been bent over and pinned under a larger tree when you fell it - it can be under very high tension, think like a bow, and when you release that tension either by cutting the pole itself, or by cutting the thing that was holding it down, it can spring back and give you a severe thwacking... While I've heard of people getting bones broken and other severe injuries (i.e. if you were straddling one that let go...) mostly the pole itself is good for bruises - however the impact can cause loss of control of the saw, or falls, etc. that lead to more significant injuries.

    One of the tricky things to learn is how to spot potential spring poles, and relieve their tension in a controlled and safe way. Mostly I try to cut 2-3 small notches in the top of the "spring" part so that the tension releases slowly, then cut them off near ground level. Easy enough to do, hard to describe...

    Gooserider
  8. bjkjoseph

    bjkjoseph Member

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    Messages:
    222
    Loc:
    long island
    i have seen the results.i visited my uncle in sandisfield ma. back in the late 70's.when he came to the door his nose had a huge gash on it.thats the first time i heard of kick back,and i hope it dont run in the family.
  9. Pine Knot

    Pine Knot Member

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2007
    Messages:
    149
    Loc:
    Southwest Virginia
    I am working from faint memories here, but were not some of the early saws gear driven and more likely to kick back than the clutch driven saws of today? There are two types of "kickback" , one when the chain gets pinched and the saw drives strait back, the other is when with the saw at high RPM the chain at the tip of the bar contacts a log, this drives the chain upward and rotating back in the operators face. Sometimes causeing us to loose our grip on the saw with the right hand. This is the one that gets us!!
  10. wally

    wally New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2008
    Messages:
    54
    Loc:
    central nh
    i'd only add "**@$!@$### bee stings" to that list.
  11. BotetourtSteve

    BotetourtSteve Member

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2008
    Messages:
    188
    Loc:
    Western Virginia
    Ahhh...in that case, I suffered a 3 due to a 4 then - was cutting up a cherry I had just felled and when I cut a length off, a sapling snapped back and popped me in the eye. Hurt and watered like the daylights. Went to the store to get a drink and shake off the pain, ran into a neighbor and ask him if he saw anything in my eye as it was really hurting, and he looked at it and replied that it was just my contact folded over. That was fine and dandy, except I didn't wear contacts. :eek:hh: Went straight to the eye doctor and I had cut my lens; he literally glued it back in place and thank goodness it healed up fine with no loss of vision. Since then, I never even start a chainsaw without having safety glasses on.
  12. Scotty2

    Scotty2 New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2008
    Messages:
    11
    Loc:
    West Coast
    Kickback...I was once demonstrating my 'infamous' chainsaw kickback technique...used to warn new woodsies on the dangers of chainsaws...had one of the newer (at that time), 13,000 rpm saws with a special sprocket to kick the chain speed up some more...Weeell, I revved it up a bit much, made a straight in plunge cut (attempt) and threw the saw up over my shoulder, OVER the fellows standing 10 behind and to the side...saw landed perhaps 35' away...Truly a humbling experience in front of a bunch of Chicakos.
    Regards, Scotty
  13. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2006
    Messages:
    8,800
    Loc:
    base of Mt. Rainier on the wet side, WA
    I'm a bit younger so all of the saws I've used had a chain brake engaged by your left hand, centrifugal clutches, and perhaps other hokus pokus inside the PH. Still, I have had no problems with kickback in decades of saw use in brush and firewood. Mostly the smaller 16" bars cutting stuff 1" across to double the bar length. It is to the point where I think kickback might be a wive's tale. Either it is BS, I am lucky, I have good technique, or the saws or chains have been improved to minimize the chance of this.
  14. Mmaul

    Mmaul Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2007
    Messages:
    512
    Loc:
    Muncie, IN
    It is definitely not hockus pockus I just experience kickback on a large scale cut through a large trunk that had fallen and saw kicked back and nocked the chain off and I had to shut down the saw. If you read the bottom of my post you will notice two chain saws one is new the other is an 032 that I use. This saw has no antikickback features on it because it is thirty years old. I had a grip on the saw so I was not injured but the chain is ruined it came back with such force that it beat up the guide bar runners and wont fit in the bar anymore. This is definately not a mith.
  15. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2006
    Messages:
    6,737
    Loc:
    Northeastern MA (near Lowell)
    Just as a note, you MAY be able to salvage that chain, as long as the links aren't actually bent, and there is other major damage. Usually what I see when a chain gets thrown is that the drive link tangs get burrs on them, but are otherwise OK. If so, you can go over the chain on each side with a file or a Dremel tool type hand grinder and smooth out the burrs until the chain will fit in the bar again. I reccomend the Dremel tool, it's a lot faster. This is a bit of a PITA, but it will save the cost of a new chain.

    Gooserider
  16. snj2k2se

    snj2k2se Member

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2008
    Messages:
    17
    Loc:
    South Jersey
    Thanks Gooserider. I was just getting ready to ask if a chain like that could be salvaged. I had the same thing happen to me this weekend, and several of the links are burred. I cleaned them up with the dremel, but I wondered if it was ok after that.
  17. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    5,705
    Loc:
    Central NYS
    It's certainly less of a problem in general now than it was 35 years ago when I started using chain saws, but it's still a danger and one you shouldn't discount or ignore. Cars are a lot safer now than they were back then, but they can still kill you in an accident.
  18. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2006
    Messages:
    6,737
    Loc:
    Northeastern MA (near Lowell)
    Agreed... It certainly does seem like there have been sufficient design changes to reduce the odds and severity of kickbacks in normal operation, but that does not mean we can get careless.

    Gooserider
  19. Mmaul

    Mmaul Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2007
    Messages:
    512
    Loc:
    Muncie, IN
    Thanks Gooserider I will give it a try this weekend. I will try to post some pics if I can so others will know what to do.
  20. Outdoorsman

    Outdoorsman New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2008
    Messages:
    65
    Loc:
    Mi.
    Lots of ways a saw, or chain can draw blood.. I had a chain break once, it whipped around and hit my upper leg so hard I was afraid to even look.

    I was very lucky, I had a very long & couple inch wide bruise with a little chunk of meat gone were each of the teeth took a bite. But that could have been good for a couple dozen stitches real easy.

    Only kick back I've had a saw took a 19 stitch bite along with a permanent notch in a knee cap. Not recommended. Funny part of that was, that one didn't hurt nearly as bad as the broke chain hitting me. Strange. That was some years back, no safety features. The older style bars with the very round tips were, I think, a lot of the problem. I've never had a saw with the anti kick bars come for me. When I got bit was a round tip bar with chisel chip chain.

    Still, I started running a saw when 14 & in 38 years of cutting a lot of wood I figure the odds just caught up with me a couple times.
  21. savageactor7

    savageactor7 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2008
    Messages:
    3,700
    Loc:
    CNY
    I've had a few kickbacks over the years ...all of them when limbing a new fallen tree. Nothing so violent where the saw was going to jump back at my face though, still the inertial brake is a great invention.
  22. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    5,705
    Loc:
    Central NYS
    Yesterday I was making a backcut on the stem of a downed tree, bucking out a firewood round. When the bar came out of the cut, the tip hit a small stump and the inertial chain brake immediately snapped on. I suspect that without it, I would have had a pretty good--potentially hazardous--kick. As it was, all I felt was the click of the brake engaging.

    I've put maybe 75 tanks of gas through this relatively new 346XP, and that's the first time I can recall the chain brake automatically engaging.

    One of my first saws back in the mid '70s was a Stihl 031 which not only didn't have an inertial chain brake--it didn't have a chain brake at all. Put a vintage full-chisel chain on that wide, solid-tip bar and you find out about kickback pretty quick.
  23. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    5,705
    Loc:
    Central NYS
    Actually, it was the top of the tip that hit the stump. I was holding the saw vertically and cutting through the stem with the top, i.e., right to left.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page